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There's more to pop than meets the ear.

Episodes

#13: Same Old Song and Dancehall  

When Rihanna released her song “Work,” one publication described its style as “tropical house-flavored.” That didn’t sit well with today’s special guest, music writer Bianca Gracie, who argued that the song owes more of a debt to the genre called dancehall. In this episode, we listen to dancehall, tropical house, and Rihanna to ask about fairness, recognition, and labels when local sounds go international.

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#12: House of the Rising Hanson  

Hanson’s “MMMBop”—one version of it, anyway—turned twenty years old this March. While discussing the anniversary in a recent interview, the Hanson brothers revealed that we’ve all been singing it wrong this whole time. In this episode, we take a listen to the mid-90s smash hit to sort out what they mean—and find that this classic has a more complicated history than we remembered.

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#11: With a Little Helper from My Friends  

More often than not, April Fools' jokes just aren’t that funny. Especially when they’re part of a company’s branding strategy. But this year General Mills bucked that trend with the release of a five-track, Hamburger Helper-themed mixtape—cuts that the internet has deemed ‘fire.’ In this episode, John and Brian talk to some of the MCs and producers behind the mixtape to learn the story of how it was made.

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#10: Here, There, and Everywhere You Look  

The opening of ABC’s “Full House” is full of memorable moments: the Golden Gate Bridge, the beautiful old house, the family out on a picnic. But most memorable of all is the show’s theme song, “Everywhere You Look.” When Netflix launched a sequel to the show, they tasked Carly Rae Jespen with covering the theme. So this week we take a listen to her version to find out about covers, feel, and listening itself.

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#9: Can You Seal the Love Tonight  

Fans love to debate musical genres: which ones we like, which ones we don’t, which songs fit into which genres—you know the drill. But, it turns out, genre is really hard to define. This week, we use the idea that genre might be more like a contract than a quality to listen to Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose.” And we discover that Seal is a very crafty negotiator.

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#8: Ain't No Valli Low Enough  

In the pantheon of pop classics, Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” has to rank near the top. A funny thing about classics, though, is that their fame and reputation can lull us into thinking that they’re all-too-normal. So, this week, we’ll listen for all the odd and surprising things about “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” and we’ll wonder if sometimes classics aren’t at least a bit accidental.

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Tiny Tuner: Frankincense, Gold, and Mariah  

Twenty-one years after its debut, Mariah Carey’s Christmas anthem “All I Want For Christmas Is You” finally broke into the Billboard Top Twenty for the first time this year. In this special Tiny Tuner bonus episode, we listen to the ways it uses the template for hits of Christmas past to make a classic of Christmas present—and maybe future, too.

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#6: Bat Out Adele  

Adele is setting insane records with her new album. Everyone is talking about her, and it seems like everyone loves her. Well, almost everyone. On today's show, we look at Adele's "Hello" to try to get to the bottom of why John doesn't like one of the most beloved voices in pop music.

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#5: If I Needed Some One Direction  

Boy bands come and boy bands go. But the Beatles seem like they might stick around forever. This week, we listen to “Olivia,” a track off of One Direction’s new (and probably last) album to hear how the pop vocabulary of the Beatles continues to inform our musical sensibilities.

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#4: Hamiltuner  

The musical “Hamilton” and its cast album have become something of a sensation. Today, we look at the song “My Shot” to explore how it uses musical tactics both old and new to introduce us to an ambitious founding father.

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#3: Thrill Crazy After All These Years  

Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is arguably the greatest pop song ever. And it's definitely the scariest. This Halloween, we thought we'd take a crack at finding out what makes it so spooky, and why we can't stop listening to it.

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#2: Sittin' on the Dock of the Bey  

If there's one pop song practically everybody loves, it'd have to be "Single Ladies." In this episode, we listen for what makes that song so great. As we find out, "Single Ladies" might be more about what it doesn't do than what it does.

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#1: Shut Up and Podcast  

On this, our first episode, we take apart Walk The Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance” to try to find out why we like it so much. That search takes us through music history, theory, and nostalgia to get at what makes this song so catchy.

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