156 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 Podcasts

    • Music
    • 4.8 • 1.9K 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.

    Hello, Gorgeous Edition Part 2

    Hello, Gorgeous Edition Part 2

    Barbra Streisand: star of stage and screen. Oscar-winner, film director and TV producer. Culture warrior and meme generator.

    Yes, all that—but don’t get it twisted: Barbra’s legend rests in her catalog of hit songs—and that voice.

    Even as culture vultures consume her recent doorstop of a memoir My Name Is Barbra, what’s getting overlooked are Streisand’s awesome musical benchmarks, especially on the Billboard charts. All of those records Taylor Swift has been setting on the album chart, and Billie Eilish on the Grammys? Babs got there first.

    At a time when rock was ascendant and showtunes were on the wane, Streisand set her own pop agenda, scoring brassy hits that weren’t trendy but topped the charts anyway. She became a pop star, Broadway legend and box-office commander practically simultaneously.

    Join Chris Molanphy as he tells the story of the original Queen of All Media and explains how she racked up all those hits your mom loved (be honest, you know them too) and made “memories, like the corners of [your] mind.” Trust us: It’ll be like buttah.

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

    • 40 min
    Hello, Gorgeous Edition Part 1

    Hello, Gorgeous Edition Part 1

    Barbra Streisand: star of stage and screen. Oscar-winner, film director and TV producer. Culture warrior and meme generator.

    Yes, all that—but don’t get it twisted: Barbra’s legend rests in her catalog of hit songs—and that voice.

    Even as culture vultures consume her recent doorstop of a memoir My Name Is Barbra, what’s getting overlooked are Streisand’s awesome musical benchmarks, especially on the Billboard charts. All of those records Taylor Swift has been setting on the album chart, and Billie Eilish on the Grammys? Babs got there first.

    At a time when rock was ascendant and showtunes were on the wane, Streisand set her own pop agenda, scoring brassy hits that weren’t trendy but topped the charts anyway. She became a pop star, Broadway legend and box-office commander practically simultaneously.

    Join Chris Molanphy as he tells the story of the original Queen of All Media and explains how she racked up all those hits your mom loved (be honest, you know them too) and made “memories, like the corners of [your] mind.” Trust us: It’ll be like buttah.

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

    • 1 hr 4 min
    And the Grammy Goes to… Edition Part 2

    And the Grammy Goes to… Edition Part 2

    Do you watch the Grammy Awards every year and groan, or even yell at the screen? Hit Parade host Chris Molanphy sure does. But he has a weird hot take: The Grammys are better off not trying to be cool. They should reward the popular stuff—especially younger people’s music.

    Where the Recording Academy actually goes wrong is rewarding the old stuff—legendary artists long past their prime, from Frank Sinatra to Eric Clapton, Steely Dan to Beck. The Grammy wins remembered most fondly are artists at the peak of their chart prowess: Carole King. Stevie Wonder. Michael Jackson. George Michael. Lauryn Hill. Adele. Taylor Swift (and more Taylor…and more Taylor…and more…).

    When did the Grammys get it most right—and wrong? (Was the Toto win really so bad?) And how can they become more relevant? (Hint: much more rap.)

    Join Chris Molanphy as he offers a chart nerd’s take on the Recording Academy and offers guidelines for good Grammy governance, just before the 2024 awards. It’s an episode right in the Nick of Time.

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

    • 52 min
    And the Grammy Goes to… Edition Part 1

    And the Grammy Goes to… Edition Part 1

    Do you watch the Grammy Awards every year and groan, or even yell at the screen? Hit Parade host Chris Molanphy sure does. But he has a weird hot take: The Grammys are better off not trying to be cool. They should reward the popular stuff—especially younger people’s music.

    Where the Recording Academy actually goes wrong is rewarding the old stuff—legendary artists long past their prime, from Frank Sinatra to Eric Clapton, Steely Dan to Beck. The Grammy wins remembered most fondly are artists at the peak of their chart prowess: Carole King. Stevie Wonder. Michael Jackson. George Michael. Lauryn Hill. Adele. Taylor Swift (and more Taylor…and more Taylor…and more…).

    When did the Grammys get it most right—and wrong? (Was the Toto win really so bad?) And how can they become more relevant? (Hint: much more rap.)

    Join Chris Molanphy as he offers a chart nerd’s take on the Recording Academy and offers guidelines for good Grammy governance, just before the 2024 awards. It’s an episode right in the Nick of Time.

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

    • 53 min
    Second-Chance Hits Edition Part 2

    Second-Chance Hits Edition Part 2

    In 2023, several hits from years ago—sometimes decades—made it to No. 1 on Billboard’s pop charts after falling short the first time: Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer.” The Weeknd’s “Die for You.” Miguel’s “Sure Thing.” And, most improbably but delightfully, Brenda Lee’s 65-year-old holiday bop “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”
    What’s going on here? A lot of it has to do with the ways streaming, YouTube and TikTok have changed the charts. But the truth is, the second-chance hit is as old as the charts themselves

    From David Bowie to Prince, Sonny and Cher to Guns n’ Roses, the Miracles to the Moody Blues, there are certain songs the music biz won’t give up on. To say nothing of all those holiday perennials, from “Monster Mash” to “Last Christmas.”
    Join Chris Molanphy as he explains why certain songs keep coming back and counts down a dozen favorite second-chance hits. If it first they don’t succeed, chart, chart again.

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

    • 54 min
    Second-Chance Hits Edition Part 1

    Second-Chance Hits Edition Part 1

    In 2023, several hits from years ago—sometimes decades—made it to No. 1 on Billboard’s pop charts after falling short the first time: Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer.” The Weeknd’s “Die for You.” Miguel’s “Sure Thing.” And, most improbably but delightfully, Brenda Lee’s 65-year-old holiday bop “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”
    What’s going on here? A lot of it has to do with the ways streaming, YouTube and TikTok have changed the charts. But the truth is, the second-chance hit is as old as the charts themselves

    From David Bowie to Prince, Sonny and Cher to Guns n’ Roses, the Miracles to the Moody Blues, there are certain songs the music biz won’t give up on. To say nothing of all those holiday perennials, from “Monster Mash” to “Last Christmas.”
    Join Chris Molanphy as he explains why certain songs keep coming back and counts down a dozen favorite second-chance hits. If it first they don’t succeed, chart, chart again.

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

    • 1 hr

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
1.9K Ratings

1.9K Ratings

Peterjb100 ,

Packed

I haven’t listened to many episodes, but the two-part history of punk rock, “This ain’t no party…” is outrageously thorough. A deep dive into the origin and meaning of “punk.”

Ajxkcnens ,

Chart Nerds Unite

I’ve been listening since day one, and this is one podcast that I’ll never get tired of. Every episode is so thoroughly researched and expertly re-contextualizes the artist up for discussion. Never phoned in, includes all the song clips you hope it will… just the best.

kevbot217 ,

A Distressingly Binge-able Show

I’m a massive Springsteen fan, so I jumped into this podcast because of the pair of Springsteen episodes. From there, I discovered there were other episodes I wanted - the Billy Joel one, the one about the declining interest in the single, more and more. It’s never just an overview of an artist’s career - it’s usually the influences, the chart analytics, and what came next. Chris Molanphy’s engaging delivery has something to do with that, too. Soon, I was listening to episodes whose subject matter wasn’t all that familiar to me - the country, rap, and soul episodes, including a 2-hour deep dive into the band (and business) Chic. Soon, I was hooked enough to subscribe to Slate , so I could get my greedy ears on more episodes. Currently, I’m burning through episodes at a clip of 3 a day and I’m going to run out soon enough. As much as I want them to come out more frequently, I’m glad Molanphy and crew take the time to research and produce each episode this well. The best podcast I’ve discovered this year.

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