New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
"In much the same way that Wendy Carlos's 1968 album Switched-On Bach introduced synthesizers to popular music, Sloan
and Harding's ode to popular music reintroduces the Billboard Top 100 to the field of musicology and the snobbiest of vinyl collectors. A necessary addition to any music collection." - Library Journal, starred review
With today's publication of Switched on Pop: How Popular Music
Works, and Why it Matters, Oxford University Press releases a 224-page recipe for the "Secret Sauce Behind Pop-Music Hits" (The Wall Street Journal). Authored by Nate Sloan
and Charlie Harding - creators and hosts of the eponymous podcast - the new book is an ear-opening exploration of the stars and singles defining our collective, 21st Century soundtrack.
Structured as a series of 16 deep-dive case studies, each chapter uses a specially-chosen chart-topper as the entrypoint into understanding the concepts, techniques, themes, and trends that help make certain songs so ubiquitous. By illuminating the inner-workings of building blocks like meter and melody, to the techniques of syncopation and modulation, even ideas around genre and identity, poptimists, snobs, and passive listeners alike will all be able to hear hits by Outkast, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Kelly
Clarkson, and more in ways they never have before - find the full track list below.
Head to Genius for an excerpt on Drake's deployment of rhythmic rhyme schemes in "God's Plan."
And check out a piece of the book's introduction at Entertainment Weekly, demonstrating how every musical element of "Call Me Maybe
" reinforces the uncomfortable suspense that comes with asking someone out.
Since personal revelations on the ingenuity of Carly Rae Jepsen
sparked the idea to launch the Switched on Pop podcast five years ago - now part of the Vox Media Podcast Network - Nate Sloan
and Charlie Harding have produced hundreds of episodes, welcomed guests like Lizzo, and become trusted authorities on Top 40 analysis. Sloan
is also the Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Southern California, and Harding is the podcast's Executive Producer, a multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter.
Complete with illustrations by Iris Gottlieb, Switched on Pop: How Popular Music
Works, and Why it Matters packs the same "addictive" (Rolling Stone), "insanely fascinating" (BuzzFeed) mix of "rigor and charm" (Vulture) as the show into a timely new text.
Chapter & Track List
Introduction: Switched On Pop
Carly Rae Jepsen
— "Call Me Maybe
1. Y'all Don't Want to Hear Me, You Just Want to Dance
— "Hey Ya!
2. A Star's Melodic Signature
Melody: Taylor Swift
— "You Belong with Me"
3. The Harmonic Hero's Journey
Harmony: Fun ft. Janelle Monáe — "We Are Young
4. When the Drop Broke the Pop Song
ft. Calvin Harris
— "We Found Love
5. A Voice without a Face
Timbre: Sia — "Chandelier
6. Painting a Musical Masterpiece
Lyric: Justin Timberlake
— "What Goes Around...Comes Around"
7. What Makes Pop So Catchy
The Hook: Ariana
Grande ft. Zedd — "Break Free
8. Sometimes the Truth Don't Rhyme
— "God's Plan
9. Drunk on Rhythm
Syncopation: Kendrick Lamar
— "Swimming Pools (Drank)
Takes You Higher
Modulation: Beyoncé — "Love on Top"
11. The Performance of Identity
Counterpoint: Britney Spears
— "Oops!...I Did It Again
12. Is Collage a Crime?
— "Paper Planes
13. Shock, Awe, and Synthesis
Sound Design: Skrillex
— "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites"
14. Finding Home in the Harmonic Diaspora
Tonal Ambiguity: Luis Fonsi
ft. Daddy Yankee
15. Does Pop Have a Sound?
Clarkson — "Since U Been Gone
16. I Like Everything...Except Country and Hip Hop
Musical Identity: Jay Z and Kanye West
ft. Frank Ocean
| Toby Keith
— "Made in America"
Conclusion: The Past, Present, and Future
of Silly Little
— "Get Enough"