What’s it called?

Switched On Pop

What’s it about?

Pop music in all its glory, from A (Ariana Grande) to at least X (as in Lil Nas X, author of gazillion-selling country-rap mash-up Old Town Road) and probably as far as Z (as in ZZ Top).

Who’s in it?

The hosts are Charlie Harding, a songwriter, and Nate Sloan, professor of musicology at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. He's the one with the very deep voice. Alongside them in the studio are occasional guests including fellow song-writers and producers.

What’s so good about it?

Rather than taking a “fan boy” approach to discussing pop music which relies largely on nostalgia or an expert knowledge of trivia, Harding and Sloan analyse the nuts and bolts of the songs themselves. They look at everything from tempo and syncopation to lyrics, samples, musical motifs and how much "catharsis" or "release" they experience when the chorus kicks in.

Best bits?

The episodes on why all hip restaurants seem to play the same music is as fascinating as the ones on Lil Nas X and Baby Shark are instructive. But one of the picks of the bunch is the episode titled Should You Care About Ed Sheeran And Justin Bieber?, an expertly-handled dissection of exactly what it is that makes Sheeran such a song-writing genius. Or as guest producer Ross Golan calls him, “truly a savant”.

Fun fact …

Did you know the looped beat which drives Old Town Road was composed by a Dutch teenager called Young Kio and made available to buy on website BeatStars for a mere $29? Or that the beat itself is sampled from a Nine Inch Nails instrumental track called Ghosts IV 34, which composer Trent Reznor released under a so-called “creative commons” licence (i.e. copyright free)? Thought not.

For fans of ...

The Shape Of You, Old Town Road, hip restaurants that play LCD Soundsystem on a loop.