62 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
    • 4.8, 1.3K Ratings

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.

    Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture Edition

    Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture Edition

    A special Hit Parade announcement: Like many media organizations at the moment, Slate is getting hit pretty hard by what's going on with the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue doing our work, providing you with all our great podcasts, news and reporting, and we simply cannot do that without your support. So we're asking you to sign up for Slate Plus, our membership program. It's just $35 for the first year, and it goes a long way to supporting us in this crucial moment.
    As part of this effort, we're going to be making Full Hit Parade episodes available to Slate Plus members only. To listen to the episode in full, and episodes in future months, you'll need to become a Slate Plus member. This is the best way to support our show and our work, and we hope you will pitch in if you can. Your membership will also give access to everything on Slate.com, you'll get ad-free versions of this and other shows, and you'll get bonus segments and bonus episodes of other Slate podcasts. Plus, once you become a member, you can sign up to do trivia with Chris Molanphy on Hit Parade—“The Bridge” episodes. Please sign up today at slate.com/hitparadeplus. We thank you for your support.
    On this preview episode: Outkast is inarguably one of the most important acts in hip hop and pop music history, but their impressive chart runs, and the brand of Atlanta hip hop they championed, was far from inevitable. This is the story of Outkast and how they established Atlanta as a major center of hip hop culture in the United States while racking up some of the most unexpected hits in the history of popular music.
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    • 7 min
    The Bridge: Piano Man, Everyman

    The Bridge: Piano Man, Everyman

    A special Hit Parade announcement: Like many media organizations at the moment, Slate is getting hit pretty hard by what's going on with the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue doing our work, providing you with all our great podcasts, news and reporting, and we simply cannot do that without your support. So we're asking you to sign up for Slate Plus, our membership program. It's just $35 for the first year, and it goes a long way to supporting us in this crucial moment.
    As part of this effort, we're going to be making Hit Parade episodes available to Slate Plus members only., including the one previewed here. To listen to it in fuyou'll need to become a Slate Plus member. This is the best way to support our show and our work, and we hope you will pitch in if you can. Your membership will also give access to everything on Slate.com, you'll get ad-free versions of this and other shows, and you'll get bonus segments and bonus episodes of other Slate podcasts. Plus, once you become a member, you can sign up to do trivia with Chris Molanphy on Hit Parade—“The Bridge” episodes. 
    Please sign up today at slate.com/hitparadeplus. We thank you for your support.

    In this Bridge episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Julian Velard, musician and inspiration for Chris’s most recent full-length episode, about hitmaker Billy Joel. As a Jewish, New York–based piano player, Julian admits that Joel remains the most relevant touchpoint in his career to this day—and that he’s fought an existential battle with the song “Piano Man.” Chris and Julian wonder how a modern pop landscape might reward (or litigate) Joel’s tendency toward pastiche, and they discuss his ultimate legacy—to critics, to lovers, to haters and other piano men. 
    Next, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will look at the Southward journey of rap music in the late ’90s and early ’00s, spurred by chart-topping Atlanta rappers OutKast. 

    Podcast production by Asha Saluja. 


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    • 3 min
    Still Billy Joel to Me Edition

    Still Billy Joel to Me Edition

    A special Hit Parade announcement: Like many media organizations at the moment, Slate is getting hit pretty hard by what's going on with the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue doing our work, providing you with all our great podcasts, news and reporting, and we simply cannot do that without your support. So we're asking you to sign up for Slate Plus, our membership program. It's just $35 for the first year, and it goes a long way to supporting us in this crucial moment.
    As part of this effort, we're going to be making Full Hit Parade episodes available to Slate Plus members only. To listen to the episode in full, and episodes in future months, you'll need to become a Slate Plus member. This is the best way to support our show and our work, and we hope you will pitch in if you can. Your membership will also give access to everything on Slate.com, you'll get ad-free versions of this and other shows, and you'll get bonus segments and bonus episodes of other Slate podcasts. Plus, once you become a member, you can sign up to do trivia with Chris Molanphy on Hit Parade—“The Bridge” episodes. Please sign up today at slate.com/hitparadeplus. We thank you for your support.
    On this preview episode of the show: Billy Joel’s first Top 40 hit, way back in 1974, was “Piano Man,” and the nickname stuck. But for a guy who became famous sitting behind 88 keys, few of his biggest hits are really piano songs. In fact, on all three of his No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, keyboards are not the primary instrument. This is the story of Billy Joel's hits, and the pastiches he crafted to stay on top of the charts.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 7 min
    The Bridge: Hits Don’t Lie

    The Bridge: Hits Don’t Lie

    A special Hit Parade announcement: Like many media organizations at the moment, Slate is getting hit pretty hard by what's going on with the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue doing our work, providing you with all our great podcasts, news and reporting, and we simply cannot do that without your support. So we're asking you to sign up for Slate Plus, our membership program. It's just $35 for the first year, and it goes a long way to supporting us in this crucial moment.
    As part of this effort, we're going to be making Hit Parade episodes available to Slate Plus members only. This will begin with the full-length episode coming on April 30. To listen to that episode in full, and episodes in future months, you'll need to become a Slate Plus member. This is the best way to support our show and our work, and we hope you will pitch in if you can. Your membership will also give access to everything on Slate.com, you'll get ad-free versions of this and other shows, and you'll get bonus segments and bonus episodes of other Slate podcasts. Plus, once you become a member, you can sign up to do trivia with Chris Molanphy on Hit Parade—“The Bridge” episodes.
    Please sign up today at slate.com/hitparadeplus. We thank you for your support.

    In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, originally aired on Facebook as part of Slate Live’s Q-Tip Mondays series. host Chris Molanphy is joined by Eduardo Cepeda, music editor at Remezcla. They discuss the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade about the history of Latin pop on the Billboard charts. Eduardo tells Chris about balancing his fandoms for mainstream American music with his family’s Spanish-language music in his younger years, and offers a critical lens to the Anglophone crossover attempts of the stars of the turn-of-the-millennium Latin pop boomita. Then Eduardo gives Chris a brief history of reggaeton, and shares his current artists to watch within the genre. 
    Next, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will look at the career of piano man and master of pastiche Billy Joel.
    Podcast production by Asha Saluja. 
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    • 28 min
    La Vida Loca Edición

    La Vida Loca Edición

    Hit Parade takes you back to the turn of the millennium when, for a couple of years, it seemed like a Latin pop star was topping Billboard’ Hot 100 every few weeks: Ricky Martin. Jennifer Lopez. Enrique Iglesias. Marc Anthony. Carlos Santana. Shakira. This wave of Latin crossover was hard-fought and a long time coming—from “La Bamba” to “Macarena,” Spanish-language hits in the 20th century had been treated like novelties by record buyers and radio programmers.
    The Latin boom of 1999 changed all that—but did it go far enough? How did we get from the slick Spanglish of “Livin’ la Vida Loca” to the Spanish-first success of “Despacito” and “Mi Gente”? And how did Ritchie Valens and João Gilberto prepare America for J.Lo and Shakira triumphing at the Super Bowl?
    Podcast production by Justin D. Wright.
    Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work.
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    • 1 hr 37 min
    The Bridge: Wesley on Whitney

    The Bridge: Wesley on Whitney

    In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Wesley Morris, Pulitzer Prize–winning critic, New York Times critic-at-large, and co-host of Still Processing. They discuss the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade about the chart legacy of Whitney Houston, which was inspired in part by Wesley and his co-host Jenna Wortham’s analysis in Still Processing of Houston’s life, identity, and artistry. Wesley talks about his first memory of seeing Whitney on TV, his respect for the versatility of her voice, and his commiseration with her sometimes-cold reception by Black fans. 
    Next, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will look at Latin pop crossover on the American charts. 
    While this episode is available to all listeners, our trivia round is open only to Slate Plus members. Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work.
    Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.
    Podcast production by Asha Saluja.  
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
1.3K Ratings

1.3K Ratings

MrMuggs1551 ,

Used to be great, hard pass on the pay wall.

I used to look forward each month to the well-researched and presented take on the billboard charts, however, using a global pandemic as the opportune time to move the podcast to a subscription only model is certainly one way to give your audience the finger. No thanks Slate. Unsubscribed.

MR. Bob Dobalina S.F, CA ,

So long Chris, you will be missed...

Requiring those who look forward to Hit Paeade and Chris’ words, to pay, especially at this time, is sad.
We’re all hoping for a few hours of escape from this insanity, some just cant justify the cost. I though hard about it and tried out the other slate content...no offense, but this is definitely your best. I get it, but I just cant do it, and on the Billy Joel-BILLY JOEL! episode, of all artists...darn it.
Maybe Chris will do a fantastic piece about this time in music history. I’d love to afford to hear it.
So long, friend.

G-Man 007 ,

I love this show! Worth three dollars a month? Quite possibly?

I look forward to every episode and learn something new every time. While I was disappointed when the paywall was announced, I really have to think about it. Is this podcast worth three dollars a month? Considering you get a full episode and a bridge episode, and the entertainment value, quality, and amount of detail that Chris puts into each and every episode, I believe it might actually be worth it, if one can afford it. Not to say that everyone can, and people certainly have their right to be upset with the introduction of the pay wall. I’m pretty sure I will pay the $35, three dollars a month for two episodes, to still be able to hear this great content.

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