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  • We’ve been wanting to speak with Jack Antonoff since we started Switched On Pop back in 2014. We've had countless hours of conversation sound tracked to his productions with artists like Taylor Swift, Lorde, Lana Del Ray starting in just our second episode. When we wrote a book about 21st century pop, we devoted a chapter to the song “We Are Young” by his band, Fun.
     
    And so we're excited to finally sit down with him to hear about how he approaches his own work. He has a new album out with his band Bleachers called Take the Sadness out of Saturday Night. And for our series on Summer Hits, we wanted to start our conversation with Jack Antonoff about the song “Stop Making this Hurt.”

    More Episodes ft. words or music by Jack Antonoff
    Chained to the Green Light: Katy Perry + Lorde
    The Oeuvre of Taylor Swift
    folklore: taylor swift's quarantine dream
    "evermore" of a good thing
    Total Request Live! Taylor, Lana, Kim, and More (with Sam Sanders)
    Song of Summer 2020: TikTok Jams, Protest Anthems, Breezy Bops & Bummer Bangers
    Carly Rae Jepsen: Meeting The Muse

    Songs Discussed
    Bleachers - Chinatown (feat. Bruce Springsteen)
    Bleachers - How Dare You Want More
    Bleachers - Secret Life
    Bleachers - Stop Making This Hurt
    Bleachers - What'd I Do With All This Faith?
    Bruce Springsteen - Jungleland
    Dexys Midnight Runners - Come On Eileen
    Fleetwood Mac - Bleed to Love Her (Live at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, CA 52397)
    Fleetwood Mac - Bleed to Love Her
    Lana Del Rey - Mariners Apartment Complex
    Television - 1880 Or So
    The Strokes - New York City Cops
    Tom Tom Club - Genius of Love
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  • In this installment of Modern Classics we speak to the amazing four-time Grammy Nominee musician, singer and songwriter Yola about her new record, Stand For Myself, and how hearing Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” and all its references to 1970s funk encouraged Yola to unlock her own unprecedented mix of symphonic soul and classic pop.
    As Yola tells it, it’s not just a sound from the past that she’s conjuring, it’s a sense of possibility. The way that progenitors like Funkadelic, Minnie Ripperton, and the O'Jays combined political protest with deep grooves, what Yola calls “the Mary Poppins philosophy of music” (the groove being the spoonful of sugar to help the socially-conscious medicine go down).
    With this marriage of sound and statement, Yola makes retro sounds relevant again, as on the title track “Stand For Myself,” where she uses throwback slap bass, fuzz guitar, and orchestral strings to craft a distinctly modern messages about her identity as a Black woman, cultural allyship, and UK politics. Also, why she likes mixes that sound like they have a “big old booty.”
    Songs Discussed
    Yola - Stand For Myself, Diamond Studded Shoes, Starlight, Barely Alive, Be My Friend, If I Had to Do it All Again
    Childish Gambino - Redbone, Riot
    Bootsy Collins - I’d Rather Be With You
    Funkadelic - Can You Get to That
    The O’Jays - Back Stabbers
    Queen Latifah - U.N.I.T.Y.
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  • L’Rain is the musical persona of singer and multi-instrumentalist Taja Cheek, whose new album, Fatigue, begins with a lyrical quandary: “What have you done to change?”

    What follows is a journey of self-discovery, the songs interwoven with home recordings of practicing piano, clapping games, and everyday life. The first full length song, “Find It,” repeats the mantra “Make a way out of no way,” looking for a path out of darkness. An unexpected sample of a preacher at a friend’s funeral service — recorded with permission by L’Rain — interrupts the chant promising that “Good days outweigh my bad days.”

    But L’Rain doesn’t provide quick solutions for making change. Rather, she takes us on a journey that evades easy understanding. By avoiding conventional structures, L’Rain asks the listener to lean in close to the music. The sounds are at times unsettling — on “Blame Me,” the guitar warbles in and out of tune — though the uncomfortable moments are blanketed over on songs such as “Take Two,” where warm synthesizers mix with angelic voices. The melodic hooks and captivating rhythms on “Suck Teeth” reveal L’Rain’s command over the experimental work — she is meticulous about building layers of sound on her many instruments.

    Had L’Rain pursued a more traditional style of songwriting, or further fleshed out Fatigue’s catchiest moments, the record might be an easier listen — but not as rewarding. Instead, its undulating moods and nonlinearity mirror the unpredictability of human emotion and the up-and-down nature of personal change. To help decipher this album, Switched On Pop’s Charlie Harding spoke with L’Rain at JBL’s flagship store in Soho in front of a live audience. 
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  • One of the songs we anticipate playing on repeat this summer is “Twerkulator” by Miami rap duo City Girls. It’s a track with enough sonic energy to power a small town, but that’s not all we dig. The song’s music includes a chain of samples that stretch back through pop music history—from 1990s house, to 1980s electro, to 1970s German krautrock—and poses an implicit challenge to some of hip hop’s most problematic figures. Meanwhile, the lyrics celebrate a tradition of movement that’s as culturally important as its controversial
    To break down the manifold cultural dimensions of twerking we welcome a very special guest: Kyra Gaunt, ethnomusicolgist and author of the forthcoming book “Twerking at the Intersection of Music, Sexual Violence, and Patriarchy on YouTube,” who explains why twerking is not what you think it is (and why the Oxford English Dictionary got it wrong).
    Songs Discussed
    City Girls - Twerkulator, Twerk (featuring Cardi B)
    Cajmere - Percolator
    Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force - Planet Rock
    Kraftwerk - Numbers, Trans-Europe Express
    Juicy J featuring A$AP Rocky - Scholarship
    More
    Dr. Kyra Gaunt's TED Talk and her brilliant book, The Games Black Girls Play
    Estelle Caswell's Video, "The Sound that Connects Stravinsky to Bruno Mars"
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  • Lorde's new song "Solar Power" set the internet ablaze when it dropped from out of nowhere in June. Some fans found the song to be a buoyant departure from Lorde's last release, Melodrama, while others thought the track felt half-baked. On top of that, listeners questioned the song's provenance — had Lorde cribbed too closely from 90s hitmakers like Primal Scream and George Michael?

    To listen closely to "Solar Power" and unpack its polarizing sounds, we needed to speak to someone with an unerring ear and a razor-sharp mind: the author, poet, and host of Object of Sound, Hanif Abdurraqib. Hanif knows Lorde's catalog like the back of his hand, and he's got feelings about this latest release. But he also offers a word of caution: wait for the album before reserving judgment!

    Hanif doesn't just take us deep into "Solar Power," though, he helps us get philosophical on some trenchant musical questions, including: What is a summer song, anyway? Where's the line between stealing and inspiration? And most importantly, does Lorde's track end six minutes too early??

    Songs Discussed:
    Lorde - Solar Power, Royals, Liability, Green Light, The Louvre
    Nick Drake - Bryter Layter
    Rolling Stones - Sympathy for the Devil
    Roxy Music - In Every Dream Home a Heartache
    Primal Scream - Loaded
    George Michael - Freedom! '90, Faith
    Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley

    More
    Check out Hanif Abdurraqib's podcast Object of Sound
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  • Olivia Rodrigo’s summer breakup anthem “good 4 u” is filled with the kind of ebullient angst that makes us want to spontaneously dance around our house and belt the lyrics out with abandon. Whether it’s the creeping baseline that pulls us in, or the cathartic release of the chorus, we can’t get enough of this track. And we’re not alone, it seems. The song debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and like its predecessor “Driver’s License,” has fueled and been fueled by viral TikTok memes that helped solidify the song’s position among 2021’s summer jams. 

    Those TikTok memes range in format, but tend to play off of one unavoidable observable of Rodrigo’s “good 4 u” - just how beautifully it syncs up with Paramore’s 2007 pop-punk “Misery Business.” The two songs share some of the most common building blocks in pop music, from their 4, 1, 5, 6, chord progression to the opening note of their choruses. Those links have led critics and fans alike to wonder aloud if “good 4 u” indicates the emo-slash-pop punk revival we discussed back in May is here to stay. 

    In the second installment of our Summer Hits series, producer Megan Lubin goes searching for the musical roots of Rodrigo’s ebullient angst, and uncovers two histories - the first is the sound of emo as it branched off of punk music in the 1980s, and the second is of women raging on the microphone through time, from the blues to country, to Olivia’s chart-topping confessional. 

    Lubin gets help from the rock critic Jessica Hopper, who reminds us of emo’s gendered origins: “It became prescriptive. The narrative was always girls were bad and they never had names” and takes us on a journey through Rodrigo’s rage-full forebears. We’re still thinking about her lines about women in pop and the boxes we try to put them in. “People just need to stop trying to draw it back to something that a man did before, and realize that teenage women have completely remade the landscape of top 40 pop in the last 15 years.”

    More:
    Jessica Hopper’s The First Collection Of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic
    Helen Reddington “The Forgotten Revolution of Female Punk Musicians in the 1970s”
    nikjaay’s “misery 4 u” mashup

    Music

    Olivia Rodrigo - good 4 u

    Paramore - Misery Business

    Sex Pistols - Anarchy in the U.K.

    The Clash - London Calling

    Minor Threat - Straight Edge

    Rites of Spring - Drink Deep

    Dashboard Confessional - Screaming Infidelities

    Bessie Smith - Devil’s Gonna Git You

    Nina Simone - Break Down and Let it All Out

    Alanis Morissette - You Oughta Know

    Miranda Lambert - Mama’s Broken Heart

    Carrie Underwood - Before He Cheats

    Taylor Swift - We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together


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  • Modern Classics is the new series where Charlie and Nate invite their favorite musicians, journalists, and friends of the show to wax lyrical about a song that's important in their life. In the first installment of Modern Classics, Nate and Charlie sit down with the host of NPR’s hit news and culture program It’s Been a Minute, Sam Sanders. Sam is one of the best people to talk music with, not only because he has his finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the entertainment world, but because as a former music major he’s got knowledge for days.
    That knowledge makes Sam the perfect person to explain why Labrinth’s 2019 track “Sexy MF” might be one of the hidden gems of contemporary pop, a song that he hears as “fun and fantastical with all these wonderful tricks and bells and whistles.” Nate and Charlie had never heard “Sexy MF” before Sam brought it to them, and were immediately hooked by the song’s copious ear candy: sly references to Prince and James Brown, death-defying vocal harmonies, all scaffolded atop an indomitable piano groove.
    Labrinth, aka Timothy Lee McKenzie, is a U.K. singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer who released his first single in 2010. Since then he’s gone on to compose the score for the hit TV show Euphoria, collaborated with Sia and Diplo as L.S.D., and worked with Beyoncé on the live-action Lion King soundtrack. Labrinth has racked up massive streaming numbers with tracks like “Jealous” and “Thunderclouds,” but “Sexy MF” is more of what one might call a “deep cut.” If you haven’t heard it yet, like Sam, you might find that it’s one you’ll play “perhaps a thousand times” after your first listen.
    Songs discussed
    Labrinth - Sexy MF, Still Don’t Know my Name, Mount Everest, Misbehaving
    Prince - Sexy M.F.
    James Brown - Get Up (I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine)
    Lauryn Hill - Doo Wop (That Thing)
    Paul Anka - Put Your Head on my Shoulder
    Beach Boys - God Only Knows
    Harry Nilsson - Gotta Get Up
    Foreigner - Cold As Ice
    Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg - Still D.R.E.
    Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks
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  • Growing up is never easy. But pop songs about adolescence too often gloss over the complicated moments. The “teenage dream” archetype is just a pop culture fantasy. And no one really wants to be 17 forever. 
    On her new album “Home Video,” Lucy Dacus talks about youthful growing pains. She remembers the uncomfortable moments. Dacus says that “a lot of childhood is crisis mode… you get pushed around by the world and the rules that are set for you.” Her songs examine unequal power relationships between parents and friends and lovers. 
    On the lighter side, the album opens up with “Hot And Heavy,” which takes us back to the scene of an early romantic encounter on a basement sofa, red faced and awkward. But by the next song, “Christine,” the amorous feelings fade: “He can be nice, sometimes / Other nights, you admit he's not what you had in mind.” Bad dads, bible camp indoctrination, and perpetual peer pressure all take the stage in Dacus’ coming of age album. 
    Dacus says that writing about those years is “a process of extorting control over things that I didn’t have control over at the time.” With untethered teenage dreams safely behind her, Dacus now gets to reclaim the meaning of youth: “I am the narrator of my own life so I get to say what this meant.”

    Songs Discussed
    Lucy Dacus - Night Shift
    Frank Zappa - Sharleena
    boygenius - Souvenir
    Lukas Graham - 7 Years
    Kendrick Lamar - Beyonce
    Justin Bieber - Baby
    Mandy Moore - Fifteen
    Hilary Duff - Sweet Sixteen
    The Beatles - When I'm Sixty Four
    ABBA - Dancing Queen
    Sound of Music - Sixteen Going On Seventeen
    Avril Lavigne - 17
    Kings Of Leon - 17
    Lake Street Dive - Seventeen
    Sharon Van Etten - Seventeen
    Alessia Cara - Seventeen
    Stevie Nicks - Edge of Seventeen
    Janis Ian - At Seventeen

    More
    Playlist of coming of age songs 
    Study on songs that references age
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  • In summer 2020, BTS released “Dynamite,” their first single recorded entirely in English. The song shot up the charts, became one of the most successful YouTube videos in history, and won over pop radio, which had stubbornly refused to play their songs in Korean. Now, in summer 2021, BTS have topped themselves again with “Butter,” yet another English-language bop that melts like … well, you get it. BTS member Jimin told Variety that they wanted to make an “easy-listening,” fun song, and it arrived as a much-needed distraction from the interminable global pandemic.
    With everyone constrained by travel restrictions, the song was written over WhatsApp, a collaboration achieved via text and voice notes sent between South Korea and the U.S. Jenna Andrews, one of the songwriters, says the track went through at least 50 rewrites to reach perfection. The final single is a tightly produced, less than three-minute song in which every moment is a hook. It shifts nostalgically from ’80s Prince to ’90s Michael Jackson through 2000s EDM, each second highlighting BTS’s musical savvy and distinctive vocal performance.
    In our kick-off episode of Switched on Pop’s Summer Hits series, Andrews spoke about how she worked with BTS to craft this song remotely and map out every throwback reference. In the second half of the episode, we speak with Bora, a prominent BTS translator who presents the case for why we should hear “Butter” as the first step down the BTS rabbit hole, especially into their Korean-language discovery.

    Songs Discussed

    BTS - Butter, Dynamite, Silver Spoon, Dope, Dis-ease

    Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal, Rock With You, Man In The Mirror, Remember The Time, Bad 

    Usher - “U Got It Bad”

    Daft Punk - Harder Better Faster Stronger


    More

    Bora’s BTS Rabbit Hole Playlist

    ARMY translators' lyric translations: 

    doolset lyrics – BTS Lyrics in English

    BTS TRANSLATIONS – (do you, bangtan / do you bangtan?)

    Lyrics — BTS-TRANS/BANGTANSUBS


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  • In 1974 country music, singer songwriter, Dolly Parton got wind that Elvis Presley wanted to record her new song, “I Will Always Love You.“ According to Dolly, the deal fell through when Elvis's manager demanded 50% of the publishing revenue. Dolly refused, released the song herself, and years later arranged a more equitable deal with Whitney Houston, who of course made it a massive hit. 

    It's a juicy bit of industry history that actually speaks more to our current reality than you might think. What Elvis’s management did, demand a cut of the publishing revenue on top of the money he'd already make from album sales and live shows, is not an anomaly. 

    Songwriter, Emily Warren knows this all too well. Emily's a songwriter and performer in Los Angeles. You've heard her on the show before in part, because she's written some huge hits, including Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” and The Chainsmokers “Don’t Let Me Down.” 

    What happened to Dolly in ‘74 has happened a lot to Emily. She says that countless times, after an artist decides to record a song of hers that she wrote without any involvement with the artist, she'll get an email from the artist's management team, asking for a cut of her publishing. She says the emails are polite, but the mask and implied arrangement: give us a cut of the publishing they say, or we won't put out the song. 

    So Emily's started talking to other established songwriters she knows, Tayla Parx, Ross Golan, Justin Tranter, and Savan Kotecha—they've all been asked to give up publishing. Together they decided they wanted to do something about this practice. So they formed an organization called The Pact, a group of music professionals who refuse to give publishing away for songs where artists do not contribute. Their goal is to make the music business more equitable for the creative laborers.

    Songs Discussed
    Dolly Parton - I Will Always Love You
    Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You
    Dua Lipa - New Rules
    The Chainsmokers - Don’t Let Me Down
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  • If you listen to a lot of music on YouTube, you may have been recommended a video. The thumbnail image is a striking black-and-white photo of a Japanese singer named Mariya Takeuchi. The song, “Plastic Love,” is a lush disco track with deep groove, impeccable string and horn arrangements, and a slow-burn vocal performance from Takeuchi. When the song was released in 1984, it sold 10,000 copies. Today, it’s racked up over 65 million views since its posting in 2017.  
    How did the relatively obscure genre of Japanese City Pop, an amalgam of American soul and funk and Japanese songcraft from the 1970s and 80s, become the sound of the moment? For Pitchfork’s Cat Zhang, City Pop’s heart-on-its-sleeve emotions and slick production resonates with the nostalgic leanings of much contemporary pop. Sampled by artists like Tyler the Creator and inspiring original material from bands around the globe, City Pop has much to tell us about cultural exchange, technology, and the enduring universal power of slap bass. 
    Songs Discussed:
    Miki Matsubara - Stay With Me
    Mariya Takeuchi - Plastic Love
    Makoto Matsushita - Business Man Pt 1
    Tatsuro Yamashita - Marry-go-round
    Anri - Good Bye Boogie Dance
    Boredoms - Which Dooyoo Like
    Toshiko Yonekawa - Sōran Bushi
    Takeo Yamashita - Touch of Japanese Tone
    Mai Yamane - Tasogare
    Young Nudy ft Playboi Carti’s - Pissy Pamper
    Tatsuro Yamashita - Fragile
    Tyler The Creator - GONE, GONE / THANK YOU 9
    Sunset Rollercoaster - Burgundy Red

    Check out Cat’s article The Endless Life Cycle of Japanese City Pop on Pitchfork
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  • J Cole is one of the most successful rappers of his generation, someone who racks up hits while sustaining critical acclaim. But that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Cole’s sixth studio album “The Off Season” finds a musician struggling to stave off complacency and keep his skills sharp. In a short documentary about the album, Cole describes the album as an attempt to “push himself,” a sentiment reflected in a line from the Timbaland-produced track “Amari”: “If you solo these vocals, listen close and you can hear grumbling.” Cole is never satisfied on this album, pushing his technique to the breaking point through verbal dexterity and rhythmic complexity.
    One way Cole stays on his toes is through the use of a trap beat melded with one of the oldest grooves in pop: the 12/8 shuffle. He’s far from the only artist to make use of an often overlooked, but iconic meter. Why does this pattern keep us moving? And where did its unique sound come from? We have a theory about that...
    Songs discussed:

    J Cole - Amari, Punching the Clock, The Climb Back, Interlude

    Brief Encounter - I’m So in Love With You

    Adam Lambert - Another Lonely Night

    Carly Rae Jepsen - Run Away With Me

    Disclosure ft Sam Smith - Latch 

    Steely Dan - Aja

    Toto - Roseanna 

    Led Zeppelin - Fool in the Rain

    Kanye West - Black Skinhead

    Billie Eilish - Bury a Friend

    Vulfpeck ft Bernard Purdie and Theo Katzman - Something


    Watch Bernard “Pretty” Purdie: The Legendary Purdie Shuffle
    Read more on The Off Season in Craig Jenkins in-depth review on Vulture.
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  • One of our favorites artists right now is Rina Sawayama. She works with her producer Clarence Clarity to make this mash up of sounds from the late 90s and early aughts. She in particular recasts Max Martin pop and Nu Metal — too styles that rarely converged — to make compelling songs with a strong anti-consumerist message. I spoke with Rina Sawayama last summer about her debut eponymous album Sawayama and she shared with me the stories behind her songs XS and STFU. We're rebroadcasting our interview with her from last summer.
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  • When you think of jazz, you might think of La La Land, luxury car commercials, or fancy dinner parties. Cool, sophisticated, complex, jazz today seems to signify the epitome of class and taste. For pianist Vijay Iyer, that view gets the music completely wrong. Jazz isn’t cool. Jazz is countercultural. Jazz is alive and relevant. Jazz fights racism and injustice. And for those reasons, maybe we shouldn’t be calling this music “jazz” at all.
    With a trio of Linda May Han Oh on bass and Tyshawn Sorey on drums, Iyer has recorded a new album, Uneasy, that continues the defiant political legacy of improvised music. Through songs that tackles the Flint water crisis, the murder of Eric Garner, and social unrest, Iyer connects to the key of issues of our day without saying a word. While his songs speak to our chaotic present and crackle with fierce urgency, they also reach back to elders like John Coltrane, Geri Allen, and Charles Mingus—musicians who never shied away from a fight. 
    Songs discussed:
    Charlie Parker - Ko Ko
    Charles Mingus - Fables of Faubus, Original Faubus Fables
    Vijay Iyer - Children of Flint, Combat Breathing, Uneasy
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  • Today we’re sharing something a little different - a new TV and film show from the Vox Media Podcast Network that we think you’ll like called Galaxy Brains. On Galaxy Brains, entertainment writer Dave Schilling and Mystery Science Theater 3000’s Jonah Ray explore a big, mind-expanding question raised by a TV show or movie, and take it way, way too seriously. In the preview episode we’re sharing today, they explore why the once-panned musical comedy Josie and The Pussycats may have actually been a sharp critique of capitalism that was well ahead of its time. It’s weird. It’s funny. We’ll hope you’ll give it a listen, then go follow Galaxy Brains on your favorite podcast app.
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  • Willow Smith has a new Paramore-inspired emo-slash-pop punk track with a formidable drum groove powered by Travis Barker. Over churning guitars she sneers at fake friends: "smile in my face, then put your cig out on my back." As Nate and Charlie headbanged along to we found ourselves asking "why did we sleep on Willow Smith?"
    Maybe because we had not taken Willow seriously, knowing her only as the nine (!) year-old singer behind the precocious hit "Whip My Hair" back in 2010. In the ensuing decade, your hosts missed out on the rise of a talented musician. Her slow-burn, consciousness-expanding, galaxy-brain funk track "Wait A Minute!" from 2015 showcased the voice of a full-fledged artist. So why couldn't we hear her? Whether because we perceived nepotism or industry sleight-of-hand as the cause of her success, or maybe because we just didn't think a celebrity kid could also have anything to say worth hearing.
    Whoops. And it's not just Willow. Turns out the whole Pinkett-Smith clan have discographies worth taking a closer listen to. Who knew Jaden was sampling 1930s jazz wailer Cab Calloway? Or that Jada fronted a death metal band who got booed for being Black in a white genre? Or that the much-maligned "Getting' Jiggy Wit It" by Big Willie Style himself....actually bangs?
    Songs discussed:
    Willow Smith - Transparent Soul, Wait A Minute!, Whip My Hair
    Osamu - Koroneko No Tango
    Jordy - Dur dur d'être bébé!
    Wicked Wisdom - Bleed All Over Me
    Jaden Smith - Icon
    Cab Calloway - Hi De Ho Man
    Will Smith - Gettin' Jiggy Wit It
    Sister Sledge - He's the Greatest Dancer
    The Bar-Kays - Sang and Dance
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  • For nearly a decade, Julia Michaels has penned hit songs for the biggest acts in pop music. She is adept at turning people’s vulnerabilities into memorable hooks — think Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” or Selena Gomez’s “Lose You to Love Me.” There are countless others, but all of them share distinctive traits. Where many songwriters might turn to the simplest, almost nursery-rhyme-level lyrics to get the message across, Michaels does the opposite. She crams as many words as possible into each phrase. Her lyrics sound spoken. On her own hit song, her 2017 debut solo single “Issues,” she sings, “Bask in the glory, of all our problems / ’Cause we got the kind of love it takes to solve ’em”; it earned her a Song of the Year nomination at the 2018 Grammys, along with a Best New Artist nod. Her rhyming may sound accidental, but that’s the pop-song illusion. Michaels’s idiosyncratic phrasing has symmetry and her rhyming is indeed purposeful, all to illuminate her primary subject: the infinite recursions of human relationships. After releasing three EPs and countless singles of her own, Michaels has just released her first full-length album, Not in Chronological Order. On this week’s episode of Switched on Pop, Nate and Charlie try to identify Julias Michaels songwriting superpowers and then Charlie speaks with Michaels about how the vagaries of the heart inspire an endless stream of songs.
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  • The story of the hitmakers behind Lil Nas X’s “Montero” Sheck Wes’s “Mo Bamba” and many more
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  • Lil Nas X has a talent for creating productive controversy. First with “Old Town Road,” he challenged expectations about blackness in country music. Now with “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” he takes aim at anti LGBTQ+ messages propagated by the religious dogma from his youth (he came out as gay during Pride 2019). The song describes a romantic encounter without innuendo. Sure it’s raunchy, but the song doesn’t especially stand out on Billboard where explicit sexual fantasy is commonplace. But his use of religious iconography in his video and merchandise created an immediate backlash. In the video to “Montero,” Lil Nas X rides a stripped pole into hades where he gives a lap dance to Satan (also played by Lil Nas X). Despite the obvious commentary on repressive orthodoxy, religious conservatives failed to see the subtext. The song became a lightning rod. But as pundits fought on social media about the song's meaning, most critics failed to look into the song’s musical references. Produced by Take A Daytrip, the duo behind Shek Wes’ “Mo Bamba” and Lil Nas X’s “Panini,” “Montero'' mashes up genres that take the listener on a global journey, sharing his message of acceptance across cultures.
    Music
    Lil Nas X — Montero, Old Town Road, Panini
    24kGoldn, iann dior - Mood
    Dick Dale and his Del-Tones - Misirlou
    Tetos Demetriades - Misirlou
    Aris San Boom Pam
    Silsulim - Static & Ben El
    Shek Was — Mo Bamba
    Lehakat Tzliley Haud
    Bouzouki recording from xserra from FreeSound under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

    More
    Listen to Gal Kadan’s project: Awesome Orientalists From Europa on Bandcamp
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  • Earth Day 2021 gives us the chance to pause our usual programming and consider the role pop music plays in our deepening climate emergency. On Side A, we listen to artists who have confronted the climate crisis head-on. Side B considers the environmental cost of streaming music with Kyle Devine, author of Decomposed: The Political Ecology of Music.
    Songs Discussed:
    George Pope Morris - Woodman, Spare That Tree!
    Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi
    Marvin Gaye - Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)
    Tower of Power - Only So Much Oil in the Ground
    Various Artists - Love Song for the Earth
    Anohni - 4 Degrees
    The Weather Station - The Robber
    DJ Cavem - Sprout That Life

    Learn more about the environmental impact of NFTs
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