270 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 Vulture

    • Music
    • 4.6 • 2.1K 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.

    32 Albums in, Elvis Costello is Just Getting Started

    32 Albums in, Elvis Costello is Just Getting Started

    Elvis Costello burst onto the music scene in 1977 with the album My Aim Is True. Songs like “Alison” established him as a powerful new voice in rock. His next album, This Year’s Model, introduced hits like “Pump it Up,” which has resounded through stadiums and arenas across the country ever since. 

    From then on he released album after album, decade after decade, becoming a force to be reckoned with in pop music. Now, Costello has released his 32nd studio album, The Boy Named If, and it's a kaleidoscopic journey through many of the sounds and styles that he's experimented with over the years.

    We spoke with Elvis about his wrong notes and open-ended lyrics, his much-publicized defense of Olivia Rodrigo, and why he turned down working with Adele

    Songs Discussed:
    Elvis Costello - Farewell, OK, Magnificent Hurt, Alison, Pump It Up
    Richie Barrett - Some Other Guy
    Olivia Rodrigo - Brutal
    Chuck Berry - Too Much Monkey Business
    Bob Dylan - Subterranean Homesick Blues
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    • 34 min
    Accidental Kpop star Eric Nam risks it all to go his own way

    Accidental Kpop star Eric Nam risks it all to go his own way

    Eric Nam is an accidental K-pop star. Growing up in Atlanta, and graduating from college in Boston, he did not expect that in his twenties he’s sign to a K-pop label, be named 2016 Man of the year by GQ Korea, and become a go-to television personality in South Korea. His music, imbued with his charisma and charm has charted globally. As fun as it is, the K-pop machine can be a real grind — it churns through young people not unlike the NFL draft. Nam is unusually candid about this experience, likely because he decided to quit the label system, and take his blossoming music career independent. On his second all English full length album There And Back Again Nam has full creative control, and all the burdens of sustaining a solo music career. Nam spoke with Switched On Pop co-host Charlie Harding about what it is like to go from K-pop star to indie musician.

    SONGS DISCUSSED
    Eric Nam - Ooh Ooh, Heavens Door, Good For You, Honestly, Can’t Help Myself (feat. LOCO), Lost On Me, I Don’t Know You Anymore, Wildfire, Love Die Young
    Lee Hyori - 10 Minutes
    MOMOLAND - BBoom BBoom
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    • 37 min
    The Weeknd drives through purgatory (with a little help from Jim Carrey)

    The Weeknd drives through purgatory (with a little help from Jim Carrey)

    Dawn FM is The Weeknd’s most narratively compelling album yet. More than just a collection of eighties-nostalgia single bait, Dawn FM is a concept album that picks up on a multi-year meta narrative. Abel Tesfaye, seemingly killed off his character at the end of his last album, After Hours. Getting caught up in the “Blinding Lights” of fame and excess, the narrator ends up overdosing in the back of an ambulance. On the final song “Until I Bleed Out” he sings “I can’t move, I’m so paralyzed.” Dawn FM picks up where After Hours left off. The album opens with pastoral winds and bird sounds, with The Weeknd driving down the road searching for a light at the end of a tunnel. His radio is turned to a fictional radio station: 103.5 Dawn FM hosted by The Weeknd’s real life neighbor, the actor Jim Carrey. Channeled through the Vaporwave inspired production of Oneohtrixpoint Never, Dawn FM is the sound of purgatory.
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    • 37 min
    Why do new Christmas songs fail?

    Why do new Christmas songs fail?

    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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    • 26 min
    Tai Verdes TikTok-ed his way to a breakout hit

    Tai Verdes TikTok-ed his way to a breakout hit

    Whether you’re a TikTok fanatic, or the app’s K-hole-inducing stream of content has forced you to delete it from your phone, its influence on music is undeniable. In 2020 the platform bragged that over 70 artists on the platform signed with major labels. TikTok’s success was linked to pandemic-related stay-at-home orders -- people were stuck at home and musicians couldn’t tour. And while trending dances and songs on TikTok may turn over weekly, with a billion monthly users, the social media platform has industry power. In 2021, Billboard’s Hot 100 was overflowing with TikTok hits -- over 175 according to the company -- more than twice that of last year. 
    While major artists like J Balvin and Taylor Swift use the platform, TikTok’s algorithm is surprisingly good at exposing aspiring artists. Take Tai Verdes for example. While working his day job at the Verizon store. Ty set his mind on using TikTok to launch his musical career. When he released a video singing his song “Stuck In The Middle” in his Prius, millions saw him for the first time. Tai’s music has since been heard at Lollapalooza and on Top 40 radio. But like so many overnight successes, he built it up over years of practice and creative releases. If you want to know how social media has fundamentally changed music, you need to hear Tai’s Verdes tell his story to Switched On Pop’s Charlie Harding.
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    • 31 min
    Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raise The Roof

    Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raise The Roof

    Robert Plant is in his own words “cold” and “prickly” while speaking about his new album with Alison Krauss, Raise The Roof. First thing upon joining the Zoom call from London, Plant jovially launches into the much misattributed quote “talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” But he is neither callous, nor coy. For Plant the music is ineffable, a joyous celebration of friendship, and a kindred love of song that he shares with Krauss and producer T-Bone Burnett. Their album follows up from their 2007 Grammy award winning album Raising Sand. Both albums are steeped in americana and roots music, favorites that the trio traded across the Atlantic over many years of friendship. There are few hints of Plant’s Led Zeppelin or Krauss’ Union Station. Instead their collaboration sounds timeless, haunting and melancholic. Their idiosyncratic sound emerged from an entirely organic process, a method that both parties are happy to share, but reticent to analyze. Switched On Pop’s co-host Charlie Harding spoke with Plant and Krauss about the making of Raise The Roof.
    

    SONGS DISCUSSED - Spotify Playlist

    Robert Plant, Alison Krauss - Quattro (World Drifts In), The Price of Love, Go Your Own Way, Trouble With My Love, Can’t Let Go, It Don’t Bother Me, You Led Me To The Wrong, Last Kind Words Blues, High and Lonesome, Going Where The Lonely Go, Somebody Was Watching Over Me

    Calexico - Quattro (World Drifts In)

    The Everly Brothers - The Price of Love

    Anne Briggs - Go Your Own Way

    Bert Jansch - Go Your Own Way

    Sandy Denny - Go Your Own Way

    Led Zeppelin - The Battle of Evermore

    Betty Harris - Trouble With My Love

    Lucinda Williams - Can’t Let Go

    Bert Jansch - It Don’t Bother Me

    Ola Belle Reed - You Led Me To The Wrong

    Geeshie Wiley - Last Kind Words Blues 

    Merle Haggard - Going Where The Lonely Go

    Pops Staples - Somebody Was Watching 


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    • 31 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
2.1K Ratings

2.1K Ratings

fujiapplepi ,

Interesting Dissection of Popular Music

Thoughtfully-made and insightful episodes on interesting topics and songs!

sylyep ,

Super interesting

At first, I only chose the episodes of songs I knew, but I quickly learned that every episode is super interesting, so now I don’t skip over any.

Sadie7000 ,

A pleasure to listen to people who really know what they are talking about

I just listened to the “Deja Vu” episode about musical copyright and was extremely impressed by the breadth and depth of detail that Charlie Harding brought to the discussion. He drew on his knowledge of music and song craft, but also law and technology. He clearly did a lot of homework to prepare. It is such a pleasure to listen to people who really know what they are talking about! Also, they are consistently very respectful and appreciative of female artists in a way that music geeks have not always been. An excellent podcast!

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