Music

Switched On Pop

Panoply

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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 sec...Show More

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Demi Lovato is Not Sorry

37:58 | Oct 6th, 2017

Demi Lovato's latest, "Sorry Not Sorry" is at once an unapologetic anthem of defiance and a super catchy mashup of multiple genres. As we'll see, every small musical choice is here for a reason, together fostering Lovato's message of ascension—or eve...Show More

How to 'Feels' the Groove

33:16 | Sep 22nd, 2017

How does a song with nonsense lyrics capture our attention, making us want to move? It is called the groove. Enter Calvin Harris' "Feels" (ft. Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams and Big Sean). Known for mainstreaming EDM, Harris throws out the software an...Show More

44. How Beyoncé to The Beatles Modulate Your Emotions

33:52 | Sep 9th, 2016

Certain pop songs have that moment, when everything seems to change but still remain the same, when the drama gets ratcheted up, when the tension increases and our emotions take an elevator ride to the heavens. From Beyoncé to Johnny Cash, savvy pop ...Show More

37. All About Those Baseline Assumptions About Feminism in Pop

34:58 | Jun 6th, 2016

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 tha...Show More

Valentines Day Special: What Makes a Song Sexy?

34:44 | Feb 5th

Author Courtney Smith joins to offer her expertise on an urgent topic in advance of Valentine's Day: Can we abstract the sexiest songs of all time into a universal list of arousing musical qualities? We try our best by examining five decades of pop s...Show More

The Deep History of '7 Rings'

39:03 | Jan 29th

"7 Rings" is Ariana Grande's latest smash, a glittering banger that owes much to Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1959 classic "My Favorite Things." 60 years later, Grande updates the track for a modern audience, making her the latest artist to repurpose th...Show More

Do You Believe in Life After Autotune?

48:50 | Jan 23rd

Auto-Tune may be the most divisive effect in music. Artists have protested it publicly at the Grammys, and critics have derided the effects for its inauthentic reproduction of the voice. And yet, nearly a decade since Jay-Z prophesied the death of Au...Show More

Slay Bells, All Year Long

40:18 | Dec 26th, 2018

This winter season unwrap a deep dive through a pop subgenre of monumental importance: non-holiday songs that feature sleigh bells, from Bonnie Tyler to Nas, On Side B, we rebroadcast our episode on Mariah Carey's classic "All I Want for Christmas Is...Show More

Look What You Made Us Do

57:37 | Dec 11th, 2018

Four years into Switched On Pop, Charlie and Nate finally reveal what was behind the entire series. We may have not been totally honest with you from the beginning. Back in 2014 we were more pop skeptics than fanatics. The genre was, to some degree, ...Show More

Entering Beard Phase (with Mike Posner)

52:59 | Nov 27th, 2018

Mike Posner has written hits for himself like "I Took a Pill in Ibiza," and for stars from Justin Bieber ("Boyfriend") to Maroon 5 ("Sugar"), so he has insights for days on what makes a pop song work. We dig into Mike's excellent new track "Song Abou...Show More

How Dirty Projectors Make You Feel Energy (with David Longstreth)

55:22 | Nov 13th, 2018

Dirty Projectors are known for their kaleidoscopic soundscapes. They make strange bedfellows of  music techniques like 14th vocal harmonies and African guitar rhythms. But in the backdrop of their obscure orchestrations you will hear the indelible ma...Show More

Stairway To Hell: Greta Van Fleet’s Scorching Album Review That Went Viral

59:22 | Oct 30th, 2018

Classic rock climaxed a half century ago, yet it still survives in two places: FM radio & Greta Van Fleet. The later are an upstart of four boys from Michigan who have found stardom by dusting off the mantle of guitar driven rock. Their latest album,...Show More

Charli XCX and Troye Sivan Love the 90s

37:06 | Oct 16th, 2018

Charli XCX and Troye Sivan conjure late 90s nostalgia in their latest banger. "1999" drips with lyrical nostalgia for the last decade of the millennium — but does the music follow suit? We think the pair are missing prime opportunities to bring back ...Show More

Sicko Rap and Drunk Country

36:13 | Oct 3rd, 2018

Four songs on the Hot 100 pop chart reveal the new directions in which music is headed. Travis Scott's "Sicko Mode" boasts an unprecedented formal structure that points to the future of hip hop. Meanwhile, in the world of country, Jason Aldean, Mitch...Show More

The Side Effects of Pop Music with Emily Warren

45:25 | Sep 18th, 2018

Emily Warren is one of the great rising stars of contemporary songwriting. Her song "Side Effects" with The Chainsmokers is currently rising up the charts. You’ve also heard her writing on Dua Lipa’s "New Rules." She’s collaborated with many of the b...Show More

Drake vs Drake

43:20 | Sep 6th, 2018

Drake, per usual, has been inescapable this summer. "In My Feelings" and "Nice For What" top the charts, but there's depth to these bangers. We argue for hearing one as a meditation on fragile masculinity, the other as a paean to NOLA Bounce. Continu...Show More

Summer Heat of the 2000s: Beyoncé and Black Eyed Peas (Pt. II)

27:42 | Aug 23rd, 2018

The final episode of our Switched on Summer throwback series finds us deconstructing more early aughts bangers. Under consideration: two of the biggest hits since Y2K, Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" and the Black Eyed Peas' "I Got a Feeling." Tune in to d...Show More

Summer Heat of the 2000s: Nelly + Katy Perry (Pt. 1)

25:25 | Aug 10th, 2018

What made summer jams of the aughties like Nelly's "Hot in Herre" and Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" so hot? The answer: big, sweaty, doses of harmonic tension. Specifically, each track relies on the Baroque technique of the ground bass. Wait, we mea...Show More

Why is 90s Pop so Bizarre?

49:41 | Jul 27th, 2018

The Switched on Pop Summer Throwback Series continues! This time, with a deep dive into the musical detritus of the 1990s. In true 90s fashion, our episode is inspired by a pair of classic VH1 shows; "Behind the Music" and "Where Are They Now?"Our su...Show More

Summer is for Dancing in the Streets

30:33 | Jul 12th, 2018

Our Switched on Summer Throwback Series continues with "Dancing in the Street," the 1964 Motown hit by Martha and the Vandellas that was co-written by none other than Marvin Gaye. Over 50 years and countless covers later, we explore how this song sti...Show More

Switched on Summer: Getting Around with the Beach Boys

30:11 | Jun 28th, 2018

Our Switched on Summer throwback mini-series begins in the heart of the 1960s, with the Beach Boys' perennial school's-out jam "I Get Around."We explore how every aspect of Brian Wilson's two-minute-long masterpiece is perfectly calculated to literal...Show More

Announcing Switched On Summer Throwback Series

01:23 | Jun 22nd, 2018

This summer we’re going to be doing a Switched On Summer series, breaking down your favorite summer pop hits from the 60s to the present. We’re talking about Beach Boys to Beyonce. 

The Pure Pop of Charlie Puth + Carly Rae (ft Hanif Abdurraqib)

46:39 | Jun 14th, 2018

Part I: The Doctors Are In! We diagnose a listener's musical malady, namely: "why does Charlie Puth's new jam 'BOY' make us feel so weird?!" Part II: Guest Hanif Adburraqib, author of They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, helps break down Carly Rae ...Show More

Afrofuturism in Kali Uchis & Clipping (with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes)

49:51 | May 31st, 2018

Parliament Funkadelic has had waves of influence on popular music. Their Afrofuturist message and infectious grooves built the backbone of 70s funk, was revived in the 90s with Dr. Dre's G-Funk, and is once again in vogue with in the music of Kendric...Show More

Finding Equanimity In 'No Tears Left To Cry'

38:38 | May 17th, 2018

Ariana Grande has returned with a track that is jarring yet simultaneously catchy. She uses sophisticated musical techniques to tell a story of healing, resiliency, and hope after the attack at her concert in Manchester. Listeners will learn techniqu...Show More

Can AI 'Algorhythms' Write Pop Songs? (With Taryn Southern)

55:12 | May 3rd, 2018

There is a lot of scare about the impending future of artificial intelligence making humans irrelevant. Musician Taryn Southern examines this narrative through her song “Life Support,” written with the aid of AI composition tools. We dispel current m...Show More

Listening Differently to Lorde | with MARIAN HILL

45:42 | Apr 19th, 2018

Samantha Gongol and Jeremy Lloyd are songwriting duo Marian Hill and they are here to share their annoyingly sharp insights on music. They come bearing the wistful pop of Lorde's "Ribs," and we deconstruct its primordial roots in classical composers ...Show More

Kacey Musgraves Gives Us Butterflies

29:18 | Apr 5th, 2018

On her single 'Butterflies,' Kacey Musgraves demonstrates a tour de force of songwriting. This song is a wild success because it incessantly reinforces one core emotional concept: that queasy anxious feeling in your stomach. No we're not talking abou...Show More

Gucci Gang and the Neural Substrate of Subjective Time Dilation

27:23 | Mar 22nd, 2018

In which Nate tries to convince Charlie that Lil Pump's SoundCloud Rap hit "Gucci Gang" warps the perceptual present.Featuring:Lil Pump - Gucci GangGustav Mahler - Der Abschied / Das Lied von der ErdeFranz Schubert - String Quintet / AdagioConlon Nan...Show More

How to 'Make Me Feel' with Lizzo

52:08 | Mar 8th, 2018

"Make Me Feel," is the first hit from Janelle Monáe's upcoming album Dirty Computer. It is a sensual song about the fluidity of desire. In the pre-chorus, the singer proudly expresses that she is a "sexual bender." Fans have embraced the song for bre...Show More

808s & Havana Heartbreak

57:41 | Feb 22nd, 2018

In Camila Cabello's "Havana" we hear both her Cuban roots and the modern sounds of Atlanta. Though the singer and featured guest Young Thug reference these two geographic identities, the song says so much more through its core musical elements. A Rol...Show More

My My My! Troye Sivan + Queer Pop (w Gina Delvac, Darryl Bullock)

58:17 | Feb 8th, 2018

Gina Delvac of the Call Your Girlfriend podcast and Darryl W Bullock, author of David Bowie Made Me Gay, join Nate and Charlie to dig into the poetry of Troye Sivan's "My My My!", the history of LGBT pop music, and the songs we love to hate. And also...Show More

90s Nostalgia in Bruno Mars and Charlie Puth

35:47 | Jan 25th, 2018

The 90s are back. It is as if pop music entered a black hole and came out 25 years in the past. Today's artists are reviving the new jack swing and vocal R&B, creating a wave of 90s nostalgia. Uncover how they trick us into somehow loving those days ...Show More

Justin Timberlake's Identity Crisis

37:08 | Jan 11th, 2018

What's up with Justin Timberlake? Two years ago he gifted us the ebullient family-friendly jam "Can't Stop the Feeling," now he's on the cusp of a deeply serious new record called "Man of the Woods," whose first single, strangely, is a bit of electro...Show More

BONUS: Dua Lipa's Minor Mantra (w Emily Bootle)

18:59 | Dec 28th, 2017

Charlie talks laments, Baroque opera, and gender politics in Dua Lipa's sleeper hit "New Rules" with writer Emily Bootle.

All I Want for Xmas is a Year in Review Episode

41:55 | Dec 14th, 2017

Charlie and Nate breakdown Mariah Carey's classic "All I Want for Christmas is You" and revisit their favorite tracks of 2017. Sleigh bells abound. Featuring•Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas•Laura Marling - Semper Femina•Lorde - Melodrama•Khal...Show More

Björk's Emotional Landscapes

39:27 | Nov 30th, 2017

Björk is uniquely both a pop star and avant-garde composer. Though her music often challenges our ears, underneath her records you'll find more in common with today's pop music than you'd expect. Pieced together, you'll hear that she paints emotional...Show More

Unlikely Mashups: Taylor + Cardi B | Clean Bandit + Berlioz

47:10 | Nov 2nd, 2017

[AUDIO FIXED] At the top of the pop charts, Taylor Swift and Cardi B, two artists with seemingly little in common, exploit the same compositional technique to hook listeners in. Meanwhile, across time and space, electro producers Clean Bandit ft. Jul...Show More

Kendrick Lamar's HUMBLE deconstructed w. guest Amber Mark

31:58 | Oct 19th, 2017

With Charlie off the grid, Nate sits down with singer/producer Amber Mark to explore the different levels of Kendrick's hit HUMBLE.. Then, they turn to the diverse influences (including house music, Carnatic samples, and autodidactic piano chords) be...Show More

67. Anthems of Resilience - Kesha and Imagine Dragons [LIVE]

40:23 | Sep 7th, 2017

This episode of Switched on Pop comes at you live from Block Island, RI, recoded in front of an audience of friends and family following a solar eclipse. Fittingly, the two songs discussed that day formed their own kind of syzygy. Kesha's "Praying" a...Show More

66. The Many Worlds of "Despacito"

28:24 | Aug 10th, 2017

What has catapulted Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's "Despacito" to the top spot on the Billboard charts? Sorry, typo—to its status as the biggest song in the world? Your hosts explore the many worlds of "Despacito" in search of an answer.Featuring:Lusi...Show More

65. Selena Gomez: Bad Liar, Psycho Songwriter

40:54 | Jul 13th, 2017

Selena Gomez's "Bad Liar" stands out on the charts by doing things a little differently: it's a subtle, at times even awkward, summer surprise. Breaking down this pop morsel reveals it has teeth, though—and not just because it borrows a bass line fro...Show More

64. Breaking Down Alanis Morissette (and our own Preconceptions) with guest Andrea Warner

29:45 | Jun 29th, 2017

Author, critic and podcaster Andrea Warner joins for a throwback episode exploring politics in Lilith Fair, harmonic anger in Alanis Morissette's iconic "You Oughta Know," and the blind spots in your host's assessment of women in rock. Featuring:•Ala...Show More

63. Morgan Page Reveals the Rule of 3 in Julia Michaels and Maroon 5

43:01 | Jun 16th, 2017

Your brain can only hear three things at the same time. What you may not know is that musicians use this cognitive limitation to guide your listening all the time. Charlie and Nate are joined by Grammy Nominee music producer Morgan Page to reveal the...Show More

62. DJ Khaled - I'm The One... six... four... five

34:56 | Jun 1st, 2017

DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Quavo from Migos and Lil Wayne have allied for a new smash hit: "I'm The One." Despite the star power present, the resulting track is less than the sum of its parts—repetitive, derivative, uninventive. And...Show More

61. Musical Architecture in Charlie Puth + HAIM

38:19 | May 18th, 2017

Two new songs have captured the attention of your hosts—Charlie Puth's "Attention" and HAIM's "Want You Back." On the surface, these two songs appear to have little in common. A closer look, though, reveals the subtle musical architecture undergirdin...Show More

60. The End Of Pop Music As We Know It: Fall Out Boy & Charli XCX

45:16 | May 4th, 2017

Is it true that all pop music sounds the same today? For the past year the “pop-drop” has dominated the airwaves. This new form of EDM infused pop came out of DJ culture and has infused its sound with every mainstream act like Lady Gaga and Coldplay....Show More

59. Harry Styles, Eschatology and Teen Girl Fandom

41:32 | Apr 20th, 2017

One Direction wunderkind Harry Styles has just released his first ever single, "Sign of the Times," and it's a doozy. Strap in for a discussion of the apocalypse, late Beatles, teen wisdom, and the amen cadence—among other demons exorcised in this mo...Show More

58. What's to Love About Ed Sheeran? (guest Ross Golan)

39:17 | Apr 6th, 2017

Songwriter Ross Golan comes over to start up a conversation, encouraging us to follow his lead and give Ed Sheeran's chart-annihilating record "Shape of You" a chance. Ross, a studio vet with multiple #1 hits (including  numbers discussed on this ver...Show More

57. Zedd + Alessia Cara - Stay (w special guest Grey)

42:31 | Mar 23rd, 2017

Charlie and Nate sit down with up-and-coming producer duo Grey—fresh off their hit "Starving" with Zedd and Hailee Steinfeld—to uncover the secrets behind Alessia Cara and Zedd's dramatic dance track "Stay" and Grey's own deep cut "I Miss You" (ft Ba...Show More

56. Chained to the Green Light: Katy Perry + Lorde

37:13 | Mar 10th, 2017

Two artists who haven't released new music since 2013 recently remerged into the limelight: Katy Perry, with her dystopian disco banger "Chained to the Rhythm" and Lorde, with the melodramatic-yet-uplifting anthem "Green Light." Listening carefully, ...Show More

55. Oscar Week!: La La Land ft. Genevieve Koski

49:23 | Feb 24th, 2017

With the Academy Awards around the corner, Charlie and Nate try something new: a break down of the movie musical La La Land through two of its key songs, "City of Stars" and "Start a Fire." These numbers, one by composer Justin Hurwitz, the other by ...Show More

54. Zayn, Taylor Swift & The Grammys

30:06 | Feb 9th, 2017

"I Don't Wanna Live Forever," the new track from Zayn and Taylor Swift, finds two members of the pop pantheon joining forces with producer Jack Antonoff to craft an inexorable hit song. But this duet—between a former One Direction heartthrob aiming t...Show More

53. The Puzzle of Ariana Grande's "Into You" (with K. Flay)

46:35 | Jan 27th, 2017

"Into You" was one of the biggest hits of 2016, the stellar production of reclusive legend Max Martin combining with the acrobatic vocals of Ariana Grande to create an undeniable, ubiquitous earworm. With "Into You" still burning up the charts, we di...Show More

52. Seduced by the Sound: The Weeknd + Daft Punk

21:53 | Jan 12th, 2017

"I Feel it Coming" might be the slowest burning jam to hit the charts in ages, in which the Weeknd enlists the robotic hum of Daft Punk to help craft a perfectly calibrated climate of desire. Brilliant, sexy songs don't just appear out of thin air, t...Show More

51. Dreaming Of A White Christmas

37:45 | Dec 16th, 2016

White Christmas holds the Guinness World Record for most singles sold and has been covered over 500 times. Pop stars from Elvis to Ella have recorded it, with interpretations from doo-wop to country to punk rock. With new covers each year, it seems l...Show More

50. How to Listen to Music in 4 Easy Steps

43:55 | Dec 1st, 2016

50 episodes in, hosts Charlie and Nate take a step back to think about how they listen to music and try to define what might be called The Switched on Method™. "Hallelujah," by the late, great Leonard Cohen, acts as a perfect test case for breaking d...Show More

49.  Playing it Cool: How Tove Lo Aims High

27:41 | Nov 17th, 2016

On the surface, Tove Lo's new hit "Cool Girl" boasts a snappy, earworm chorus and an empowering message of self-reliance. Beneath its chill exterior, though, Lo's song burns with a passion bordering on rage, and sinister sonic undertones suggest an u...Show More

48. Made In America: Toby Keith & Jay-Z

45:00 | Nov 3rd, 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...Show More

47. Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal - The Chainsmokers, 'Closer'

41:50 | Oct 20th, 2016

Host Charlie spent the last two weeks listening to every song on the Billboard Hot 100. What did he discover? That the sonic similarities of most chart-toppers sound closer than ever. Except for the #1 song in America, as of this episode's release - ...Show More

46. The Most Popular Song In The World

36:31 | Oct 6th, 2016

The Nokia ringtone used to be heard more than a billion times per day, making it one of the most popular songs in the world. We tend to consider cellphone rings as somewhat antithetical to music. There is a whole subset of YouTube videos dedicated to...Show More

45. Lady Gaga Is A Perfect Illusion

59:38 | Sep 22nd, 2016

Lady Gaga's new single "Perfect Illusion" is the apotheosis of her artistic statement. She is well known for her visual style that too often overshadows her music. But when taken together, it is evident that Lady Gaga is playing all of us because the...Show More

43. Pop Drops and Chipmunk Soul

37:24 | Aug 25th, 2016

A strange syndrome is wreaking havoc on the voices of our biggest pop stars. From Rihanna to Justin Bieber, no one is safe from having their beautiful vocals chopped up, screwed down, repitched and repurposed. As dance music takes over the charts and...Show More

42. The Gideon and Hubcap Show

22:50 | Aug 15th, 2016

This episode marks something of a departure from the norm. With Charlie away, host Nate, aka "Hubcap," takes us on a home-show tour of the Scottish Highlands with his traveling minstrel act, The Gideon and Hubcap Show. It's an entirely different kind...Show More

41. Breaking Down The House

36:20 | Aug 1st, 2016

The fingerprints of house music are all over mainstream pop, but much of its sound has been whitewashed. That ubiquitous four-to-the-floor kick and synth bass sound draws from Chicago's queer, black and latinx warehouse club culture. Micah Salkind is...Show More

40. Around The World With Drake

39:31 | Jul 14th, 2016

How do you create a hit that both breaks sound barriers and chart records? Drake has done this with a unique mix of international sounds from Africa, the Caribbean, the U.K. and Canada. But is his chart topping success musical appropriation or celebr...Show More

39. When Good Music Happens To Bad People

35:11 | Jun 30th, 2016

We have more information about pop stars lives than ever before, but this transparency is not always uplifting for music lovers. Just as we may enjoy following the intimate lives of celebrities on Instagram, we simultaneously uncover how stars abuse ...Show More

38. Justin Timberlake Goes Medieval

31:52 | Jun 16th, 2016

Summer heat is upon us and so are the jams. Our ears are hooked on Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop The Feeling." What you may not know is that this song leans on the success of mononymous giants: Pharrell, Michael and Handel. If you think that pop is...Show More

36. Jonas vs. Jonas: Or How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love a Boy Band

35:54 | May 19th, 2016

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....Show More

35. Purple Lemonade: Prince & Beyoncé

43:22 | May 5th, 2016

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 f...Show More

34. Pablo And The Wolves

37:01 | Apr 22nd, 2016

The Life Of Pablo is Kanye West’s latest album. Despite its lack of hits, it has been at the fulcrum of pop music for months. With its gradual online release and its changing track lists, this shapeshifting album is difficult to grasp. We recruit And...Show More

33. The Populist Pop of Twenty One Pilots

33:04 | Apr 6th, 2016

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 ...Show More

32. American Oxygen

22:38 | Mar 23rd, 2016

How do you collaborate with five people to write a song that captures that national temperature? The stakes may seem high with stars like Alex Da Kid, Candice Pillay, Kanye West and Rihanna, but Sam Harris from X Ambassadors has unlocked the secret. ...Show More

31. Say Hey

41:27 | Mar 10th, 2016

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 Kapelman, prod...Show More

30. Now I Sia, Now I Don't

35:42 | Feb 26th, 2016

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 ...Show More

29B. Singing With Mama Jan

05:40 | Feb 18th, 2016

What do Usher, The Band Perry 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 ...Show More

29. Call Your Girlfriend

35:59 | Feb 12th, 2016

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 ...Show More

28. Click With Dick And Other Campaign Anthems

56:03 | Jan 29th, 2016

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 Chr...Show More

27. The Life Changing Magic of Music in 2015

29:15 | Jan 17th, 2016

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. B...Show More

26. Linus and Lucy

30:59 | Dec 17th, 2015

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...Show More

25. Same Here

29:13 | Dec 2nd, 2015

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...Show More

24. Searching for Max Martin

41:14 | Nov 19th, 2015

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 C...Show More

23. Hotline Hello: Drake and Adele

30:35 | Nov 4th, 2015

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 s...Show More

22. Can’t Get You Out Of My Head

33:17 | Oct 22nd, 2015

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 doe...Show More

21. Justin Bieber’s Existential Suite

29:27 | Oct 7th, 2015

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 j...Show More

20. The Weeknd: Dance of Deception

23:20 | Sep 23rd, 2015

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 in...Show More

19. Let’s Talk About Sax

32:46 | Sep 9th, 2015

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, son...Show More

18. Kacey Musgraves: Transgressing Country

23:40 | Aug 14th, 2015

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 ...Show More

17. Song of Summer: LIVE!

27:07 | Jul 30th, 2015

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 arg...Show More

16. The Dual Meaning of Fetty Wap’s Trap Queen

18:18 | Jul 15th, 2015

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 th...Show More

15. One Direction: Our Modern Day Castrati

21:01 | May 29th, 2015

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. FEAT...Show More

14. The Final Dropout

05:27 | May 15th, 2015

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...Show More

13. Hidden Sounds in FourFiveSeconds

18:38 | May 6th, 2015

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 thin...Show More

12. Carly Rae Jepsen – I Really Like You

19:26 | Apr 15th, 2015

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 o...Show More

11. Hozier’s Waffling of Faith in Take Me To Church

14:53 | Apr 2nd, 2015

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...Show More

10. Taylor Swift’s Beethovian Blank Space

13:09 | Mar 26th, 2015

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 feeli...Show More

09. A Cappella Dreams

44:57 | Mar 16th, 2015

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 ...Show More

08. Radio Africa

27:35 | Feb 19th, 2015

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 t...Show More

07. Star Spangled

25:14 | Jan 28th, 2015

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 soun...Show More

06. Mark Ronson: Funk Politics

31:06 | Jan 15th, 2015

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 soun...Show More

05. The Imperative Jingle Bells

28:34 | Dec 20th, 2014

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 wid...Show More

04. To Be Young

29:19 | Dec 11th, 2014

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 ma...Show More

03. Boom Bang Pow

26:21 | Nov 14th, 2014

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 th...Show More

02. The Oeuvre of Taylor Swift

37:24 | Oct 28th, 2014

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.

01. Heartbreak

24:07 | Oct 28th, 2014

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!