Charlie Harding is a Music journalist, co-hosts and producer of Switched On Pop, a podcast about how popular music works.
JP Saxe wrote the song “If the World was Ending” with acclaimed songwriter Julia Michaels in 2019 about a fictional cataclysm. The record was released in the before times in a way that seemed to presage lockdown. In the early months of the actual pandemic the song resonated so widely that it catapulted up the charts. It’s now been nominated for a Grammy for song of the year — an award JP Saxe could share with his grandfather János Starker who was awarded a Grammy in 1997 for a recording of Bach’s cello suites. We wanted to speak with JP not just because of the song's success, but also because he has a way of thinking about the practical implications and even morality of songwriting in this track as well as his song "Line By Line" with Maren Morris. Songs Discussed JP Saxe with Julia Michaels - If The World Was Ending JP Saxe - 25 In Barcelona, A Little Bit Yours, The Few Things, Same Room Lennon Stella - Golf on TV (with JP Saxe) JP Saxe, Maren Morris - Line By Line Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Adrian Younge is a producer for entertainment greats ranging from Jay Z and Kendrick Lamar to the Wu Tang clan, a composer for television shows such as Marvel's Luke Cage (with A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Mohammad), and owner of the Linear Labs record label and analog studio. Younge has a new mixed media project that breaks down the evolution of racism in America that he calls his “most important creative accomplishment.” A short film, T.A.N., and podcast, Invisible Blackness, accompany the album The American Negro (available Feb 26). Younge tells Switched on Pop how his experience as a law professor and his all-analog approach to recording resulted in a sound he describes as “James Baldwin hooked up with Marvin Gaye.” Music Discussed Adrian Younge - Revolutionize, The American Negro, Revisionist History, Black Lives Matter, Margaret Garner Gil Scott Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised More Additional production by Megan Lubin Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The Netflix series Bridgerton has hooked audiences with its bodice-ripping sex scenes, a colorblind approach period drama casting, and a soundtrack featuring recreations of modern bangers from pop stars like Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish arranged in the style of a classical string quartet. By bringing modern melodies into the proper world of Regency England, the show reminds us that classical music wasn’t always so stuffy and solemn. In its time, it trafficked in the same scandal as modern pop. Alongside these classical-pop mashups, Bridgerton serves up its own ravishing score from composer Kris Bowers, who joins to break down how he made the past pop. Songs Discussed: Vitamin String Quartet - Thank U, Next, Bad Guy, In My Blood Kris Bowers - When You Are Alone, Flawless My Dear, Strange Maurice Ravel - Tombeau de Couperin, Prelude Clara Schumann - Der Mond Kommt Still Gegangen Johannes Brahms - Symphony No 3 in F Major Op 90, Mvt 3 (for Four Hand Piano) More Read Maria Popova on the letters of Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann and Adrian Daub on Four Handed Monsters Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This Sunday, The Weeknd will perform his distinctly dark brand of pop at the Super Bowl halftime show. On the surface, the alter-ego of Abel Tesfaye is a strange pick for the ostensibly family-friendly main-stage — for more than a decade, The Weeknd has fused the sounds of pop, R&B, and trap into a cinematic horror-thriller about drugs, sex and the excess of fame. While his sheer volume of Hot 100 hits have rightly earned him mainstream status, even his most commercial material is hardly PG — the 2015 hit “Can’t Feel My Face” is an 80s throwback laced with on-the-nose cocaine metaphors.  But over the last year his subversive image has been rewritten by the song “Blinding Lights,” from his 2020 album After Hours. The song vaulted up the charts in March 2020, supported by a viral TikTok challenge: Using the song’s opening instrumental as inspiration, countless families performed the dance together while sheltering in place. Since then, seemingly every radio format, adult contemporary included, has played this song on repeat, making it the longest running song in the Hot 100 top five and top ten (given the songs success, The Weeknd is justly aggrieved by the Grammy’s recent snub). On Switched on Pop’s first episode as part of Vulture, we break down how “Blinding Lights” blends lyrical relatability with musical familiarity, earning The Weeknd the biggest and perhaps most misunderstood hit of his career. Songs Discussed The Weeknd - Blinding Lights Michael Sembello - Maniac a-ha - Take on Me Bruce Springsteen - Blinded By The Light Manfred Mann's Earth Band - Blinded By The Light The Weeknd - Can't Feel My Face The Weeknd - Faith The Weeknd - In Your Eyes The Weeknd - Save Your Tears The Weeknd - Until I Bleed Out More Read Chris Molanphy's "Why the Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” Is the First Chart Topper of the Coronavirus Era" Thanks to Arc Iris for the theme song reharmonization Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Creator Details

Location
Los Angeles, CA, USA
Episode Count
246
Podcast Count
17
Total Airtime
6 days, 14 hours
PCID
Podchaser Creator ID logo 243268