365 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 • 2.4K 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.

    Made In America: Jay-Z & Toby Keith ICYMI

    Made In America: Jay-Z & Toby Keith ICYMI

    In case you missed it rerun from 2016. Back in 2011, two pop songs dropped with the same patriotic title: "Made in America." But the similarities pretty much end there. Toby Keith's country smash and Jay Z, Kanye West and Frank Ocean's soulful hip hop anthem have little in common except a firm conviction that each song knows what it really means to be American. Five years later, these tracks have a lot to tell us about the role music plays in shaping our national identity, and begs the question: does music truly bring us together?

    Music Discussed

    Toby Keith - Made In America

    Jay Z and Kanye West ft. Frank Ocean - Made in America

    Sisqo - Thong Song

    Usher - Yeah!

    Beyoncé - Daddy Lessons

    Jimmie Rodgers - Blue Yodel No. 9

    Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys - Ida Red Likes to Boogie

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    • 46 min
    The Art of Flow (with DJ Jazzy Jeff) ICYMI

    The Art of Flow (with DJ Jazzy Jeff) ICYMI

    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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    • 35 min
    Doja Cat’s Satanic Suite

    Doja Cat’s Satanic Suite

    For the first time in 2023, a rap song is at number one on Billboard's Hot 100: Doja Cat's “Paint the Town Red.” It’s her second number one single after the disco inspired “Say So.” But the ubiquitous and lighthearted bop didn’t accurately reflect Doja’s divisive persona, an extremely online meme lord, and sometimes troll, with a history of riling up internet controversy. 

    Doja Cat recently called out her fans for their parasocial obsessiveness, losing 250k instagram followers in the process. Simultaneously, religious conservatives have accused her of Satanism for her playful use of illuminati imagery at her 27th birthday bash. But rather than recoil, Doja Cat is clapping back at criticism by embracing the devil. 

    On “Paint the Town Red” she’s following the playbook of Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” and Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ “Unholy,” all of which use demonic imagery to spark religious controversy while also commenting on artists’ indiscretions and the hellish nature of the attention economy. In her satanic suite — “Paint The Town Red,” “Demon,” and “Attention” — Doja Cat’s turns online flame wars into musical gold. 


    Listen to The Allusionist with Helen Zaltzman, the best and funniest podcast about language

    Read the history of the loon sample on Pitchfork by Philip Sherburne

    Songs Discussed:

    Doja Cat - Paint The Town Red

    Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby

    Lil Nas X - MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)

    Sam Smith - Unholy (feat. Kim Petras)

    Doja Cat - Say So

    Doja Cat - Kiss Me More (feat. SZA)

    Doja Cat - Woman

    Doja Cat - Demons

    Daddy Yankee - Gasolina

    Kelis - Milkshake

    Kendrick Lamar - HUMBLE.

    Bernard Herrmann - A Narrative for String Orchestra (From "Psycho") [Arr. J. Mauceri]

    John Williams - Main Title/John Williams/Jaws - From The "Jaws" Soundtrack

    Lil Nas X - MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)

    Doja Cat - Attention

    808 State - Pacific 202

    Nicki Minaj - Anaconda

    Calvin Harris - Prayers Up (feat. Travis Scott & A-Trak)

    Dionne Warwick - Walk on By

    Doja Cat - Paint The Town Red - Slowed Down & Sped Up

    Doja Cat - Vegas (From the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack ELVIS)

    Beyoncé - Naughty Girl

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    • 39 min
    Jimmy Buffett: Next Year in Margaritaville

    Jimmy Buffett: Next Year in Margaritaville

    When Jimmy Buffett died on the first day of September, 2023, musicians from Paul McCartney to Pitbull mourned the death of the "Margaritaville" singer. This surprised Nate and Charlie, because frankly, they had never listened deeply to Buffett's work before, and viewed him more as a branding genius than a great musician. How wrong were your faithful podcast hosts. Jimmy Buffett was no novelty act or one-hit wonder. He found a precise combination of yearning lyrics, hip modulations, and singable melodies that produced a collection of songs that questioned the fantasy of Island Life as much as they celebrated it. Journey with us across the seas of Buffett's artistry as we listen for everything we might have missed about this unique musical icon.
    Songs Discussed
    Jimmy Buffett - Margaritaville, Cheeseburger in Paradise, Why Don't We Get Drunk, Come Monday, Fins, A Pirate Looks at 40, My Gummie Just Kicked In
    Harry Belafonte - Will His Love Be Like His Rum?
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    • 36 min
    Beyoncé's 'Renaissance' Era ICYMI

    Beyoncé's 'Renaissance' Era ICYMI

    In case you missed it, Beyoncé’s new album Renaissance is one of her most ambitious albums yet. On this week’s episode of Switched On Pop, we discuss Renaissance with beloved guest Sam Sanders, host of the new Vulture podcast Into It. In Sanders’ words: “it’s trying to do a lot” – but in the best way. The album incorporates seemingly every decade of contemporary popular dance music from Chic’s “Good Times” to Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy.”

    Much of the early discourse surrounding the album was marred by a confusing controversy over a small sample (we try to resolve the issue musicologically) – but the references on Renaissance are worth listening closely to, acting as a guide through essential dance music. The album is an homage to the black and queer innovators of dance; with samples and interpolations of songs both niche and mainstream flying by, like a DJ set curated by house music pioneers. 

    On Renaissance, Beyoncé goes out of her way to cite, credit and compensate her influences, resulting in a triumph of musical curation. Just look at “Alien Superstar”: the song credits twenty-four people, largely due to Beyoncé’s musical nods, rather than an exercise in boardroom style songwriting. Sanders says “the liner notes themselves are showing you that this woman and her team have a PhD in music history.”

    Listen to Switched On Pop to hear how Renaissance honors dance music innovators and finds new modes of expression in the genre. 

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    • 30 min
    Olivia Rodrigo’s Good Ideas

    Olivia Rodrigo’s Good Ideas

    Everyone seems to be getting Olivia Rodrigo wrong. She's one of the few pop stars who has made it big in the current era of fragmented music streaming, but so much of the narrative has been about whose songs she's stealing from, whether it be Taylor Swift, Elvis Costello or Paramore. Rodrigo's new album Guts arrives next Friday: while we wait patiently, we take a close listen to her new singles "vampire" and "bad idea right?" to subvert the narrative. These songs show that she isn't stealing from pop music, but rather uses a deep repertoire of musical predecessors to write very crafty music.

    Songs discussed:

    Olivia Rodrigo – vampire

    Olivia Rodrigo – bad idea right?

    Olivia Rodrigo – driver's license

    Olivia Rodrigo – brutal

    Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Pump It Up

    Olivia Rodrigo – good 4 u

    Paramore – Misery Business

    Olivia Rodrigo – deja vu

    Taylor Swift – Cruel Summer

    Radiohead – Creep

    Scala & Kolacny Brothers – Creep

    Lana del Rey – Get Free

    David Bowie – Space Oddity

    Elvis Presley – That's When Your Heartaches Begin

    Roy Orbison – Oh, Pretty Woman

    Talking Heads – And She Was

    The Breeders – Cannonball

    Liz Phair – Supernova

    Wet Leg – Chaise Longue

    The Beatles – Twist And Shout

    Rage Against The Machine – Killing In The Name

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    • 31 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
2.4K Ratings

2.4K Ratings

Marshee10012 ,

Awesome podcast! Thank youb

THIS is what I come to podcasts for… programming like this… every episode is informational, funny, fun and so musical… I love the addition of Ms, Cruz, but miss the fantastic and silky, funny , informative, camaraderie between Harding and Sloan
( sp?). Thank you for all you do… this last episode on Gay Anthems was really great…

fakepiet ,

Falling off

Rihanna is so hateful for no reason it makes me not want to listen

Hamlin could ,

Butch and the kids were in a room and I

BFF you can go on the bus now if you’re bored or not I will come back to your room if you’re not busy and

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