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Switched on Pop podcast

Switched on Pop

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  Vulture  

A podcast all about the making and meaning of popular music. Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding pull back the curtain on how pop hits work magic on our ears & our culture. From Vulture and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

A podcast all about the making and meaning of popular music. Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding pull back the curtain on how pop hits work magic on our ears & our culture. From Vulture and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

 

#291

Robert Glasper on jazz, basketball, and his score for "Winning Time"

Robert Glasper is the only artist to have an album debut in the top 10 of 4 different Billboard charts. He's a musical polymath whose resume ranges from Kendrick Lamar to Herbie Hancock. At the piano, he serves up jazz licks worthy of Mary Lou Williams before segueing into a Nirvana cover. Glasper brings his diverse skill set to bear on his latest project, the score for the HBO series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, composed in collaboration with "Succession" soundtracker Nicholas Britell. It's not just Glasper's musical chops that made him the perfect candidate for the gig: in a past life, he was a baller himself. Nate spoke with Glasper about crafting the sound of the 1980s, improvising soundtrack themes on the spot, and what jazz and basketball have in common. Songs Discussed Robert Glasper - Over, FTB, "Winning Time" and "The Photograph" Themes Nicholas Britell - "Succession" and "Moonlight" Themes Morris Day and The Time - Get It Up Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

21 Jun 2022

24 MINS

24:29

21 Jun 2022


#290

Scoring Stranger Things with Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein

We recently deconstructed how Kate Bush’s 1985 song “Running Up That Hill” has found itself at the center of culture due to a placement in the Netflix, eighties, horror, sci-fi show, Stranger Things. For that episode we excerpted an interview with the composers of the show who shared great insights on how they created the iconic theme song and spooky soundscape for the most streamed show of 2022. But we want to share the full conversation with you because they have equally cheeky as well as valuable musical offerings to share. Surprisingly, this show steeped in 80s nostalgia, has a more contemporary soundtrack than you you might think.  Songs Discussed ---Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Stranger Things, Photos in the Woods, He’s Here, Soldiers, Agents, Starcourt ---Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill ---Tangerine Dream - Sorcerer Theme Song ---John Carpenter - Night ---Vangelis - Main Titles (Blade Runner) ---S U R V I V E - A.H.B. ---S U R V I V E - High Rise  ---Merzbow - Woodpecker No.1 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

16 Jun 2022

21 MINS

21:55

16 Jun 2022


#289

Kate Bush, Stranger Things, and a hit song four decades in the making

Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” enters the latest season of Stranger Things during a brooding high-school hallway scene right out of the John Hughes playbook, and it has since bounded up the charts, hitting No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and performing better now than when it peaked at No. 30 upon release. Stranger Things, whose latest season has logged more viewer minutes for Netflix than any other English-language release to date, has  [leaned heavily on ’80s nostalgia] (https://www.vulture.com/2016/07/stranger-things-film-reference-glossary.html)  since its premiere in 2016: Its iconic theme song is reminiscent of John Carpenter B-movies, and, in an email, used-instrument resale site Reverb.com tells us the show has boosted interest in analog synthesizers. “Running Up That Hill,” then, is a natural fit for the show, and it plays a pivotal, spoiler-ridden plot point in the show, requiring us to hear the hook multiple times throughout the season — a perfect earworm. But its success is owed to more than just repetition. It waffles between major and minor, and the show’s composers, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, told Switched on Pop that both it and the rest of the Stranger Things score have “moments of darkness and lightness in it, constantly trading places.” Plus, they’re composed from the same set of instruments: classic synthesizers and drum machines like the LinnDrum. The song is part and parcel with the soundtrack itself: “There’s these little melodies that we always refer to as ‘And then the Kate Bush part comes in,’” Dixon says. Listen to Switched On Pop to hear how Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” is an exquisite song placement and hear how it blends seamlessly with the Stranger Things soundtrack. MORE Check out [Reverb Machine’s] (https://reverbmachine.com/blog/kate-bush-synth-sounds/) sounds of Kate Bush [Reverb.com] (https://reverb.com/p/sounds-of-stranger-things) made a tutorial on the synth sounds of [Stranger Things] (https://reverb.com/p/sounds-of-stranger-things) The story of the Kate Bush renaissance from [The Ringer] (https://www.theringer.com/music/2022/6/7/23157824/kate-bush-running-up-that-hill-stranger-things-billboard-charts) Songs Discussed ---Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Stranger Things ---Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill ---Dead Or Alive - You Spin Me Round ---Talking Heads - Psycho Killer ---Musical Youth - Pass the Dutchie  ---Carly Rae Jepsen - Cut To The Feeling ---The Weeknd - Blinding Lights  ---Prince - When Doves Cry ---Phil Collins - Sussudio ---Tangerine Dream - Sorcerer Theme Song ---John Carpenter - Night ---S U R V I V E - A.H.B. ---S U R V I V E - High Rise  ---Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Eggo in the Snow ---Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - She Wants Me to Find Her ---Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Starcourt ---Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Eight Fifteen ---Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Boys and Girls ---Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - The Ceiling is Beautiful ---Kate Bush - Waking the Witch ---Kate Bush - Hammer Horror Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

14 Jun 2022

31 MINS

31:13

14 Jun 2022


#288

So your song went viral on TikTok. What’s next?

On TikTok, pop stars — [Halsey, FKA Twigs, and Florence Welch] (https://www.vulture.com/2022/05/halsey-label-fake-viral-tiktok.html) among them — have been complaining a lot lately about their labels forcing them to make TikToks. As people spent the early part of the pandemic staring at their phones instead of flocking to concerts, the short-form-video social-media platform upended music discovery. In [many cases] (https://www.vulture.com/2021/12/tai-verdes-started-from-the-bottom-literally-the-basement.html) , it gave unknown musicians a pathway to enormous audiences and allowed them to burst into the mainstream on the backs of their TikTok hits. It’s a story as old as the music industry itself: No-name musician gets big overnight and lands a record deal. But until recently, it’s been hard to say just how big and how overnight, so Estelle Caswell from [Vox] (https://www.vox.com/authors/estelle-caswell) and Matt Daniels from <a>The Pudding</a> spent seven months manually compiling and interrogating the data of who went viral, who got signed, and whose careers dropped off. Their resulting short documentary, [We Tracked What Happens After TikTok Songs Go Viral] (https://www.vox.com/videos/23148752/viral-tiktok-musicians-songs-data-investigation) , is a definitive dive into the 2020 class of viral TikTok stars. Although the platform is clearly a dominant force in new-music discovery, they found that streaming music is still overwhelmingly dominated by legacy artists. And since these established acts are now competing for the same eyeballs as their lesser-known colleagues on TikTok, it’s getting harder and harder for the latter to break out. So what happens after you go viral on TikTok? Listen to Switched On Pop to find out. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

07 Jun 2022

34 MINS

34:05

07 Jun 2022


#287

The 1980s jam that gave Latto and Mariah Carey Big D*** Energy

If you've heard Latto's swaggering track "Big Energy"—and after 30 weeks on the Hot 100, you probably have—you may have heard a resemblance to Mariah Carey's 1995 hit "Fantasy." That's because both songs borrow a groove from the 1981 hit "Genius of Love," a genre-defying smash made by Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth. "Genius of Love" was made when Frantz and Weymouth took a break from playing in the band Talking Heads to let loose at the Island Records studio in the Bahamas with the help of some reggae luminaries. The original "Genius of Love" mashed up funk, new wave, disco, and rap, capturing the diverse sounds of 1980s downtown New York City, shouting out their musical influences in the process. From there, the song wended its way through hit after hit, from Grandmaster Flash to "Return of the Mack." Why does "Genius of Love" continue to spark musicians', and audience's, imaginations forty years after its release? Tune in to find out. Songs Discussed Latto - Big Energy Mariah Carey - Fantasy Mariah Carey ft Ol Dirty Bastard - Fantasy (Remix) Tom Tom Club - Genius of Love Grandmaster and the Furious Five - It's Nasty Busta Rhymes and Erykah Badu - One Mark Morrison - Return of the Mack Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

31 May 2022

27 MINS

27:24

31 May 2022


#286

Kendrick Lamar and the big samples

It’s been five years since Kendrick Lamar released his Pulitzer winning album DAMN. Having established himself as a modern rap virtuoso whose songs have become anthems fueling social movements, expectations run high for his latest release. So when he dropped his new album Mr Morale and the Big Steppers, people tuned in - it is the biggest album drop of 2022 so far. Lamar moves his focus presumably from the societal to the personal on the double LP. His words arrive seemingly from therapy sessions meditating on family, infidelity, and the healing power of nature. The album has some bumps: platforming artists with a problematic past and an inelegant attempt at LGBTQ+ allyship. But nothing on the record is quite straight forward. Lamar doesn’t always say exactly what he means. He frequently shifts voices and puts on different characters. In musical interludes on the record, the sound of tap dancers points to the performative nature of recored music. Rather than give us direct meaning Kendrick leaves breadcrumbs for us to follow. To unravel his lyrics its necessarily to also examine the underlying production. The samples on Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers aren’t used just for their sound, in many cases they unlock the song’s meaning. Switched On Pop picked six stand out samples for close listening to hear the intent hidden in the music.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

24 May 2022

31 MINS

31:01

24 May 2022


#285

Modern Classics: PJ Morton made Nas’s Stevie Wonder dream come true

On all of his projects — Grammy-winning albums, playing keys with  [Maroon 5] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9pr0M2PiKo&ab_channel=HeatherHampton) , fronting a full string section in his NPR  [Tiny Desk] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZxnLj2cSzY)  Concert — PJ Morton evinces his mastery at updating classic soul and R&B with modern sounds. His latest full-length release, Watch the Sun, sees him joined by some of his own sources of inspiration, Stevie Wonder and Nas. The three combined forces on Morton’s track “Be Like Water,” which recites an uplifting mantra over unsettled harmonies. The effect is hypnotizing. Morton spoke with Switched on Pop about what it was like to work with his heroes and to share overlooked modern classics from Wonder’s and Nas’s catalogs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

17 May 2022

29 MINS

29:22

17 May 2022


#284

Will Ukraine win Eurovision 2022?

Greece, Spain, UK, Sweden, Italy and Ukraine are the frontrunners in the 2022 Eurovision competition. Switched On Pop analyzes the top six songs as well as some of the more oddball picks. Songs Discussed ---Amanda Tenfjord - Die Together ---Chanel - SloMo ---Britney Spears - Work Bitch ---Sam Ryder - SPACE MAN ---Elton John - Rocket Man ---Cornelia Jakobs - Hold Me Closer ---Zdob și Zdub - Trenulețul  ---Citi Zēni - Give The Wolf A Banana ---Mahmood, BLANCO - Brividi ---Bad Bunny, Jhay Cortez - DÁKITI ---Kalush Orchestra - Stefania ---Stephane & 3G - We Don't Wanna Put In ---Піккардійська Терція - Гей, пливе кача Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

10 May 2022

28 MINS

28:59

10 May 2022


#283

Belle and Sebastian on the value of staying "young and stupid"

Belle and Sebastian released the first album Tigermilk in 1996, and they’ve released eight more since—a catalog that helped define the sound of rock and indie in the new millennium through buoyant melodies and verbose lyrics.  Their new album, A Bit of Previous, continues to refine their unique sound but also embraces new musical directions. We spoke to Stuart Murdoch, leader of the 7-piece band hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, about their latest project. Songs Discussed Belle and Sebastian - Young and Stupid, Unnecessary Drama, If They're Shooting at You Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

03 May 2022

28 MINS

28:14

03 May 2022


#282

The New Alternative

Last month, Nirvana entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the first time in nearly two decades — only their fifth time in history — thanks to a comic-book movie. The band’s 1991 track “Something in the Way” was heavily featured in The Batman, whose director, Matt Reeves, said Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain  [inspired] (https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/batman-robert-pattinson-kurt-cobain-b2000825.html)  Robert Pattinson’s brooding performance as the caped crusader. Plus, Cobain’s music influenced the film’s score: Michael Giacchino references the dirge-like chords of “Something in the Way,” borrowed from Chopin’s famous funeral march, throughout The Batman’s soundtrack. While these musical motifs obviously pair well with the inner turmoil of a fledgling Batman, the sound is part of a larger revival of “alternative” music. The DIY aesthetic of ’90s alternative, heard in the music of young stars like Olivia Rodrigo and Willow, is a pendulum swing from electronic-laden sounds of the last decade. And the genre’s anti-corporate perspective, which developed out of the excesses of the ’80s, is a fitting backdrop to contemporary activist attitudes. From the nostalgia of Beabadoobee, to the post-rock sounds of Wet Leg, to the industrial sonics of Halsey’s latest project, new artists are using alternative’s old sounds to shape the sound of contemporary pop. On the latest episode of Switched on Pop, Nate and Charlie scan the alternative radio and streaming charts for standout songs that trace this umbrella genre’s myriad sounds and influences. More Read Justin Curto's article [2021 Killed the Myth that Rock Ever Died] (https://www.vulture.com/2021/12/rock-returned-2021-best-rock-albums-songs.html) Songs Discussed ( [playlist] (https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1E3epPnLhlZXs6sIXPXHTb?si=6630b765bcfb40e9) ) ---Nirvana - Something In The Way, Heart-Shaped Box ---Frédéric Chopin, Leif Ove Andsnes - Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 35 “Funeral March” ---Michael Giacchino - Can’t Fight City Hallowwen ---Beabadoobee - Care ---Hole - Celebrity Skin ---Tracy Bonham - Mother Mother ---Wheatus - Teenage Dirtbag ---Blink-182 - I Miss You ---Wet Leg - Chaise Longue ---The Slits - Typical Girls ---Halsey - I am not a woman, I’m a god ---Nine Inch Nails - Closer ---Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - Intriguing Possibilites ---Machine Gun Kelly, Lil Wayne - ay! ---Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj - Knockout ---Willow ft. Siickbrain - PURGE ---Evanescence - Bring Me To Life ---Deftones - My Own Summer (Shove It) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

26 Apr 2022

31 MINS

31:18

26 Apr 2022


#281

Jump-starting the creative process with Allison Ponthier

Allison Ponthier knows the hardest part of making anything is getting started. When she was young, she “always wanted to write songs,” fanatically scribbling rhymes in a diary, but gave it up — the prevailing narratives of natural talent, artistic genius, and spontaneous inspiration put the brakes on her songwriting aspirations. She didn’t pick it up again until she turned 19: “It just took me that long to build the confidence.” Now, after a short stint in jazz school, a scholarly approach to YouTube song tutorials, and consistent writing practice, the 26-year-old Ponthier has crafted a songwriting method that reliably turns the mundane into the profound. Her 2021 EP Faking My Own Death shows the hand of a seasoned artist, with lyrics that mine her personal life for unexpected twists and turns. (“It took New York to make me a cowboy,” says the Texas-born, New York–based singer on “Cowboy.”) It helps that she has the backing of songwriting heavyweights such as recent collaborators Lord Huron, Semisonic’s Dan Wilson, and Ethan Gruska (whose productions with Phoebe Bridgers soundtracked the pandemic). To provide a closer look at her process, Ponthier gave us a tour of her songwriting notebook — but not before noting that “no one looks at this, by the way.” The details it contained on the making of  [her single “Autopilot”] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5Ka-GO8ol0)  is a master class for anyone looking to break through creative barriers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit [podcastchoices.com/adchoices] (https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices) ... Read more

19 Apr 2022

20 MINS

20:01

19 Apr 2022