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Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia

Slate Podcasts

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Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia

Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia

Slate Podcasts

396
Followers
1.1K
Plays
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About Us

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.

Latest Episodes

The Bridge: Piano Man, Everyman

A special Hit Parade announcement: Like many media organizations at the moment, Slate is getting hit pretty hard by what's going on with the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue doing our work, providing you with all our great podcasts, news and reporting, and we simply cannot do that without your support. So we're asking you to sign up for Slate Plus, our membership program. It's just $35 for the first year, and it goes a long way to supporting us in this crucial moment. As part of this effort, we're going to be making Hit Parade episodes available to Slate Plus members only., including the one previewed here. To listen to it in fuyou'll need to become a Slate Plus member. This is the best way to support our show and our work, and we hope you will pitch in if you can. Your membership will also give access to everything on Slate.com, you'll get ad-free versions of this and other shows, and you'll get bonus segments and bonus episodes of other Slate podcasts. Plus, once you become a member, you can sign up to do trivia with Chris Molanphy on Hit Parade—“The Bridge” episodes. Please sign up today at slate.com/hitparadeplus. We thank you for your support. In this Bridge episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Julian Velard, musician and inspiration for Chris’s most recent full-length episode, about hitmaker Billy Joel. As a Jewish, New York–based piano player, Julian admits that Joel remains the most relevant touchpoint in his career to this day—and that he’s fought an existential battle with the song “Piano Man.” Chris and Julian wonder how a modern pop landscape might reward (or litigate) Joel’s tendency toward pastiche, and they discuss his ultimate legacy—to critics, to lovers, to haters and other piano men. Next, 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 question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will look at the Southward journey of rap music in the late ’90s and early ’00s, spurred by chart-topping Atlanta rappers OutKast. Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

3 MIN1 w ago
Comments
The Bridge: Piano Man, Everyman

Still Billy Joel to Me Edition

A special Hit Parade announcement: Like many media organizations at the moment, Slate is getting hit pretty hard by what's going on with the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue doing our work, providing you with all our great podcasts, news and reporting, and we simply cannot do that without your support. So we're asking you to sign up for Slate Plus, our membership program. It's just $35 for the first year, and it goes a long way to supporting us in this crucial moment. As part of this effort, we're going to be making Full Hit Parade episodes available to Slate Plus members only. To listen to the episode in full, and episodes in future months, you'll need to become a Slate Plus member. This is the best way to support our show and our work, and we hope you will pitch in if you can. Your membership will also give access to everything on Slate.com, you'll get ad-free versions of this and other shows, and you'll get bonus segments and bonus episodes of other Slate podcasts. Plus, once you become a member, you can sign up to do trivia with Chris Molanphy on Hit Parade—“The Bridge” episodes. Please sign up today at slate.com/hitparadeplus. We thank you for your support. On this preview episode of the show: Billy Joel’s first Top 40 hit, way back in 1974, was “Piano Man,” and the nickname stuck. But for a guy who became famous sitting behind 88 keys, few of his biggest hits are really piano songs. In fact, on all three of his No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot100, keyboards are not the primary instrument. This is the story of Billy Joel's hits, and the pastiches he crafted to stay on top of the charts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

7 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Still Billy Joel to Me Edition

The Bridge: Hits Don’t Lie

A special Hit Parade announcement: Like many media organizations at the moment, Slate is getting hit pretty hard by what's going on with the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue doing our work, providing you with all our great podcasts, news and reporting, and we simply cannot do that without your support. So we're asking you to sign up for Slate Plus, our membership program. It's just $35 for the first year, and it goes a long way to supporting us in this crucial moment. As part of this effort, we're going to be making Hit Parade episodes available to Slate Plus members only. This will begin with the full-length episode coming on April 30. To listen to that episode in full, and episodes in future months, you'll need to become a Slate Plus member. This is the best way to support our show and our work, and we hope you will pitch in if you can. Your membership will also give access to everything on Slate.com, you'll get ad-free versions of this and other s...

28 MINAPR 17
Comments
The Bridge: Hits Don’t Lie

La Vida Loca Edición

Hit Parade takes you back to the turn of the millennium when, for a couple of years, it seemed like a Latin pop star was topping Billboard’ Hot 100 every few weeks: Ricky Martin. Jennifer Lopez. Enrique Iglesias. Marc Anthony. Carlos Santana. Shakira. This wave of Latin crossover was hard-fought and a long time coming—from “La Bamba” to “Macarena,” Spanish-language hits in the 20th century had been treated like novelties by record buyers and radio programmers. The Latin boom of 1999 changed all that—but did it go far enough? How did we get from the slick Spanglish of “Livin’ la Vida Loca” to the Spanish-first success of “Despacito” and “Mi Gente”? And how did Ritchie Valens and João Gilberto prepare America for J.Lo and Shakira triumphing at the Super Bowl? Podcast production by Justin D. Wright. Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. Learn more about your ad choic...

98 MINMAR 31
Comments
La Vida Loca Edición

The Bridge: Wesley on Whitney

In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Wesley Morris, Pulitzer Prize–winning critic, New York Times critic-at-large, and co-host of Still Processing. They discuss the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade about the chart legacy of Whitney Houston, which was inspired in part by Wesley and his co-host Jenna Wortham’s analysis in Still Processing of Houston’s life, identity, and artistry. Wesley talks about his first memory of seeing Whitney on TV, his respect for the versatility of her voice, and his commiseration with her sometimes-cold reception by Black fans. Next, 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 question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will look at Latin pop crossover on the American charts. While this episode is available to all listeners, our trivia round is open only to Slate Plus...

29 MINMAR 13
Comments
The Bridge: Wesley on Whitney

I'm Your Whitney Tonight Edition

Eight years after her passing—and 35 years after the release of her debut album—Whitney Houston is about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Predictably, some rock fans have carped that Houston doesn’t belong in the Hall. But they are not the only ones who, historically, have complained about Houston’s bona fides. In the ’80s, at the apex of her success, black fans complained that Houston was courting white pop fans too eagerly, and forgetting her roots in gospel and R&B. On the charts, by contrast, Whitney Houston’s achievements are indisputable. But they also might be underrated. Houston’s chart records offer a window into exactly how she crossed over…and whether she deserved the backlash. In this episode, ChrisMolanphy walks step by step through Whitney’s storied chart records—including a couple that have gone unheralded—that help explain why she was a seminal, singular figure among black female crossover stars, from Aretha and Diana to Beyoncé. Podcast production by Justin D. Wright. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

90 MINFEB 28
Comments
I'm Your Whitney Tonight Edition

The Bridge: Living in an Amish Paradise

In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Nathan Rabin, podcaster and writer of two books about “Weird Al” Yankovic. They discuss the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade, a history of novelty songs on the Billboard charts culminating with the oeuvre of the most successful parody musician ever. Nathan shares the history of his Al fandom and eventual book-length collaboration, and Chris and Nathan theorize about the secrets of Al’s success. (Want to see Nathan Rabin talk about Weird Al in person? Join him in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 22, 2020, at 3:30 p.m. PST at Dynasty Typewriter—tickets here.) Next, 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 question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will look at the record-breaking career of the late Whitney Houston—now a Rock Hall inductee. While this e...

30 MINFEB 14
Comments
The Bridge: Living in an Amish Paradise

The White and Nerdy Edition

Sped-up voices. Wacky instruments. Songs about cavemen, bathtubs, bikinis and mothers-in-law. From the very birth of rock-and-roll, novelty songs were essential elements of the hit parade. Right through the ’70s—the age of streaking, CB radios, disco and King Tut—novelty songs could be chart-topping hits. But by the corporate ’80s, it was harder for goofballs to score round-the-clock hits on regimented radio playlists. Until one perm-headed, mustachioed, accordion-playing parodist who called himself “Weird” rebooted novelty hits for the new millennium. A video jokester before YouTube, he just might have ushered in the age of the meme. So join Hit Parade this month as we walk through the history of novelty hits on the charts—most especially if M.C. Escher is your favorite M.C. Podcast production by Justin D. Wright. Follow @cmolanphy on Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

88 MINJAN 31
Comments
The White and Nerdy Edition

The Bridge: Legacy of the Elusive Chanteuse

In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Rich Juzwiak, writer for Jezebel as well as Slate’s advice column How to Do It. The two discuss the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade, a breakdown of how Mariah Carey’s seasonal hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You” finally hit No.1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, an improbable 25 years after its original release. Rich walks Chris through the history of Mariah fandom—both his own and her loyal “Lambs”—and how he appreciates her for her low moments as much as her pop peaks. 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 question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will look at the history of novelty and comedy hits on the charts. 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 b...

31 MINJAN 17
Comments
The Bridge: Legacy of the Elusive Chanteuse

Make My Wish Come True Edition

Music fans in 2019 are gobsmacked that the No. 1 song in America is not only a Christmas song but a 25-year-old recording: Mariah Carey’s holiday perennial “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Even more amazingly, it’s the first Christmas song to top Billboard’s Hot 100 in 61 years, since “The Chipmunk Song” in December 1958. This leads to so many “whys”: Why were there no Christmas No. 1s for six decades? Why didn’t ’60s, ’70s and ’80s holiday classics like “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” “Feliz Navidad” and “Last Christmas” become Hot 100 hits? Why did Carey’s classic not chart in 1994, when it was released—and why did it only start charting in the 2010s and seem to get more popular every year this decade? In this special holiday edition of Hit Parade we answer all of these questions, and explain how virtually everything had to change about the music business for Mariah’s Christmas chestnut to reach No. 1: from Billboard chart rules, to digital music techn...

74 MIN2019 DEC 23
Comments
Make My Wish Come True Edition

Latest Episodes

The Bridge: Piano Man, Everyman

A special Hit Parade announcement: Like many media organizations at the moment, Slate is getting hit pretty hard by what's going on with the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue doing our work, providing you with all our great podcasts, news and reporting, and we simply cannot do that without your support. So we're asking you to sign up for Slate Plus, our membership program. It's just $35 for the first year, and it goes a long way to supporting us in this crucial moment. As part of this effort, we're going to be making Hit Parade episodes available to Slate Plus members only., including the one previewed here. To listen to it in fuyou'll need to become a Slate Plus member. This is the best way to support our show and our work, and we hope you will pitch in if you can. Your membership will also give access to everything on Slate.com, you'll get ad-free versions of this and other shows, and you'll get bonus segments and bonus episodes of other Slate podcasts. Plus, once you become a member, you can sign up to do trivia with Chris Molanphy on Hit Parade—“The Bridge” episodes. Please sign up today at slate.com/hitparadeplus. We thank you for your support. In this Bridge episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Julian Velard, musician and inspiration for Chris’s most recent full-length episode, about hitmaker Billy Joel. As a Jewish, New York–based piano player, Julian admits that Joel remains the most relevant touchpoint in his career to this day—and that he’s fought an existential battle with the song “Piano Man.” Chris and Julian wonder how a modern pop landscape might reward (or litigate) Joel’s tendency toward pastiche, and they discuss his ultimate legacy—to critics, to lovers, to haters and other piano men. Next, 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 question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will look at the Southward journey of rap music in the late ’90s and early ’00s, spurred by chart-topping Atlanta rappers OutKast. Podcast production by Asha Saluja. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

3 MIN1 w ago
Comments
The Bridge: Piano Man, Everyman

Still Billy Joel to Me Edition

A special Hit Parade announcement: Like many media organizations at the moment, Slate is getting hit pretty hard by what's going on with the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue doing our work, providing you with all our great podcasts, news and reporting, and we simply cannot do that without your support. So we're asking you to sign up for Slate Plus, our membership program. It's just $35 for the first year, and it goes a long way to supporting us in this crucial moment. As part of this effort, we're going to be making Full Hit Parade episodes available to Slate Plus members only. To listen to the episode in full, and episodes in future months, you'll need to become a Slate Plus member. This is the best way to support our show and our work, and we hope you will pitch in if you can. Your membership will also give access to everything on Slate.com, you'll get ad-free versions of this and other shows, and you'll get bonus segments and bonus episodes of other Slate podcasts. Plus, once you become a member, you can sign up to do trivia with Chris Molanphy on Hit Parade—“The Bridge” episodes. Please sign up today at slate.com/hitparadeplus. We thank you for your support. On this preview episode of the show: Billy Joel’s first Top 40 hit, way back in 1974, was “Piano Man,” and the nickname stuck. But for a guy who became famous sitting behind 88 keys, few of his biggest hits are really piano songs. In fact, on all three of his No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot100, keyboards are not the primary instrument. This is the story of Billy Joel's hits, and the pastiches he crafted to stay on top of the charts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

7 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Still Billy Joel to Me Edition

The Bridge: Hits Don’t Lie

A special Hit Parade announcement: Like many media organizations at the moment, Slate is getting hit pretty hard by what's going on with the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue doing our work, providing you with all our great podcasts, news and reporting, and we simply cannot do that without your support. So we're asking you to sign up for Slate Plus, our membership program. It's just $35 for the first year, and it goes a long way to supporting us in this crucial moment. As part of this effort, we're going to be making Hit Parade episodes available to Slate Plus members only. This will begin with the full-length episode coming on April 30. To listen to that episode in full, and episodes in future months, you'll need to become a Slate Plus member. This is the best way to support our show and our work, and we hope you will pitch in if you can. Your membership will also give access to everything on Slate.com, you'll get ad-free versions of this and other s...

28 MINAPR 17
Comments
The Bridge: Hits Don’t Lie

La Vida Loca Edición

Hit Parade takes you back to the turn of the millennium when, for a couple of years, it seemed like a Latin pop star was topping Billboard’ Hot 100 every few weeks: Ricky Martin. Jennifer Lopez. Enrique Iglesias. Marc Anthony. Carlos Santana. Shakira. This wave of Latin crossover was hard-fought and a long time coming—from “La Bamba” to “Macarena,” Spanish-language hits in the 20th century had been treated like novelties by record buyers and radio programmers. The Latin boom of 1999 changed all that—but did it go far enough? How did we get from the slick Spanglish of “Livin’ la Vida Loca” to the Spanish-first success of “Despacito” and “Mi Gente”? And how did Ritchie Valens and João Gilberto prepare America for J.Lo and Shakira triumphing at the Super Bowl? Podcast production by Justin D. Wright. Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. Learn more about your ad choic...

98 MINMAR 31
Comments
La Vida Loca Edición

The Bridge: Wesley on Whitney

In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Wesley Morris, Pulitzer Prize–winning critic, New York Times critic-at-large, and co-host of Still Processing. They discuss the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade about the chart legacy of Whitney Houston, which was inspired in part by Wesley and his co-host Jenna Wortham’s analysis in Still Processing of Houston’s life, identity, and artistry. Wesley talks about his first memory of seeing Whitney on TV, his respect for the versatility of her voice, and his commiseration with her sometimes-cold reception by Black fans. Next, 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 question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will look at Latin pop crossover on the American charts. While this episode is available to all listeners, our trivia round is open only to Slate Plus...

29 MINMAR 13
Comments
The Bridge: Wesley on Whitney

I'm Your Whitney Tonight Edition

Eight years after her passing—and 35 years after the release of her debut album—Whitney Houston is about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Predictably, some rock fans have carped that Houston doesn’t belong in the Hall. But they are not the only ones who, historically, have complained about Houston’s bona fides. In the ’80s, at the apex of her success, black fans complained that Houston was courting white pop fans too eagerly, and forgetting her roots in gospel and R&B. On the charts, by contrast, Whitney Houston’s achievements are indisputable. But they also might be underrated. Houston’s chart records offer a window into exactly how she crossed over…and whether she deserved the backlash. In this episode, ChrisMolanphy walks step by step through Whitney’s storied chart records—including a couple that have gone unheralded—that help explain why she was a seminal, singular figure among black female crossover stars, from Aretha and Diana to Beyoncé. Podcast production by Justin D. Wright. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

90 MINFEB 28
Comments
I'm Your Whitney Tonight Edition

The Bridge: Living in an Amish Paradise

In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Nathan Rabin, podcaster and writer of two books about “Weird Al” Yankovic. They discuss the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade, a history of novelty songs on the Billboard charts culminating with the oeuvre of the most successful parody musician ever. Nathan shares the history of his Al fandom and eventual book-length collaboration, and Chris and Nathan theorize about the secrets of Al’s success. (Want to see Nathan Rabin talk about Weird Al in person? Join him in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 22, 2020, at 3:30 p.m. PST at Dynasty Typewriter—tickets here.) Next, 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 question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will look at the record-breaking career of the late Whitney Houston—now a Rock Hall inductee. While this e...

30 MINFEB 14
Comments
The Bridge: Living in an Amish Paradise

The White and Nerdy Edition

Sped-up voices. Wacky instruments. Songs about cavemen, bathtubs, bikinis and mothers-in-law. From the very birth of rock-and-roll, novelty songs were essential elements of the hit parade. Right through the ’70s—the age of streaking, CB radios, disco and King Tut—novelty songs could be chart-topping hits. But by the corporate ’80s, it was harder for goofballs to score round-the-clock hits on regimented radio playlists. Until one perm-headed, mustachioed, accordion-playing parodist who called himself “Weird” rebooted novelty hits for the new millennium. A video jokester before YouTube, he just might have ushered in the age of the meme. So join Hit Parade this month as we walk through the history of novelty hits on the charts—most especially if M.C. Escher is your favorite M.C. Podcast production by Justin D. Wright. Follow @cmolanphy on Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

88 MINJAN 31
Comments
The White and Nerdy Edition

The Bridge: Legacy of the Elusive Chanteuse

In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Rich Juzwiak, writer for Jezebel as well as Slate’s advice column How to Do It. The two discuss the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade, a breakdown of how Mariah Carey’s seasonal hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You” finally hit No.1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, an improbable 25 years after its original release. Rich walks Chris through the history of Mariah fandom—both his own and her loyal “Lambs”—and how he appreciates her for her low moments as much as her pop peaks. 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 question of his own. Then, Chris teases the upcoming full-length episode of Hit Parade, which will look at the history of novelty and comedy hits on the charts. 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 b...

31 MINJAN 17
Comments
The Bridge: Legacy of the Elusive Chanteuse

Make My Wish Come True Edition

Music fans in 2019 are gobsmacked that the No. 1 song in America is not only a Christmas song but a 25-year-old recording: Mariah Carey’s holiday perennial “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Even more amazingly, it’s the first Christmas song to top Billboard’s Hot 100 in 61 years, since “The Chipmunk Song” in December 1958. This leads to so many “whys”: Why were there no Christmas No. 1s for six decades? Why didn’t ’60s, ’70s and ’80s holiday classics like “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” “Feliz Navidad” and “Last Christmas” become Hot 100 hits? Why did Carey’s classic not chart in 1994, when it was released—and why did it only start charting in the 2010s and seem to get more popular every year this decade? In this special holiday edition of Hit Parade we answer all of these questions, and explain how virtually everything had to change about the music business for Mariah’s Christmas chestnut to reach No. 1: from Billboard chart rules, to digital music techn...

74 MIN2019 DEC 23
Comments
Make My Wish Come True Edition
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