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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.

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.

 

#114

A Deal with the TV God Part 2

For decades, British alt-pop goddess Kate Bush had never had a Top 10 hit in America. Now, in 2022, she finds herself in the Hot 100’s Top Five—and television got her there. Her classic “Running Up That Hill” is featured prominently in the latest season of Netflix’s hit ’80s horror fantasy show Stranger Things. This puts Bush in a long lineage of hits spawned or made bigger by TV, dating all the way back to Davy Crockett and Peter Gunn, through Hawaii Five-O and Happy Days, and peaking in the ’80s with Miami Vice and Family Ties. Join host Chris Molanphy as he walks through more than six decades of hits from the so-called boob tube and reveals why—thanks to our streaming age—Kate Bush’s hit might be the biggest TV tune of all. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

01 Jul 2022

41 MINS

41:57

01 Jul 2022


#113

A Deal with the TV God Part 1

For decades, British alt-pop goddess Kate Bush had never had a Top 10 hit in America. Now, in 2022, she finds herself in the Hot 100’s Top Five—and television got her there. Her classic “Running Up That Hill” is featured prominently in the latest season of Netflix’s hit ’80s horror fantasy show Stranger Things. This puts Bush in a long lineage of hits spawned or made bigger by TV, dating all the way back to Davy Crockett and Peter Gunn, through Hawaii Five-O and Happy Days, and peaking in the ’80s with Miami Vice and Family Ties. Join host Chris Molanphy as he walks through more than six decades of hits from the so-called boob tube and reveals why—thanks to our streaming age—Kate Bush’s hit might be the biggest TV tune of all. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

18 Jun 2022

55 MINS

55:35

18 Jun 2022


#112

Flip It and Reverse It Part 2

What was in the water in Virginia Beach? Starting in the ’90s and peaking in the ’00s, Pharrell Williams, Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley and Missy Elliott—friends and family from the Tidewater Region—made nerdy pop normal on the charts. Their productions whirred, gurgled, pinged and rumbled—the handiwork of studio geeks—while their lyrics embraced the freaky: Missy demanding that you work it…Pharrell declaring he’s a hustler, baby…Timbaland bringing sexy back. Join host Chris Molanphy as he explains how these three supa-dupa fly Virginia Beach geniuses helped us get our freak on. For over two decades, they never left you without a dope beat to step to. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

27 May 2022

1 HR 08 MINS

1:08:42

27 May 2022


#111

Flip It and Reverse It Part 1

What was in the water in Virginia Beach? Starting in the ’90s and peaking in the ’00s, Pharrell Williams, Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley and Missy Elliott—friends and family from the Tidewater Region—made nerdy pop normal on the charts. Their productions whirred, gurgled, pinged and rumbled—the handiwork of studio geeks—while their lyrics embraced the freaky: Missy demanding that you work it…Pharrell declaring he’s a hustler, baby…Timbaland bringing sexy back. Join host Chris Molanphy as he explains how these three supa-dupa fly Virginia Beach geniuses helped us get our freak on. For over two decades, they never left you without a dope beat to step to. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

21 May 2022

1 HR 11 MINS

1:11:02

21 May 2022


#110

Decoder Ring: "We Got Ourselves a Convoy"

In the 1970s, a song about protesting truckers topped the music charts in multiple countries, and kicked off a pop culture craze for CB radios. In early 2022, that same song became an anthem for a new trucker-led protest movement in Canada and the US. How did C.W. McCall’s “Convoy” come to exist, and what had it been trying to say?  For this episode, which was inspired by a listener’s question, we’ve updated a story that originally aired in 2017, but that could not be more relevant today. Slate producer Evan Chung is going to take us through the history of this bizarre number-one smash, an artifact from a time when truckers were also at the center of the culture. It touches on advertising, hamburger buns, and speed limits but also global conflict, sky-rocketing gas prices, and aggrieved, protesting truck drivers.  Some of the voices you’ll hear in this episode include [Bill Fries] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._W._McCall) , advertising executive; [Chip Davis] (https://mobile.twitter.com/chipdavismusic) , singer and songwriter; and [Meg Jacobs] (https://mobile.twitter.com/megjacobs100) , historian and author of [Panic at the Pump] (http://www.amazon.com/Panic-Pump-Transformation-American-Politics/dp/0809058472) . This episode of Decoder Ring was written and produced by Evan Chung and Willa Paskin with help from Elizabeth Nakano. Derek John is Sr. Supervising Producer of Narrative Podcasts. Merritt Jacob is our Technical Director. If you have any cultural mysteries you want us to decode, email us at [DecoderRing@slate.com] (mailto:DecoderRing@slate.com) . If you love the show and want to support us, consider joining [Slate Plus] (http://slate.com/decoderplus) . With Slate Plus you get ad-free podcasts, bonus episodes, and total access to all of Slate’s journalism. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

13 May 2022

36 MINS

36:24

13 May 2022


#109

I Got Five on It Part 2

Five years ago this month, Hit Parade launched on the Slate podcast network. What have we learned in that half-decade? And what episodes did you love the most? We asked you to vote—and the results may surprise you. Sure, you enjoyed our shows about Madonna, Nirvana, Whitney, Mariah, Bruce, Stevie and Janet. But even more than that, you loved our nerdy deep dives about the producers behind “Le Freak”…the rules for One-Hit Wonders…the college-rockers from Athens, Ga.…the man behind Meat Loaf…the smooth players behind Yacht Rock…and that explainer about why you had to pay top dollar for CDs in the ’90s with only one good song. Join host Chris Molanphy as he shares his founding principles for Hit Parade, and counts down your 20 favorite shows. Happy fifth birthday to us! We’re finally old enough for kindergarten. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

29 Apr 2022

58 MINS

58:59

29 Apr 2022


#108

I Got Five on It Part 1

Five years ago this month, Hit Parade launched on the Slate podcast network. What have we learned in that half-decade? And what episodes did you love the most? We asked you to vote—and the results may surprise you. Sure, you enjoyed our shows about Madonna, Nirvana, Whitney, Mariah, Bruce, Stevie and Janet. But even more than that, you loved our nerdy deep dives about the producers behind “Le Freak”…the rules for One-Hit Wonders…the college-rockers from Athens, Ga.…the man behind Meat Loaf…the smooth players behind Yacht Rock…and that explainer about why you had to pay top dollar for CDs in the ’90s with only one good song. Join host Chris Molanphy as he shares his founding principles for Hit Parade, and counts down your 20 favorite shows. Happy fifth birthday to us! We’re finally old enough for kindergarten. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

16 Apr 2022

54 MINS

54:49

16 Apr 2022


#107

Killing Me Softly Part 2

The early ’70s was a great time for R&B queens on the charts: Roberta Flack. Dionne Warwick. Patti LaBelle. Chaka Khan. They had come through the ’60s—Dionne as a smooth pop-and-B star, Patti as a girl-group frontwoman, Roberta as a cabaret pianist—and found themselves in a new decade with limitless possibilities. Flack turned folk songs into chart-topping, Grammy-winning R&B. Warwick shifted from Brill Building pop to Philly soul. LaBelle threw her insane voice at rock, funk and glam. And a relative newcomer, Rufus frontwoman Chaka Khan, followed in their footsteps, commanding the band and converting to disco, then electro. By the ’80s, all four women were ready for a major chart victory lap. Join host Chris Molanphy as he traces four parallel careers that expanded the definition of soul from the ’60s through the ’80s and beyond. These soul sisters, flow sisters, bold sisters…killed us softly, walked on by and were, finally, every woman. Podcast production by Kevin Bendis. Host Chris Molanphy Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

01 Apr 2022

1 HR 02 MINS

1:02:30

01 Apr 2022


#106

Killing Me Softly Part 1

The early ’70s was a great time for R&B queens on the charts: Roberta Flack. Dionne Warwick. Patti LaBelle. Chaka Khan. They had come through the ’60s—Dionne as a smooth pop-and-B star, Patti as a girl-group frontwoman, Roberta as a cabaret pianist—and found themselves in a new decade with limitless possibilities. Flack turned folk songs into chart-topping, Grammy-winning R&B. Warwick shifted from Brill Building pop to Philly soul. LaBelle threw her insane voice at rock, funk, and glam. And a relative newcomer, Rufus frontwoman Chaka Khan, followed in their footsteps, commanding the band and converting to disco, then electro. By the ’80s, all four women were ready for a major chart victory lap. Join host Chris Molanphy as he traces four parallel careers that expanded the definition of soul from the ’60s through the ’80s and beyond. These soul sisters, flow sisters, bold sisters…killed us softly, walked on by and were, finally, every woman. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

26 Mar 2022

1 HR 19 MINS

1:19:44

26 Mar 2022


#105

We Invented the Remix Part 2

Today on Hit Parade, we continue tracing the history of the remix. From Jennifer Lopez to Billie Eilish to Lil Nas X, the remix has become a ubiquitous part of contemporary pop chart battles. In part 2 we continue to story of how the remix became the defacto mode of reviving flagging singles, resulting in some of the most dominant pop songs of all time. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. [Click here for more info.] (https://slate.com/plus?utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=plus_pod&utm_content=Hit_Parade&utm_source=show_notes)     Podcast production by Benjamin Frisch Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

25 Feb 2022

1 HR 06 MINS

1:06:24

25 Feb 2022


#104

We Invented the Remix Part 1

Today on Hit Parade, we trace the multifarious history of the remix: a musical term with a universe of meanings. Rethinks. Reboots. Reinventions. Re-recordings. Even instances where the so-called remix came before the supposed original. (How is that even possible?) In a way, the most pivotal “remix” in chart history was the one so transformative, it compelled a change in our understanding of what a remix even is. In part 1, we explore the experimental origins of the remix and its slow but steady infiltration of the pop charts. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. [Click here for more info.] (https://slate.com/plus?utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=plus_pod&utm_content=Hit_Parade&utm_source=show_notes)     Podcast production by Benjamin Frisch Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

19 Feb 2022

1 HR 09 MINS

1:09:28

19 Feb 2022


#103

Rock ’n Soul, Part 2

In part two of our deep dive into Daryl Hall & John Oates' genre-defying streak on the pop charts, Chris Molanphy argues they were also more cutting-edge than you may realize, essentially inventing their own form of cross-racial new wave after spending the ’70s trying everything: rock, R&B, folk, funk, even disco. At their Imperial peak in the early ’80s, Hall and Oates commanded the pop, soul and dance charts while still getting played on rock stations. And decades later, when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ignored them, it was Black artists—rappers and soul fans—who pushed them in. Join Chris Molanphy for a dissection of the Philly duo who invented “rock ’n soul” and made their dreams come true. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. [Click here for more info.] (https://slate.com/plus?utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=plus_pod&utm_content=Hit_Parade&utm_source=show_notes)     Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

28 Jan 2022

1 HR 02 MINS

1:02:03

28 Jan 2022


#102

Rock ’n Soul, Part 1

Daryl Hall and John Oates: Their songs were earworms, their videos cheap and goofy. John Oates’s mustache and Daryl Hall’s mullet are relics of their time. And…for about five years, their crazy streak on the pop charts was comparable to Elvis, the Beatles and the Bee Gees. They were also more cutting-edge than you may realize, essentially inventing their own form of cross-racial new wave after spending the ’70s trying everything: rock, R&B, folk, funk, even disco. At their Imperial peak in the early ’80s, Hall and Oates commanded the pop, soul and dance charts while still getting played on rock stations. And decades later, when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ignored them, it was Black artists—rappers and soul fans—who pushed them in. Join Chris Molanphy for a dissection of the Philly duo who invented “rock ’n soul” and made their dreams come true. Sign up for Slate Plus now to get episodes in one installment as soon as they're out. You'll also get The Bridge, our trivia show and bonus deep dive. [Click here for more info.] (https://slate.com/plus?utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=plus_pod&utm_content=Hit_Parade&utm_source=show_notes)     Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

15 Jan 2022

1 HR 01 MINS

1:01:17

15 Jan 2022


#101

One Year: Hey Macarena!

Hey Hit Parade fans! Here's an episode from another show we think you’ll like.  Slate's history podcast One Year introduces you to people and ideas that changed American history, one year at a time. The new season of One Year covers 1995, a year when homegrown terrorists attacked Oklahoma City and America went online. This episode is about “Macarena”—yes, that “Macarena,” the song and the dance that became the defining left-field pop happening of the mid-’90s. This bilingual song by a pair of Spaniards, and a couple of Miami DJs they’d never met, brought joy to millions, and it topped the charts for months, winding up Billboard’s No. 1 hit of 1996—over smashes by Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men and Celine Dion. And then, just as quickly, “Macarena” became a cultural pariah. If you like this episode, [follow One Year] (https://slate.com/podcasts/one-year/s2/1995) wherever you get podcasts. One Year is produced by Josh Levin, Evan Chung, and Madeline Ducharme. Additional production help from Cheyna Roth. Mixing by Merritt Jacob. Slate Plus members get to hear more about the making of One Year. Get access to extra episodes, listen to the show without any ads, and support One Year by signing up for Slate Plus for just $1 right now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [megaphone.fm/adchoices] (https://megaphone.fm/adchoices) ... Read more

11 Jan 2022

58 MINS

58:23

11 Jan 2022