Switched on Pop
Nate Sloan & Charlie Harding
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.
Lost & Found: The Drama of Pop Form with Emily King
Live from SXSW: Grammy nominee songwriter Emily King didn’t set out to write a perfect pop song with “Remind Me.” Instead, she bent the rules of song structure to fit her message: the magical feeling when you find something you’ve been long missing. Mirroring this theme, the chorus doesn’t come when you expect it. The climax arrives late, after an “aha” moment that fills in the forgotten details. Each instrument fits perfectly together like a lost memory coming into focus. Even after she finds what she’s been missing in her life, she deceived us once again with a diminutive ‘down chorus.’ At every turn, King shows how songwriting mastery opens up immense creative freedom, even within the constraints of a prototypical pop song.Featured Songs:Emily King - Remind MeZedd, Maren Morris, Grey - The MiddleSam Smith, Normani - Dancing With A StrangerTaylor Swift - DelicateWe are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than three minutes, and it really h...
How Streaming Changed the Sound of Pop
Streaming hasn't just changed the way we listen to music, it's changed the way that pop music sounds. After years of losses due to the death of the CD and the rise of file sharing, the music industry has finally found a profitable business in streaming services. Streaming has overtaken all other music sales. Digital music platforms are the new Virgin megastore. But these services are more than just a distribution mechanism, they have created a whole new music economy. Album sales have been replaced by "album equivalent units," a business fiction that equates 1,500 streams to one physical sale. Artists are now effectively paid by the song. With ad-supported and subscription based business models, these platforms have upended incentives so significantly that it can be heard in the songwriting. Songs are getting shorter, albums are getting longer, and there is an entirely new section of the song that draws from the classical past: the "pop overture." In this episode, Nate and Charlie a...
Top 40 Activism with Justin Tranter
Can political protest exist within the confines of commercial popular music? Songwriter Justin Tranter is equal parts songwriter and activist. You've likely heard his contributions to songs by Britney Spears, Julia Michaels, Selena Gomez, Janelle Monae and Ariana Grande, but unless you were paying close attention, you may have missed the essential subtext in his work. As an LGBTQ activist and board member of GLAAD, Justin brings his activism into Top 40 pop music lyrically and otherwise. On this episode, he breaks down his newest hit "Swan Song" which was co-written with Dua Lipa. This song is a triple threat serving as the end credits for the film Alita: Battle Angel, a Billboard hit, and a protest against the silencing of marginalized people. Justin shows us how representation in songwriting is inseparable from politics. And he's creating an open mic for new voices and stories that have been historically ignored by the pop industry. Songs Discussed:Dua Lipa - "Swan Song"Charlie Pu...
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