124 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 • 1.7K 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.

    Angry Young Men Edition Part 2

    Angry Young Men Edition Part 2

    Punk was meant to be angry. But the so-called Angry Young Men of the late ’70s U.K. scene were secret sophisticates in punk clothing. They delivered withering lyrics and snarling attitude over melodies a pop fan could love.

    In so doing, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson and Graham Parker helped transform a slew of back-to-basic styles—pub-rock, power-pop, post-punk—into the catchall category New Wave. It would take over the charts at the turn of the ’80s. But the launch of the MTV era forced these sardonic troubadours to adjust their songwriting for a New Romantic age.

    Join Chris Molanphy as he chronicles the history of three men who wrote the book on alternative rock before it had a name.

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

    • 58 min
    Angry Young Men Edition Part 1

    Angry Young Men Edition Part 1

    Punk was meant to be angry. But the so-called Angry Young Men of the late ’70s U.K. scene were secret sophisticates in punk clothing. They delivered withering lyrics and snarling attitude over melodies a pop fan could love.

    In so doing, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson and Graham Parker helped transform a slew of back-to-basic styles—pub-rock, power-pop, post-punk—into the catchall category New Wave. It would take over the charts at the turn of the ’80s. But the launch of the MTV era forced these sardonic troubadours to adjust their songwriting for a New Romantic age.

    Join Chris Molanphy as he chronicles the history of three men who wrote the book on alternative rock before it had a name.

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

    • 1 hr 12 min
    Give Up the Funk Edition Part 2

    Give Up the Funk Edition Part 2

    In the ’70s, funk was pop—the cutting edge of Black music and the way listeners got their groove on, before disco and hip-hop. After James Brown taught a generation a new way to hear rhythm, and George Clinton tore the roof off with his P-Funk axis, nothing would be the same.

    Rising alongside blaxploitation at the movies, funk took many forms: Curtis Mayfield’s superfly storytelling. War’s low-riding grooves. Kool & the Gang’s jungle boogie. Earth, Wind and Fire’s jazzy crescendos. But when funk began fusing with rock and disco took over the charts, would these acts have to give up the funk?

    Join Chris Molanphy as he traces the history of funk’s first big decade. You’ll ride the mighty, mighty love rollercoaster and get down just for the funk of it.

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

    • 53 min
    Give Up the Funk Edition Part 1

    Give Up the Funk Edition Part 1

    In the ’70s, funk was pop—the cutting edge of Black music and the way listeners got their groove on, before disco and hip-hop. After James Brown taught a generation a new way to hear rhythm, and George Clinton tore the roof off with his P-Funk axis, nothing would be the same.

    Rising alongside blaxploitation at the movies, funk took many forms: Curtis Mayfield’s superfly storytelling. War’s low-riding grooves. Kool & the Gang’s jungle boogie. Earth, Wind and Fire’s jazzy crescendos. But when funk began fusing with rock and disco took over the charts, would these acts have to give up the funk?

    Join Chris Molanphy as he traces the history of funk’s first big decade. You’ll ride the mighty, mighty love rollercoaster and get down just for the funk of it.

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

    • 53 min
    At Last, My Legacy Has Come Along Edition Part 2

    At Last, My Legacy Has Come Along Edition Part 2

    What do you call a song that bombed on the charts back in the day, that now booms out of radios and streaming apps nationwide? Chris Molanphy has a name for these songs: legacy hits. Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” Etta James’s “At Last.” The Romantics’ “What I Like About You.” Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.” Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime.”
     
    Many catalysts can change a song’s trajectory, from movie scenes to stadium singalongs, wedding DJs to evolving tastes. Sometimes the hivemind just collectively decides that this Whitney Houston hit, not that one, is her song for the ages.
     
    Join Chris as he explains how the charts sometimes get it wrong, and how legacy hits correct the record—and counts down 10 of his favorite flops-turned-classics.
     
    Podcast production by Kevin Bendis and Merritt Jacob.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 5 min
    At Last, My Legacy Has Come Along Edition Part 1

    At Last, My Legacy Has Come Along Edition Part 1

    What do you call a song that bombed on the charts back in the day, that now booms out of radios and streaming apps nationwide? Chris Molanphy has a name for these songs: legacy hits. Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” Etta James’s “At Last.” The Romantics’ “What I Like About You.” Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.” Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime.”
     
    Many catalysts can change a song’s trajectory, from movie scenes to stadium singalongs, wedding DJs to evolving tastes. Sometimes the hivemind just collectively decides that this Whitney Houston hit, not that one, is her song for the ages.
     
    Join Chris as he explains how the charts sometimes get it wrong, and how legacy hits correct the record—and counts down 10 of his favorite flops-turned-classics.
     
    Podcast production by Kevin Bendis and Merritt Jacob.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
1.7K Ratings

1.7K Ratings

Bennett F ,

Great Listen

Keep marching! We love it.

smarmydave ,

Off the Charts

One of the best music-related podcasts; one of my favorite podcasts, period. Bravo to Chris M and all involved in the podcast’s production!

BB_UVE ,

So informative, so good!

I recently found this wonderful podcast series and am enjoying it from its beginning. I thought I knew a lot about rock/pop, but every episode has information that makes my eyes get big! Wonderfully researched, typical Slate high production values, and such a great escape!

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