Switched on Pop
Switched on Pop
Vulture
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.
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
Apr 13
32 min
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
Apr 6
53 min
AJR Conjure Broadway on 'OK Orchestra'
Adam, Jack and Ryan Met, better known as AJR, started playing gigs on the streets of New York City. The sidewalk hustle taught them how to grab the attention of the least forgiving audience. Now on their fourth studio album, OK Orchestra, they’ve honed an ear-stopping sound that combines modern pop with broadway bombast.  Their platinum-certified single “Bang” pairs a carnival-like horns section with skittering trap style hi-hats. This strange pairing worked. Peaking at No. 8 on the Hot 100, the song is their strongest commercial release so far, despite sounding like nothing else on Billboard. It is a coming of age celebration (“I’m way too old to try so whatever, come hang / Let’s go out with a bang”) with lyrics that lament the pedestrian parts of adulthood: eating healthy, paying taxes, and remembering your passwords. Like its broadway influences, “Bang” takes little moments and makes them sound larger than life.  Switched On Pop’s Charlie Harding spoke with Jack and Ryan Met about the making of “Bang,” their latest single “Way Less Sad” and the showtune influences on OK Orchestra. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 30
43 min
Return of the Funk Guitar: Cory Wong Breaks Down Dua Lipa, Jessie Ware and Nile Rodgers
Cory Wong is a Minneapolis native and Vulfpeck collaborator known for pushing rhythm guitar from a background instrument to the star of the show. Wong’s a walking encyclopedia of funk guitar, and he takes us through the riffs and styles—from Nile Rodgers to Quincy Jones—that power modern bops such as Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” and Jessie Ware’s “Step Into My Life.”  For Cory, rhythm guitar isn’t just a source of propulsive joy, but a sound that’s intimately connected to different regional scenes: change one note in a riff and you’ve moved from Philadelphia to Cincinatti. Every bubble and chuck speaks to a history of musical innovation - a history Cory mines on his new album-slash-variety show, Cory and the Wongnotes. Mixing comedy sketches, massively funky performances, and interviews, Cory’s project imagines what happens when the bandleader takes over as late night host. Songs Discussed (it’s a long one) VULFPECK - Cory Wong Doja Cat - Say So Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk (Audio) ft. Bruno Mars Dua Lipa - Levitating Chic - Good Times Earth, Wind & Fire - Shining Star Ohio Players - Love Rollercoaster Prince - I Wanna Be Your Lover Maroon 5 - Moves Like Jagger feat. Christina Aguilera Morris Day & The Time - The Bird Bootsy Collins - Stretchin' Out (In a Rubber Band) Gap Band - I Don't Believe You Want To Get Up And Dance (Oops Up Side Your Head) James Payback - The Payback Sly & The Family Stone - Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) Jessie Ware - Step Into My Life Chic - Le Freak David Bowie “Modern Love”  Duran Duran “Notorious”  Diana Ross - I’m Coming Out The B52’s “Love Shack”  Avicii “Lay Me Down”  Diana Ross - Upside Down Sister Sledge - We Are Family Sister Sledge - Thinking Of You  Sister Sledge - He’s The Greatest Dancer  Steve Winwood “Higher Love” chorus Stevie wonder - Higher Ground Michael Jackson - Billie Jean Michael Jackson - Thriller Daft Punk - Get Lucky (Feat. Pharrell Williams) David Bowie - Let's Dance Madonna - Like a Virgin Eminem - Lose Yourself Miley Cyrus - Party In The U.S.A Stevie wonder - Higher Ground Michael Jackson - Billie Jean Michael Jackson - Thriller Daft Punk - Get Lucky (Feat. Pharrell Williams) David Bowie - Let's Dance Madonna - Like a Virgin Eminem - Lose Yourself Miley Cyrus - Party In The U.S.A Cory Wong - Tiki Hut Strut Cory and The Wongnotes - Episode 4, “Genre (ft Grace Kelly)” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 23
34 min
What the 63rd Grammys say about the state of pop
The 63rd Grammys was as unprecedented and unusual as last year. Backdropped by the pandemic, the show was delayed and had to be taped in multiple locations in front of a bare bones audience. Echoing the public cries against injustice, standout performances by Mickey Guyton, DaBaby, and Lil Baby decried racism to the nation and to the Grammys—the academy made multiple public statements throughout the night promising to do better. The more light hearted performers played best against highly produced backdrops (Silk Sonic, Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B, and Taylor Swift), but others fell flat, lacking an audience reaction. Not unexpectedly, the Grammy awards ranged from predictable to jaw dropping. Notably, Beyoncé broke records: she now holds more Grammys than any other singer in history. And the major four categories —Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year — were all awarded to women. While the Grammy ceremony horse race can be as much a commentary on commercial worth as musical strengths, the ceremony has much to teach us about what pop music means in 2021.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 15
42 min
Kimbra reflects on a song that we used to know
Ten years ago the Australian artist Gotye asked New Zealand musician Kimbra to feature on his song “Somebody I Used To Know.” At the time Kimbra had no idea it was going to be a hit. No wonder—the song lacks the trappings of a conventional pop song. The chorus shows up late and it only repeats once in a track composed of an obscure Brazilian guitar sample and nursery rhyme xylophones.   But this slow burner about opposing sides in a relationship's bitter end found a global audience, ascending to No. 1 in more than 25 countries, and accumulating billions of plays across streaming platforms. In 2013, Prince anointed Gotye and Kimbra the Grammy for record of the year (it won best pop duo/group performance as well). The song created many opportunities for both Gotye and Kimbra, but both chose unconventional paths, resisting the industry’s desire to generate the next hit for hits sake. Reflecting on the song a decade later, Kimbra spoke with Charlie Harding from the podcast Switched On Pop about how this unlikely song inspired her to pursue her singular musical vision, and how it feels to be yet again co-nominated for a 2021 Grammy for her collaboration with Jacob Collier and Tank and The Bangas on “In My Bones.” SONGS DISCUSSED Gotye - Somebody I Used to Know (feat. Kimbra) Luiz Bonfá - Seville  Kimbra - Miracle  Kimbra - 90s Music  Kimbra - Top of the World Jacob Collier - In My Bones  Kimbra - Right Direction Son Lux - Lost It To Trying MORE Check out Kimbra’s course on Vocal Creativity, Arranging, and Production over at Soundfly Listen to our conversation with Jacob Collier Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 9
49 min
Kaytranada's journey from basement beat-making to the Grammys
Kaytranada has what every producer strives for: an in-demand signature sound. His records glide fluidly between four-to-the-floor house beats, hip-hop sample-flipping, and P-Funk style 808 bass lines. He honed the technique as a teenager, and it has since grabbed the attention of some all-star collaborators: Pharrell Williams, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, Anderson .Paak, and Kendrick Lamar. This year, he’s nominated for three Grammys, including Best Dance/Electronica Album for his 2019 sophomore release, Bubba, and Best New Artist. But Kaytranada is hardly new to music; at 28, he has been building a career in the industry for more than a decade. Although the recognition may be overdue, the thrill of it hasn’t worn off. “I’m Kaytranada, all the way from Montreal, Canada — been making beats since I was young. And now here I am, [one of the] Best New Artists for the Grammys. It’s really crazy and exciting,” he says. On this week’s episode of Switched on Pop, co-host Charlie Harding spoke with Kaytranada about how his DIY approach to production led him to music’s biggest stage. SONGS DISCUSSED Kaytranada — Got it Good (feat Craig David), Lite Spots, TOGETHER (feat Aluna George & GoldLink), GLOWED UP (feat Anderson Paak), You're the One (feat SYD), Kulture, 10% (f Kali Uchis), Rush (Kali Uchis), Love Thang (First Choice) Pontos De Luz (Gal Costa) Janet Jackson - If (Kaytranada Remix), Teedra Moses - Be Your Girl (Kaytranada Edition) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 2
37 min
JP Saxe Didn’t Mean for His Grammy Hit ‘If the World Was Ending’ to Be So Literal
JP Saxe wrote the song “If the World was Ending” with acclaimed songwriter Julia Michaels in 2019 about a fictional cataclysm. The record was released in the before times in a way that seemed to presage lockdown. In the early months of the actual pandemic the song resonated so widely that it catapulted up the charts. It’s now been nominated for a Grammy for song of the year — an award JP Saxe could share with his grandfather János Starker who was awarded a Grammy in 1997 for a recording of Bach’s cello suites. We wanted to speak with JP not just because of the song's success, but also because he has a way of thinking about the practical implications and even morality of songwriting in this track as well as his song "Line By Line" with Maren Morris. Songs Discussed JP Saxe with Julia Michaels - If The World Was Ending JP Saxe - 25 In Barcelona, A Little Bit Yours, The Few Things, Same Room Lennon Stella - Golf on TV (with JP Saxe) JP Saxe, Maren Morris - Line By Line Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 23
37 min
Adrian Younge's new project sounds like James Baldwin meets Marvin Gaye
Adrian Younge is a producer for entertainment greats ranging from Jay Z and Kendrick Lamar to the Wu Tang clan, a composer for television shows such as Marvel's Luke Cage (with A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Mohammad), and owner of the Linear Labs record label and analog studio. Younge has a new mixed media project that breaks down the evolution of racism in America that he calls his “most important creative accomplishment.” A short film, T.A.N., and podcast, Invisible Blackness, accompany the album The American Negro (available Feb 26). Younge tells Switched on Pop how his experience as a law professor and his all-analog approach to recording resulted in a sound he describes as “James Baldwin hooked up with Marvin Gaye.” Music Discussed Adrian Younge - Revolutionize, The American Negro, Revisionist History, Black Lives Matter, Margaret Garner Gil Scott Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised More Additional production by Megan Lubin Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 16
34 min
The Scandalous Sounds of Bridgerton (w Kris Bowers)
The Netflix series Bridgerton has hooked audiences with its bodice-ripping sex scenes, a colorblind approach period drama casting, and a soundtrack featuring recreations of modern bangers from pop stars like Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish arranged in the style of a classical string quartet. By bringing modern melodies into the proper world of Regency England, the show reminds us that classical music wasn’t always so stuffy and solemn. In its time, it trafficked in the same scandal as modern pop. Alongside these classical-pop mashups, Bridgerton serves up its own ravishing score from composer Kris Bowers, who joins to break down how he made the past pop. Songs Discussed: Vitamin String Quartet - Thank U, Next, Bad Guy, In My Blood Kris Bowers - When You Are Alone, Flawless My Dear, Strange Maurice Ravel - Tombeau de Couperin, Prelude Clara Schumann - Der Mond Kommt Still Gegangen Johannes Brahms - Symphony No 3 in F Major Op 90, Mvt 3 (for Four Hand Piano) More Read Maria Popova on the letters of Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann and Adrian Daub on Four Handed Monsters Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 9
41 min
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