Switched On Pop

Switched On Pop

Pop music surrounds us, but how often do we really listen to what we’re hearing? Switched on Pop is the podcast that pulls back the curtain on pop music. Each episode, join musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding as they reveal the secret formulas that make pop songs so infectious. By figuring out how pop hits work their magic, you’ll fall in love with songs you didn’t even know you liked.

Categories & Tags
Music
Episode
Podcast
Time
Released
37 min
Dec 16, 2016
i

White Christmas holds the Guinness World Record for most singles sold and has been covered over 500 times. What makes this song so beautiful and endemically beautiful?

43 min
Dec 1, 2016
i

With a little help from Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"

27 min
Nov 17, 2016
i

What it means to put on the mask of the "Cool Girl"

45 min
Nov 3, 2016
i

What do Jay-Z, Kanye West, Frank Ocean and Toby Keith have in common? Their song's "Made In America."

36 min
Oct 6, 2016
i

In this episode, we zoom in on one of the most annoying melodies to see if there's not some hidden musical craft present in the ubiquitous bleeps and bloops that envelop us.

59 min
Sep 22, 2016
i

How Lady Gaga's "Perfect Illusion" is the apotheosis of her artistic statement.

33 min
Sep 9, 2016
i

Certain pop songs have that moment, when everything seems to change , when the drama gets ratcheted up, when the tension increases and our emotions take an elevator ride to the heavens. But what is this mysterious musical trick, and how does it work?

22 min
Aug 15, 2016
i

Hit the road with Gideon and Hubcap on a home-show tour through the Scottish Highlands

36 min
Aug 1, 2016
i

Has the ubiquity of house music detracted from its cultural origins?

39 min
Jul 14, 2016
i

Is "One Dance" an appropriation or celebration of Afro-Caribbean music?

35 min
Jun 30, 2016
i

How ought we listen to our favorite pop stars when the skeletons in their closet turn out to be actual skeletons?

31 min
Jun 16, 2016
i

The art of the summer hit draws from techniques developed 1,000 years ago

34 min
Jun 6, 2016
i

With Meghan Trainor's new singles "No" and "Me Too" ubiquitous on the radio dial, a larger discussion about the uneasy relationship between social movements and selling records takes a feminist bent. Memories of the polarizing 2014 hit "All About that ...

35 min
May 19, 2016
i

A battle between brothers is playing out on the pop charts, a sibling rivalry the likes of which the music industry hasn't seen since 1987, when Michael and Janet Jackson's 1987 "Bad" and "Let's Wait Awhile" jockeyed for peak position on the Hot 100. T...

43 min
May 5, 2016
i

It has been a period of musical loss and celebration. On the same week we lost Prince, the world was gifted Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Both artists contain multitudes of musical traditions, collaborators and themes that weave throughout their song. In the fir...

37 min
Apr 22, 2016
i

The Life Of Pablo is Kanye West's latest album, but it may not resemble one. From its gradual online release to its changing track lists, this shape shifting album is difficult to grasp. To understand this shapeshifting album, we recruited Andrew Maran...

33 min
Apr 6, 2016
i

Out of nowhere, Twenty One Pilots has rocketed to the top of the charts with their surprise hit "Stressed Out." Charlie and Nate pull this millennial anthem apart to discover a deep political resonance, the kind that rarely hits the Hot 100. Tracing th...

22 min
Mar 23, 2016
i

American Oxygen as performed by Rihanna and X Ambassadors

41 min
Mar 10, 2016
i

Listen carefully to almost any hit song these days and you’ll hear musicians screaming “Hey!” What’s the matter with them? Do they really need our attention? We uncover the reason and history behind this phenomenon with guest host Alex Kapleman, produc...

35 min
Feb 26, 2016
i

One of the biggest voices in pop music has no face: Sia. She started her career as a ghostwriter for stars like Rihanna and Beyoncé. Recently she found pop star success with her hit "Chandelier." So with her new album, "This Is Acting," you'd expect to...

5 min
Feb 18, 2016
i

What do Usher, Drake and Bieber have in common? They all sing with Mama Jan, one of the best vocal coaches and producers in the music business. On this mini episode, Mama Jan talks about what happens backstage before the biggest performance of a lifeti...

35 min
Feb 12, 2016
i

Is it a love song or is it a breakup song? Charlie joins the women of the Call Your Girlfriend podcast to break down their namesake song by Robyn. Also, advice on how to build the perfect wedding playlist. And we check back in with Nate to listen to Ca...

56 min
Jan 29, 2016
i

What do presidential candidates, professional wrestlers and improv comics have in common? Walk on theme music. As the primary season heats up we dig into the history, meaning and controversies of campaign anthems. Also, comedian and guest co-host Chris...

29 min
Jan 17, 2016
i

Charlie and Nate reveal the life changing magic of how to tidy up the music you missed from last year. Annually, hundreds of publications release best of lists. These lists are supposed to make it easier to discover and celebrate the year in music. But...

30 min
Dec 17, 2015
i

Celebrate 50 years of A Charlie Brown Christmas and his eponymous holiday album. If you’re feeling worn out on holiday music, this one never wears old. Its gone triple platinum and charts almost every year on the holiday Billboard. Join us as we dive d...

29 min
Dec 2, 2015
i

Two unlikely anthems of individuality are rocketing up the charts: Selena Gomez’s “Same Old Love” and Alessia Cara’s “Here.” One is from an established star, the other from a total unknown, but both use similar musical techniques to make their voices h...

41 min
Nov 19, 2015
i

The most omnipresent figure in pop music is also the most elusive: Karl Sandberg, AKA Max Martin, the mad Swedish genius who’s ruled the charts for 20 years. With the help of New Yorker writer John Seabrook, author of The Song Machine, and comedian Chr...

30 min
Nov 4, 2015
i

Drake and Adele are two megastars who may not seem to share much in common on the surface, but their recent hits exhibit some surprising parallels. Both revisit past relationships over the phone and both conceal inner anguish beneath subtle musical shi...

33 min
Oct 22, 2015
i

As much as we might have crazy love for pop music, pop music also loves to drive us crazy. Earworms that grab you and won’t let go; cookie-cutter compositions that bedevil in their unoriginality; strange new sounds that vex, rankle, confound. How does ...

29 min
Oct 7, 2015
i

Bieber’s two new hits, “Where Are Ü Now” and “What Do You Mean,” showcase the prodigal pop star’s soberer side. In each, his realization of the fictive nature of relationships is musicalized through slippery piano chords and disembodied voices. But jus...

23 min
Sep 23, 2015
i

The Weeknd’s deliriously funky chart topper “Can’t Feel My Face” has sparked sweat-soaked dance sessions across the country, but dark notes lurk at the outskirts of this ebullient jam. Chromatic intrusions and Classical laments crowd the scene and invi...

32 min
Sep 9, 2015
i

The sax is back. This surprisingly funky reed keeps popping up in pop hits from Derulo to Grande. But where did the sax come from? And where did it go? Tighten your embouchure, because we journey to the center of sax in this week’s episode. Also, songs...

23 min
Aug 14, 2015
i

Can you be a country star and critical of the country at the same time? Grammy Award Winner, Kacey Musgraves, has two hit albums that challenge the small-town clichés of modern country music. Is she bucking the trend of big trucks and dirt roads, or em...

27 min
Jul 30, 2015
i

In the first-ever LIVE edition of Switched on Pop, Charlie and Nate enter an epic debate over what track should be crowned 2015’s definitive Song of Summer. Charlie’s candidate is the retro anthem “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon, while Nate argue...

18 min
Jul 15, 2015
i

Fetty Wap’s Trap Queen is an unlikely contender for the top 10. It straddles genres between hip-hop and pop in subtle yet mesmerizing ways. Is it a drug song? Is it a love song? Or is it both at the same time? Join us to find out why you can’t get this...

21 min
May 29, 2015
i

One Direction is one of the biggest bands in pop, but unless you’re a preteen or the parent of one, like us you’ve probably never heard a second of their music. Until now. Let’s see if we’ve been missing out, on the latest from Switched on Pop. FEATUR...

5 min
May 15, 2015
i

How does a good pop song end? With a bang, right? As it turns out, explosive endings are kinda over. Songwriters are instead opting to end with a final dropout. Even the biggest pop anthems close with a quiet final moment. In this musical short, Nate, ...

18 min
May 6, 2015
i

FourFiveSeconds is one of the more surprising collaborations in recent pop history. Rhianna, Kanye, Sir Paul McCartney. The motley lineup doesn’t dissapoint, serving up one of the most unexpected songs of the year—though not for the reason you’d think....

19 min
Apr 15, 2015
i

Carly Rae Jepsen might be the patron saint of Switched on Pop, the show first hatched by Charlie and Nate on a trip down CA-1 while the stereo blasted “Call Me Maybe.” So when we heard she had a new single out we knew we had to stop everything, put off...

14 min
Apr 2, 2015
i

Written in the Hozier family basement, Take Me To Church has risen up to be one of the biggest pop hits of the year. But this is not a typical pop song. The unsettling music and provocative lyrics about faith and relationships irk many listeners. But t...

13 min
Mar 26, 2015
i

Taylor Swift’s Blank Space is about emptiness of the heart. This motif of Blank Space is contained through the entire piece: from the drums, to the melody, to the lyrics. We pull away the sonic structures to show how Taylor recreates that empty feeling...

44 min
Mar 16, 2015
i

A cappella, Italian for in the style of the church, refers to music for unaccompanied voices. Just a decade ago it was nowhere near the radio dial. Now it’s everywhere: college campuses, Hollywood blockbusters, prime time reality television, and the Gr...

27 min
Feb 19, 2015
i

Reporting live from Kenya, we search for African pop that is making its way into global dance music. The barriers to producing high quality audio are reduced to merely owning a laptop. Now, regional artists are reaching a global audience. We speak to ...

25 min
Jan 28, 2015
i

Did you know the melody to the Star Spangled Banner was once a British drinking song? In preparation for the Super Bowl, we uncover how the national anthem has been co-opted and reinterpreted by mega pop-stars. Our understanding of how this song sounds...

31 min
Jan 15, 2015
i

Did you know the melody to the Star Spangled Banner was once a British drinking song? In preparation for the Super Bowl, we uncover how the national anthem has been co-opted and reinterpreted by mega pop-stars. Our understanding of how this song sounds...

28 min
Dec 20, 2014
i

You’ve heard it a million times, you know how to sing it, its ubiquitous during the holiday season, but you’ve never heard a definitive recording. Where does it come from, why is it so catchy, and why of all holiday songs is Jingle Bells the most widel...

29 min
Dec 11, 2014
i

Pop music and youth go together like peanut butter and pickles. The music we hear when we’re young shapes our identities forevermore. In this episode we take three songs that promise an eternal adolescence and put them under microscope to see what make...

26 min
Nov 14, 2014
i

We look at the Rhythms that make us dance, those primal beats, the “Boom Bang Pow” that make us want to move. We’ll ask what makes them work and why is that we’re hearing that untz untz everywhere we go from the dance floor, to the coffee shop, to the ...

37 min
Oct 28, 2014
i

We uncover the common songwriting techniques and chart the musical evolution of Taylor Swift. Featuring songs from her early country period, transitional indie period and her latest pop album, 1989.

24 min
Oct 28, 2014
i

Why do we love listening to heartbreak songs? What do songwriters do to emote such strong feelings?FEATURINGAdele – Someone Like YouKacey Musgraves – I Miss YouCeeLo Green – F*** You!

Want to advertise with us?

Learn More