79 episodes

What makes a song a smash? Talent? Luck? Timing? All that—and more. Chris Molanphy, pop-chart analyst and author of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” series, tells tales from a half-century of chart history. Through storytelling, trivia and song snippets, Chris dissects how that song you love—or hate—dominated the airwaves, made its way to the top of the charts and shaped your memories forever.

Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivi‪a‬ Slate Magazine

    • Music History
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

What makes a song a smash? Talent? Luck? Timing? All that—and more. Chris Molanphy, pop-chart analyst and author of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” series, tells tales from a half-century of chart history. Through storytelling, trivia and song snippets, Chris dissects how that song you love—or hate—dominated the airwaves, made its way to the top of the charts and shaped your memories forever.

    The AC/DC Rule, Part 1

    The AC/DC Rule, Part 1

    Quick, what was the only No. 1 album by Jimi Hendrix? How about the first No. 1 by Billy Joel? Jackson Browne? Pat Benatar? Pearl Jam? Lady Gaga?
     
    In all cases, the answer isn’t obvious—it’s not the album you know best, the one with the most hits on it. It’s the album after that classic that goes to No. 1. And there’s no better example than AC/DC, the Australian-by-way-of-Scotland hard rock band that’s sold more than 20 million copies of Back in Black. But it was their next album (can you name it?) that topped the Billboard album chart.
     
    Chris Molanphy has coined a term for this weird chart phenomenon: He calls it The AC/DC Rule. Just as less-good movie sequels open better at the box office than classic first installments, follow-up albums often chart higher than their slow-growing but hit-packed predecessors. Some of the rock and pop legends who fell prey to this chart phenomenon might surprise you…might just leave you shook all night long.
     
    Podcast production by Asha Saluja.
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    • 46 min
    These Are the Good Times, Part 2

    These Are the Good Times, Part 2

    Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus.

    In Part 2 of this episode of Hit Parade, we continue the story of how Chic—cofounded by guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards—gave life to disco through the 1980s and beyond. Their “Good Times” bassline spawned a slew of copycats, from “Rapper’s Delight” to “Another One Bites the Dust” to “Rapture.” And as if that wasn’t enough, over the next decade, the Chic masterminds became the secret sauce for a range of cutting-edge pop acts, producing and writing for everyone from Diana Ross and David Bowie to Madonna, Duran Duran and the B-52’s. Nile Rodgers even scored a hit in the 2010s with a pair of French robots who “got lucky” with another take on the Chic groove.

    Podcast production by Asha Saluja.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 23 min
    These Are the Good Times, Part 1

    These Are the Good Times, Part 1

    Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus.

    How can you tell disco didn’t really die at the start of the 1980s? Because half of ’80s pop owed its sound to one of disco’s most seminal acts. Chic—cofounded by guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards—would be legendary if all they’d done was record the’70s disco smashes “Le Freak,” “I Want Your Love” and “Good Times.” Indeed, the “Good Times” bassline spawned a slew of copycats, from “Rapper’s Delight” to “Another One Bites the Dust” to “Rapture.”

    As if that wasn’t enough, over the next decade, the Chic masterminds became the secret sauce for a range of cutting-edge pop acts, producing and writing for everyone from Diana Ross and David Bowie to Madonna, Duran Duran and the B-52’s. Nile Rodgers even scored a hit in the 2010s with a pair of French robots who “got lucky” with another take on the Chic groove.

    Podcast production by Asha Saluja.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 57 min
    Smells Like Christmas Spirit, Part 2

    Smells Like Christmas Spirit, Part 2

    Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus.
    In Part 2 of this episode of Hit Parade, we continue the story of how Nirvana’s Nevermind ousted Michael Jackson’s Dangerous from the top of the Billboard album chart, Chris Molanphy examines the chart dynamics that not only ushered in the grunge era but also invented a new music sales strategy, the post-Christmas album, and how that trend has been shaped and changed by the rise of rap, and the surprise album drop.
    Podcast production by Benjamin Frisch.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 49 min
    Smells Like Christmas Spirit, Part 1

    Smells Like Christmas Spirit, Part 1

    Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus.
    When Nirvana’s Nevermind ousted Michael Jackson’s Dangerous from the top of the Billboard album chart, it made headlines in early 1992. Only, it didn’t really happen in ’92. What gave Nirvana the win happened right after Christmas ’91. Teenagers who were home for the holidays voted with their gift cards, and they gave Kurt Cobain’s band the win over the King of Pop. This month, Chris Molanphy examines the chart dynamics that not only ushered in the grunge era but also invented a new music sales strategy, the post-Christmas album.
    Podcast production by Benjamin Frisch.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 34 min
    Friends in Low Places, Part 2

    Friends in Low Places, Part 2

    Hit Parade is back for non-Slate Plus listeners! Upcoming episodes will be split into two parts, released two weeks apart. For the full episode right now, sign up for Slate Plus and you'll also get The Bridge, our Trivia show and bonus deep dive into our subjects. slate.com/hitparadeplus.
    Hit Parade continues the story of Garth Brooks. In the ’90s, he was country-authentic, ignored pop radio, and still utterly dominated the charts as the decade’s biggest multiplatinum megastar. Brooks took on chart competitors from Guns n’ Roses to Madonna to Mariah Carey and bested them all … until he tried taking on the Beatles. (And we’re still scratching our heads over that Chris Gaines thing.) 
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 42 min

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