Trying to summarise a whole year is an absurd task; trying to summarise a year like 2019, which has felt more like a decade than a mere 12 months, is beyond the scope of mortals. So instead, In this double-sized episode, your intrepid host grapples with the full magnitude of 2019, and ends up in a solipsistic parking lot.
Like the (very literal) ice queen who sings it, there's a certain magic about Let It Go that's part Disney, part primal scream. Why did this simple song become the massive hit that made Idina Menzel a household name?
On some level, every bit of music is a sustained trick we play on our brains. When a song kicks off with a rigid staccato intro, though, the effect on your body is electrifying. Your breath catches in your chest, and all of a sudden you’re trapped, waiting for that sweet release. On this episode of Key Change, we’re taking a closer look at those metronomic intros, and how they mess with our brains in the most delightful ways.
There's lots to love about Charli XCX's 2017 single, 'Boys', but this episode looks at one bit and one bit alone – the way Charli sings the word "boys".
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Podcast art by Anthea LeBrocq (@fulltimeangel on Instagram; email@example.com for enquiries and commissions).
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In one of those working-for-years-first overnight success stories, Lizzo burst into our lives late in 2018 with the irresistible glitterbomb that is “Juice”, the lead single off her 2019 album Cuz I Love You. It’s tough to remember a time pre-Lizzo’s rule, such is the force of her incredibly timely brand of self-love and genre-hopping grooves. If she doesn’t do a sideshow when she visits Australia in early 2020, I may cry.
The Singles Club takes a close-up look at individual songs and what makes them tick. First up, a personal favourite – the opening track from Lucy Dacus’s 2018 album Historian, “Night Shift”. With a six and a half minute runtime, it’s a bold way to kick off an album by any standard, but “Night Shift” manages to be both challenging and familiar, all while packing a massive emotional punch.
Unless you’re one of the lucky ones, even seeing the words Baby Shark is enough to get your brain singing “doo doo doo-doo do-doo” on a short, maddening loop. For me, though, it got me thinking about how repetitive hooks mess with your brain, and how that power can be used for good (or evil, depending on how you feel about Baby Shark).
Repetition is a MASSIVE subject, so I’ve focused on repetitive lyrics, and what they do to us. After I’d recorded this episode, I realised that Vox has already done a terrific video on this phenomenon. Thankfully I had gone down a very different path, but you should watch all of the Vox Earworm videos because they’re great. I actually referenced one in the episode! Watch their video on triplet flow, and see what I dream about Key Change becoming one day (
Not quite real, not quite fake, but more powerful than both. Undead strings are pure power; like a litch in music form. Sharp and merciless, undead strings were once sounds made by musical instruments, but they underwent strange torment to become unstoppable!
It's not ALL about the chorus (only mostly). A huge part of why Cut To The Feeling is such a banger is the way it sets you up before the chorus, building hype so the chorus goes off like fireworks.
Most of what we're talking about here is the pre-chorus, but songs like Cut To The Feeling do something very specific; something I'm calling the Hype Lift.
So what exactly is a hype lift, and how did Metallica and David Bowie do that makes this shimmery, sugary pop song explode into colour? Well I guess you'll have to listen to find out!
As always, you can find playlists for this episode on Apple Music and Spotify. These seasonal varieties feature some of the least-agonising carols that bring up bells, and come with a Bublé-free guarantee.*
If you’re a keen bean where music is concerned, why not join the Key Change Facebook group? Add to a conversation, or start one! There’s no entry requirements or gatekeeping; just be enthusiastic, respectful, and a good listener, and you’ll be welcome.
Nothing summons misty-eyed nostalgic visions of sugarplum fairies and snow-dappled fir trees like the soft jingling of sleigh bells. Every tune with even a passing connection to Christmas busts out the tinkling percussion to get you in the seasonal spirit, but why are bells the indisputable sound of Christmas? How did our brains get rewired to associate sleigh bells with holly-decked halls?
In this brief, festive episode, I won’t really answer that question (not satisfactorily, anyway — I don’t have the research team to make this happen), but let’s ponder it together in this bite-sized treat that you can call on when the Christmas Day conversation turns to politics. Astound Aunty Doris with your moderately-researched ideas rather than have to listen to talk about “those people” for the millionth time. You’re a retiree, Doris; no one’s taking your job.
Brace yourself — it's gonna get loud! We go inside the quietLOUDquiet shifts that make music so viscerally thrilling, and ask why I want to keep listening to Your Best American Girl long after my eardrums are left in tatters.
Mitski — Your Best American Girl
Carl Orff — Carmina Burana: O Fortuna
The Pixies — Gigantic
Nirvana — Smells Like Teen Spirit
Miley Cyrus — Wrecking Ball
Mogwai — Mogwai Fear Satan (live)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Maps
Since U Been Gone is an iconic tune, not least for its gargantuan chorus. But how did British heavy metal influence the sound of Kelly Clarkson's breakout hit? Let's talk Iron Maiden, Swedish super-producers, and Alicia Keys' sequel to 'Empire State of Mind'.
Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone
Iron Maiden - Run to the Hills
The Veronicas - 4ever
Jay-Z - Empire State of Mind
Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind Pt II
Fountains of Wayne - Stacy's Mom
Visit gingerbfg.com/keychange for complete show notes, links to playlists, and transcripts. For episode sneak peaks and heated Beyoncé debates, join the Key Change Facebook group.
Podcast art by Anthea LeBrocq (@fulltimeangel on Instagram; firstname.lastname@example.org for enquiries and commissions)
Check out (and add to!) this episode’s playlist!