October 15, 2019
Men singing high is so ubiquitous in modern pop that we might take it granted, never pausing to ask: has it always been this way? Estelle Caswell, who makes the Emmy-winning Earwormseries for Vox, decided to find out, and she stops by to share results from her painstaking study of male falsetto in pop music from 1958 to today. Some of her findings may surprise, like 1996 was the peak year for falsetto, Justin Timberlake doesn't sing as you high at might think, and falsetto has been around as long as pop itself. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
October 8, 2019
NPR's Sam Sanders stops by to break down the tracks that Switched On listeners have been loving. Swedish dancefloor confessionals, songs that stop time, the specificity of Lana Del Ray, and the awkwardness of descending fourths: it's all on the table in this freewheeling conversation of deep musical nerdiness. Songs DiscussedTove Lo ft Kylie Minogue - Really don’t like uCamila Cabello - LiarAce of Base - All That She WantsTyler the Creator - EARFQUAKETaylor Swift - Cruel SummerLana Del Ray, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus - Don’t Call Me AngelLana Del Ray - Happiness is a butterflyKing Princess - ProphetKim Petras - Hillside BoysIDK - PornoJai Paul - Str8 Outta MumbaiJai Paul - Genevieve (Unfinished)Many thanks to everyone who called in for this one: Amanda, Jackie, Melanie, Alec, Madeleine, John B, Steve, Courtney, Julia, Zach, Lee, Tara, Habbi, and of course - John from Baltimore.For more of Sam's great takes on culture, check out It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
October 1, 2019
Dallas Taylor, host of the stellar sound design series Twenty Thousand Hertz, stops by to fill Nate in on the science and style of mastering: the subtle art that explains why Metallica had to re-release a controversial album, Kanye sounds so crisp, and why the best pop really pops. Songs DiscussedLizzo - JuiceKanye West - HeartlessLed Zeppelin - Stairway to heavenPink Floyd - MoneyDaft Punk - Get LuckyMetallica - The Day That Never ComesDJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - He's the DJ, I'm the RapperThe Beatles - Lucy In The Sky With DiamondsIntrigued by mastering? Get your fix with the Twenty Thousand Hertz episode The [Compressed] History of Mastering.We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: more about your ad choices. Visit
September 24, 2019
Charlie's out on parental leave, which means no one is here to stop Nate from going off the rails. And you know what means... JAZZ! As soon as dad left the room, Nate enlisted his favorite journalist, jazz and sports writer Natalie Weiner, to come on the show and discuss her incredible 1959 Project — a day-by-day chronicle of jazz during one of its most pivotal years. We listen to classic 1959 albums Miles Davis's Kind of Blue and Dave Brubeck's Take Out, discuss the complex legacy of Billie Holiday, and dig into some of the year's forgotten gems. Sixty years later, jazz is no longer the cultural juggernaut is once was — but it still has much to teach us about pop culture of the present. Playlist:•Miles Davis - So What•Dave Brubeck - Take Five•Billie Holiday - Blue Moon•Billie Holiday - Billie's Blues•Erykah Badu - On & On•Amy Winehouse - There Is No Greater Love•Muriel Roberts - Sleigh Ride•Terry Pollard - Laura•Willene Barton and her Trio - Rice Pudding Check out the 1959 and 2019 jazz cuts we're listening to here:We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: more about your ad choices. Visit
September 22, 2019
The pace of new music production these days is dizzying. Sometimes it’s like watching someone do a magic trick--we *swear* those songs weren’t there a second ago! But then, there they are, popping up in batches right out of thin air. Of course, behind each of those individual releases sits months of decision-making by each artist: who to collaborate with and when, how to structure the musical product of that collaboration, what to call it, how to release it, when, and on what platform. The list is long, and each of those choices has a big impact on how we hear the song.The Verge’s Dani Deahl recently sat down with reigning Princess of Pop, Charli XCX, to discuss how she personally approaches those decisions, and how that approach is bucking long-established norms in popular music. In this special bonus episode of Switched on Pop, Dani rings up Charlie (not XCX) to recap that conversation and put Charli (XCX)’s artistry in context. Via Dani, we learn that for Charli—collaboration is more than just an artistic choice; and release strategy is much more than a major label playbook. There’s a total freedom in the way Charli releases music, and we love it. Huge thanks to Dani for bringing us this peek into her world.Songs discussed:Charli XCX - Boom ClapCharli XCX, Christine and the Queens - GoneCharli XCX ft. Lizzo - Blame It On Your LoveLizzo - Truth HurtsCatch the rest of Dani’s conversation with both Charli/es in the newest episode of The Verge’s ‘Future of Music’ video series, at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
September 17, 2019
Charlie sits down with Andrea Silenzi, host of the amazing parenting podcast The Longest Shortest Time to break down one of the biggest love/hate hits of recent memory, and to make a very special announcement!Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
September 13, 2019
Ross Golan is no stranger to Switched on Pop. This week, the songwriter and host of the hit podcast And The Writer Is… joins Charlie for a BONUS episode (cue siren) about the surprising lessons learned from a collective seven years behind the interview mic. Tune in as Ross and Charlie discuss the infinite shelf-life of classic songwriting techniques, the happy accidents behind some of your favorite hit songs, and the essential qualities of a good listener. Find more Ross on Switched on Pop in Episode 58, ‘What’s to Love About Ed Sheeran?’, and catch more of And The Writer Is… when Season 5 premiers this Monday, September 9th — anywhere you listen to podcasts. Episodes discussed:#80 How to ‘Make Me Feel’ with Lizzo#123 What BTS’s “Boy With Love” ft. Halsey Can Teach Us About K-pop#99 Entering Beard Phase (with Mike Posner)#107 How Streaming Changed the Sound of PopSongs Discussed:Lizzo - Truth HurtsSister Nancy - Bam BamPaul Anka - Put Your Hand on My ShoulderBTS ft. Halsey - Boy with LuvAriana Grande - Break FreeLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
September 10, 2019
On this very special episode, we join forces with the hilarious podcast OFF BOOK. When our powers combine, Zach and Jess of Off Book, plus their killer backing band of Scott, Dana and Brett create an improvised musical, while Nate and Charlie break down the sound and structure of a Broadway show. Stay tuned for deep thoughts about what separates pop music from musicals, wild speculation about the origin of the word “vamp,” and an ENTIRE FREAKING MUSICAL COMPOSED FROM SCRATCH that will make you laugh your face off. This is not one to miss.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
September 3, 2019
"Make Me Feel," is the first hit from Janelle Monáe's 2018 album Dirty Computer, and 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 breaking free of normative sexual expectations. But these non-binary statements aren't limited to the lyrics. The message is reinforced with musical concepts drawn from the blues, Prince and Michael Jackson. To help break down this track, Nate and Charlie are joined by singer/rapper Lizzo. She and Monáe both collaborated with Prince, making Lizzo uniquely qualified to unwind his influence on the song. We also discuss Lizzo's song "Truth Hurts" and her podcast "Good As Hell" where she talks to the queens of hip hop. Hands down, Lizzo is one of the most talented, knowledgable and fun guests. You don't want to miss this episode.Songs DiscussedJanelle Monáe - Make Me FeelMichael Jackson - The Way You Make Me FeelMichael Jackson - Beat ItFats Domino - Blueberry HillPrince - KissYing Yang Twins - Wait (The Whisper Song)Lizzo - Truth HurtsSister Nancy - BamDon't miss Lizzo's podcast "Good As Hell" on SpotifyLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
August 27, 2019
Today we're revisiting an episode inspired by a pair of classic VH1 shows: “Behind the Music” and “Where Are They Now?”Our subjects are two songs representing the lunatic fringe of 90s culture, “Cotton Eyed Joe” and “How Bizarre.”In the course of our musicological investigation, we uncover dark truths about these seemingly anodyne hits that will make you question everything you know about pop music.And in the end, we reach a definitive answer to a perennially vexing question: “WTF was 90s music so weird?”Songs DiscussedRednex:Cotton Eye JoePop in an OakThe Way I MateCotton Eyed Joe:Fiddlin John CarsonBob Wills and his Texas PlayboysKaren DaltonChieftainsNina SimoneOMC:How BizarreRight OnLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
August 20, 2019
Every year, critics and media outlets the world over put out definitive song-of-summer guides based on... well, we’re not always entirely sure. Certainly popularity, as measured by streams and radio play; not to mention that bewildering feeling that creeps up some time mid-July, prompting whispered exclamations of: “man, this song is everywhere.” But the most ubiquitous track isn’t necessarily the one you’ll have on repeat on those steamy summer commutes to work, nor is it the song you’ll want soundtracking this year’s vacations, graduations, summer flings and backyard cookouts. In this episode, we abandon the pursuit of a single song of summer, and ask the question we’re more interested in: What does summer sound like? To answer that question, we asked you, our listeners, and got some downright awesome suggestions in return. Your voicemails covered everything from Hot Girl Summer anthems and nostalgia-inducing dance jams, to globally infused collaborations and just-released future-feeling indie rock cuts. Today, we travel across the full spectrum of summer feels, and the music that comes through when we need it the most. Songs DiscussedMUNA - Number One FanAmber Mark - Put You OnJonas Brothers - Only HumanShawn Mendes, Camila Cabello - SeñoritaCharlie XCX, Christine and the Queens - GoneBTS, Zara Larsson - Brand New DayKaty Perry - Teenage DreamPost Malone - SunflowerLil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus - Old Town RoadPinkfong - Baby Shark Khalid - BetterMegan Thee Stallion - Big ol’ FreakMegan Thee Stallion, Juicy J - Simon SaysSaweetie - My TypePetey Pablo - Freak-A-LeakCity Girls - Act UpMegan Thee Stallion, DaBaby - Cash ShitClairo - Sofia HAIM - Summer GirlLou Reed - Walk on the Wild SideMother’s Daughter - Miley CyrusRosalía - Aute CutureAriana Grande - NASABANKS - GimmeGrimes, Hana - We appreciate powerLizzo - Truth HurtsPaul McCartney - JetDon Henley - The Boys of SummerSantana, Rob Thomas - SmoothBritney Spears - ToxicThe Slits - I Heard it Through the Grapevine Missy Elliott - SlideFreddie Gibbs, Madlib - CataractsVampire Weekend - 2021Misc extrasListen to all of these songs and more on the Switched on Pop Songs of Summer 2019 Playlist. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
August 13, 2019
The sound of R&B is difficult to pin down. Since the 1950s, the label has been used both as a genre and as a catch-all for the entirety of black popular music. Soul, funk, disco and even hip-hop have at times been covered by this "R&B" umbrella. On Chance The Rapper's new album, The Big Day, all of these influences come through—and he's not alone. On recent Kehlani records, 90s R&B and 2000s trap both play a role. But both these artists are a far cry from the 50s R&B sounds of Sam Cooke. To understand how R&B has changed over time, we consult with Trevor Anderson, manager of Billboard's R&B/Hip Hop chart. Then we speak with R&B super-producer Oak Felder to understand how R&B is progressing and what it might become.Songs DiscussedChance The Rapper - Hot ShowerChance The Rapper - I Got YouSam Cooke - You Send MeElvis Presley - Crying In the ChapelThe Temptations - I Can’t Get Next To YouMtume - Juicy FruitBiggie - JuicyToni Braxton - Breath AgainJanet Jackson - That’s The Way Love GoesBoys II Men - I’ll Make Love To YouLauryn Hill - Doo Wop (That Thing)Diddy - I’ll Be Missing You (feat. Faith Evans & 112)Nelly - DilemmaKehlani - DistractionSWV - WeakAaron Hall - I Miss YouUsher - You Make Me WannaBrandy - Sittin' Up In My RoomDru Hill - In My BedSilk - Freak MeDemi Lovato - Sorry Not SorryJodeci - Cry For youMariah Carey - Vision of LoveKehlani - Everything Is YoursChance The Rapper - All Day LongQueen - Fat Bottom GirlsDiana Ross - I’m Coming OutFor an in depth history of R&B on Billboard, read Chris Molanphy's feature on Pitchfork.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
August 6, 2019
For the live action remake of the Lion King, Beyoncé, (who voices Nala in the film), recorded and curated a companion soundtrack called The Gift. She worked with leading Afropop stars to expose the music of the continent to a global audience. In her piece, “Diversity Is in the Details: What Beyoncé’s 'The Lion King: The Gift' Gets Right and Wrong,” Okayplayer music editor Ivie Ani argues that the album highlights music while unintentionally treating the continent as a monolith. Ani joins Switched On Pop to break down this album and what it means for Afropop. Songs DiscussedBeyoncé, Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, Oumou Sangaré – MOOD 4 EVAOumou Sangaré – Diaraby NenBurna Boy – JA ARAFela Kuti – Water No Get EnemyFena, MDQ, Mayonde, Kagwe, Blinky Bill – PARTY NATIONListen to Blinky and Ivie’s East African playlist recommendationsLeave us a voicemail about your favorite songs of summer: 385-626-6179Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
July 30, 2019
Why is it that every hip restaurant plays the same music? When Eater restaurant editor Hillary Dixler Canavan kept hearing similar songs while dining for work assignments, she compiled a playlist of what she heard. It included songs by LCD Soundsystem, M83, Grimes, Biggie, Beck and the like. Her subsequent article about this music, “This Is Every Generically Cool Restaurant’s Playlist,” went viral. She’d captured the elusive sound of small plate dining. But what left her guessing was why this sound? And how did it reach so many restaurants in cities across the U.S.? She brought this question to Switched On Pop to understand why this 00s mostly indie sound was the ideal background for post-industrial chic establishments. Investigating the issue, she discovered a small bubble of music selectors who curate these lists for businesses. She spoke with Yvette Bailhache, a D.C. based music selector for restaurants and bars about how these lists are made. And she asked Jonathan Shecter, founder of the Las Vegas based background music service Playback Prodigy, about what makes an ideal background sound. What she discovered is surprising. The sounds in the background may dictate more of our foreground than you’d expect. Music DiscussedLCD Soundsystem - I Can ChangeM83 - Midnight City Grimes - GenesisIce Cube - It Was A Good DayWu-Tang Clean - CREAMThis Will Destroy You - KitchenListen to Hillary’s Every Restaurant Playlist and for more stories and news on food, subscribe to Eater's podcast UpsellLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
July 23, 2019
Lil Nas X licensed the beat for “Old Town Road” from an e-commerce platform. He originally bought a non-exclusive copy of the backing track for just $29.99 from a 19 year old Dutch record producer called YoungKio. And he’s not the first hitmaker to do so. Desiigner, Bryson Tiller and Queen Naija have all made hit songs from internet beats. These beats are big business. The arguable market leader, BeatStars, has paid its producers over $50M since its inception in 2008. The platform allows producers to market their beats to MCs and singers, boasting 340,000 active sellers and 1.5M tracks. BeatStars CEO Abe Batshon originally created the company to connect artists who may not live in the music industry hubs in L.A., N.Y., Nashville and Atlanta. His global ambitions were realized—producers on the platform come from all over the world. They release a steady stream of new music, marketing their original and sound-a-like beats to aspiring and emerging artists everywhere turning into ad music, Instagram stories and even Billboard Hot 100 hits. While BeatStars increases access to music, could this commoditization of music devalue the creative process? We speak with Abe as well as producers on the platform—songwriter Breana Marin and producer Dansonn—to understand how online beat selling is effecting the sound of pop music. Music Discussed:Lil Nas X - Old Town RoadBryson Tiller - Don’tYBN Nahmir - Rubbin off the PaintDesiigner - Panda’Queen Naija - MedicineCERTIBEATS - MojoBEATDEMONS - NohoBrytiago ft Bad Bunny - NETFLIXXXBreana Marin’s BeatStars pageDansonn’s BeatStars pageListen to “Bouncing On The Band Stand” by Marian Hill’s Jeremy Loyd (Clear Eyes) and Charlie (Charlatan). You can even license it for $29.99 for your own production. Vote for Switched On Pop in this year's People's Choice Podcast Awards!Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
July 16, 2019
Shawn Mendes’ hit song “If I Can’t Have You” is so ridiculously catchy that Charlie had it stuck in his head after the first chorus. How is that possible?! Declamation, or the way that text is set to music, is a big part of the song’s appeal—every word that Mendes sings is perfectly in rhythm. In this episode we use Mendes’ latest track to explore creative declamation throughout history. How do artists from Whitney Houston to Queen to Taylor Swift keep finding new ways to sing the word “somebody”? Why did the composer Georg Friedrich Handel get in trouble for a bit of awkward text setting in one of the most famous pieces of Baroque music? And, does Beyoncé even know how to pronounce “sandcastles”? Finally, Mendes’ hit leads us to ask: is “incorrect” declamation is something to celebrate, or criticize?Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
July 9, 2019
Find out how music creates a feeling of space in this three part episode. First, we may not realize it when we listen to Madonna's new record, but the location of her music is essential. In exploring her catalogue we hear the sound of different eras by just the space evoked in a song. Second, the same is true for Stephen Puth who uses spacial effects for brilliant creative purposes on his song "Look Away." When music is recorded in a studio with perfect acoustics, engineers manipulate that audio to place it in a 3D virtual space using reverb, delay, volume, panning and filters. Each of those effects changes our relationship to the music, and in Steven's case, the lyric. Finally, when we get outside the studio, like with Found Sound Nation and Make Music Day's “Street Studios”, music can echo the geography it is made in. Take this wild journey with us and truly expand your listening. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
July 2, 2019
How should we listen to K-pop? This music has become a global phenomenon, charting on the Billboard Hot 100, taking over social media feeds, and touring the world. In particular, the group BTS has captured the ears of millions, building an Army of fans along the way. As uninitiated listeners, the language and culture barrier left us uncertain about how to approach listening to, let alone breaking down their music. So we sought out the support of Dr, Suk-Young Kim, Professor of Critical Studies and the Director of the Center for Performance Studies at UCLA, and KCON's Vanessa Augsbach. Dr. Kim's research on K-pop helps to expand our ears and understand the genre's history and aesthetics, while Augsbach helps us better appreciate the fandom. Applying their insights, we listen to "Boy With Luv" as a first foray into the wonders of K-pop. Read Dr. Kim's book K-pop Live: Fans Idols, and Multimedia Performance, Watch Vox's Netflix series Explained on the history of K-popLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
June 25, 2019
Fans are not happy with Will Smith's update of the classic Disney song "Prince Ali" in the live-action Aladdin. Their complaint? The new "Prince Ali" is slow, sluggish, and dull. Indeed, the Smith version is 8 BPM (beats per minute) slower than Robin Williams's 1992 original—a subtle musical detail. We dig into the properties of tempo and key to understand why people have such a visceral reaction to a relatively small change and consider whether it suggests that we—meaning all of us humans, from musicians to amateurs—are more musically literate than we think.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
June 23, 2019
Nice Try! is a new podcast from Curbed and the Vox Media Podcast Network that explores stories of people who have tried to design a better world, and what happens when those designs don't go according to plan. Season one, Utopian, follows Avery Trufelman on her quest to understand the perpetual search for the perfect place. Enjoy this special preview of the first episode, Jamestown: Utopian for Whom, and subscribe to Nice Try! for free in your favorite podcast app.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
June 18, 2019
Ever notice that wobbly, drunken and underwater sound common in so many contemporary pop songs? In an era of pristine recording quality, music producers are referencing old and impure technologies to add character to their recordings. Digital cassette hiss, tape wobble, and vinyl crackle are intentionally added to productions as a facsimile of "authentic" recording technology. Why the sudden nostalgia? Where does this underwater sound come from? What does it mean? How is it made? Find out on a live episode of Switched On Pop, recorded at Recode's annual Code conference with guest host Estelle Caswell, creator of Vox's Earworm video series. Listen to Estelle's Spotify playlist of underwater intros. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
June 11, 2019
Rocketman is a spectacle the size of Elton John, four films in one. It contains a biopic, jukebox musical, addiction recovery story and a romance between friends. The soundtrack ties the story together by taking historical liberties to tell a fantastical story about one of the best living songwriters. Charlie is joined by Vox’s film critic, Alissa Wilkinson to breakdown the film and deconstruct how its melodic themes create an emotional arc. He also speaks with Giles Martin (son of 5th Beatle George Martin) who music directed the film and soundtrack about how he assembled an entire life’s work into a singular narrative.Songs DiscussedTaron Egerton - RocketmanQueen - Bohemian RhapsodyTaron Egerton, Jamie Bell - Goodbye Yellow Brick RoadKit Connor & Gemma Jones & Bryce Dallas Howard & Steven Mackintosh - I Want LoveTaron Egerton - Crocodile RockTaron Egerton - Your SongTaron Egerton - Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest WordMozart - RequiemLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
June 4, 2019
On the KRCW series Lost Notes, Jessica Hopper plumbs pop music history for the most important stories never told. She brings us a bevy of lost gems, from Fanny, an all-female quartet of rockers that was one of David Bowie's favorite bands, to the Freeze a late-70s punk outfit now coming to terms with the offensive lyrics of their youth. Tune in to discover another side of pop, one that's rarely been heard. Songs Discussed:Fanny - Charity Ball (Live Version)Fanny - Ain't that PeculiarThe Freeze - I Hate TouristsCat Power - The GreatestLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 28, 2019
A pop star collaboration is a foolproof way to grab the attention of two audiences at once. But do more collaborators actually make a better song? Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber put this question to the test in their new song "I Don't Care." The track takes us inside the head of an antisocial party hopper, who'd rather be back home with his lover. Nate and Charlie investigate how the songwriters works that message into their music and speak with Ross Golan about Ed Sheeran's songwriting brilliance.Songs Discussed• Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber - I Don't Care• Ed Sheeran – Shape of You• Justin Bieber – Love Yourself• Kygo ft. Ella Henderson – Here For You• Maroon 5 – Don’t Wanna KnowCheck out And The Writer Is… With Ross Golan: more about your ad choices. Visit
May 21, 2019
What do Bach and smooth jazz have in common? Both score the unmistakable theme song for NPR's flagship show Morning Edition, listened to by millions across the country every day since 1979. This is undeniably pop music, a daily soundtrack to the lives of many. So why does it sound the way it does? And why, after forty years, why does NPR want to change it?Featuring:BJ Leiderman - Morning Edition Chuck Mangione - Feels So GoodHerbie Hancock - ChameleonGeorge Benson - Breezin'Kenny G - Songbird Don Voegeli/Wycliffe Gordon - All Things ConsideredTake 6 - All Things ConsideredPhish - All Things ReconsideredLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 15, 2019
Many people write us with musical maladies and conspiracies. A recent one caught our attention. Daniel Armbruster, lead vocalist of indie band Joywave, has been hearing the same melody in tracks across the Alternative Songs charts. He believes that this hook could be the secret to securing a spot on the Billboard 100. Nate and Charlie investigate this issue, traveling from the contemporary charts all the way back to a fundamental musical scale. The stakes are high: is it possible to hack your way into a hit alt-rock song? Songs Discussed Young The Giant - SuperpositionCold War Kids - FirstSir Sly - &RunJoywave, KOPPS - TonguesMaroon 5 - Moves Like JaggerLady Gaga - Bad Romance AJR - Burn the House DownTwenty One Pilots - ChlorineThe Black Keys - Lo/HiBillie Eilish - Bury A FriendCatfish and the Bottlemen - LongshotCage The Elephant - Ready To Let GoPanic! At The Disco - High HopesSHAED - TrampolineOliver Tree - HurtThe Lumineers - Ho HeyLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 7, 2019
On her new album, Cuz I Love You, Lizzo shows off her genre bending musicality. We speak with X Ambassadors lead singer, Sam Harris, who helped co-write three songs on the album, including its eponymous track. We discuss how Lizzo's songs glide across sixties soul, seventies rock rock, eighties new wave, and nineties hip-hop. But we find that her music is much more than a history lesson in genre. Lizzo's writes vulnerable and courageous lyrics about self love, body positivity, female empowerment, and black identity. Rather than craft a singular sound for her album, Lizzo utilizes the genre that best fits the message of any given song. Her subversion of genre to the mood of her lyric matches changes in music consumption. According to Chartmetric, more people than ever are listening across genres to context based playlists. Does this mean genre no longer matters? Nate and Charlie try to find out with the help of Lizzo's genre busting music.Songs DiscussedLizzo - Better In ColorLizzo - Cuz I Love YouLizzo - JuiceLizzo - TempoMissy Elliott - Get Ur Freak OnLizzo - JeromeRadiohead - CreepLed Zeppelin - Royal OrleansPrince - When Doves CryLizzo - Exactly How I Feel (ft. Gucci Mane)Aretha Franklin - RespectAretha Franklin - Say A Little PrayerAretha Franklin - Chain Of FoolsAretha Franklin - I Knew You Were WaitingEurythmics ft. Aretha Franklin - Sisters Are Doin' It For ThemselvesListen to our Lizzo playlist that pairs each song on her new album with a song from the past.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
April 30, 2019
When a listener asked us about the "sorcery" behind Taylor Swift's new song "ME!" we knew we had to investigate. And because the track features Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco, we couldn't resist digging into their concurrent hit "High Hopes." Along the way we cover baby talk, dreamy augmented chords, drumlines, and songs with exclamation points in their titles — all to explain why you can't get these two out of your head.Featuring:Taylor Swift featuring Brendon Urie - ME!Swift - Shake it OffSwift - The Way I Loved YouGustav Mahler - Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder!Shania Twain - Up!Panic! At the Disco - High HopesWestern Carolina University Drumline - High HopesCheck out two great pieces on "High Hopes," one by Top 40 Theory and the other by Rolling Stone article citing Flypaper's Dean Olivet. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
April 23, 2019
Pop is inseparable from reality TV singing competitions. From Eurovision to American Idol, scores of stars got their start in singing competitions. We’ve long overlooked this influence on pop, but were inspired to look into the phenomenon by the release of Teen Spirit, a pop-musical film about a fictional singing competition . What is the history of these shows? Who got their big break on one? Is there a singing show musical aesthetic? We hit the books and records to find out, and the answers might surprise. Finally we speak with Elle Fanning, who plays contestant Violet in the film, about what it takes to train to be a singer primed for national fame. Songs DiscussedElle Fanning - Dancing On My OwnFrank Sinatra with The Hoboken Four on the Major Bowes Amateur HourGladys Knight on the Original Amateur HourAbba - WaterlooCeline Dion - Ne Partez Pas Moi Alanis Morisette on Star Search Girls Tyme with Beyoncé on Star SearchKelly Clarkson - A Moment Like ThisWhitney Houston - I Have NothingNina Simone - Feeling GoodJanis Joplin - Piece of My HeartSusan Boyle - I Dreamed A DreamElle Fanning - Don't Kill My Vibe (originally by Sigrid)Recommended listeningMavis Staples - AnytimeAnderson Paak - VenturaThe Beths - Future Me Hates MeMax, Quinn XCII - Love Me LessKhalid, John Mayer - Outta My Head* Correction: Though non-European countries do compete in Eurovision, Canada has not competed in the contest. Celine Dion represented Switzerland in her performance of "Ne Partez Pas Moi Celine" in 1988.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
April 16, 2019
Lil Nas X currently holds the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with his surprise hit “Old Town Road.” But though the song is dripping with country twang, you won’t find it anywhere on the country charts. That’s because Billboard removed it, on the grounds of not having enough “musical elements” of country—a move that in turn left many wondering if the vanishing had something to do with Lil Nas X, a black artist, venturing into a field dominated by white musicians. We dig deep into the history and musical matter of “Old Town Road,” then pit it against other country hits to test its deep fried bonafides. Songs DiscussedLil Nas X - Old Town RoadNine Inch Nails - 34 Ghosts IVBeba Rexa - Mean to Be (feat. Florida Georgia Line)Kelsea Ballerini - Miss You MoreSam Hunt - Speakers / Ghetto Cowboy - Bone Thugz N' HarmonyFilmore - Love That About You Lil Nas X - Old Town Road (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus) Mason Ramsey - Walmart Yodeling KidHank Williams - Love Sick BluesEmmett Miller & His Georgia Crackers - Lock Sick Blues Other LinksTanya Texas Tucker's list of Black artists and their collaborations with country starsJezebel interview with Bri Malandro, originator of the "Yee Haw Agenda"Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
April 9, 2019
On a trajectory to be one of the biggest pop stars for this generation, seventeen year old Billie Eilish is not, however, your typical pop star. Her music speaks to the real anxieties of young people without any veneer. She sings from the perspective of monsters and villains. Her hushed voice, baggy style, and direct demeanor subvert the norms of the pop princess. And her music is dark, but still catchy. Billie co-writes and produces her sound with her older brother Finneas O’Connell. Together this family duo have crafted the second biggest selling album of 2019, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” On this episode, we examine how Billie and Finneas crafted a cultural phenomenon, why their message speaks to this generation, and we speak with Finneas about the creation of their hit song “Bad Guy.”Songs Featured: Billie Eilish - Ocean EyesBillie Eilish - BoredBillie Eilish - You Should See Me In A CrownBillie Eilish - Bad GuyBillie Eilish - Bury A FriendMarilyn Manson - The Beautiful PeopleThe Doors - People Are StrangeNine Inch Nails - CloserBillie Eilish - ilomiloBillie Eilish - All Good Girls Go To HellBillie Eilish - XannyFrank Sinatra - Dream A DreamBillie Eilish - I love youJohn Carpenter - Halloween ThemeBillie Eilish - Bellyache Watch Billie Eilish and Finneas break down “Bury A Friend” on The New York TimesLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
April 8, 2019
Switched on Pop is pleased to present Episode 1 of Peace of Mind --the new album (released as a podcast) by singer/songwriter Bhi Bhiman.In this episode Bhi digs into the fear and madness that characterizesso much of this crazy time in America. Guests include author DaveEggers, Snap Judgement's Glynn Washington and renowned socialpsychologist, Lee Ross. The song for this episode is “Brother Can YouSpare Some Peace of Mind?” Subscribe to Peace of Mind here: more about your ad choices. Visit
April 2, 2019
Bhi Bhiman joins to explain the "nerd punk rock" behind releasing his new album Peace of Mind with an accompanying podcast. Since Bhiman explores issues like deportation on the track "Beyond the Border," there's a lot to say about each song. Even though he tackles tough topics, Bhiman make sure he puts music before the message. "Beyond the Border" summons a vast range of funky influences, from Van Halen to the Allman Brothers, to ask what America really means. Featuring•Bhi Bhiman:Beyond the Border,Moving to Brussels,Bread and Butter,There Goes the Neighborhood,Guttersnipe•Van Halen - Jump•Allman Brothers - Ramblin' ManListen to our Spotify playlist of contemporary politically motivated music.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
March 25, 2019
After a six year hiatus, Nick, Joe, and Kevin Jonas are back with a new single and the stakes couldn't be higher. With each brother attaining a higher plane of celebrity during their time off, the three must achieve pop success or face public humiliation. How do they do it? With three ingredients that ensure a hit song in 2019: 1) whistle while you work, 2) Homer the funky drummer, and 3) tune in, turn in, drop out. Songs Featured: Jonas Brothers – SuckerEdward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – HomeFlo Rida – WhistleDaya – Sit Still Look PrettySharon Jones – How Long do I Have to Wait for you?Bruno Mars – 24k MagicEmily King – Remind MeJason Derulo – Want to Want MeRina Sawayama – CherryPost Malone and Swae Lee – SunflowerSurveyWe are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than three minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: more about your ad choices. Visit
March 19, 2019
Live from SXSW: Grammy nominee songwriter Emily King didn’t set out to write a perfect pop song with “Remind Me.” Instead, she bent the rules of song structure to fit her message: the magical feeling when you find something you’ve been long missing. Mirroring this theme, the chorus doesn’t come when you expect it. The climax arrives late, after an “aha” moment that fills in the forgotten details. Each instrument fits perfectly together like a lost memory coming into focus. Even after she finds what she’s been missing in her life, she deceived us once again with a diminutive ‘down chorus.’ At every turn, King shows how songwriting mastery opens up immense creative freedom, even within the constraints of a prototypical pop song.Featured Songs:Emily King - Remind MeZedd, Maren Morris, Grey - The MiddleSam Smith, Normani - Dancing With A StrangerTaylor Swift - DelicateSurveyWe are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than three minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: more about your ad choices. Visit
March 12, 2019
Streaming hasn't just changed the way we listen to music, it's changed the way that pop music sounds. After years of losses due to the death of the CD and the rise of file sharing, the music industry has finally found a profitable business in streaming services. Streaming has overtaken all other music sales. Digital music platforms are the new Virgin megastore. But these services are more than just a distribution mechanism, they have created a whole new music economy. Album sales have been replaced by "album equivalent units," a business fiction that equates 1,500 streams to one physical sale. Artists are now effectively paid by the song. With ad-supported and subscription based business models, these platforms have upended incentives so significantly that it can be heard in the songwriting. Songs are getting shorter, albums are getting longer, and there is an entirely new section of the song that draws from the classical past: the "pop overture." In this episode, Nate and Charlie are joined by Aisha Hassan and Dan Kopf to unpack the sound of pop in the streaming era. Be sure to check out their article on Quartz: "The Reason Why Your Favorite Pop Songs Are Getting Shorter."Songs FeaturedLil Pump - I Love ItBenny Blanco - Eastside ft. Khalid & HalseyKodak Black - Calling My SpiritPost Malone - Better NowLeonard Bernstein - West Side Story OvertureDua Lipa - One KissDrake - God’s PlanPost Malone - I Fall ApartAriana Grande - NasaTommy Dorsey - All The Things You AreLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
March 5, 2019
Can political protest exist within the confines of commercial popular music? Songwriter Justin Tranter is equal parts songwriter and activist. You've likely heard his contributions to songs by Britney Spears, Julia Michaels, Selena Gomez, Janelle Monae and Ariana Grande, but unless you were paying close attention, you may have missed the essential subtext in his work. As an LGBTQ activist and board member of GLAAD, Justin brings his activism into Top 40 pop music lyrically and otherwise. On this episode, he breaks down his newest hit "Swan Song" which was co-written with Dua Lipa. This song is a triple threat serving as the end credits for the film Alita: Battle Angel, a Billboard hit, and a protest against the silencing of marginalized people. Justin shows us how representation in songwriting is inseparable from politics. And he's creating an open mic for new voices and stories that have been historically ignored by the pop industry. Songs Discussed:Dua Lipa - "Swan Song"Charlie Puth - "Attention"Selena Gomez - "Good For You"Imagine Dragons - "Believer"Taylor Swift - "Love Story"Halsey - "Bad At Love"Haydn - "Farewell" Symphony No. 45Shea Diamond - "Seen It All"Listen to D. Orxata's Queering Pop Music playlist.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
February 20, 2019
What if music awards were given out for only musical qualities? It may seem like celebrity and spectacle are more important than ever at the 61st Grammy Awards, but we believe many of this years winners earned their accolades with noteworthy music. Still, we thought the winners should be heralded by new, more musical categories. Find out howAnd The Awards Go To:Best Chord Progression: H.E.R. - "Hard Place" & "Focus"Best Throwback: Silk City & Dua Lipa ft. Diplo & Mark Ronson - "Electricity"Worst Metaphor: Lady Gaga ft. Bradley Cooper "Shallow"Best Conceptual Song: Childish Gambino - "This Is America"Best Bridge: Kacey Musgraves - "Rainbow"Also FeaturedThe Weeknd - "Often"Khalid - "Location"Alison Limerick - "Where Love Lives"Cher - "Strong Enough"Elton John - "Mellow"BonusListen to Ezra Klein's discussion with Jill Lepore on America's two revolutionsLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
February 5, 2019
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 sexiness, discovering lyrical lingerie, and consider the most (and least) seductive instruments.Featuring:Nina Simone - I Want Some Sugar in My BowlDonna Summer - Love to Love You BabyINXS - Need You TonightPortishead - Glory BoxKings of Leon - Sex on FireThe Weeknd - OftenCheck out Courtney's article Let's Talk About Sex, Baby: Every Trick You Need to Seduce Someone with a Playlist on Refinery29Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
January 29, 2019
"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 this anthem from the "Sound of Music." When it comes to Ari's flow, however, questions of appropriation arise. Author Lauren Michele Jackson joins to break down who has the right to repurpose sonic history. Featuring:• Ariana Grande - 7 Rings• Julie Andrews - My Favorite Things• John Coltrane - My Favorite Things• The Doors - Light My Fire• Lauryn Hill - Black Rage• Migos - Bad and Boujee• Princess Nokia - Mine• Two Chainz - Spend It• Soulja Boy - Pretty Boy SwagCheck out Lauren Michele Jackson's article, "To Whom Does '7 Rings' Owe its Sound?," hear more connections between Coltrane and the Doors in this NPR story, and discover the triplet Migos flow on Vox's Earworm.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
January 23, 2019
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 Auto-Tune, the sound is alive and thriving in contemporary pop and hip-hop. Journalist Simon Reynolds has written a definitive history of Auto-Tune for Pitchfork that fundamentally changed how we hear this sound. This deep dive criss crosses geology, technology, and the evolution of pop as we know it. Songs Discussed:Cher - BelieveKaty Perry - FireworkRihanna - DiamondsFuture - F*ck Up Some CommasEmma Robinson - Stay (Cover) Imogen Heap - Hide And Seek Zapp & Roger - Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing) T. Pain - Chopped N Screwed ft. Ludacris Lil Wayne - “How To Love”Kanye - “Heartless”The Black Eyed Peas “Boom Boom Pow”Jay-Z - Death Of Auto-TuneElvis - Mystery TrainThe Beatles - Tomorrow Never KnowsWhispering Jack Smith - Baby FaceKesha - Tik Tok Bon Iver - WoodsFuture & Juice WRLD - Jet Lag ft. Young Scooter Shek Wes - Mo BambaThe Carters - ApeshitFurther Reading:Simon Reynolds - “How Auto-Tune Revolutionized the Sound of Popular Music" Simon Reynolds -Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
December 26, 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 You"...and more sleigh bells. Featuring:•The Beach Boys - God Only Knows•Gustav Mahler - 4th Symphony, I•Michael Jackson - Jam•Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse of the Heart •Miles Davis - On the Corner•Nas - Halftime•Kygo ft. Conrad Sewell - Firestone•Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas Is YouLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
December 11, 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, the sugar that made the musical analysis medicine go down. And then something happened. Just as people started to listen to the show, we too began to open our ears. Now, in our 100th episode, Charlie interviews Nate about how transforming the way you listen to pop can truly make life better. And we get raw about the constraints of pop and where we plan to go in our next 100 episodes.Songs discussed:Beethoven's 7 & 9Santana - "Smooth" Martha and the Vandellas - "Heat Wave" Zedd - "Stay" Pink Floyd - "The Great Gig in the Sky" Adelle - "Hello" Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
November 27, 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 About You," which leads to an exploration of songs that reuse the same melody for verse and chorus—from Prince to The Boss to Post Malone. Last, we consider "beard phase": a moment of artistic reinvention that every artist has in their career, whether you're Mike Posner, Ludwig van Beethoven, or Taylor Swift.Featuring:Mike Posner - Song About YouJean Ritchie - Barbary AllenOriginal Sacred Harp Singers - New Britain (Amazing Grace)Prince - I Wanna Be Your LoverPrince - Let's Go CrazyBruce Springsteen - Born in the U.S.A.Post Malone - RockstarBeethoven - String Quartet No 1 Op. 18/1Beethoven - String Quartet No 10 Op. 74/IIIBeethoven - String Quartet "Grosse Fuge"Taylor Swift - Teardrops on My GuitarTaylor Swift - We Are Never Ever Getting Back TogetherTaylor Swift - ...Ready For It?Beatles - Strawberry Fields ForeverDennis Wilson - River SongPeaches ft. Iggy Pop - Kick It Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
November 13, 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 marks of pop music. Longstreth has recently collaborated on songs with Solange, Rihanna, Kanye and Paul McCartney. On his new track "I Feel Energy" we can hear that pop influence shine through. Together we break down his unpredictable 808s to see what gives you energy. We also build connections between Dirty Projectors and other artists in the top 100 including Marshmello, Ella Mai and Khalid. Songs Featured:Dirty Projectors - I Feel EnergyDirty Projectors - Up In HudsonMarshmello ft. Bastille - HappierElla Mai - TripKhalid - BetterLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
October 30, 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, Anthem Of The Peaceful Army, bares an uncanny sonic resemblance to Led Zeppelin. Jeremy D. Larson, senior editor of Pitchfork, gave the album a 1.6 out of 10 calling it "stiff, hackneyed, overly precious retro-fetishism." His vicious and hilarious takedown went viral and caused a rift amongst music fans on the internet. We ask Jeremy to join us to reveal what it means to earn such a bad review. After, we do something we've never done before: a track-by-track album breakdown. In a game of musical Pictionary, Charlie challenges Nate to find every Led Zeppelin reference on the album to answer the question: is it a copy or an homage? We have a feeling this will be a divisive episode... Songs Discussed:Greta Van Fleet - Age of ManLed Zeppelin - Rain SongLed Zeppelin - In The LightLed Zeppelin - What Is And What Should Never BeLed Zeppelin - Your Time Is Gonna ComeLed Zeppelin - Immigrant SongLed Zeppelin - Kashmir Greta Van Fleet - The Cold WindLed Zeppelin - Custard PieGreta Van Fleet - When the Curtain FallsLed Zeppelin - Wanton SongGreta Van Fleet - Watching OverLed Zeppelin - Since I've Been Loving YouGreta Van Fleet - Lover, LeaverLed Zeppelin - Whole Lotta LoveSpirit - TaurusMuddy Waters - You Need LoveSmall Faces - You Need LoveWillie Dixon - I Can't Quit You BabeGreta Van Fleet - You're the OneLed Zeppelin - What Is And What Should Never BeGreta Van Fleet - The New DayLed Zeppelin - Over The Hills And Far AwayGreta Van Fleet - Mountain of the SunLed Zeppelin - Celebration DayGreta Van Fleet - Brave New WorldLed Zeppelin - Achilles Last StandGreta Van Fleet - AnthemLed Zeppelin - TangerineLover Leaver (Taker, Believer)Read the Pitchfork review of Greta Van Fleet's Anthem Of A Peaceful ArmyLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
October 16, 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 some neglected musical tricks from the early oeuvre of Britney Spears. The 90s bug goes beyond Charli and Troye. Anne-Marie and Lauren Alaina also pine for the Clinton era in their millennial bops. Which makes one ask: is the present so bad that we miss the paranoia of Y2K? As usual, Prince has the answer. Featuring:Charli XCX ft Troye Sivan - 1999DJ Bobo - Somebody Dance with MeReal McCoy - Another NightParadisio - BailandoBritney Spears - ...Baby One More TimeBritney Spears - Oops! I Did it AgainAnne-Marie - 2002Lauren Alaina - Ladies in the 90sPrince - 1999Check out Megan Lavengood's examples of the complementary chorus.Marshall Jefferson's "Move Your Body" from 1986 might be the ur-source of the ubiquitous 90s house piano. Jefferson recorded the original in his Chicago prophet on a Prophet 2000, but never got the rights to the song and saw little proceeds from its success. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
October 3, 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, Mitchell Tenpenny, and Dan + Shay are putting a modern spin on one of the style's oldest tropes: drinking bourbon. Together these tracks make up the vanguard of their respective genres, but are fans willing to take the plunge?Featuring:Travis Scott - Sicko ModeSkrillex - Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites John Zorn - Cat o Nine TailsJason Aldean ft Miranda Lambert - Drowns the WhiskeyMitchell Tenpenny - Drunk MeAdele - HelloJustin Bieber - SorryDan + Shay - TequilaRecommend Reading: Kathryn Schulz on Chris Janson's "Drunk Girl"Recommended Viewing: Rich Redmond's studio drumming Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
September 18, 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 best performers in music earning her a Grammy and multi-platinum success with “Don’t Let Me Down.” She's also recently released her single "Paranoid." Emily is a real songwriters songwriter. Her process is as much therapy as art. Together we break down her latest work and uncover her creative process. Her album "Quiet Your Mind" is out on October 5th. Songs discussedThe Chainsmokers - Side EffectsBach - Prelude in F# Minor from the Well Tempered ClavierEmily Warren - Paranoidbülow - You & JenniferTeyana Taylor - Gonna Love MeNick Jonas - TouchLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
September 6, 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. Continue the conversation with us on Instagram and Twitter: @SwitchedOnPopSongs discussed:Drake - In My FeelingsDrake - Nice For WhatLauryn Hill - Ex FactorThe Showboys - Drag Rap (Triggaman)Cameron Paul - Brown BeatCheeky Blakk - Let Me Get That OutchaBeyonce ft. Big Freedia - FormationBig Freedia - Karaoke ft LizzoLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
August 23, 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 dig how these tracks keeps the temperature rising through harmonic suspension, and to ask if cribbed "Chopsticks."Switched On Summer Winner: Slow DanceCongrats to Slow Dance for winning our Switched On Summer contest with their song "I'm Your Guy Tonight." Listen to the whole track here: can get all of our song of summer chord loops, song packs and listen to the awesome entires to our Splice Firestarter competition on Splice here: Discussed:• Beyoncé - Crazy in Love• The Chi-lites - Are You My Woman• Jay Z - 99 Problems • Black Eyed Peas - I Got a FeelingLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
August 9, 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 mean: the Baroque technique of PEDAL POINT! When the chords in these songs don't match up with their bass notes, the ratcheting tension adds heat—fueling both dance moves, and controversy.Featuring:Nelly - Hot in Herre Katy Perry - I Kissed a GirlKaty Perry - Teenage DreamAll summer Switched On Pop & Splice have been diving into the DNA of summer hits, and now we want you to show us what you’ve learned. Get inspired by sound packs and chord progressions created by Switched on Pop and share your best song of summer with us and the world. Hosts Nate & Charlie will be listening and will choose their favorite submission to win a year of Splice Sounds and have their track played on the podcast.Check out all the details at, read Owen Pallett's excellent article on the use of harmonic tension in Teenage Dream.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
July 27, 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 subjects are two songs representing the lunatic fringe of 90s culture, "Cotton Eyed Joe" and "How Bizarre." In the course of our musicological investigation, we uncover dark truths about these seemingly anodyne hits that will make you question everything you know about pop music. And in the end, we reach a definitive answer to a perennially vexing question: "WTF was 90s music so weird?"Songs DiscussedRednex:Cotton Eye JoePop in an OakThe Way I MateCotton Eyed Joe:Fiddlin John CarsonBob Wills and his Texas PlayboysKaren DaltonChieftainsNina Simone OMC:How BizarreRight ONStart making your summer hit track on Splice and check out our chord pack at more about your ad choices. Visit
July 12, 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 still manages to get people off their feet and onto the streets—not just to dance, but also to raise their voices in joy, catharsis, and protest. Also, start making your own summer hits with our Switched On Summer repack on Splice at and use promo code ONPOP for a 1 month free trial.Featuring:Martha and the Vandellas - Dancing in the StreetMarvin Gaye - Stubborn Kind of FellowThe Mamas and the Papas - Dancing in the StreetThe Grateful Dead - Dancing in the StreetVan Halen - Dancing in the StreetMick Jagger and David Bowie - Dancing in the StreetKendrick Lamar - AlrightPharrell Williams - HappyLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
June 28, 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 literally "get around"—harmonically, melodically, and lyrically—creating that unbeatable feeling of cruising all over town with the top down on a hot summer's night. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
June 14, 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 Jepsen's epic "Cut to the Feeling" to understand why CRJ is a different kind of pop star.Featuring:•Charlie Puth - BOY•Ismael Miranda - Recordando•Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - Nobody's Baby•The Beatles - She's a Woman•The Cars - Since You're Gone•Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony No 5 in C Minor, I•Carly Rae Jepsen - Cut to the FeelingCheck out more of Hanif's work at his website.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 31, 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 Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino and Kali Uchis. Bootsy Collins, bass player of Parliament Funkadelic, collaborated with Kali Uchis and Tyler the Creator on the track "After The Storm," which draws on the P-Funk sound. Similarly, Clipping pay homage to the P-Funk lineage through their Hugo nominated song "The Deep," which was produced in collaboration with This American Life. The story explores a mythology created by the band Drexciya. In the story, an underwater civilization birthed from African slaves crossing the Atlantic battles their makers to save their habitat. Listen to hear what makes both infectious tracks so effective. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 17, 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 techniques like tempo rubato, modal interchange and amen breaks, which weave together this equanimous narrative.Songs featured:Ariana Grande - No Tears Left To CryAriana Grande - Into YouAriana Grande - Break Free ft. ZeddThe Winstons - Amen BrotherThe Prodigy - MinefieldN.W.A. - Straight Outta ComptonOasis - Do You Know What I meanFuturama Theme Song  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 3, 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 myths about AI music and discuss its future opportunities. In the second half of the show we run a musical 'Turing test' to see if you can identify music made by a bot from that composed by the hand of a human. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
April 19, 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 like Scelsi, Beethoven and Haydn. Then, we turn to Marian Hill's new single "Differently" to uncover the subtle musical shifts that outline a complex dialogue lurking among the track's sparse, funky textures.Songs Discussed:Lorde - RibsBroken Social Scene - Lover's SpitGiacinto Scelsi - MemoriesLudwig van Beethoven - 9th SymphonyFranz Josef Haydn - CreationKid Rock - All Summer LongMiley Cyrus - Party in the USAMarian Hill - MistakenMarian Hill - DifferentlyLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
April 5, 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 about your leftover lunch, we're talking about love. But this is not just a simple little love song. It is a masterclass of creativity. Musgraves uses every element of music to reinforce her core idea. The lyrics fold back onto themselves with dual meanings as the harmony, melody, orchestration and rhythm all interweave to literally give the listener butterflies. Caution: this song may induce feeling of tender sorrow and longing for mutual crushes and anxious kisses.Songs Discussed:Kacey Musgraves - Merry Go RoundKacey Musgraves - ButterfliesLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
March 22, 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 Nancarrow - Study for Prepared Piano 21Check out Jonathan Berger's article on musical time in Nautilus.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
March 8, 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 breaking free of normative sexual expectations. But these non-binary statements aren't limited to the lyrics. The message is reinforced with musical concepts drawn from the blues, Prince and Michael Jackson. To help break down this track, Nate and Charlie are joined by singer/rapper Lizzo. She and Monáe both collaborated with Prince, making Lizzo uniquely qualified to unwind his influence on the song (Prince was recently named as a collaborator on the track). We also discuss Lizzo's song "Truth Hurts" and her podcast "Good As Hell" where she talks to the queens of hip hop. Hands down, Lizzo is one of the most talented, knowledgable and fun guests. You don't want to miss this episode.Songs DiscussedJanelle Monáe - Make Me FeelMichael Jackson - The Way You Make Me FeelMichael Jackson - Beat ItFats Domino - Blueberry HillPrince - KissYing Yang Twins - Wait (The Whisper Song)Lizzo - Truth HurtsSister Nancy - BamBonus MaterialGet tickets for Lizzo's Sister Sister Sister tour with Haim: www.lizzomusic.comDon't miss Lizzo's podcast "Good As Hell" on SpotifyAlso if you haven't read it, Quincy Jones Vulture interview is utterly madLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
February 22, 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 Roland TR-808 kick drum evokes an entire repertoire of Atlanta Hip Hop, while the track's supporting piano montuno descends from a Cuban style lamenting the loss of one's traditional home. Also in this episode, we discuss Camila's unlikely path to number one with writer Hannah Steinkopf-Frank — and the musical glass ceiling that holds so many young women artists back.RecommendationsSwitched On Pop recommends the podcast about sound: Twenty Thousand Hertz Hannah recommends the book: Girl Groups Girl Culture by Jacqueline WarwickCheck out more music and writing from Kwami Coleman at his websiteYou can listen to you playlist of 808s and Montunos on SpotifyFeatured SongsCamila Cabello - HavanaTI - Whatever You Like2NE1 - I Am The BestMarvin Gaye - Sexual HealingMariah Carey, Jermaine Dupri - Always Be My BabyOutkast - So Fresh, So CleanLil Jon - Get LowGucci Mane ft. Migos - I Get The BagCompay Segundo - Guajira GuantanameraCuarteto Caney - Guajira GuantanameraBig Mama Thorton - Hound DogElvis - Hound DogLittle Mix & Missy Elliott- How Ya Doin?The Shangri Las - Leader Of The PackSleater-Kinney - I Wanna Be Your Joey RamoneSpice Girls - WannabeSpice Girls - Spice Up Your LifeThe Ronettes - Be My BabyThe Shirelles - Will You Love Me TomorrowTLC - No ScrubsLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
February 8, 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 be sure to check out: Darryl Bullock's playlist of LGBT pop, from his book David Bowie Made Me Gayand the brilliant Call Your Girlfriend podcast, produced by Gina. Featuring:•Troye Sivan - My My My!•Taylor Swift - Style•West Side Story - Cool•Billy Murray - Pretty Baby•Ma Rainey - Prove it on Me•Irving Kaufman - Masculine Women, Feminine Men•Lesley Gore - You Don't Own Me•Jackie Shane - Any Other Way•Lavender Country - Back in the Closet Again•John Grant - Glacier•Alex Clare - Too CloseLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
January 25, 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 when we got beat up in the middle school parking lot. Spotify 90s Nostalgia playlist: Mars ft. Cardi B - FinesseCharlie Puth ft. Boyz II Men - If You Leave me NowGuy - Groove MeEternal - StayBell Biv Devoe - PoisonCardi B - Bodack YellowChristopher Williams - I'm DreaminBoyz II Men - MotownphillyBoyz II Men - On Bended KneeHamilton - The Room Where It HappenedLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
January 11, 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-funk snarl expertly produced by long-time collaborators Timbaland and Danja. What's going on here—who is JT trying to be? We listen deep to his latest, "Filthy," to try and understand its creator's conflicting musical worlds. Featuring:Justin Timberlake - FilthyJustin Timberlake - Cry Me A RiverBernard Hermann - PsychoKen Nordine - My BabyLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
December 28, 2017
Charlie talks laments, Baroque opera, and gender politics in Dua Lipa's sleeper hit "New Rules" with writer Emily Bootle.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
December 14, 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• Khalid - Location• Dua Lipa - New Rules• Logic - Everybody / 1-800-273-8255• Childish Gambino - Redbone• Sampha - (No One Knows Me) Like the piano in my mothers house• Father John Misty - Pure Comedy• Jay-Z: 4:44• Perfume Genius - No Shape• Aimee Mann - Mental IllnessAnd more...Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
November 30, 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 landscapes composed of all the complexities of human experience. We give you a way to enjoy listening to her music. Using this hybrid pop/modernist method, we deconstruct her latest album Utopia. Plus Nate & Charlie fall in love all over again. Featured ClipsBjörk - LosssBjörk - Human BehaviourBjörk - It's Oh So QuietBjörk - HyperballadBjörk - JogaBjörk - ThunderboltBjörk - LionsongBjörk - Arisen My SensesBjörk - StonemilkerBjörk - QuicksandBjörk - NotgetBjörk - UtopiaBjörk - Blissing MeBjörk - The Gate Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
November 16, 2017
Taylor Swift unveils a new, darker identity on her latest album "Reputation," and many have read the lyrics on her latest as not-so-subtle volleys in an ongoing celebrity feud. Still, a question remains: how does Swift cast this dark personality in music? Two songs offer evidence. Melodic drops and temporal gaps in "I Did Something Bad" signal the album's themes of descent and decay. On "Getaway Car," however, some of Swift's old songwriting tricks may betray her new persona.We also dug into Reputation and other great listener questions in our Reddit AMA.Featuring:Taylor Swift:• I Did Something Bad• Getaway Car• Trouble• Love Story• You Belong With Me• Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys - Away Out There• Imogen Heap - Hide and Seek• The Weeknd - Can't Feel My FaceLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
November 2, 2017
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. Julia Michaels, channel the thematic tricks of French Romantic composer Hector Berlioz in his 1830 Symphonie Fantastique. FeaturingTaylor Swift - Look What You Made Me Do Cardi B - Bodak YellowRight Said Fred - I'm Too SexyClean Bandit ft. Julia Michaels - I Miss YouBerlioz - Symphonie Fantastique performed by Berliner PhilharmonikerBerlioz - Symphonie Fantastique performed by DuPage Symphony OrchestraLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
October 19, 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) behind Mark's own track "Lose My Cool."Featuring:Kendrick Lamar - HUMBLE.Amber Mark - Lose My CoolAmber Mark - SPACELearn more about your ad choices. Visit
October 6, 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 even, transcendence. And as we pick apart "Sorry Not Sorry," we'll go to some surprising places ourselves including: Klezmer melodies, spiritual pretzels and musical dementors. Featuring:•Demi Lovato - Sorry Not Sorry•Cardi B - Bodak Yellow•Dave Tarras - Freilach YidelachLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
September 22, 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 and picks up hardware instruments on this track. Upon first listen, this might seem like a sleeper hit, but as the loop repeats, you're going to want to move your feet. With intricate rhythmic interplay, the bass, drums, keys and guitar seem to talk to each other. Listen closely to hear how he does it. Also, we'll reveal why Katy Perry is so into going fishing.FeaturingCalvin Harris - Feels (ft. Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams and Big Sean)James Brown - I Got The FeelingJames Brown - Get Up Offa That ThingDNCE - Cake By The OceanGeorge & Ira Gershwin - Blah Blah Blah (performed by 2012 Original Broadway Cast)Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
September 7, 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" and Imagine Dragon's "Believer" are inverse anthems of resilience. Both tracks seek catharsis - one through prayer, the other through pain.FeaturingKesha - Tik TokKesha - PrayingMozart - The Queen of the Night AriaWhitney Houston - I Will Always Love YouMariah Carey - EmotionsLalah Hathaway - SomethingImagine Dragons - RadioactiveImagine Dragons - BelieverLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
August 10, 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 Fonsi ft Daddy Yankee - DespacitoLuis Fonsi ft Daddy Yankee y Justin Bieber - Despacito (Remix)Luis Fonsi y Juan Luis Guerra - Llegaste TúMajor Lazer ft Justin Bieber - Cold WaterLos Del Rio - MacarenaDaddy Yankee - GasolinaAvril Lavigne - ComplicatedToto - AfricaFurther reading:Petra River-Rideau Interview in The AtlanticRemezcla Roundtable on Despacito w Isabel Herrera and Julianne Escobedo ShepherdLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
July 13, 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 from the Talking Heads' macabre "Psycho Killer." This is a fun one. Come along for the ride. Featuring:• Selena Gomez - Bad Liar• Julia Michaels - Issues• Selena Gomez - Same Old Love• Talking Heads - Psycho KillerLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
June 29, 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:•Alanis Morissette - You Oughta KnowArtists mentioned by Andrea Warner:SZAIbeyiThe OvercoatsLizzoLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
June 16, 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 secrets of this ubiquitous technique. Listening to Julia Michaels' hit "Issues," we unveil how the rule of three is used to draw our attention and keep us free from sonic distraction. And we look at how Maroon 5's "Cold" uses the same technique but creates an exceptionally different sound. Of course, it wouldn't be Switched On Pop if we didn't dig into the classical past to find out if this rule really holds up in the history of music. Featuring: Morgan Page - Fight My WayJulia Michaels - Issues Julia Michaels - Issues (Acoustic)Maroon 5 - Cold ft. FutureSkrillex - First Of The Year (Equinox)Ed Sheeran - Shape Of YouDJ Khaled - I'm The OneSelena Gomez - Bad LiarThe Beatles - When I'm Sixty FourArnold Schoenberg - Pierrot Lunaire - III - Der MondfleckDead & Company - Live at the Hollywood Bowl 6-1-17The Beatles - A Day In The LifeIke & Tina Turner: Deep River Mountain HighSwedish House Mafia - OneLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
June 1, 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 yet, the lackluster "I'm The One" sits comfortably at the top of the charts, which raises the question: why?? Our answer: because Khaled and company understand the bewitching power of tonal harmony, and they've utilized the most surefire chord progression in pop history to ensure their success, a simple sequence of chords that has captivated listeners for almost a century: I - vi - IV - V. Check out our playlist of songs using this progression — and please send us any others that you identify!Featuring:• DJ Khaled - I'm The One• Dean Martin - Blue Moon• Ben E. King - Stand By Me• Hoagy Carmichael - Heart & Soul• The Police - Every Breath You Take • Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You• fun. -  We Are Young• Justin Bieber - Baby• Jean-Philippe Rameau - Les SauvagesLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 18, 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 undergirding each track, a perfect balance of symmetry and asymmetry that keeps reeling us in for more. Featuring: • Charlie Puth ft. Meghan Trainor - Marvin Gaye• Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth - See You Again• Charlie Puth ft. Selene Gomez - We Don't Talk Anymore• Charlie Puth - Attention• Haim - Want You Back• Dvorak - Carnival Overture (United States Marine Band)Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 4, 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. Tiring of this sound, some artists are finding creative ways to parody this pop trope. The rock outfit Fall Out Boy’s “Young And Menace” demonstrates equal parts mastery and mockery of the pop-drop. And PC Music, a rising art-music label out of London, skewers the whole of pop cliché on their mixtape collaboration with Charli XCX. After this episode, we promise you’ll be ready to move on to new sounds. Luckily, listeners have collaborated to create a new favorites playlist to help you cleanse your palette.Featuring:The Chainsmokers - CloserKygo & Selena Gomez - It Ain’t MeLady Gaga - The CureFall Out Boy - Sugar We’re Going DownFall Out Boy - Young And MenaceJay Z - D.O.A. (Death Of Auto-Tune)Ariana Grande - Into YouKaty Perry feat. Skip Marley - Chained To The RhythmDrake - PassionfruitPostmodern Jukebox - Sugar We’re Going Down SwingingBritney Spears - Oops! I Did It AgainSkrillex - BangarangDJ Snake - MiddleBeyoncé - Love On TopIcona Pop - I Love It (feat. Charlie XCX)Iggy Azalea - Fancy ft. Charli XCXSelena Gomez - Same Old LoveCharli XCX - 3AM (Pull Up) (feat. MØ)Hannah Diamond - Every NightBronze - Thy SlaughterDanny L Harle - Super Natural (ft. Carly Rae Jepsen)SOPHIE - JUST LIKE WE NEVER SAID GOODBYEA.G. Cook - SuperstarAriana Grande - Side To SideCoon Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra - I'm Gonna Charleston Back To CharlestonSpotify Playlist: more about your ad choices. Visit
April 20, 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 most peculiar pop tune. Featuring:•Beethoven 5th Symphony - Scherzo•Harry Styles - Sign of the Times•Prince - Sign o' the Times•David Bowie - Space Oddity•Zayn Malik - Pillowtalk•Steve Aoki + Louis Tomlinson - Just Hold On•John Lennon - #9 Dream•George Harrison - All Things Must Pass•The Beatles - The End•British Pathe Broadcast•Meg Says YouTube Channel•Megan Elizabeth YouTube ChannelLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
April 6, 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 very podcast, such as Ariana Grande's "Dangerous Woman" and Selena Gomez's "Same Old Love") is the ideal guest to convince a skeptical Charlie and Nate that Sheeran might have a song handmade for somebodies like them. Plus, Ross takes us behind the scenes of his own podcast, "And the Writer Is...", in which the industry's best writers break down their trials and triumphs on the way to the top. Featuring:• Ed Sheeran - Shape of You• Justin Bieber - Love Yourself• Kygo ft. Ella Henderson - Here For You • Maroon 5 - Don't Wanna KnowCheck out And The Writer Is... With Ross Golan: more about your ad choices. Visit
March 23, 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 Bahari). Snare drums as currency, Game of Thrones samples and screaming into the void are all discussed in this deep dive into the world of pop orchestration and 21st century songwriting.  Featuring:Zedd + Alessia Cara - StayHailee Steinfeld + Grey ft. Zedd - StarvingGrey ft. Bahari - I Miss YouEarth, Wind and Fire - Kalimba StoryMaroon 5 - Don't Wanna KnowMussorgsky - Pictures at an ExhibitionRavel - Pictures at an ExhibitionEmerson, Lake and Palmer - Pictures at an ExhibitionGrey - Do You Remember (Remix)Grey - You're Not There (Remix)Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
March 10, 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, a fact becomes apparent, despite Lorde's insistence that she "hears new sounds" in her mind: there's something familiar lurking beneath both these tracks. And indeed, both were co-written and produced by key figures of the modern pop music firmament. Who are they, and how do we detect their fingerprints on the latest from these two low-voiced chanteuses? Tune in and test your acumen in a high-stakes game of musical forensics. Featuring:Katy Perry - Chained to the RhythmLorde - Green Light...and some secret songsLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
February 24, 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 Hurwitz and John Legend, might represent the two poles of the film's dramatic structure. But a deep dive into their musical construction reveals leitmotifs and left turns that leave us staggered at the different levels to La La Land's score. Special guest Genevieve Koski, deputy culture editor for Vox and co-host of the film podcast The Next Picture Show, joins to help our hosts journey through the uncharted terrain of cinema. Featuring:• Start a Fire - John Legend• City of Stars - Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone• John Legend - Ordinary People• Backstreet Boys - Everybody• Ariana Grande - Side To Side• Die Walkure, The Ring Cycle - Richard Wagner• Engagement, Planetarium, Epilogue, Mia + Sebastian's Theme - Justin Hurwitz• Générique, Dans le magasin de parapluies, Final - The Umbrellas of Cherbourg• Tie Fighter Theme - John WilliamsCheck out Genevieve Koski's writing on Vox and her great podcast on La La Land here.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
February 9, 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 to avert the sophomore slump and a megastar returning to the limelight—is far from triumphant. Instead, "Forever" delves into themes of loss and separation—emotions in turn embedded in the very structure and melody of this most unusual duet. Also, Charlie and Nate discuss what upcoming Grammy nominations have them most excited, From Chance the Rapper to Radiohead, Bowie to Solange, there's much to celebrate from 2016. Musically speaking, that is. Featuring:• Zayn & Taylor Swift - I Don't Wanna Live Forever• Giovanni Gabrieli - Symphoniae Sacrae II• Solange - Cranes in the Sky• Chance the Rapper - All We Got• David Bowie - Lazarus• Radiohead - Burn the Witch• Tycho - GliderLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
January 27, 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 dive deep to uncover the insane puzzles, Trompe-l'oiel tricks and Baroque games that lie under the surface of this morsel of pop perfection. PLUS, brilliant rocker and rapper K. Flay joins to discuss the mysteries of Ariana Grande and takes us through the composition of her own, bass-heavy anthem of catharsis, "Blood in the Cut."Featuring• Ariana Grande - Into You • K Flay - Blood in the Cut• Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive• J.S. Bach - A little hocket example• Ariana Grande - Dangerous Woman• The Chainsmokers - Closer• The Rolling Stones - Can't Get No Satisfaction• The Rolling Stones - Paint It BlackLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
January 12, 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, though, so we reveal how this song's perpetual excitement is hard-won through references to past stars of sultriness like Michael and Marvin while employing its own bag of tricks to turn up the heat. Featuring:•The Weeknd + Daft Punk - I Feel it Coming•Marvin Gaye - Let's Get it On•Michael Jackson - Rock With You•Chic - Good Times•Ike and Tina Turner - Doin' ItFor an excellent playlist of listener-submitted sexy songs, direct your dirty self here: more about your ad choices. Visit
December 16, 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 listeners have not grown tired of this Tin Pan Alley chestnut. We use our scientific formula for holiday hit success to break down what makes this song so timeless.FeaturingBing Crosby - White ChristmasThe Beatles - Christmas Time Is HereWhitney Houston - Have Yourself a Merry Little ChristmasJackson 5 - Santa Clause Is Coming to TownThe Beatles - In My LifeFrank Sinatra - White ChristmasKenny G - White ChristmasNashville Cast - White ChristmasLady Gaga - White ChristmasThe Drifters - White ChristmasElvis - White ChristmasElla Fitzgerald - White ChristmasBeach Boys - White ChristmasDean Martin - White ChristmasKaty Perry - White ChristmasKelly Clarkson - White ChristmasRascal Flatts - White ChristmasMichael Bolton - White ChristmasMichael Bublé and Shania Twain - White ChristmasCarol Of The Bells by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license ( the Hall, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Angels We Have Heard by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license ( more about your ad choices. Visit
December 1, 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 down listening into four key layers: 1) The Liner Notes, 2) The Needle Drop, 3) The Scratch, and 4) The Remix. Through this patented process, artistic revelations are all but guaranteed, with Cohen's opus no exception — his modern classic is not all it appears to be. Featuring:•Leonard Cohen - "Hallelujah"Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
November 17, 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 unreliable narrator who doesn't always mean what she says. The more layers one pulls back from this song, the more Lo's source material—the novel and film "Gone Girl"—comes to the fore, turning "Cool Girl" into the kind of pop smash that sticks in your head in more ways than one. Featuring:Tove Lo - Cool GirlDaft Punk - Harder, Better, FasterAlessia Cara - Scars To Your BeautifulLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
November 3, 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 firm conviction that each song knows what it really means to be American. Five years later, these tracks have a lot to tell us about the role music plays in shaping our national identity, and begs the question: does music truly bring us together? FeaturingToby Keith - Made In AmericaJay Z and Kanye West ft. Frank Ocean - Made in AmericaSisqo - Thong SongUsher - Yeah!Beyoncé - Daddy LessonsJimmie Rodgers - Blue Yodel No. 9Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys - Ida Red Likes to BoogieLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
October 20, 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 - "Closer" by The Chainsmokers, ft. Halsey. This one is different than the rest...or is it? We dive into the styles of the moment to re-learn the old maxim that "great artists steal" - whether that artist is a 2016 DJ duo or an 18th century Classical master. Featuring:•Tory Lanez - LUV•Shawn Mendes - Treat You Better•Frenship - Capsize•Maroon 5 - Don't Wanna Know•Cheat Codes - Sex•The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey - Closer•Charlie Puth ft. Selena Gomez - We Don't Talk Anymore•Jack U ft. Justin Bieber - Where Are U Now•Drake - Know Yourself•Amine - Caroline•MO - Final Song•Mike Posner - I Took a Pill in Ibiza (Seeb remix)•The Weeknd - I Can't Feel My Face•The Chainsmokers ft. Phoebe Ryan - All We Know•Antonio Vivaldi - "La Primavera" Concerto•Vivaldi - Giustino•Vivaldi - Dorilla in Tempe•Vivaldi - Orlando FuriosoLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
October 6, 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 the perverse thrill of watching a delicately beautiful musical moment ruined by the harsh cry of a default ringtone. In this episode, we zoom in on one of these annoying melodies to see if there's not some hidden musical craft present in the ubiquitous bleeps and bloops that envelop us. Later, Charlie shares a piece made solely of this sonic detritus, and a data scientist locates surprising musical patterns in a most unexpected source.Featuring:The Nokia TuneThe Beatles - She's So HeavyOne Direction - Live While We're YoungFrancisco Tarrega - Gran ValsLinks:Charlie Harding - Bowl ArrowJonathan Berger's Article in Nautlius: How Music Hijacks our Perception of TimeFamous Cell Phone Rings Played on the Piano by Tony AnnGreg Hochmuth's workLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
September 22, 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 non-conformity of her outward appearance is reflected back in her compositions. On first listen, her songs may sound like just another catchy pop tune and this is intentional. Gaga lures us close with the sound of pop fame and then hooks us and reels us into into her dungeon of monstrous sounds.FeaturingLady Gaga - Perfect IllusionLady Gaga - Just DanceLady Gaga - Government HookerQueen - Radio GagaLady Gaga - Love GameLady Gage - ScheisseMichael Jackson - ThrillerPhantom Of The Opera - OvertureJohn Carpenter - Halloween Theme (Main Title)Lady Gaga - Bad RomanceLady Gaga - AlejandroAce Of Bass - I Saw The SignLady Gaga - SpeechlessQueen - Don’t Stop Me NowLady Gaga - So Happy I Could DieNatasha Bedingfield - Pocket Full of SunshineLady Gaga - Born This WayMadonna - Express YourselfLady Gaga - TeethLady Gaga - Bloody MaryLady Gaga - Dance In The DarkTony Bennett and Lady Gaga - Anything GoesTony Bennett - I Wish I Were In Love AgainLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
September 9, 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 songwriters know a well-placed harmonic modulation can leave listeners reeling. But what is this mysterious musical trick, and how does it work? Tune in and let us take you higher, and higher, and higher, as we explore the wild world of modulation. FeaturingOne Direction - Night ChangesTaylor Swift - Love StoryBackstreet Boys - I Want it That WayStevie Wonder - Knocks Me Off my FeetBeyonce - Love On TopWhitney Houston - I Will Always Love YouMozart - Queen of the Night AriaMichael Jackson - Man in the MirrorThe Beatles - Penny LaneJohnny Cash - Walk the LineHear more of Dru Cutler's work at www.drucutler.comLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
August 25, 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 new software grants vocal manipulation at the click of a button, this uncanny production technique has become nearly ubiquitous. But is this ultramodern sound really that new? We dig deep into the roots of the sound of the moment.Featuring:• Kiaara - Gold• Coldplay - Hymn for the Weekend (Seeb remix)• Hailee Steinfeld ft. Grey & Zedd - Starving• Calvin Harris ft. Rihanna - This is What You Came For• Mike Posner -I Took a Pill in Ibiza (Seeb remix)• DJ Snake ft. Justin Bieber - Let Me Love You• Cold Crush Brothers - MC Battle (Live)• Cerrone - Rocket in the Pocket• Wu Tang Clan - Tearz• Wendy Rene - After Laughter• Kanye West - School Spirit• Whistle - Just Buggin• Nu Shooz - I Can't WaitLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
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