• Podcast Librarian

Switched on Pop: An academic exploration of the pop songs you love--or love to hate

The Premise (from Apple Podcasts):

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. ⠀⠀⠀


Series or standalone:

Standalone


Begin listening to:

Any episode--pick one about an artist or topic that interests you


Format:

Entertainment/discussion (sometimes interviews)


Host(s):

Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding, who are super smart and have great chemistry


Sound/production quality:

Top-notch


Rating/age suitability:

Typically OK for all, but some episodes are labeled Explicit. I think it would appeal most to adults and older teens.


Approximate length of episodes:

40-50 minutes


Curricular ties:

This could be integrated into music classes to help students understand how music theory is applied to pop songs that they enjoy.


Similar recommended pods:

Strong Songs


Podcast Librarian’s Review: Oh hey, it’s a theme! Following yesterday’s review of Strong Songs, here’s another favorite music podcast. SOP has been around since 2014, and 5 years is a long time in Podcast Years. I’ve been listening to it for almost that entire time. If you want super-intelligent conversation about the theory and history of music, then this pod is for you. Check out the titles of some of my favorite episodes:

Taylor Swift’s Beethovian Blank Space One Direction: Our Modern Castrati

Let’s Talk About Sax

As you can tell, this podcast is like a dissertation on your favorite pop music but with a very fun, accessible twist. Granted, the music theory can get a little dense at times, but the overall tone is playful and genuinely appreciative of the elements that make pop songs so, um, popular. One recurring segment called Classical Masters compares a point of music theory or musical motif to music from the age of Beethoven, Mozart, religious choral music, etc. It’s done well, and Nate and Charlie truly know their stuff, but I love that segment because it always makes me laugh when they compare someone like Taylor Swift to Beethoven. The production quality of the pod is fantastic, which is absolutely necessary for a podcast that plays music clips. Music educators: this is another pod that could be used in academic settings, though your students would need a pretty solid basis of music theory to follow along. Music majors would likely enjoy this pod, too. If you’re a music nerd of any type, then you absolutely need to hear SOP, even if (and perhaps especially if) you’re a music snob who doesn’t like pop. The hosts admit to their own music snobbery at times, but they always treat pop music with the utmost respect, and that’s what makes this pod so fun and satisfying. ⠀⠀⠀


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