Switched on Pop

133 EpisodesProduced by VoxWebsite

What makes pop songs so catchy? Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding pull back the curtain on how pop hits work their magic on our ears & our culture. You’ll fall in love with music you didn’t even know you liked.

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Chance The Rapper, Kehlani, & The Shifting Sound of R&B — with Oak Felder

August 13th, 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 …

Beyoncé's Gift To Africa (with Ivie Ani)

August 6th, 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 …

LCD Soundsystem and the Unbearable Sameness of Restaurant Playlists

July 30th, 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 …

The $50M Beat Marketplace That Broke the Billboard

July 23rd, 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 …

Shawn Mendes and the Rhythm of Rhyme

July 16th, 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 …

Space, The Final Frontier: Madonna, Stephen Puth and Street Studios

July 9th, 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 …

What BTS's "Boy With Love" ft. Halsey Can Teach Us About K-pop

July 2nd, 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 …

"Prince Ali" and Why We're All Music Theorists

June 25th, 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" …

Jamestown and the Quest to Build a Utopia in America (with Avery Trufelman)

June 23rd, 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 …

Why Does Every Intro Sound Like It's Underwater? (Live)

June 18th, 2019

Ever notice that wobbly, drunken and underwater sound common in so many contemporary pop songs? In an era of pristine recording quality, music …

The Man Behind the Rocketman with Giles Martin

June 11th, 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 …

The Greatest Pop Stories Never Told (with Jessica Hopper)

June 4th, 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, …

Should You Care About Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber?

May 28th, 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 …

The Smooth Sound of NPR Morning News

May 21st, 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, …

Is There An Indie Rock Conspiracy? (Featuring Joywave)

May 15th, 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 …

Lizzo And The End of Genre (with Sam Harris of X Ambassadors)

May 7th, 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 …

Taylor Swift Causes a PANIC!

April 30th, 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 …

Sounds Like Teen Spirit (with Elle Fanning)

April 23rd, 2019

Pop is inseparable from reality TV singing competitions. From Eurovision to American Idol, scores of stars got their start in singing competitions. …

Lil Nas X: Country at the Crossroads

April 16th, 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 …

Billie Eilish is a Different Kind of Pop Star (ft. FINNEAS)

April 9th, 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 …

BONUS: Bhi Bhiman's 'Peace of Mind' Episode 1

April 8th, 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 characterizes
so much of …

Bhi Bhiman Puts the Music Before the Message

April 2nd, 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 …

Comeback Kids: The Jonas Brothers are Back

March 25th, 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 …

Lost & Found: The Drama of Pop Form with Emily King

March 19th, 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 …

How Streaming Changed the Sound of Pop

March 12th, 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 …

Top 40 Activism with Justin Tranter

March 5th, 2019

Can political protest exist within the confines of commercial popular music? Songwriter Justin Tranter is equal parts songwriter and activist. You've …

What Makes An Award Winning Song?

February 20th, 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 …

What Makes a Song Sexy?

February 5th, 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 …

The Deep History of '7 Rings'

January 29th, 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 …

Do You Believe in Life After Autotune?

January 23rd, 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 …

Slay Bells, All Year Long

December 26th, 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 …

Look What You Made Us Do

December 11th, 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. …

Entering Beard Phase with Mike Posner

November 27th, 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 …

How Dirty Projectors Make You Feel Energy (with David Longstreth)

November 13th, 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 …

Stairway To Hell: Greta Van Fleet’s Scorching Album Review That Went Viral

October 30th, 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 …

Charli XCX and Troye Sivan Love the 90s

October 16th, 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 …

Sicko Rap and Drunk Country

October 3rd, 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 …

The Side Effects of Pop Music with Emily Warren

September 18th, 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 …

Drake vs Drake

September 6th, 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 …

Summer Heat of the 2000s: Beyoncé and Black Eyed Peas (Pt. II)

August 23rd, 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' …

Summer Heat of the 2000s: Nelly + Katy Perry (Pt. 1)

August 9th, 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 …

Why is 90s Pop so Bizarre?

July 27th, 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" …

The Resistance is Dancing in the Streets

July 12th, 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 …

Switched on Summer: Getting Around with the Beach Boys

June 28th, 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 …

The Pure Pop of Charlie Puth + Carly Rae (ft Hanif Abdurraqib)

June 14th, 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: …

Afrofuturism in Kali Uchis & Clipping (with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes)

May 31st, 2018

Parliament Funkadelic has had waves of influence on popular music. Their Afrofuturist message and infectious grooves built the backbone of 70s funk, …

Finding Equanimity In 'No Tears Left To Cry'

May 17th, 2018

Ariana Grande has returned with a track that is jarring yet simultaneously catchy. She uses sophisticated musical techniques to tell a story of …

Can AI 'Algorhythms' Write Pop Songs? (With Taryn Southern)

May 3rd, 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 …

Listening Differently to Lorde | with MARIAN HILL

April 19th, 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 …

Kacey Musgraves Gives Us Butterflies

April 5th, 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 …

Gucci Gang and the Neural Substrate of Subjective Time Dilation

March 22nd, 2018

In which Nate tries to convince Charlie that Lil Pump's SoundCloud Rap hit "Gucci Gang" warps the perceptual present.

Lil Pump - Gucci Gang
Gustav Mahler - Der Abschied / Das Lied von der Erde
Franz Schubert - …

How to 'Make Me Feel' with Lizzo

March 8th, 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 …

808s & Havana Heartbreak

February 22nd, 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 …

My My My! Troye Sivan + Queer Pop (w Gina Delvac, Darryl Bullock)

February 8th, 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 …

90s Nostalgia in Bruno Mars and Charlie Puth

January 25th, 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 …

Justin Timberlake's Identity Crisis

January 11th, 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 …

Dua Lipa's Minor Mantra (w Emily Bootle)

December 28th, 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 …

All I Want for Xmas is a Year in Review Episode

December 14th, 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.


• Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas
• Laura Marling - …

Björk's Emotional Landscapes

November 30th, 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 …

Taylor Constructs A Darker Reputation

November 16th, 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 …

Unlikely Mashups: Taylor + Cardi B | Clean Bandit + Berlioz

November 2nd, 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 …

Kendrick Lamar's HUMBLE deconstructed w. guest Amber Mark

October 19th, 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, …

Demi Lovato is Not Sorry

October 6th, 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, …

How to 'Feels' the Groove

September 22nd, 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, …

Anthems of Resilience - Kesha and Imagine Dragons [LIVE]

September 7th, 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 …

The Many Worlds of "Despacito"

August 10th, 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 …

Selena Gomez: Bad Liar, Psycho Songwriter

July 13th, 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 …

Breaking Down Alanis Morissette (and our own Preconceptions) with guest Andrea Warner

June 29th, 2017

Author, critic and podcaster Andrea Warner joins for a throwback episode exploring politics in Lilith Fair, harmonic anger in Alanis Morissette's …

Morgan Page Reveals the Rule of 3 in Julia Michaels and Maroon 5

June 16th, 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 …

DJ Khaled - I'm The One... six... four... five

June 1st, 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 …

Musical Architecture in Charlie Puth + HAIM

May 18th, 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 …

The End Of Pop Music As We Know It: Fall Out Boy & Charli XCX

May 4th, 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 …

Harry Styles, Eschatology and Teen Girl Fandom

April 20th, 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 …

What's to Love About Ed Sheeran? (guest Ross Golan)

April 6th, 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 …

Zedd + Alessia Cara - Stay (w special guest Grey)

March 23rd, 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 …

Chained to the Green Light: Katy Perry + Lorde

March 10th, 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 …

Oscar Week!: La La Land ft. Genevieve Koski

February 24th, 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 …

Zayn, Taylor Swift & The Grammys

February 9th, 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 …

The Puzzle of Ariana Grande's "Into You" (with K. Flay)

January 27th, 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" …

Seduced by the Sound: The Weeknd + Daft Punk

January 12th, 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 …

Dreaming Of A White Christmas

December 16th, 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 …

How to Listen to Music in 4 Easy Steps

December 1st, 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 …

Playing it Cool: How Tove Lo Aims High

November 17th, 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, …

Made In America: Toby Keith & Jay-Z

November 3rd, 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 …

Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal

October 20th, 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, …

The Most Popular Song In The World

October 6th, 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 …

Lady Gaga Is A Perfect Illusion

September 22nd, 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 …

How Beyoncé to The Beatles Modulate Your Emotions

September 9th, 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 …

Pop Drops and Chipmunk Soul

August 25th, 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 …

The Gideon and Hubcap Show

August 15th, 2016

This episode marks something of a departure from the norm. With Charlie away, host Nate, aka "Hubcap," takes us on a home-show tour of the Scottish Highlands with his traveling minstrel act, The Gideon and Hubcap Show. …

Breaking Down The House

August 1st, 2016

The fingerprints of house music are all over mainstream pop, but much of its sound has been whitewashed. That ubiquitous four-to-the-floor kick and synth bass sound draws from Chicago's queer, black and latinx warehouse …

Around The World With Drake

July 14th, 2016

How do you create a hit that both breaks sound barriers and chart records? Drake has done this with a unique mix of international sounds from Africa, the Caribbean, the U.K. and Canada. But is his chart topping success …

When Good Music Happens To Bad People

June 30th, 2016

We have more information about pop stars lives than ever before, but this transparency is not always uplifting for music lovers. Just as we may enjoy …

Justin Timberlake Goes Medieval

June 16th, 2016

Summer heat is upon us and so are the jams. Our ears are hooked on Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop The Feeling." What you may not know is that this song leans on the success of mononymous giants: Pharrell, Michael and …

All About Those Baseline Assumptions About Femini$m in Pop

June 6th, 2016

With Meghan Trainor's new singles "No" and "Me Too" ubiquitous on the radio dial, a larger discussion about the uneasy relationship between social movements and selling records takes a feminist bent. Memories of the …

Jonas vs. Jonas: Or How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love a Boy Band

May 19th, 2016

A battle between brothers is playing out on the pop charts, a sibling rivalry the likes of which the music industry hasn't seen since 1987, when Michael and Janet Jackson's 1987 "Bad" and "Let's Wait Awhile" jockeyed …

Purple Lemonade: Prince & Beyoncé

May 5th, 2016

It has been a period of musical loss and celebration. On the same week we lost Prince, the world was gifted Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Both artists contain …

Pablo And The Wolves

April 22nd, 2016

The Life Of Pablo is Kanye West’s latest album. Despite its lack of hits, it has been at the fulcrum of pop music for months. With its gradual online …

The Populist Pop of Twenty One Pilots

April 6th, 2016

Out of nowhere, Twenty One Pilots has rocketed to the top of the charts with their surprise hit "Stressed Out." Charlie and Nate pull this millennial …

American Oxygen

March 23rd, 2016

How do you collaborate with five people to write a song that captures that national temperature? The stakes may seem high with stars like Alex Da …

Say Hey

March 10th, 2016

Listen carefully to almost any hit song these days and you’ll hear musicians screaming “Hey!” What’s the matter with them? Do they really need our …

Now I Sia, Now I Don't

February 26th, 2016

One of the biggest voices in pop music has no face: Sia. She started her career as a ghostwriter for stars like Rihanna and Beyoncé. Recently she found pop star success with her hit "Chandelier." So with her new album, …

B Side: Singing With Mama Jan

February 18th, 2016

What do Usher, The Band Perry and Bieber have in common? They all sing with Mama Jan, one of the best vocal coaches and producers in the music business. On this mini episode, Mama Jan talks about what happens backstage …

Call Your Girlfriend

February 12th, 2016

Is it a love song or is it a breakup song? Charlie joins the women of the Call Your Girlfriend podcast to break down their namesake song by Robyn. Also, advice on how to build the perfect wedding playlist. And we check …

Click With Dick And Other Campaign Anthems

January 29th, 2016

What do presidential candidates, professional wrestlers and improv comics have in common? Walk on theme music. As the primary season heats up we dig into the history, meaning and controversies of campaign anthems. Also, …

The Life Changing Magic of Music in 2015

January 17th, 2016

Charlie and Nate reveal the life changing magic of how to tidy up the music you missed from last year. Annually, hundreds of publications release best of lists. These lists are supposed to make it easier to discover and …

Linus & Lucy

December 17th, 2015

Celebrate 50 years of A Charlie Brown Christmas and his eponymous holiday album. If you’re feeling worn out on holiday music, this one never wears …

Same Here

December 2nd, 2015

Two unlikely anthems of individuality are rocketing up the charts: Selena Gomez’s “Same Old Love” and Alessia Cara’s “Here.” One is from an established star, the other from a total unknown, but both use similar musical …

Searching for Max Martin

November 19th, 2015

The most omnipresent figure in pop music is also the most elusive: Karl Sandberg, AKA Max Martin, the mad Swedish genius who’s ruled the charts for …

Hotline Hello: Drake and Adele

November 4th, 2015

Drake and Adele are two megastars who may not seem to share much in common on the surface, but their recent hits exhibit some surprising parallels. Both revisit past relationships over the phone and both conceal inner …

Can’t Get You Out Of My Head

October 22nd, 2015

As much as we might have crazy love for pop music, pop music also loves to drive us crazy. Earworms that grab you and won’t let go; cookie-cutter compositions that bedevil in their unoriginality; strange new sounds that …

Justin Bieber’s Existential Suite

October 7th, 2015

Bieber’s two new hits, “Where Are Ü Now” and “What Do You Mean,” showcase the prodigal pop star’s soberer side. In each, his realization of the fictive nature of relationships is musicalized through slippery piano …

The Weeknd: Dance of Deception

September 23rd, 2015

The Weeknd’s deliriously funky chart topper “Can’t Feel My Face” has sparked sweat-soaked dance sessions across the country, but dark notes lurk at …

Let’s Talk About Sax

September 9th, 2015

The sax is back. This surprisingly funky reed keeps popping up in pop hits from Derulo to Grande. But where did the sax come from? And where did it …

Kacey Musgraves: Transgressing Country

August 14th, 2015

Can you be a country star and critical of the country at the same time? Grammy Award Winner, Kacey Musgraves, has two hit albums that challenge the small-town clichés of modern country music. Is she bucking the trend of …

Song of Summer: LIVE!

July 30th, 2015

In the first-ever LIVE edition of Switched on Pop, Charlie and Nate enter an epic debate over what track should be crowned 2015’s definitive Song of …

The Dual Meaning of Fetty Wap’s Trap Queen

July 15th, 2015

Fetty Wap’s Trap Queen is an unlikely contender for the top 10. It straddles genres between hip-hop and pop in subtle yet mesmerizing ways. Is it a drug song? Is it a love song? Or is it both at the same time? Join us …

One Direction: Our Modern Day Castrati

May 29th, 2015

One Direction is one of the biggest bands in pop, but unless you’re a preteen or the parent of one, like us you’ve probably never heard a second of their music. Until now. Let’s see if we’ve been missing out, on the …

The Final Dropout

May 15th, 2015

How does a good pop song end? With a bang, right? As it turns out, explosive endings are kinda over. Songwriters are instead opting to end with a final dropout. Even the biggest pop anthems close with a quiet final …

Hidden Sounds in FourFiveSeconds

May 6th, 2015

FourFiveSeconds is one of the more surprising collaborations in recent pop history. Rhianna, Kanye, Sir Paul McCartney. The motley lineup doesn’t …

Carly Rae Jepsen – I Really Like You

April 15th, 2015

Carly Rae Jepsen might be the patron saint of Switched on Pop, the show first hatched by Charlie and Nate on a trip down CA-1 while the stereo blasted “Call Me Maybe.” So when we heard she had a new single out we knew …

Hozier’s Waffling of Faith in Take Me To Church

April 2nd, 2015

Written in the Hozier family basement, Take Me To Church has risen up to be one of the biggest pop hits of the year. But this is not a typical pop song. The unsettling music and provocative lyrics about faith and …

Taylor Swift’s Beethovian Blank Space

March 26th, 2015

Taylor Swift’s Blank Space is about emptiness of the heart. This motif of Blank Space is contained through the entire piece: from the drums, to the …

A Cappella Dreams

March 16th, 2015

A cappella, Italian for in the style of the church, refers to music for unaccompanied voices. Just a decade ago it was nowhere near the radio dial. …

Radio Africa

February 19th, 2015

Reporting live from Kenya, we search for African pop that is making its way into global dance music. The barriers to producing high quality audio are reduced to merely owning a laptop. Now, regional artists are reaching …

Star Spangled

January 28th, 2015

Did you know the melody to the Star Spangled Banner was once a British drinking song? In preparation for the Super Bowl, we uncover how the national anthem has been co-opted and reinterpreted by mega pop-stars. Our …

Mark Ronson: Funk Politics

January 15th, 2015

Did you know the melody to the Star Spangled Banner was once a British drinking song? In preparation for the Super Bowl, we uncover how the national anthem has been co-opted and reinterpreted by mega pop-stars. Our …

The Imperative Jingle Bells

December 20th, 2014

You’ve heard it a million times, you know how to sing it, its ubiquitous during the holiday season, but you’ve never heard a definitive recording. …

To Be Young

December 11th, 2014

Pop music and youth go together like peanut butter and pickles. The music we hear when we’re young shapes our identities forevermore. In this episode …

Boom Bang Pow

November 14th, 2014

We look at the Rhythms that make us dance, those primal beats, the “Boom Bang Pow” that make us want to move. We’ll ask what makes them work and why is that we’re hearing that untz untz everywhere we go from the dance …

The Oeuvre of Taylor Swift

October 28th, 2014

We uncover the common songwriting techniques and chart the musical evolution of Taylor Swift. Featuring songs from her early country period, …


October 28th, 2014

Why do we love listening to heartbreak songs? What do songwriters do to emote such strong feelings?

Adele – Someone Like You
Kacey Musgraves – I Miss You
CeeLo Green – F*** You!

Learn more about your ad choices. …

Why You Should Get Switched On Pop

October 27th, 2014

Welcome to Switched on Pop, a show about how popular music works and why it matters hosted by musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding. …
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