168 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.

Want more Hit Parade? Join Slate Plus to unlock monthly early-access episodes. Plus, you’ll get ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe now on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/hitparadeplus to get access wherever you listen.

Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia Slate Podcasts

    • Music
    • 4.8 • 1.9K Ratings

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

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.

Want more Hit Parade? Join Slate Plus to unlock monthly early-access episodes. Plus, you’ll get ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe now on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/hitparadeplus to get access wherever you listen.

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    Song(s) of the Summer Edition Part 2

    Song(s) of the Summer Edition Part 2

    This episode will be available for free beginning July 26th.

    “Summer in the City.” “I Feel the Earth Move.” “Bette Davis Eyes.” “Whoomp! There It Is.” “Get Lucky.” “Espresso.” What do these big summer hits all have in common? None of them was Billboard’s official Song of the Summer.

    Wait…there’s an official Song of the Summer? Isn’t that something that just happens organically? Every year, it seems everybody has an opinion on this musical national pastime. But the Hot 100 often tells a different story. For every “Light My Fire,” “Bad Girls,” “Crazy in Love,” “California Gurls” or “Call Me Maybe”—a hot-weather hit that unites the charts and the punditry—there are confirmed summer smashes that no one would pick out of a lineup, from Zager and Evans to Iggy Azalea.

    Join Chris Molanphy as he traces the tangled story of how America came to decide there should be one victorious summer hit to rule them all. And he counts down the best Songs of the Summer by decade. Is it getting “Hot in Herre,” or is it just us…?

    Podcast production by Kevin Bendis.

    Want more Hit Parade? Join Slate Plus to unlock monthly early-access episodes, bonus episodes of "The Bridge," and ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe now on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/hitparadeplus to get access wherever you listen.

    Song(s) of the Summer Edition Part 1

    Song(s) of the Summer Edition Part 1

    “Summer in the City.” “I Feel the Earth Move.” “Bette Davis Eyes.” “Whoomp! There It Is.” “Get Lucky.” “Espresso.” What do these big summer hits all have in common? None of them was Billboard’s official Song of the Summer.

    Wait…there’s an official Song of the Summer? Isn’t that something that just happens organically? Every year, it seems everybody has an opinion on this musical national pastime. But the Hot 100 often tells a different story. For every “Light My Fire,” “Bad Girls,” “Crazy in Love,” “California Gurls” or “Call Me Maybe”—a hot-weather hit that unites the charts and the punditry—there are confirmed summer smashes that no one would pick out of a lineup, from Zager and Evans to Iggy Azalea.

    Join Chris Molanphy as he traces the tangled story of how America came to decide there should be one victorious summer hit to rule them all. And he counts down the best Songs of the Summer by decade. Is it getting “Hot in Herre,” or is it just us…?

    Podcast production by Kevin Bendis.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 2 min
    The Bridge: Center of the “World”

    The Bridge: Center of the “World”

    In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by widely published author and critic Gavin Edwards, whose Rolling Stone article “'We Are the World’: A Minute-by-Minute Breakdown,” dove deep on the massive charity megasingle and especially Quincy Jones’s central role in its creation. Gavin says Q’s genius was not just musical but psychological—he knew how to stoke positive peer pressure among superstars and get performances they didn’t know they had in them.



    Next, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, gives him a chance to turn the tables with a question of his own, and previews next month’s full-length episode. Slate Plus members can sign up for a chance to be our trivia contestant on a future episode here.



    Podcast production by Kevin Bendis.

    I Wanna Rock with Q. Edition Part 2

    I Wanna Rock with Q. Edition Part 2

    What does a music producer do? If his name is Quincy Jones, a little bit of everything: conducting, arranging, composing. Assembling teams of ace session musicians. Sometimes, even picking a catchy title and telling an artist to go write a song about it— would “Thriller” have worked as well if it had been called “Starlight”?

    Quincy Jones was pop’s Renaissance Man, and he could not be limited either by genre or by role. He played in jazz bands…produced teen pop hits…discovered young talent…scored Hollywood films…helped invent Yacht Rock and Yacht Soul…even released hit albums under his own name featuring cavalcades of guest vocalists.

    And he worked with so! many! legends! Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Little Richard, Lesley Gore, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan … and all that happened before he even met a former child star named Michael Jackson and helped him produce the best-selling album in history. No wonder only Quincy had the clout to wrangle the superstars for the recording of “We Are the World.”

    Join Chris Molanphy as he tells the story of the music man who truly did it all and is known affectionately by the letter Q. He made the world a better place for you and me.

    Podcast production by Kevin Bendis.

    Host
    Chris Molanphy
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 55 min
    I Wanna Rock with Q. Edition Part 1

    I Wanna Rock with Q. Edition Part 1

    What does a music producer do? If his name is Quincy Jones, a little bit of everything: conducting, arranging, composing. Assembling teams of ace session musicians. Sometimes, even picking a catchy title and telling an artist to go write a song about it— would “Thriller” have worked as well if it had been called “Starlight”?

    Quincy Jones was pop’s Renaissance Man, and he could not be limited either by genre or by role. He played in jazz bands…produced teen pop hits…discovered young talent…scored Hollywood films…helped invent Yacht Rock and Yacht Soul…even released hit albums under his own name featuring cavalcades of guest vocalists.

    And he worked with so! many! legends! Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Little Richard, Lesley Gore, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan … and all that happened before he even met a former child star named Michael Jackson and helped him produce the best-selling album in history. No wonder only Quincy had the clout to wrangle the superstars for the recording of “We Are the World.”

    Join Chris Molanphy as he tells the story of the music man who truly did it all and is known affectionately by the letter Q. He made the world a better place for you and me.

    Podcast production by Kevin Bendis.

    Host
    Chris Molanphy
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 50 min
    The Bridge: Girl Groups (Lindsay’s Version)

    The Bridge: Girl Groups (Lindsay’s Version)

    In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by New York Times pop critic Lindsay Zoladz, writer of the paper’s music twice-weekly newsletter The Amplifier. Six years ago, when Lindsay was still at The Ringer, she wrote that girl groups were being extinguished by solo careers. She now says, in the mid-2020s, that the situation for female vocal combos hasn’t gotten much better, but perhaps K-pop will keep the girl group alive.

    Next, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, gives him a chance to turn the tables with a question of his own, and previews next month’s full-length episode. Slate Plus members can sign up for a chance to be our trivia contestant on a future episode here.

    Podcast production by Kevin Bendis.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
1.9K Ratings

1.9K Ratings

Numis22 ,

A Great Listen

So many gems about the history and cross pollination in modern music. Chris is a great narrator and the music clips and facts are woven together perfectly. Not a chart geek, but I love this podcast!

Michpatriot88 ,

Stop with the wokeness

I love music history, but can we for once stop making race, sexuality, and all that the focal point of your podcasts? I just want to hear music history starting in the 1950’s with the birth of rock and how it progressed through the decades. That’s it. Stop with the race bating. Americans are sick of it

Emma Leigh Myhre ,

Listener Since 2018

This podcast made me fall in love with chart trivia, but more importantly, The-52’s.

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