Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia

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Subscribers: 764
Reviews: 5

pete
 Jun 13, 2019
I love this podcast, informative, interesting, and a must hear for any fan of pop music from the last 60 years.

Barney
 Jun 9, 2019
This is the podcast I've been looking for all my life. One of the best music shows I've heard. A great balance of fact and insight.


 Apr 29, 2019


 Apr 26, 2019

RMC
 Jan 7, 2019

Description

What makes a song a smash? Talent? Luck? Timing? All that—and more. Chris Molanphy, pop-chart analyst and author of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” series, tells tales from a half-century of chart history. Through storytelling, trivia and song snippets, Chris dissects how that song you love—or hate—dominated the airwaves, made its way to the top of the charts and shaped your memories forever.

Episode Date
The Bridge: Rain Sounds and Moody Goths
1647
In this monthly mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Aisha Harris, culture editor for The New York Times’ Opinion section. Aisha and Chris discuss the Janet Jackson album Rhythm Nation 1814, the topic of the  most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade. Aisha tells Chris about her early Jackson fandom, picks her all-time favorite Janet songs, and offers her opinion on the relevancy and influence of Janet’s sound today. Plus, Chris gives an inside scoop on the song template that Jackson’s longtime producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, used to generate multiple chart-topping hits. Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to stump Chris with a trivia question of his own. While this episode is available to all listeners, our trivia round is open only to Slate Plus members. If you are a member—or once you become a member—enter as a contestant here. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com. Podcast production by Asha Saluja.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 11, 2019
State of the World Edition
4510
In the mid-1980s, Janet Jackson broke away from her world-famous, hit-making family and, with her Control album, rebooted both her career and pop style in the New Jack Swing era. The challenge was following it up—and Jackson and her producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, didn’t make it easy on themselves. In 1989, they produced an ambitious album with a portentous title: Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. But what could have been Control, Part 2 instead was a visionary LP that reinvented the socially conscious album from the era of Marvin Gaye for the ’90s, and envisioned what pop would eventually sound like in the 21st century. Rhythm Nation was a smash, generating more hits—and bigger hits—than any album in history. In fact, if Jackson and her label hadn’t pulled their punches with one final radio single, she could have set an all-time Billboard chart record that would have overshadowed any of the Jackson family’s historic achievements. Podcast production by Chris Berube. HostChris Molanphy Follow @cmolanphy on Twitter / https://www.twitter.com/cmolanphy  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 27, 2019
The Bridge: Ladies of the Canyon and the Rhythm Nation
1555
In this monthly mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Asha Saluja, operations manager for Slate Podcasts and new producer of these monthly mini-episodes. Asha tells Chris about an episode of Hit Parade about a certain pop queen–turned–EDM goddess that bridged two seemingly unrelated parts of her personal music history. Chris gives Asha the scoop on the anecdote from the last full-length Hit Parade episode about the TV appearance responsible for keeping Joni Mitchell away from Woodstock. Asha shares a letter from a listener with some firsthand perspective on the music of the late 1960’s. Plus, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a trivia question of his own. While this episode is available to all listeners, our trivia round is open only to Slate Plus members. If you are a member—or once you become a member—enter as a contestant here. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com. Podcast production by Asha Saluja with help from Danielle Hewitt.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 13, 2019
We Are Stardust, We Are Gold-Certified
4621
Are you tired of hearing how awe-inspiring the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was 50 years ago for 400,000 lucky hippies in Bethel, New York? Imagine how the people of 1969 felt—specifically the millions who couldn’t go. Yet, in the age before YouTube and social media, the rest of America did catch Woodstock fever—weeks, months, even a year or more later—and they made stars out of many of the performers. By 1970, not only was the Woodstock movie dominating the box office; the soundtrack album and a constellation of Woodstock stars were crushing the Billboard charts. This month’s Hit Parade offers a new take on Woodstock: To understand its legacy, you have to look at the charts long after August 1969. Chris Molanphy counts down 10 acts—some of them music legends, some of them short-lived hitmakers—who were materially boosted by the festival: from a guy hanging out backstage who got shoved onstage by desperate show organizers; to the band who loathed the whole experience yet saw their albums reach new chart heights; to the young man who arrived with no discography but kicked off one of the longest hitmaking careers in rock history. Podcast production by Chau Tu. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 30, 2019
The Bridge: Nostalgic for Number Ones
1562
In this monthly mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Tom Breihan, senior editor at Stereogum and writer of their long-term blog project “The Number Ones,” a chronological review of every song that’s hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Tom gives Chris his reviews of the three Lennon-McCartney hits Chris discussed in the last full-length Hit Parade episode. Plus, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, and the contestant turns the tables with a chance to try to stump Chris with a trivia question of her own. While this episode is available to all listeners, only Slate Plus members are allowed to be on the show. Once you become a member, you can enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com. Podcast production by Asha Saluja.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 16, 2019
Without The Beatles
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This month, Hit Parade explores the legacy of songs by The Beatles topping the charts...without The Beatles. This is the story of how a discarded Beatles song, a superstar vanity cover, and a bizarre disco medley managed to top the charts with Beatles songwriting credits, but without the fab four.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 26, 2019
The Bridge: Farewell, Lilith Fan
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How much do you know about the women rockers who dominated the '90s? Find out in the latest episode of Hit Parade: The Bridge. In this monthly mini-episode of Hit Parade, Host Chris Molanphy is joined by T. J. Raphael, senior producer of the Slate Podcast Network. Together, they quiz one listener contestant with some music trivia. The player also has the opportunity to turn the tables: They get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with one of their own trivia questions. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member.  Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.   Podcast production by T. J. Raphael Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 19, 2019
The Lullaby of Broadway Edition
4716
Musical theater is one of America’s greatest cultural products—and in the mid–20th century, it also dominated the Billboard charts, from My Fair Lady to West Side Story. But the rise of rock and roll in the ’60s sidelined showtunes on the radio. And even when Broadway tried to rock—from Hair to Jesus Christ Superstar—a new generation grew wary of characters breaking into song (unless they were animated mermaids, teapots or lions). And yet, in the 21st century, Broadway music has staged a cultural comeback: taking over our movie screens, making shows out of jukebox hits, and raising a new generation to believe they can rap like Hamilton and Lafayette. In this Tonys month, Hit Parade dances down the Great White Way to chronicle the tangled history of the Broadway musical on the pop charts.    Email: hitparade@slate.com    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 28, 2019
The Bridge: The "Give My Regards" Edition
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Think you know music? Hit Parade, the music history podcast from Slate, is back with a new episode of The Bridge. In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, Host Chris Molanphy is joined by T. J. Raphael, senior producer of the Slate Podcast Network. Together, they quiz one listener contestant with some music trivia. The player also has the opportunity to turn the tables: They get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with one of their own trivia questions. Chris is also joined by Elizabeth Craft, an assistant professor of musicology at the University of Utah. Her research focuses on musical theater from the early 20th century to the present; she’s published on the musicals of Lin-Manuel Miranda, including a recent article on the politics and political reception of Hamilton, and she’s currently working on a book on Broadway legend George M. Cohan. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 14, 2019
The Invisible Miracle Sledgehammer Edition
5055
When a band member leaves to go solo, usually it means the band’s best days are over. That’s what everybody thought when Peter Gabriel left Genesis in the ’70s. Except not only did the band survive—fronted by drummer-turned-singer Phil Collins, they got bigger. Then Collins went solo…except he didn’t ditch Genesis. In fact, his success made them bigger—one of the definitive pop bands of the 1980s, as Collins’s monstrous drum sound took over pop music. By mid-decade, current and former members of Genesis—even side projects from its guitarists—were all competing head-to-head on the Billboard charts. On Hit Parade, we explore the knotty family tree of Genesis, the unlikeliest group ever to become a Hot 100 juggernaut. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 31, 2019
The Bridge: Monster Drums Edition
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Think you know music? Hit Parade, the music history podcast from Slate, is back with a new episode of The Bridge. In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, Host Chris Molanphy is joined by Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding of the podcast Switched on Pop. Together, they quiz one listener contestant with some music trivia. The player also has the opportunity to turn the tables: They get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with one of their own trivia questions. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 17, 2019
The Posthumous Hits Edition, Live from Seattle
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Spin̈al Tap was right: Death sells. When musical icons die, their songs and albums climb the charts all over again—sometimes, a legendary artist even scores his or her only No. 1 hit. In this very special episode recorded live from the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, Hit Parade pours one out for the legends who topped the charts from beyond the grave. Chris is joined by some of America’s top music writers to discuss the unusual circumstances that brought everyone from Otis Redding to Janis Joplin, John Lennon to Kurt Cobain, Biggie Smalls to Prince to the top of the charts after their untimely passings.  Email: hitparade@slate.com    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 26, 2019
Coming Soon: Hit Parade, Live in Seattle!
55
Join Chris Molanphy for an evening of stories and trivia, at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle Washington, Saturday, April 13th, 2019. Tickets are going fast at Slate.com/LIVE Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 04, 2019
The Everybody Say YEAH! Edition
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When you think of Stevie Wonder’s legendary career, what chart-toppers come to mind? “Superstition,” right? Maybe “I Wish”? Okay, but what about the start of his career, on the Motown of the ’60s? You may not know that Wonder had only one Hot 100 No. 1 in his first decade—as “Little” Stevie Wonder—and it was truly exceptional, as in bizarre: a semi-improvised live recording of a “12 Year-Old Genius” refusing to leave a Chicago stage and say goodnight. Here’s the story of “Fingertips, Part 2,” and the years that launched a true pop icon. Wonder’s imperial run of classic, chart-topping, Grammy-dominating ’70s albums had their seeds in the joyous virtuosity, and fierce independence, on display in his very first hit. Email: hitparade@slate.com   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 29, 2019
The Bridge: Cover Queens and The Boy Wonder
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Host Chris Molanphy reflects on the previous full length episode of the show, and invites one Slate Plus member to play some music trivia related to an upcoming episode. This month, Molanphy is joined at the mic by T. J. Raphael, senior producer of the Slate Podcast Network. Together, they discuss some of the best cover songs of all time from the likes of Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, and more. After a break, Molanphy is joined by one listener for some music trivia related to the next full-length episode of Hit Parade, which is all about Stevie Wonder. How does it all work? The contestant is asked three trivia questions, and the player also has the opportunity to turn the tables—they get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with one trivia question of their own. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter to play if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.   Podcast production by T. J. Raphael  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 15, 2019
The Bad Moon on the Rise Edition
3770
In just a couple of years, Creedence Clearwater Revival generated one of the most amazing runs of hits in American pop history: from “Proud Mary” to “Green River,” “Bad Moon Rising” to “Travelin’ Band.” Reportedly, they even outsold the Beatles in America in 1969. But for all their success with those John Fogerty–penned classics, CCR never held the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100. All of those hits were No. 2s: a dubious Billboard chart record they hold to this day, for most No. 2s without a No. 1. True, it was the late ’60s, and CCR had the bad luck to be competing with such chart titans as Paul Simon and Sly Stone…but sometimes they were held back by No. 1 songs that are barely remembered today. In this episode of Hit Parade, we break down the sequence of events that relegated CCR—a future first-ballot Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band—to the charts’ permanent runner-up slot. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 28, 2019
The Bridge: R. Kelly and Music's #MeToo Reckoning
1441
Hit Parade, the music history podcast from Slate, is back with a new episode of The Bridge. In this monthly mini-episode, Host Chris Molanphy reflects on the previous full length episode of the show, and invites one Slate Plus member to play some music trivia related to an upcoming episode. This month, Molanphy is joined at the mic by T. J. Raphael, senior producer of the Slate Podcast Network. Together, they discuss the sexual assault allegations facing artist R. Kelly, and whether the #MeToo movement will finally change the music industry. After a break, Molanphy is joined by one listener for some music trivia related to the next full-length episode of Hit Parade, which is all about Creedence Clearwater Revival. How does it all work? The contestant is asked three trivia questions, and the player also has the opportunity to turn the tables—they get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with one trivia question of their own. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter to play if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.  Podcast production by Danielle Hewitt. Take the Slate podcast survey here.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 15, 2019
The Gaga is Born Edition
4119
A Star Is Born, the movie Hollywood can’t stop remaking, is a fairy-tale about the American dream factory. But it has also, always, been a reflection of the woman in the lead role—and the latest version stars a woman who has been playing a role for more than a decade: Stefani Germanotta, a.k.a. Lady Gaga. When Gaga scored her first No. 1 hit, “Just Dance,” 10 years ago this month, critics thought her fame might be short-lived. But Gaga had a lot to say about The Fame, and within a year she had shifted the sound of the Top 40 in her electro-pop direction. And then, in the mid-2010s, she shifted her own sound, belting out pop standards for everyone from Tony Bennett to Julie Andrews. What happens if this shape-shifter pivots from Grammys to Oscars? And what will that say about the themes of A Star Is Born: artifice, authenticity and agency? This episode is brought to you by Slack, the collaboration hub for work. Learn more at Slack.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 25, 2019
Music Trivia: Grammys and Gaga Edition
1375
Think you know music? Hit Parade, the music history podcast from Slate, is back with a new episode of The Bridge. In this monthly mini-episode of Hit Parade, Host Chris Molanphy reflects on the previous full length episode of the show, and invites one Slate Plus member onto the show to play some music trivia related to the upcoming episode. How does it all work? Contestants are asked three trivia questions, and the player also has the opportunity to turn the tables—they get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with one trivia question of their own. This month, Molanphy is joined at the mic by T. J. Raphael, senior producer of the Slate Podcast Network. Together, they reveal which artist won the coveted spot of this year’s U.K. Christmas No. 1, look ahead to the 2019 Grammy Awards, and discuss the next full length episode of Hit Parade, which is all about the rise of Lady Gaga. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here, and enter as a contestant here. You can also enter to play if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.   Podcast production by T. J. Raphael.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 18, 2019
The Christmas is All Around Edition
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In the UK, the No. 1 song the week of Christmas is a big deal. The media breathlessly covers the contest, and there are even wagers placed on what song will reach the top of the charts as pop stars and record labels jockey for position. While there are patterns to the kinds of songs that tend to do well in this perennial sweepstakes, often the winner is a fluke: Everything from Queen to the Flying Pickets to Bob the Builder has taken the crown. It was even parodied in the smash British Christmas comedy film Love, Actually—and one year in the late aughts, the British public rebelled en masse against a music-TV impresario, making a statement with the unlikeliest Christmas topper ever. But in an age when songs sell less than they stream, and hits tend to snowball, will the sun set on the fluky British Christmas No. 1 empire?  Email: hitparade@slate.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 21, 2018
Music Trivia: The Christmas Music Edition
1490
Think you know music? Quiz yourself with the latest episode of Hit Parade: The Bridge. This month, Host Chris Molanphy is joined by Jessica Goldstein, the culture editor at ThinkProgress and a journalist whose work has appeared in Vulture and The Washington Post, among other places. Her October article in Entertainment Weekly, “Britney Spears wanted to be a star: An oral history of '...Baby One More Time,'” was an inspiration for the November episode of Hit Parade. Chris is also joined by one listener contestant to play some music trivia, which is all about holiday music. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here, and enter as a contestant here. You can also enter to play if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.   Podcast production by T. J. Raphael. Additional support for this episode comes from Danielle Hewitt and Merritt Jacob.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 14, 2018
The Give Me a Sign Edition
4455
From a very young age, Britney Spears seemed destined for stardom. The kid from Louisiana had landed a role on the revived Mickey Mouse Club and styled herself as a belter of power ballads. But to score her first No. 1 hit, Spears would team up with an introverted Swedish songwriter named Max Martin. He was trying to write American R&B and instead, through Britney and her high-school dance formations, created a new template for über–American teen-pop. This month, we go inside the Stockholm music factory—and its decades-long history, from ABBA to Ace of Base—that gave rise to a new generation of millennial pop, from the Backstreet Boys and *N Sync to Robyn and Taylor Swift.  Email: hitparade@slate.com  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 30, 2018
Music Trivia: ’90s Teen-Pop Edition
1222
Think you know music? Quiz yourself with the latest episode of Hit Parade: The Bridge. This month, on the heels of the 2018 midterm elections, Host Chris Molanphy is joined by T. J. Raphael, senior producer for the Slate Podcast Network, to talk about musicians who make political endorsements. Chris is joined by one listener contestant to play some music trivia, which is all about '90s teen pop. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here, and enter as a contestant here. You can also enter to play if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.   Podcast production by T. J. Raphael.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 16, 2018
The Oh. My. God. Becky Edition
5030
In Hit Parade’s “Def Jams Edition,” we told you about rap’s first wave in the ’80s. But in this sequel (don’t believe the hype!) we enter the ’90s with still no No. 1 rap hits on the Hot 100—even though the music was starting to dominate both streets and stores: from conscious rappers like Public Enemy, to gangstas like N.W.A, to left-field innovators like De La Soul. It would take Billboard rebooting its charts in 1991 tallying record sales more accurately than ever with SoundScan data—for rap to get a fair shake on the charts. That boosted a new wave of crossover acts, from P.M. Dawn to Arrested Development to Sir Mix-a-Lot. But rap’s elders were not entirely thrilled at these new chart-toppers…and some rappers literally bum-rushed the show. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 26, 2018
Music Trivia: The '90s Hip-Hop Edition
1292
Think you know music? Hit Parade is back with a new episode of The Bridge. This month, Chris Molanphy is joined by Slate's Mike Pesca. Together, they reflect on the last full-length Hit Parade episode, which was about The BeeGees, and look ahead to next month, which is all about ‘90s hip-hop. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here, and enter as a contestant here. You can also enter to play if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.   Podcast production by Danielle Hewitt  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 12, 2018
The Nights on Broadway Edition
5472
Those falsettos, those white suits, those toothy smiles: You think you know the Bee Gees. But their story goes back much further than the ’70s, and it’s full of twists. From their roots as an eclectic harmony band in Australia and their first wave of Beatlesque fame, through their domination of the disco revolution and their years as an punchline, the Bee Gees stayed alive because of the Gibb brothers’ harmonies and especially their impeccable songs. This month, Hit Parade traces the influence of the brothers Gibb on virtually every popular genre, from pop to R&B, rock to easy-listening, country to…yes, even hip-hop.  Email: hitparade@slate.com   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 28, 2018
Music Trivia: The Aretha Franklin Edition
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Think you know music? Hit Parade is back with a new episode of The Bridge. This month, we honor Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, who died on August 16th. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership here, and enter as a contestant here. You can also enter to play if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email a voice memo to hitparade@slate.com.   Podcast production by Danielle Hewitt  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 31, 2018
Madonna: The Veronica Electronica Edition (Encore)
4501
In 1998, Madonna was at a career crossroads. After dominating the ’80s with hits like “Like a Virgin” and “Open Your Heart,” she spent the first half of the ’90s wavering between roles as a provocateur (Erotica, Sex) and adult-contemporary balladeer (“I’ll Remember,” “Take a Bow”). That’s when she took a sharp left turn, working with producers and deejays in the burgeoning electronica scene. If it even was a scene: The very term “electronica” was a music-business confection, and by 1997 it was more hype than hit. But the result of Madonna’s experiment—her acclaimed ’98 album Ray of Light—was not only one of her biggest smashes ever. It also helped turn electronic music into viable pop. Email: hitparade@slate.com   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 16, 2018
The Feat. Don’t Fail Me Now Edition
4353
Guest performers have existed since, literally, the beginning of the pop charts—the first Billboard No. 1 hit had a featured vocal by Frank Sinatra. Throughout the rock era, some very starry guests have helped out with hits by everyone from the Beatles to Carly Simon to Chaka Khan. But for a long time, those guests received no credit at all. Today, their names are all over the pop charts. On this episode, we trace the evolution of the guest performer, from Mick Jagger to Bobby Brown to Cardi B.  Email: hitparade@slate.com   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 27, 2018
The Deadbeat Club Edition, Part Two
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In the second part of our two-part episode about the B-52’s and R.E.M.—the bands that put Athens, Georgia on the map, and helped define new-wave rock in the early ’80s—we trace how they transformed themselves from hipsters to hitmakers. One band waited years to graduate from an indie label to the majors. The other almost quit after an AIDS-related tragedy, before their pop breakthrough. By the end of the ’80s, their hits—from “Orange Crush” to “Stand,” “Channel Z” to “Love Shack”—brought them squarely into the mainstream, just as “alternative rock” was coming to define a new sound for the ’90s.  Email: hitparade@slate.com  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 13, 2018
The Deadbeat Club Edition, Part One
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The B-52’s and R.E.M. don’t sound all that much like each other. One group were avatars of kitsch, fusing punk, girl-group and garage rock—even Yoko Ono—into a retro-nuevo style all their own. The other group were mysterious, elliptical, often indecipherable, but they reinvented jangly guitar and classic-rock influences to make a new kind of New Wave. Together, this pair of distinctive bands helped make Athens, Georgia the epicenter of alternative cool in the ’80s and ’90s. In part one of this two-part episode of Hit Parade, we present the story of how the B-52’s and R.E.M. created a scene out of a college town—and became the most prominent queer-friendly, gender-fluid bands of their era.  Email: hitparade@slate.com  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 29, 2018
Music Trivia: The MTV and Alt-Rock Edition
1116
The Bridge is back, and this time it's tackling some music trivia about the heyday of MTV, and some alt-rock favorites. Play along at home and quiz yourself by listening to The Bridge. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email hitparade@slate.com.  Podcast production by T. J. Raphael Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 15, 2018
The Twerking and Chatrouletting Edition
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Even before the launch of MTV, the music video has been making pop songs buzzworthy. And since the early ’80s, it has transformed also-rans into hitmakers—from the Buggles and Duran Duran to Peter Gabriel and a‑ha. But until the early 2010s, watching a video didn’t count on the Billboard charts. That all changed thanks to YouTube—and the biggest immediate beneficiary from the addition of video to the charts was a rising pop star, incubated on the Disney Channel, but looking to change her image. Miley Cyrus was born into hitmaking, line-dancing, multimedia royalty, and she used video titillation—and even the social site Chatroulette—to top the charts. But what did all that provocation mean for…y’know, the music? And how is video still making hits—including the song that’s No. 1 this very week in 2018?  Chris Molanphy explains it all.  hitparade@slate.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 25, 2018
Music Trivia: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Edition
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Think you know music? Hit Parade, the pop-chart history podcast from Slate, is back with a new episode of The Bridge. In this monthly mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy answers some listener mail and invites one contestant onto the show to play some music trivia. Players also have the opportunity to turn the tables on him: They get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the past 25 years, with their own trivia question. This month, The Bridge tackles the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and some some music trivia from the ‘00s. Play along at home and quiz yourself by listening to the The Bridge here. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member. Want your question featured in an upcoming show? Email hitparade@slate.com.  Podcast production by T. J. Raphael Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 11, 2018
Hit Parade: The You Give Rock a Bad Name Edition
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Bon Jovi are many things: platinum-selling, chart-topping and now, Hall of Fame–inducted. That angers music critics, who have been slagging off this band of hard-rock prom kings since the 1980s. Among the haters is Hit Parade host Chris Molanphy, who has loathed Bon Jovi since high school. But even he can’t deny it: Bon Jovi are hugely influential. In the wake of their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, Chris puts aside his animus to explain how the biggest band in hair metal have remained strangely relevant—thanks to their deathless hits, their album sales and, more recently, their influence on a certain hair-metal-loving Swedish pop producer.  Email: hitparade@slate.com   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 27, 2018
Music Trivia: Welcome to Hit Parade—The Bridge
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Think you know music? Hit Parade, the pop-chart history podcast from Slate, is rolling out a new feature. Every month, the show will test a listener contestant in a special mini episode called The Bridge.  Host Chris Molanphy will invite one person onto the show to play some music trivia, and contestants have the opportunity to turn the tables on him: They’ll get a chance to try to stump Molanphy, a music journalist for the last 25 years, with their own trivia question.  If you want to play along at home and quiz yourself, listen to the first episode of The Bridge here. If you’d like to be a contestant on an upcoming show, sign up for a Slate Plus membership, and then enter as a contestant here. You can also enter if you’re already a Slate Plus member.  Email: hitparade@slate.com  Podcast production by T. J. Raphael Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 20, 2018
Hit Parade: The Veronica Electronica Edition
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In 1998, Madonna was at a career crossroads. After dominating the ’80s with hits like “Like a Virgin” and “Open Your Heart,” she spent the first half of the ’90s wavering between roles as a provocateur (Erotica, Sex) and adult-contemporary balladeer (“I’ll Remember,” “Take a Bow”). That’s when she took a sharp left turn, working with producers and deejays in the burgeoning electronica scene. If it even was a scene: The very term “electronica” was a music-business confection, and by 1997 it was more hype than hit. But the result of Madonna’s experiment—her acclaimed ’98 album Ray of Light—was not only one of her biggest smashes ever. It also helped turn electronic music into viable pop. Email: hitparade@slate.com    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 29, 2018
Hit Parade: The Def Jams Edition
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Watching this year’s Grammy Awards, it’s clear hip-hop is the dominant genre in popular music. But back in the ’80s, it was an influential but still underground style looking fora place on the charts and  some mainstream respect. That is, until Run-DMC met Aerosmith. This month, how some out-of-favor ’70s rockers teamed up with the top crew in rap to remake an old hit—in the process, opening lanes for a trio of punks-turned-MCs, and a witty hip-hop lothario. We’re still feeling the reverberations today.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 23, 2018
Hit Parade: The B-Sides Edition
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Sometimes record executives and even the musicians themselves get it totally, completely wrong: thinking that throwaway, wacky song was destined for a single’s B-side, only to find it’s actually the No. 1 hit—from the Beatles to Beyoncé. At our first-ever live Hit Parade—recorded at The Bell House in Brooklyn, New York— host and trivia-meister Chris Molanphy and special guest Ted Leo break down some of the most improbable chart-toppers of all time.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 26, 2018
Hit Parade: The Silver Medalists Edition
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On the Billboard Hot 100, two  can be the loneliest number. While having a No. 1 song can define an artist’s career, there’s far less glory in finishing one spot shy  of the top slot. Yet some No. 2 hits have gone on to become classics. This month, Chris Molanphy looks at three songs that still loom large in our culture: “Shop Around” by the Miracles; “We Got the Beat” by the Go-Gos; and “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 28, 2017
Hit Parade: The Queen of Disco Edition
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Donna Summer was a hitmaker for two decades and a dancefloor deity for more than three. Her collaborations with Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte were formative in dance, electronic and rock music, influencing everyone from David Bowie and Blondie to Madonna and Moby. But the rock establishment was stinting in its appreciation—whether at Comiskey Park in 1979, or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the 2000s. This month, we examine how Summer became the Queen of Disco…and how she transcended that role altogether.  Email: hitparade@slate.com    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 24, 2017
Hit Parade: Le Petty Prince Edition
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In 2004, Prince joined Tom Petty onstage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony for what is now regarded as the institution’s greatest live performance. They were both first-ballot inductees—but their similarities go much deeper. On this month’s Hit Parade, we track the surprising parallels between two artists gone far too soon: from their fights with the music industry to their hits across genres and generations—and even the songs they gave to Stevie Nicks. Petty and Prince were category-defying, label-infuriating, and among the best pop songwriters of the late 20th century.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 30, 2017
Hit Parade: The Great War Against the Single Edition
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Ever since the ’60s, the recording industry emphasized the album over the single. By the ’80s, they were milking as many hits as possible from an album to convince you to buy it—from Thriller to Hysteria.  But in the ’90s, labels changed tactics and tried to kill retail singles—promoting hits to radio that you could only buy on full-length albums. Why? They wanted consumers to shell out for more profitable CDs. As a result, musicians ranging from MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice, to Pearl Jam and Alanis Morissette, to Chumbawamba and Lou Bega became multiplatinum-selling artists. The industry’s ploy paid off, but it also created consumer resentment as people grew tired of paying nearly $20 to acquire one song. Here’s the story of how the recording industry toyed with consumers and chart fans, and how the internet struck back.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 29, 2017
Hit Parade: The Charity Megasingle Edition
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In the mid-1980s, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and “We Are the World” gathered dozens of the biggest stars in music to put on a show for a good cause. The two songs spawned imitators, but today, the charity megasingle is a relic of pop music’s past, except around the holidays. This month, we examine how good intentions, pique, excess, and vanity led to the rise and fall of the do-gooder celebrity pop song.  Email: hitparade@slate.com   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 28, 2017
Hit Parade: The Imperial Elton and George Edition
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When Elton John came out as bisexual in 1976, it was a really big deal. It was covered on the evening news. There were angry letters and a decline in sales. And for a generation of queer musicians, like George Michael, it was a lesson: Be careful what you reveal about your sex life to the public. On this episode, we look at the friendship, collaboration, and chart rivalry of the two British icons, who collided on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week in 1988—and later topped the chart together. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 30, 2017
Hit Parade: The Fab Four Sweep Edition
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In episode two, Chris Molanphy takes a look at the historic week the Beatles swept the entire Billboard Top Five. You can see that chart right here. It’s a feat that’s never been repeated. But the Fab Four’s total domination of the pop charts was both a reflection of their massive popularity and a huge screwup by their American record label. Here’s the story of how Capitol Records nearly sabotaged the biggest rock band of all time.  Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at Slate.com/gistplus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 26, 2017
Hit Parade: Red, Red Wine Edition
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In this debut episode, Chris Molanphy tells the story of “Red, Red Wine”: a song written in the 1960s by a certain journeyman singer-songwriter who loves a Hot August Night. Improbably, it became a reggae song, before the ’60s were even over—and then, even more improbably,  in the 1980s it was transformed into a lilting, toasting reggae-pop global smash. And it would have been a flop in America if it hadn’t been for an enterprising deejay, who ignored the record labels and picked his own hits. With this song, he even started a two-year fad and a radio mutiny. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 28, 2017