316 episodes

A podcast all about the making and meaning of popular music. Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding pull back the curtain on how pop hits work magic on our ears & our culture. From Vulture and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

Switched on Pop New York Magazine

    • Music
    • 4.6 • 2.3K Ratings

A podcast all about the making and meaning of popular music. Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding pull back the curtain on how pop hits work magic on our ears & our culture. From Vulture and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

    The soft sounds of Kali Uchis (live from Vulture Fest)

    The soft sounds of Kali Uchis (live from Vulture Fest)

    Through crafting a unique, cross-cultural sound, Kali Uchis has emerged as one of indie music’s most promising talents. From playing in jazz band as a kid to collaborating with Bootsy Collins and Kaytranada, the Grammy Award-winning artist has managed to take her bilingual, one-of-a-kind music to the Billboard charts while still keeping her DIY ethos. At this year’s Vulture Fest live in Los Angeles, host Charlie Harding talked with Uchis about her career, her songcraft and her two upcoming albums: one in Spanish and one in English. 
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    • 32 min
    Why do new Christmas songs fail?

    Why do new Christmas songs fail?

    In case you missed it last year: why are there no new Christmas songs? One one hand, there's more holiday songs than we’ll ever need. Every year pop stars drop countless holiday-themed album.
    But despite the annual glut of Christmas releases, few of these new songs join the rotation of holiday classics. On Billboard's Holiday Hot 100 chart right now, there's only four songs from the past ten years that have made it to the top fifty.
    We listen to each of these holiday hits—from Kelly Clarkson, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and the Jonas Brothers—and and ask if these songs can go the distance and become the 21st century members of the Christmas music canon.

    Songs Discussed - Playlist
    Kelly Clarkson - Underneath the Tree
    Ariana Grande - Santa Tell Me
    Justin Bieber - Mistletoe
    Jonas Brothers - Like It's Christmas
    The Bird and the Bee - You and I at Christmas Time
    Loretta Lynn - White Christmas Blue
    Woody Goss - One for One
    Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - 8 Days of Hannukah
    Jenny Owen Youngs, Tancred, John Mark Nelson - Fireside
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    • 27 min
    The Art of Flow

    The Art of Flow

    In hip-hop, what draws us to an artist is not just the content of their lyrics but how they deliver them. Along with tapping your foot to the rhythm, understanding something called “flow” is essential to understanding hip-hop as a whole.

    In this episode of Switched On Pop, we interview genre icon DJ Jazzy Jeff on the concept of flow: what it is, how it applies to all music – not just hip-hop – and how any rapper’s flow can be analyzed under his guidelines. Taking his word for it, we put our magnifying glasses on to look at the bars of our favorite rappers, from Megan thee Stallion to Babytron.

    Songs Discussed:

    The Notorious B.I.G. - Big Poppa

    Mary J. Blige - Family Affair

    A Tribe Called Quest - The Hop

    Danger Mouse, Black Thought - Aquamarine

    BabyTron - Crocs & Wock’ 

    RXKNephew - Take Three

    JID - Better Days (feat. Johnta Austin)

    Megan Thee Stallion - Not Nice

    Megan Thee Stallion - Cocky Af


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    • 36 min
    Willow Smith rocks harder

    Willow Smith rocks harder

    Coping Mechanism, Willow's new album, is her heaviest music yet. Charlie and Willow chat about the making of the new record and the many multitudes of rock music.

    Music Discussed

    The Anxiety - Meet Me At Our Spot

    Willow - Maybe It's My Fault, UR Town, Human Leach, PrettyGirlz, Lipstick, Why, Breakout, Hover Like a Goddess, Curious/Furious, Ur A Stranger

    Yungblood - Memories (with Willow)

    Deftones - Sextape

    Radiohead - I Will

    Straight Line Stitch - What You Do To Me

    Killswitch Engage - My Curse

    Lamb of God - Redneck

    Primus - Lacquer Head


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    • 26 min
    The Sound of Sapphism

    The Sound of Sapphism

    Tegan & Sara and King Princess have found themselves placed under the banner, "sapphic pop," a term recently coined referring to music by and/or for sapphics (a.k.a. women or femme folks attracted to other femme folks). Journalist Emma Madden defines the folk-inspired sound as having a “soft tactile approach” that’s “more sensual than it is sexual.” This umbrella folds in everyone from indie pop veterans Tegan & Sara to nonbinary artists like King Princess; even artists like Hozier and Sufjan Stevens are, improbably, considered sapphic pop, with their music having the same sonic qualities of other songs dedicated to feminine yearning.
    From articles popping up in multiple news outlets to the majority of Taylor Swift’s openers for this upcoming tour (looking at MUNA, girl in red, and Phoebe Bridgers, specifically), the terminology of “sapphic pop” has come to define a scene almost out of nowhere.
    This week on Switched On Pop, we explore exactly what sapphic pop is, where it came from, and how artists feel about it – even asking Tegan & Sara and King Princess directly. You can listen wherever you get podcasts.

    Songs discussed

    Clairo – Sofia

    King Princess – Talia

    girl in red – i wanna be your girlfriend

    Hozier – Cherry Wine (live)

    Alex G – Sarah

    The Velvet Underground – I Found A Reason

    Sufjan Stevens – To Be Alone With You

    Cris Williamson – Shine On Straight Arrow

    Jaylib, Madlib, J Dilla – The Red

    Taylor Swift – betty

    Brittany Howard – Georgia

    MUNA, Phoebe Bridgers – Silk Chiffon

    Tegan & Sara – Call It Off

    Tegan & Sara – Smoking Weed Alone

    King Princess – 1950

    King Princess – I Hate Myself, I Want To Party

    King Princess – Pussy is God

    Kate Bush – Why Should I Love You?


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    • 33 min
    Scary Pockets funkify pop classics (with Lizzy McAlpine)

    Scary Pockets funkify pop classics (with Lizzy McAlpine)

    Scary Pockets is the musical collective that has been transforming pop classics into funk anthems for over half a decade. Each week they release a new cover on YouTube featuring razor-sharp instrumentalists and a rotating cast of virtuosic lead singers. Amazingly, each of their 200-plus covers is arranged on the fly, in a span of about 90 minutes—capturing the talent and spontaneity of a group of musicians at the top of their game. We here at Switched on Pop were struck by the band's ability to infuse familiar songs with syncopation and backbeat, and rack up millions of views in the process, so we reached out to Scary Pockets's leaders—guitarist Ryan Lerman and keyboardist Jack Conte—to arrange for Nate and Reanna to be flies on the wall during their creative process. After documenting the behind-the-scenes dialogue that led to a slow-burning interpretation of the Bee Gees's 1977 classic "Staying Alive," we called up Ryan, Jack, and the song's lead vocalist, Lizzy McAlpine, to hear their insights on making a song that everyone knows sound fresh and unfamiliar 

    Songs Discussed
    Bee Gees - Staying Alive (Scary Pockets Cover)
    Paul McCartney and Wings - Arrow Through Me (Scary Pockets Cover)
    Beatles - Maxwell's Silver Hammer
    Coldplay - Fix You (Scary Pockets Cover)
    Parcels - Tieduprightnow
    Bill Withers - Just the Two of Us (Scary Pockets Cover)
    Justin Bieber - Peaches (Lizzy McAlpine Cover)

    More on Scary Pockets
    Watch the video of Scary Pockets and Lizzy McAlpine covering "Staying Alive"
    See them LIVE with David Ryan Harris & John Scofield, November 16 at Echoplex in Los Angeles! Tickets
    Subscribe to their YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/scarypockets
    Merch Store: https://www.scarypocketsfunk.com
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/scarypockets
    Listen on Spotify: Scary Pockets
    Instagram: @scarypockets 

    Musician Credits:
    Vocals: Lizzy McAlpine
    BGVs: Sophia James, Arielle Kasnetz
    Guitar: Ryan Lerman, Will Graefe
    Wurlitzer & Synth: Jack Conte
    Bass: Travis Carlton
    Drums: RJ Kelly
    Audio: Engineered & mixed by Caleb Parker
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    • 33 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
2.3K Ratings

2.3K Ratings

G Woodbery ,

The Story of a Sample!!!

This review turned into an ode to Nate and Charlie and the whole SoP team. I’m going to leave it. If you’re wondering if yo I should listen to this podcast, **yes**.
If you want my pitch, it’s the last paragraph. Scroll down.

I listen to the show on and off for years, but in the past few months it’s been an absolute staple. It brings so much joy into my day today to hear The sincerity and joy you all take in breaking down these BANGERS. I feel like hanging along and needy out with y’all every episode.
When you causally dropped the ‘Story Story of Sample’ I had to stop what I was doing, pause the episode and go…. “Boom.”
This is what I do in my free time. As I’ve broadened my music horizon infinitely in the past 5 years, I’ve complied a playlist of sampled I’ve organically discovered. Your pod has been an awesome part of that discovery and I can’t wait for more of those sessions. I just added the triple Tom Tom Club evolution!

This show rules. If your interested enough in the concept of music appreciation to have clicked through the reviews of this podcast, you’re gonna love this show. Start with a sock you recognize and like, and Nate and Charlie will dissect for you why those sounds elicit joy for you hand so many others. Highly recommend. 10/10

olivehandstands ,

Disappointing shift in tone

I used to love this podcast and how it dissected pop music from a position of curiosity rather than judgement. I enjoyed Nate and Charlie’s deep dives into specific songs and interesting analysis. I recently tuned into the Steve Lacy episode and was so disappointed by how the tone of this show seems to have changed! Much of the episode was dedicated to Reanna (producer and now apparently the main host?) bashing Unholy by Sam Smith based on personal preference alone. She opens with “I think Unholy is maybe the worst song to hit the charts in years but that’s a personal opinion...” and goes back to this several times “I love comparing the two, Bad Habit a song that I love and Unholy a song that I despise”

What I loved so much about the show before was that even if Nate and Charlie didn’t personally like a song, they always offered non-judgmental insight and appreciation for the elements that worked. I’m disappointed and if this is the new tone of the show, won’t be listening anymore.

Srconroy77 ,

Not so much

Not half as clever, insightful or funny as the hosts seem to think they are, this is for anyone who likes their music critics heavy on academics and light on passion.

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