229 episodes

Best Arts & Culture podcast Webby 2020 winner 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

Best Arts & Culture podcast Webby 2020 winner 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.

    Julia Michaels’ Songwriting Superpowers

    Julia Michaels’ Songwriting Superpowers

    For nearly a decade, Julia Michaels has penned hit songs for the biggest acts in pop music. She is adept at turning people’s vulnerabilities into memorable hooks — think Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” or Selena Gomez’s “Lose You to Love Me.” There are countless others, but all of them share distinctive traits. Where many songwriters might turn to the simplest, almost nursery-rhyme-level lyrics to get the message across, Michaels does the opposite. She crams as many words as possible into each phrase. Her lyrics sound spoken. On her own hit song, her 2017 debut solo single “Issues,” she sings, “Bask in the glory, of all our problems / ’Cause we got the kind of love it takes to solve ’em”; it earned her a Song of the Year nomination at the 2018 Grammys, along with a Best New Artist nod. Her rhyming may sound accidental, but that’s the pop-song illusion. Michaels’s idiosyncratic phrasing has symmetry and her rhyming is indeed purposeful, all to illuminate her primary subject: the infinite recursions of human relationships. After releasing three EPs and countless singles of her own, Michaels has just released her first full-length album, Not in Chronological Order. On this week’s episode of Switched on Pop, Nate and Charlie try to identify Julias Michaels songwriting superpowers and then Charlie speaks with Michaels about how the vagaries of the heart inspire an endless stream of songs.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 42 min
    How Take A Daytrip took off (full interview)

    How Take A Daytrip took off (full interview)

    The story of the hitmakers behind Lil Nas X’s “Montero” Sheck Wes’s “Mo Bamba” and many more
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 39 min
    The Mystery of Montero AKA Lil Nas X (feat. Take A Day Trip)

    The Mystery of Montero AKA Lil Nas X (feat. Take A Day Trip)

    Lil Nas X has a talent for creating productive controversy. First with “Old Town Road,” he challenged expectations about blackness in country music. Now with “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” he takes aim at anti LGBTQ+ messages propagated by the religious dogma from his youth (he came out as gay during Pride 2019). The song describes a romantic encounter without innuendo. Sure it’s raunchy, but the song doesn’t especially stand out on Billboard where explicit sexual fantasy is commonplace. But his use of religious iconography in his video and merchandise created an immediate backlash. In the video to “Montero,” Lil Nas X rides a stripped pole into hades where he gives a lap dance to Satan (also played by Lil Nas X). Despite the obvious commentary on repressive orthodoxy, religious conservatives failed to see the subtext. The song became a lightning rod. But as pundits fought on social media about the song's meaning, most critics failed to look into the song’s musical references. Produced by Take A Daytrip, the duo behind Shek Wes’ “Mo Bamba” and Lil Nas X’s “Panini,” “Montero'' mashes up genres that take the listener on a global journey, sharing his message of acceptance across cultures.
    Music
    Lil Nas X — Montero, Old Town Road, Panini
    24kGoldn, iann dior - Mood
    Dick Dale and his Del-Tones - Misirlou
    Tetos Demetriades - Misirlou
    Aris San Boom Pam
    Silsulim - Static & Ben El
    Shek Was — Mo Bamba
    Lehakat Tzliley Haud
    Bouzouki recording from xserra from FreeSound under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

    More
    Listen to Gal Kadan’s project: Awesome Orientalists From Europa on Bandcamp
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 37 min
    Pop On A Perilous Planet (with Kyle Devine)

    Pop On A Perilous Planet (with Kyle Devine)

    Earth Day 2021 gives us the chance to pause our usual programming and consider the role pop music plays in our deepening climate emergency. On Side A, we listen to artists who have confronted the climate crisis head-on. Side B considers the environmental cost of streaming music with Kyle Devine, author of Decomposed: The Political Ecology of Music.
    Songs Discussed:
    George Pope Morris - Woodman, Spare That Tree!
    Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi
    Marvin Gaye - Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)
    Tower of Power - Only So Much Oil in the Ground
    Various Artists - Love Song for the Earth
    Anohni - 4 Degrees
    The Weather Station - The Robber
    DJ Cavem - Sprout That Life

    Learn more about the environmental impact of NFTs
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 35 min
    5 Rules of Great Songwriting Collabs, According to Teddy Geiger and Dan Wilson (On Air Fest 2021)

    5 Rules of Great Songwriting Collabs, According to Teddy Geiger and Dan Wilson (On Air Fest 2021)

    On Switched on Pop we talk to songwriters and artists about how they make great songs. Most songs are written with two or more people in the room. Something we've never done before is pair two of the best songwriters in the business to explain how they create a successful collaboration.
    Teddy Geiger is a Grammy nominated songwriter who's written countless number ones. You've likely heard her work with Sean Mendes, Leon Bridges, and Christina Aguilera, among many others. She’s also a critically acclaimed artist who's just released a single called “Love Somebody” written with Ricky Reed and Dan Wilson.
    Dan Wilson is the bandleader of Semisonic, famous for the song “Closing Time,” and the co-writer of Adele's “Someone Like You” and “Ready to Make Nice” by the Chicks. Wilson recently shared his top songwriting and collaboration tips published as a deck of cards called Words and Music in Six Seconds. He shared his ground rules for collaboration from the deck, through the case study of Teddy Geiger’s “Love Somebody” as part of On Air Fest 2021.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 32 min
    Silk Sonic's Retro Soul (with Tayla Parx)

    Silk Sonic's Retro Soul (with Tayla Parx)

    Anderson Paak and Bruno Mars have joined forces as the duo Silk Sonic, and their first release “Leave the Door Open” suggests that their collab is as natural as peanut butter and jelly. The song exudes throwback vibes through its lush harmonies and sensuous lyrics. But this isn’t any run-of-the-mill exercise in empty nostalgia. Silk Sonic have a very specific sound in mind that they’re reviving for 21st century audiences: Philly Soul, the sophisticated 70s sound that “put a bow tie on funk.”
    Charlie and Nate aren’t the only ones trying to blow the dust out of the grooves of “Leave the Door Open.” Songwriter Tayla Parx, who’s worked with everyone from Ariana Grande to Panic! At the Disco to Anderson Paak himself, joins the hosts to help explain how Silk Sonic created such a catchy track, and why modern listeners might be ready for a blast from the past. 
    Songs Discussed
    Silk Sonic - Leave the Door Open
    Aretha Franklin - I Say a Little Prayer
    The Temptations - My Girl
    Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell - Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
    Martha and the Vandellas - Dancing in the Street
    Otis Redding - Try a Little Tenderness
    Sam and Dave - Soul Man
    Commodores - Who’s Making Love
    MFSB - TSOP
    O’Jays - Love Train
    Billy Paul - Me and Mrs. Jones
    The Stylistics - You Are Everything
    Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes - If You Don’t Know Me By Now
    The Delfonics - Didn’t I Blow Your Mind
    Seals and Croft - Summer Breeze
    Smokey Robinson - Quiet Storm
    Teddy Pendergrass - Close the Door
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 53 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
2.1K Ratings

2.1K Ratings

ApexRoss ,

Great Podcast

Very informative with explanations and demonstrations that help a non-musician like me understand what they are talking about when they get into the use of major and minor chords and keys. Really underscores the work that goes into a pop song, especially the cross references to other pop songs and even classical and jazz compositions.

mamie marmesean ,

Is Nate Sloan ok?

I love the show for its sincere curiosity of pop ballads and songs that add color to the motif of our lives. In the report of the two hosts is charming. At least, used to be. Now, I think perhaps, Covid has seeped into Nate Sloan’s brain and turned him into a disaffected, disassociating conversation ruiner. These days it sounds like Charlie Harding is trying his best to hold together the integrity and purpose of this show, despite his friends deteriorating grasp of reality. Just seems like they both could use a vacation.

Oops, Something's Gone Wrong ,

Meh.

This podcast omits opinions and singers it disagrees with.

Top Podcasts In Music

Listeners Also Subscribed To

More by Vulture