Switched On Pop

Pop music surrounds us, but how often do we really listen to what we’re hearing? Switched on Pop is the podcast that pulls back the curtain on pop music. Each episode, join musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding as they reveal the secret formulas that make pop songs so infectious. By figuring out how pop hits work their magic, you’ll fall in love with songs you didn’t even know you liked.




      68. How to 'Feels' the Groove

      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, Harris throws out the software and picks up hardware instruments on this track. Upon first listen, this might seem like a sleeper hit, but as the loop repeats, you're going to want to move your feet. With intricate rhythmic interplay, the bass, drums, keys and guitar seem to...



      67. Anthems of Resilience - Kesha and Imagine Dragons [LIVE]

      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 eclipse. Fittingly, the two songs discussed that day formed their own kind of syzygy. Kesha's "Praying" and Imagine Dragon's "Believer" are inverse anthems of resilience. Both tracks seek catharsis - one through prayer, the other through pain.

      FeaturingKesha - Tik TokKesha - PrayingMozart -  The Queen of the Night AriaWhitney Houston - I...



      66. The Many Worlds of "Despacito"

      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 in the world? Your hosts explore the many worlds of "Despacito" in search of an answer.


      Lusi Fonsi ft Daddy Yankee - Despacito
      Luis Fonsi ft Daddy Yankee y Justin Bieber - Despacito (Remix)
      Luis Fonsi y Juan Luis Guerra - Llegaste Tú
      Major Lazer ft Justin Bieber - Cold Water
      Los Del Rio - Macarena
      Daddy Ya...



      65. Selena Gomez: Bad Liar, Psycho Songwriter

      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 because it borrows a bass line from the Talking Heads' macabre "Psycho Killer." This is a fun one. Come along for the ride. 


      • Selena Gomez - Bad Liar
      • Julia Michaels - Issues
      • Selena Gomez - Same Old Love
      • Talking Heads - Psycho Killer



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

      Author, critic and podcaster Andrea Warner joins for a throwback episode exploring politics in Lilith Fair, harmonic anger in Alanis Morissette's iconic "You Oughta Know," and the blind spots in your host's assessment of women in rock. 

      •Alanis Morissette - You Oughta Know

      Artists mentioned by Andrea Warner:
      The Overcoats



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

      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 producer Morgan Page to reveal the secrets of this ubiquitous technique. Listening to Julia Michaels' hit "Issues," we unveil how the rule of three is used to draw our attention and keep us free from sonic distraction. And we look at how Maroon 5's "Cold" uses the same technique...



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

      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 present, the resulting track is less than the sum of its parts—repetitive, derivative, uninventive. And yet, the lackluster "I'm The One" sits comfortably at the top of the charts, which raises the question: why?? Our answer: because Khaled and company understand the bewitching power of tonal harmony, and they've utilized the most surefire chord p...



      61. Musical Architecture in Charlie Puth + HAIM

      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 musical architecture undergirding each track, a perfect balance of symmetry and asymmetry that keeps reeling us in for more. 

      • Charlie Puth ft. Meghan Trainor - Marvin Gaye
      • Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth - See You Again
      • Charlie Puth ft. Selen...



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

      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 came out of DJ culture and has infused its sound with every mainstream act like Lady Gaga and Coldplay. Tiring of this sound, some artists are finding creative ways to parody this pop trope. The rock outfit Fall Out Boy’s “Young And Menace” demonstrates equal parts mastery and mockery of the pop-drop. And PC Music, a rising art-music label out of L...



      59. Harry Styles, Eschatology and Teen Girl Fandom

      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 other demons exorcised in this most peculiar pop tune. 

      •Beethoven 5th Symphony - Scherzo
      •Harry Styles - Sign of the Times
      •Prince - Sign o' the Times
      •David Bowie - Space Oddity
      •Zayn Malik - Pillowtalk
      •Steve Aoki + Louis Tomlinson - Ju...