Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia podcast

Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia

What makes a song a smash? Talent? Luck? Timing? All that—and more. Chris Molanphy, pop-chart analyst and author of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” series, tells tales from a half-century of chart history. Through storytelling, trivia and song snippets, Chris dissects how that song you love—or hate—dominated the airwaves, made its way to the top of the charts and shaped your memories forever. Want more Hit Parade? Join Slate Plus to unlock monthly early-access episodes. Plus, you’ll get ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe now on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/hitparadeplus to get access wherever you listen.

What makes a song a smash? Talent? Luck? Timing? All that—and more. Chris Molanphy, pop-chart analyst and author of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” series, tells tales from a half-century of chart history. Through storytelling, trivia and song snippets, Chris dissects how that song you love—or hate—dominated the airwaves, made its way to the top of the charts and shaped your memories forever. Want more Hit Parade? Join Slate Plus to unlock monthly early-access episodes. Plus, you’ll get ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe now on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/hitparadeplus to get access wherever you listen.

 

#165

Song(s) of the Summer Edition Part 1

“Summer in the City.” “I Feel the Earth Move.” “Bette Davis Eyes.” “Whoomp! There It Is.” “Get Lucky.” “Espresso.” What do these big summer hits all have in common? None of them was Billboard’s official Song of the Summer. Wait…there’s an official Song of the Summer? Isn’t that something that just happens organically? Every year, it seems everybody has an opinion on this musical national pastime. But the Hot 100 often tells a different story. For every “Light My Fire,” “Bad Girls,” “Crazy in Love,” “California Gurls” or “Call Me Maybe”—a hot-weather hit that unites the charts and the punditry—there are confirmed summer smashes that no one would pick out of a lineup, from Zager and Evans to Iggy Azalea. Join Chris Molanphy as he traces the tangled story of how America came to decide there should be one victorious summer hit to rule them all. And he counts down the best Songs of the Summer by decade. Is it getting “Hot in Herre,” or is it just us…? Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

13 Jul 2024

1 HR 02 MINS

1:02:22

13 Jul 2024


#164

I Wanna Rock with Q. Edition Part 2

What does a music producer do? If his name is Quincy Jones, a little bit of everything: conducting, arranging, composing. Assembling teams of ace session musicians. Sometimes, even picking a catchy title and telling an artist to go write a song about it— would “Thriller” have worked as well if it had been called “Starlight”? Quincy Jones was pop’s Renaissance Man, and he could not be limited either by genre or by role. He played in jazz bands…produced teen pop hits…discovered young talent…scored Hollywood films…helped invent Yacht Rock and Yacht Soul…even released hit albums under his own name featuring cavalcades of guest vocalists. And he worked with so! many! legends! Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Little Richard, Lesley Gore, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan … and all that happened before he even met a former child star named Michael Jackson and helped him produce the best-selling album in history. No wonder only Quincy had the clout to wrangle the superstars for the recording of “We Are the World.” Join Chris Molanphy as he tells the story of the music man who truly did it all and is known affectionately by the letter Q. He made the world a better place for you and me. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Host Chris Molanphy Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

29 Jun 2024

55 MINS

55:55

29 Jun 2024


#163

I Wanna Rock with Q. Edition Part 1

What does a music producer do? If his name is Quincy Jones, a little bit of everything: conducting, arranging, composing. Assembling teams of ace session musicians. Sometimes, even picking a catchy title and telling an artist to go write a song about it— would “Thriller” have worked as well if it had been called “Starlight”? Quincy Jones was pop’s Renaissance Man, and he could not be limited either by genre or by role. He played in jazz bands…produced teen pop hits…discovered young talent…scored Hollywood films…helped invent Yacht Rock and Yacht Soul…even released hit albums under his own name featuring cavalcades of guest vocalists. And he worked with so! many! legends! Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Little Richard, Lesley Gore, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan … and all that happened before he even met a former child star named Michael Jackson and helped him produce the best-selling album in history. No wonder only Quincy had the clout to wrangle the superstars for the recording of “We Are the World.” Join Chris Molanphy as he tells the story of the music man who truly did it all and is known affectionately by the letter Q. He made the world a better place for you and me. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Host Chris Molanphy Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

15 Jun 2024

50 MINS

50:54

15 Jun 2024


#162

Be My Baby-Baby-Baby Edition Part 2

Girl groups have long been underestimated—even by the producers and managers who created them. For women listeners, girl groups narrated profound emotions and expressed personal freedom—even when the singers were not so free themselves. For male listeners, girl groups provided inspiration, and a way to express matters of the heart. And for all listeners across rock and soul history, girl groups pushed music forward. In the ’60s, the Shirelles, Marvelettes, Ronettes and Shangri-Las kept rock afloat between Elvis Presley and the Beatles. In the ’70s and ’80s, girl groups from the Emotions to Exposé rebooted dance music. In the ’90s, En Vogue, TLC and Destiny’s Child fused hip-hop style with old-school soul—and the Spice Girls fired up a new generation through Girl Power. Join Chris Molanphy as we shimmy and strut through decades of bops to give girl groups the respect they deserve. You’ll love them tomorrow, because friendship never ends. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Want more Hit Parade? Join Slate Plus to unlock monthly early-access episodes. Plus, you’ll get ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe now on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit [ slate.com/hitparadeplus] (https://slate.com/podcast-plus?utm_medium=audio&utm_campaign=plus_pod&utm_content=Hit_Parade&utm_source=episode_summary) to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

31 May 2024

52 MINS

52:21

31 May 2024


#161

Be My Baby-Baby-Baby Edition Part 1

Girl groups have long been underestimated—even by the producers and managers who created them. For women listeners, girl groups narrated profound emotions and expressed personal freedom—even when the singers were not so free themselves. For male listeners, girl groups provided inspiration, and a way to express matters of the heart. And for all listeners across rock and soul history, girl groups pushed music forward. In the ’60s, the Shirelles, Marvelettes, Ronettes and Shangri-Las kept rock afloat between Elvis Presley and the Beatles. In the ’70s and ’80s, girl groups from the Emotions to Exposé rebooted dance music. In the ’90s, En Vogue, TLC and Destiny’s Child fused hip-hop style with old-school soul—and the Spice Girls fired up a new generation through Girl Power. Join Chris Molanphy as we shimmy and strut through decades of bops to give girl groups the respect they deserve. You’ll love them tomorrow, because friendship never ends. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Want more Hit Parade? Join Slate Plus to unlock monthly early-access episodes. Plus, you’ll get ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe now on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit [ slate.com/hitparadeplus] (https://slate.com/podcast-plus?utm_medium=audio&utm_campaign=plus_pod&utm_content=Hit_Parade&utm_source=episode_summary) to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

17 May 2024

1 HR 03 MINS

1:03:22

17 May 2024


#160

We Want It That Way Edition Part 2

When you hear “boy band,” what do you picture? Five guys with precision dance moves? Songs crafted by the Top 40 pop machine? Svengalis pulling the puppet strings? Hordes of screaming girls? As it turns out, not all boy bands fit these signifiers. (Well…except for the screaming girls—they are perennial.) There are boy bands that danced, and some that did not…boy bands that relied entirely on outside songwriters, and those that wrote big hits…boy bands assembled by managers or producers, and quite a few that launched on their own. From Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers to New Kids on the Block, the Monkees to the Jonas Brothers, Boyz II Men to BTS, New Edition to One Direction, and…yeah, of course, Backstreet Boys and *N Sync, boy bands have had remarkable variety over the years. (In a sense, even a certain ’60s Fab Four started as a boy band.) Join Chris Molanphy as he tries to define the ineffable quality of boy band–ness, walks through decades of shrieking, hair-pulling pop history, and reminds you that boy bands generated some of our greatest hits, from “I Want You Back” to “I Want It That Way,” “Bye Bye Bye” to “Dynamite.” Help him “ [bring the fire and set the night alight] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdZLi9oWNZg) .” Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

27 Apr 2024

1 HR 02 MINS

1:02:50

27 Apr 2024


#159

We Want It That Way Edition Part 1

When you hear “boy band,” what do you picture? Five guys with precision dance moves? Songs crafted by the Top 40 pop machine? Svengalis pulling the puppet strings? Hordes of screaming girls? As it turns out, not all boy bands fit these signifiers. (Well…except for the screaming girls—they are perennial.) There are boy bands that danced, and some that did not…boy bands that relied entirely on outside songwriters, and those that wrote big hits…boy bands assembled by managers or producers, and quite a few that launched on their own. From Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers to New Kids on the Block, the Monkees to the Jonas Brothers, Boyz II Men to BTS, New Edition to One Direction, and…yeah, of course, Backstreet Boys and *N Sync, boy bands have had remarkable variety over the years. (In a sense, even a certain ’60s Fab Four started as a boy band.) Join Chris Molanphy as he tries to define the ineffable quality of boy band–ness, walks through decades of shrieking, hair-pulling pop history, and reminds you that boy bands generated some of our greatest hits, from “I Want You Back” to “I Want It That Way,” “Bye Bye Bye” to “Dynamite.” Help him “ [bring the fire and set the night alight] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdZLi9oWNZg) .” Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

13 Apr 2024

1 HR 04 MINS

1:04:02

13 Apr 2024


#158

Gotcha Covered Edition Part 2

Cover songs once had a simple playbook: Artists would faithfully rerecord a song—note for note and word for word. They might modernize the instrumentation. If they were feeling radical, they’d punch up the vocals a bit. Now it’s hard to say what a cover is anymore. If Ariana Grande turns “My Favorite Things” into “7 Rings,” does that qualify? When Drake says he’s “Way 2 Sexy,” is he covering Right Said Fred? The recent chart success of “Fast Car”—country star Luke Combs’ very traditional take on Tracy Chapman’s folk classic—has reinvigorated interest in cover songs. Sometimes, isn’t just remaking the song as-is enough? Join Chris Molanphy as he explains the chart considerations and artistic motivations that rebooted the cover song, and whether a straight-up remake will ever top the Hot 100 again. We’re long past the days of “Twist and Shout,” “Venus” and “I’ll Be There.” Podcast production by Olivia Briley. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

29 Mar 2024

46 MINS

46:19

29 Mar 2024


#157

Gotcha Covered Edition Part 1

Cover songs once had a simple playbook: Artists would faithfully rerecord a song—note for note and word for word. They might modernize the instrumentation. If they were feeling radical, they’d punch up the vocals a bit. Now it’s hard to say what a cover is anymore. If Ariana Grande turns “My Favorite Things” into “7 Rings,” does that qualify? When Drake says he’s “Way 2 Sexy,” is he covering Right Said Fred? The recent chart success of “Fast Car”—country star Luke Combs’ very traditional take on Tracy Chapman’s folk classic—has reinvigorated interest in cover songs. Sometimes, isn’t just remaking the song as-is enough? Join Chris Molanphy as he explains the chart considerations and artistic motivations that rebooted the cover song, and whether a straight-up remake will ever top the Hot 100 again. We’re long past the days of “Twist and Shout,” “Venus” and “I’ll Be There.” Podcast production by Olivia Briley. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

16 Mar 2024

57 MINS

57:09

16 Mar 2024


#156

Hello, Gorgeous Edition Part 2

Barbra Streisand: star of stage and screen. Oscar-winner, film director and TV producer. Culture warrior and [meme generator] (https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/streisand-effect) . Yes, all that—but don’t get it twisted: Barbra’s legend rests in her catalog of hit songs—and that voice. Even as culture vultures consume her recent doorstop of a memoir My Name Is Barbra, what’s getting overlooked are Streisand’s awesome musical benchmarks, especially on the Billboard charts. All of those records Taylor Swift has been setting on the album chart, and Billie Eilish on the Grammys? Babs got there first. At a time when rock was ascendant and showtunes were on the wane, Streisand set her own pop agenda, scoring brassy hits that weren’t trendy but topped the charts anyway. She became a pop star, Broadway legend and box-office commander practically simultaneously. Join Chris Molanphy as he tells the story of the original Queen of All Media and explains how she racked up all those hits your mom loved (be honest, you know them too) and made “memories, like the corners of [your] mind.” Trust us: It’ll be like buttah. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

24 Feb 2024

40 MINS

40:45

24 Feb 2024


#155

Hello, Gorgeous Edition Part 1

Barbra Streisand: star of stage and screen. Oscar-winner, film director and TV producer. Culture warrior and [meme generator] (https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/streisand-effect) . Yes, all that—but don’t get it twisted: Barbra’s legend rests in her catalog of hit songs—and that voice. Even as culture vultures consume her recent doorstop of a memoir My Name Is Barbra, what’s getting overlooked are Streisand’s awesome musical benchmarks, especially on the Billboard charts. All of those records Taylor Swift has been setting on the album chart, and Billie Eilish on the Grammys? Babs got there first. At a time when rock was ascendant and showtunes were on the wane, Streisand set her own pop agenda, scoring brassy hits that weren’t trendy but topped the charts anyway. She became a pop star, Broadway legend and box-office commander practically simultaneously. Join Chris Molanphy as he tells the story of the original Queen of All Media and explains how she racked up all those hits your mom loved (be honest, you know them too) and made “memories, like the corners of [your] mind.” Trust us: It’ll be like buttah. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

10 Feb 2024

1 HR 04 MINS

1:04:42

10 Feb 2024


#154

And the Grammy Goes to… Edition Part 2

Do you watch the Grammy Awards every year and groan, or even yell at the screen? Hit Parade host Chris Molanphy sure does. But he has a weird hot take: The Grammys are better off not trying to be cool. They should reward the popular stuff—especially younger people’s music. Where the Recording Academy actually goes wrong is rewarding the old stuff—legendary artists long past their prime, from Frank Sinatra to Eric Clapton, Steely Dan to Beck. The Grammy wins remembered most fondly are artists at the peak of their chart prowess: Carole King. Stevie Wonder. Michael Jackson. George Michael. Lauryn Hill. Adele. Taylor Swift (and more Taylor…and more Taylor…and more…). When did the Grammys get it most right—and wrong? (Was the Toto win really so bad?) And how can they become more relevant? (Hint: much more rap.) Join Chris Molanphy as he offers a chart nerd’s take on the Recording Academy and offers guidelines for good Grammy governance, just before the 2024 awards. It’s an episode right in the [Nick of Time] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toMOjLrDqxw) . Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

26 Jan 2024

52 MINS

52:53

26 Jan 2024


#153

And the Grammy Goes to… Edition Part 1

Do you watch the Grammy Awards every year and groan, or even yell at the screen? Hit Parade host Chris Molanphy sure does. But he has a weird hot take: The Grammys are better off not trying to be cool. They should reward the popular stuff—especially younger people’s music. Where the Recording Academy actually goes wrong is rewarding the old stuff—legendary artists long past their prime, from Frank Sinatra to Eric Clapton, Steely Dan to Beck. The Grammy wins remembered most fondly are artists at the peak of their chart prowess: Carole King. Stevie Wonder. Michael Jackson. George Michael. Lauryn Hill. Adele. Taylor Swift (and more Taylor…and more Taylor…and more…). When did the Grammys get it most right—and wrong? (Was the Toto win really so bad?) And how can they become more relevant? (Hint: much more rap.) Join Chris Molanphy as he offers a chart nerd’s take on the Recording Academy and offers guidelines for good Grammy governance, just before the 2024 awards. It’s an episode right in the [Nick of Time] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toMOjLrDqxw) . Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

13 Jan 2024

53 MINS

53:14

13 Jan 2024


#152

Second-Chance Hits Edition Part 2

In 2023, several hits from years ago—sometimes decades—made it to No. 1 on Billboard’s pop charts after falling short the first time: Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer.” The Weeknd’s “Die for You.” Miguel’s “Sure Thing.” And, most improbably but delightfully, Brenda Lee’s 65-year-old holiday bop “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” What’s going on here? A lot of it has to do with the ways streaming, YouTube and TikTok have changed the charts. But the truth is, the second-chance hit is as old as the charts themselves From David Bowie to Prince, Sonny and Cher to Guns n’ Roses, the Miracles to the Moody Blues, there are certain songs the music biz won’t give up on. To say nothing of all those holiday perennials, from “Monster Mash” to “Last Christmas.” Join Chris Molanphy as he explains why certain songs keep coming back and counts down a dozen favorite second-chance hits. If it first they don’t succeed, chart, chart again. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

29 Dec 2023

54 MINS

54:20

29 Dec 2023


#151

Second-Chance Hits Edition Part 1

In 2023, several hits from years ago—sometimes decades—made it to No. 1 on Billboard’s pop charts after falling short the first time: Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer.” The Weeknd’s “Die for You.” Miguel’s “Sure Thing.” And, most improbably but delightfully, Brenda Lee’s 65-year-old holiday bop “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” What’s going on here? A lot of it has to do with the ways streaming, YouTube and TikTok have changed the charts. But the truth is, the second-chance hit is as old as the charts themselves From David Bowie to Prince, Sonny and Cher to Guns n’ Roses, the Miracles to the Moody Blues, there are certain songs the music biz won’t give up on. To say nothing of all those holiday perennials, from “Monster Mash” to “Last Christmas.” Join Chris Molanphy as he explains why certain songs keep coming back and counts down a dozen favorite second-chance hits. If it first they don’t succeed, chart, chart again. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

16 Dec 2023

1 HR 00 MINS

1:00:02

16 Dec 2023


#150

Ride ’til I Can’t No More Edition Part 2

When it crash-landed on the charts in 2019, Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” felt new and old at the same time: a savvy, TikTok-fueled viral hit that summarized a century of cross-cultural collisions between R&B, rap and country. It was also unexpectedly huge—a record 19 weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100—and controversial, as Billboard magazine pulled the song from its Hot Country Songs chart, prompting a reckoning on race and the very definition of country music. “Old Town Road” wasn’t just a reckoning—it was a culmination. As a hard-to-categorize hit, it called back to cross-genre experiments by everyone from Ray Charles and the Rappin’ Duke to Bubba Sparxxx and even Jason Aldean. As a viral smash, its antecedents date back to “The Twist,” right through “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” and “Harlem Shake.” In honor of his new book Old Town Road (now [ in bookstores] (https://www.dukeupress.edu/old-town-road) !) join Chris Molanphy as he walks through the many predecessors to “Old Town Road” and explains why can’t nobody tell Lil Nas X nothin’. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

24 Nov 2023

55 MINS

55:25

24 Nov 2023


#149

The Bridge: Can’t Tell Me Nothin’

In this special mini-episode of Hit Parade, recorded live on at Housing Works bookstore in New York City, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Dan Charnas—author of the New York Times bestseller Dilla Time, The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, and the acclaimed The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop. They discuss Chris’s new book [ Old Town Road] (https://www.dukeupress.edu/old-town-road) —how he came to write it, what made the song exceptional, and how decades of chart and genre history led to Lil Nas X’s breakthrough. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

18 Nov 2023

57 MINS

57:08

18 Nov 2023


#148

Ride ’til I Can’t No More Edition Part 1

When it crash-landed on the charts in 2019, Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” felt new and old at the same time: a savvy, TikTok-fueled viral hit that summarized a century of cross-cultural collisions between R&B, rap and country. It was also unexpectedly huge—a record 19 weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100—and controversial, as Billboard magazine pulled the song from its Hot Country Songs chart, prompting a reckoning on race and the very definition of country music. “Old Town Road” wasn’t just a reckoning—it was a culmination. As a hard-to-categorize hit, it called back to cross-genre experiments by everyone from Ray Charles and the Rappin’ Duke to Bubba Sparxxx and even Jason Aldean. As a viral smash, its antecedents date back to “The Twist,” right through “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” and “Harlem Shake.” In honor of his new book Old Town Road (now [ in bookstores] (https://www.dukeupress.edu/old-town-road) !) join Chris Molanphy as he walks through the many predecessors to “Old Town Road” and explains why can’t nobody tell Lil Nas X nothin’. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

11 Nov 2023

56 MINS

56:33

11 Nov 2023


#147

This Ain’t No Party?! Edition Part 2

HEY! HO! LET’S GO!! Is this chant: (a) a movement of disaffected hipsters, (b) walkup music for a baseball player, or (c) a really catchy bop? How about all of the above? The legendary New York nightclub CBGB was the birthplace of punk. But it was also the future of pop: the Ramones, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, Blondie. To varying degrees, these acts either became hitmakers, tried to reshape their music for the charts, or influenced generations of future multiplatinum stars. Honestly? Their music was pretty infectious from the jump, even if it was too advanced for the ’70s hit parade. The music we called punk contained multitudes: the improvisatory jazz-rock of Television. The demented anthems of the Ramones. The quirky funk of Talking Heads. The stylistic eclecticism of Blondie—who scored four No. 1 hits in four different genres. Join Chris Molanphy on a journey back to New York’s dirty days to try to answer: When did CBGB punk morph into chart pop? Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

27 Oct 2023

1 HR 04 MINS

1:04:44

27 Oct 2023


#146

This Ain’t No Party?! Edition Part 1

HEY! HO! LET’S GO!! Is this chant: (a) a movement of disaffected hipsters, (b) walkup music for a baseball player, or (c) a really catchy bop? How about all of the above? The legendary New York nightclub CBGB was the birthplace of punk. But it was also the future of pop: the Ramones, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, Blondie. To varying degrees, these acts either became hitmakers, tried to reshape their music for the charts, or influenced generations of future multiplatinum stars. Honestly? Their music was pretty infectious from the jump, even if it was too advanced for the ’70s hit parade. The music we called punk contained multitudes: the improvisatory jazz-rock of Television. The demented anthems of the Ramones. The quirky funk of Talking Heads. The stylistic eclecticism of Blondie—who scored four No. 1 hits in four different genres. Join Chris Molanphy on a journey back to New York’s dirty days to try to answer: When did CBGB punk morph into chart pop? Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

14 Oct 2023

1 HR 08 MINS

1:08:48

14 Oct 2023


#145

Insert Lyrics Here Edition Part 2

If an instrumental tops the charts, it’s probably an earworm: “Tequila.” “Wipeout.” “Dueling Banjos.” “The Hustle.” “Feels So Good.” “Chariots of Fire.” “Axel F.” You can probably whistle or hum several of those from memory. But do you remember the artists? All were one-hit wonders. By and large, instrumental hits throughout chart history were flukes. But there were exceptions: a trumpet player from Los Angeles who pretended to be Latin, made up a fake mariachi band, put sexy models on his album covers and topped the charts almost as much as the Beatles. Or, a try-hard, perm-headed soprano saxophone player from Seattle, who turned holding his breath while playing dizzying runs of notes into an athletic feat. How do songs without words become hits? Why were Herb Alpert and Kenny G so good at it? Why did instrumentals fall off the charts after the ’80s—and who is bringing them back? (Hint: think oontz-oontz-oontz.) Join Chris Molanphy as he throws away the lyric sheet and explains how a catchy melody can be worth a thousand words. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

29 Sep 2023

41 MINS

41:28

29 Sep 2023


#144

Insert Lyrics Here Edition Part 1

If an instrumental tops the charts, it’s probably an earworm: “Tequila.” “Wipeout.” “Dueling Banjos.” “The Hustle.” “Feels So Good.” “Chariots of Fire.” “Axel F.” You can probably whistle or hum several of those from memory. But do you remember the artists? All were one-hit wonders. By and large, instrumental hits throughout chart history were flukes. But there were exceptions: a trumpet player from Los Angeles who pretended to be Latin, made up a fake mariachi band, put sexy models on his album covers and topped the charts almost as much as the Beatles. Or, a try-hard, perm-headed soprano saxophone player from Seattle, who turned holding his breath while playing dizzying runs of notes into an athletic feat. How do songs without words become hits? Why were Herb Alpert and Kenny G so good at it? Why did instrumentals fall off the charts after the ’80s—and who is bringing them back? (Hint: think oontz-oontz-oontz.) Join Chris Molanphy as he throws away the lyric sheet and explains how a catchy melody can be worth a thousand words. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

16 Sep 2023

1 HR 02 MINS

1:02:26

16 Sep 2023


#143

Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture Edition Part 2

Talk about ’90s rap, and most music fans will throw around the word “gangsta” and talk about the East Coast–West Coast feud that tragically brought down Biggie and Tupac. But one rap group, OutKast, quite literally rose above the fray: At the 1995 Source Awards, while East and West were bickering with each other, OutKast’s André Benjamin took the mic and told the rap faithful that hip-hop’s future was in the South. For the next quarter century, he was proved indisputably correct. OutKast brought about this sea change by conceiving of hip-hop as everything music: funk, soul, pop, club, even country and indie all found their way into André and Big Boi’s music. By the time of their final studio album, they had pulled away almost fully from pure rap—and were rewarded with their biggest hits ever, a No. 1 smash each for Big Boi and André. Including that immortal jam that taught you, the fellas and the ladies—including all Beyoncés and Lucy Lius—what’s cooler than being cool. Podcast production by Benjamin Frisch and Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

25 Aug 2023

36 MINS

36:24

25 Aug 2023


#142

Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture Edition Part 1

Talk about ’90s rap, and most music fans will throw around the word “gangsta” and talk about the East Coast–West Coast feud that tragically brought down Biggie and Tupac. But one rap group, OutKast, quite literally rose above the fray: At the 1995 Source Awards, while East and West were bickering with each other, OutKast’s André Benjamin took the mic and told the rap faithful that hip-hop’s future was in the South. For the next quarter century, he was proved indisputably correct. OutKast brought about this sea change by conceiving of hip-hop as everything music: funk, soul, pop, club, even country and indie all found their way into André and Big Boi’s music. By the time of their final studio album, they had pulled away almost fully from pure rap—and were rewarded with their biggest hits ever, a No. 1 smash each for Big Boi and André. Including that immortal jam that taught you, the fellas and the ladies—including all Beyoncés and Lucy Lius—what’s cooler than being cool. Podcast production by Benjamin Frisch and Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

11 Aug 2023

51 MINS

51:30

11 Aug 2023


#141

Lenny on Mars Edition Part 2

What do Lenny Kravitz, a hitmaker primarily in the ’90s and ’00s, and Bruno Mars, a 2010s–20s hitmaker, have in common? It turns out, a lot: Each man has a wide-ranging ethnic and musical background, with early exposure to unusual sides of showbiz. Each has scored hits in a variety of styles. They are admirers of each other’s work and have even performed live together. But the main thing Lenny and Bruno have in common is their skill—some might say habit—of borrowing tropes and styles from hitmakers of the past. Kravitz from the very start of his career emulated the rock stylings of his heroes, like John Lennon and Sly Stone. And Bruno Mars—talk about an Unorthodox Jukebox: His career has been a parade of hits whose sound has spanned from the Police to Rick James to Michael Jackson. Are they cultural appropriators, or genius style chameleons? Join Chris Molanphy as he chronicles two premier pop stylists of the last 30 years who wore genres like costumes and rebooted oldies into modern hits. Don’t believe them? Just watch. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

28 Jul 2023

47 MINS

47:37

28 Jul 2023