Charlie Harding is a Music journalist, co-hosts and producer of Switched On Pop, a podcast about how popular music works.
Recent episodes featuring Charlie Harding
Hopes and Fears of Mac Miller, Future, Drake, and Billie Eilish
Mac Miller, Future and Billie Eilish all have good and bad news to share. On Miller’s posthumous album, Circles, he exposes personal struggles with fame, addiction, and mental illness — sobering topics given his unintentional drug overdose last year. Yet at the same time we hear him searching for “good news,” practicing self care and accepting that “there's a whole lot more” waiting. Future & Drake’s celebration of material excess also finds them “working on the weekend” just to keep up appearances. Similarly, Billie Eilish has achieved “everything [she] wanted,” but dreams of death and darkness overwhelm her. But she’s buoyed by the support of her brother FINNEAS. Many pop songs are about a single emotion: love, heartbreak or exuberant joy. But these great songs evoke more complex emotions, existing somewhere in a liminal space between our hopes and fears. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dua Lipa’s Disco Fever
Dua Lipa remembers the disco era in her hit “Don’t Start Now.” What may sound like just another dance floor track, upon deeper listening unfolds as a celebration of the genre. References to Gloria Gaynor, Chic, Giorgio Moroder and The Bee Gees are all waiting here for the curious listener to uncover. But so are the Italian and Daft Punk inspired bass lines. Yet the song is more than just one big disco ball cliché. It is brilliantly written too. We asked our listeners to help us highlight the best moments of the song as this is a song that continues to sound anew upon each playback. In 2020, the influence of Disco is still very much alive and Dua Lip’s “Don’t Start Now,” written with Caroline Ailin, Emily Warren and Ian Kirkpatrick, is a shining example of a great contemporary disco track. Songs Discussed Dua Lipa - Don’t Start Now Gloria Gaynor - Staying Alive Chic - Good Times Giorgio Mordoer - Baby Blue The Bee Gees - You Should Be Dancing The Michael Zager Band - Let’s All Chant MFSP - TSOP Todd Terje - Strandbar Piano Fred Falke and Alan Brav - Intro Daft Punk - Voyager Ryan Paris - Dolce Vita Madison Avenue - Don’t Call Me Baby Marvin Gaye - Got To Give It Up Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
ICYMI: Chance The Rapper, Kehlani, & The Shifting Sound of R&B — with Oak Felder
The sound of R&B is difficult to pin down. Since the 1950s, the label has been used both as a genre and as a catch-all for the entirety of black popular music. Soul, funk, disco and even hip-hop have at times been covered by this "R&B" umbrella. On Chance The Rapper's new album, The Big Day, all of these influences come through—and he's not alone. On recent Kehlani records, 90s R&B and 2000s trap both play a role. But both these artists are a far cry from the 50s R&B sounds of Sam Cooke. To understand how R&B has changed over time, we consult with Trevor Anderson, manager of Billboard's R&B/Hip Hop chart. Then we speak with R&B super-producer Oak Felder to understand how R&B is progressing and what it might become.Songs DiscussedChance The Rapper – Hot ShowerChance The Rapper – I Got YouSam Cooke – You Send MeElvis Presley – Crying In the ChapelThe Temptations – I Can’t Get Next To YouMtume – Juicy FruitBiggie – JuicyToni Braxton – Breath AgainJanet Jackson – That’s The Way Love GoesBoys II Men – I’ll Make Love To YouLauryn Hill – Doo Wop (That Thing)Diddy – I’ll Be Missing You (feat. Faith Evans & 112)Nelly – DilemmaKehlani – DistractionSWV – WeakAaron Hall – I Miss YouUsher – You Make Me WannaBrandy – Sit-in Up In My RoomDru Hill – In My BedSilk – Freak MeDemi Lovato – Sorry Not SorryJodeci – Cry For youMariah Carey – Vision of LoveKehlani Everything Is YoursChance The Rapper – All Day LongQueen – Fat Bottom GirlsDiana Ross – I’m Coming OutFor an in depth history of R&B on Billboard, read Chris Molanphy's feature on Pitchfork. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
ICYMI: Billie Eilish is a Different Kind of Pop Star (ft. FINNEAS)
On a trajectory to be one of the biggest pop stars for this generation, seventeen year old Billie Eilish is not, however, your typical pop star. Her music speaks to the real anxieties of young people without any veneer. She sings from the perspective of monsters and villains. Her hushed voice, baggy style, and direct demeanor subvert the norms of the pop princess. And her music is dark, but still catchy. Billie co-writes and produces her sound with her older brother Finneas O’Connell. Together this family duo have crafted the second biggest selling album of 2019, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” On this episode, we examine how Billie and Finneas crafted a cultural phenomenon, why their message speaks to this generation, and we speak with Finneas about the creation of their hit song “Bad Guy.”MORE Watch Billie and Finneas break down “Bury A Friend” on The New York TimesBillie Eilish – Ocean Eyes Billie Eilish – Bored Billie Eilish – You Should See Me In A Crown Billie Eilish – Bad Guy Billie Eilish – Bury A Friend Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People The Doors – People Are Strange Nine Inch Nails – Closer Billie Eilish – ilomilo Billie Eilish – All Good Girls Go To Hell Billie Eilish – Xanny Frank Sinatra – Dream A Dream Billie Eilish – I love you John Carpenter – Halloween Theme Billie Eilish – Bellyache MOREBillie Eilish explained on Vox.comWatch Billie and Finneas break down “Bury A Friend” on The New York Times Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dolly Parton's America (with Jad Abumrad)
There are icons, and then there’s Dolly Parton. The country singer-turned-actress-turned-cultural phenomenon has produced a nearly unparalleled body of work, in both quantity (Parton is the sole or co-author of more than three thousand songs) and in legacy. Despite releasing her first album over 60 years ago, Parton’s songs are still covered and performed live by today’s pop artists. Presidential candidates are still selecting her songs as official walk-on music. So what is it exactly that makes her music so enduring? Today, we select four essential Dolly songs for dissection and try to answer that big question with the help of composer, longtime radio-maker and host of the new hit podcast, Dolly Parton’s America--Jad Abumrad. Whether or not you identify as a Dolly Parton fan, or even a country music fan, we think you’ll love this one.Songs discussed Dolly Parton - Dumb Blonde Dolly Parton - Down from Dover Dolly Parton - Jolene Dolly Parton - Light of a Clear Blue Morning Kesha - Praying Mariah Carey - Hero Andra Day - Rise Up Dolly Parton - 9 to 5 Stevie Wonder - I Wish Dolly Parton - Mule Skinner Blues Thanks to Jad, producer Shima Oliaee and the rest of the Dolly Parton’s America team. You can check out the eight episodes they’ve released so far, and keep an eye out for the final one at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Los Angeles, CA, USA
Episode Count
Podcast Count
Total Airtime
4 days, 19 hours