Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia

Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia

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How That Song Became #1


Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture Edition
May 29 • 7 min
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…
The Bridge: Piano Man, Everyman
May 15 • 3 min
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…
Still Billy Joel to Me Edition
Apr 30 • 7 min
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…
The Bridge: Hits Don’t Lie
Apr 17 • 28 min
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…
La Vida Loca Edición
Mar 31 • 97 min
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.…
The Bridge: Wesley on Whitney
Mar 13 • 29 min
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…
I’m Your Whitney Tonight Edition
Feb 28 • 90 min
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 Bridge: Living in an Amish Paradise
Feb 14 • 30 min
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…
The White and Nerdy Edition
Jan 31 • 88 min
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…
The Bridge: Legacy of the Elusive Chanteuse
Jan 17 • 31 min
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…
Make My Wish Come True Edition
Dec 23, 2019 • 74 min
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…
The Bridge: Queens Bey, Rih and Robyn Reign Different Kingdoms
Dec 13, 2019 • 26 min
In this mid-month mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by The Bridge producer Asha Saluja to discuss the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade, an exhaustive analysis of the top-charting singles of the 2010s. Chris tells Asha…
Rolling in God’s Royal Uptown Road Edition.
Nov 27, 2019 • 97 min
All decades of pop music swing between trends and fads—but the 2010s was swingier than most. From the maximalist EDM of the early ’10s to the downbeat hip-hop of the late ’10s, the pop pendulum oscillated more widely than you may remember. The same decade…
The Bridge: Genre v. Generation, ’80s to ’10s
Nov 15, 2019 • 27 min
In this mid-month mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Ned Raggett, freelance music writer for All Music Guide and The Quietus and expert on the ’80s U.K. bands celebrated on the most recent full-length episode of Hit Parade. Chris…
Lost and Lonely Edition
Oct 31, 2019 • 85 min
If you were an angsty American teenager in the 1980s—whether in real life, or in a John Hughes movie—the rock you loved probably came from the United Kingdom, complete with droning vocals, brooding lyrics, goth hair, and black nail polish. The Cure,…
The Bridge: Rain Sounds and Moody Goths
Oct 11, 2019 • 27 min
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…
State of the World Edition
Sep 27, 2019 • 75 min
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…
The Bridge: Ladies of the Canyon and the Rhythm Nation
Sep 13, 2019 • 25 min
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…
We Are Stardust, We Are Gold-Certified
Aug 30, 2019 • 77 min
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…
The Bridge: Nostalgic for Number Ones
Aug 16, 2019 • 26 min
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…
Without The Beatles
Jul 26, 2019 • 71 min
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…
The Bridge: Farewell, Lilith Fan
Jul 19, 2019 • 27 min
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…
The Lullaby of Broadway Edition
Jun 28, 2019 • 78 min
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…
The Bridge: The “Give My Regards” Edition
Jun 14, 2019 • 26 min
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,…
The Invisible Miracle Sledgehammer Edition
May 31, 2019 • 84 min
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…
The Bridge: Monster Drums Edition
May 17, 2019 • 25 min
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,…
The Posthumous Hits Edition, Live from Seattle
Apr 26, 2019 • 90 min
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…
Coming Soon: Hit Parade, Live in Seattle!
Apr 4, 2019 • 0 min
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
The Everybody Say YEAH! Edition
Mar 29, 2019 • 67 min
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…
The Bridge: Cover Queens and The Boy Wonder
Mar 15, 2019 • 21 min
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…
The Bad Moon on the Rise Edition
Feb 28, 2019 • 62 min
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…
The Bridge: R. Kelly and Music’s #MeToo Reckoning
Feb 15, 2019 • 24 min
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…
The Gaga is Born Edition
Jan 25, 2019 • 68 min
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…
Music Trivia: Grammys and Gaga Edition
Jan 18, 2019 • 22 min
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…
The Christmas is All Around Edition
Dec 21, 2018 • 72 min
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…
Music Trivia: The Christmas Music Edition
Dec 14, 2018 • 24 min
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…
The Give Me a Sign Edition
Nov 30, 2018 • 74 min
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…
Music Trivia: ’90s Teen-Pop Edition
Nov 16, 2018 • 20 min
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…
The Oh. My. God. Becky Edition
Oct 26, 2018 • 83 min
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…
Music Trivia: The ’90s Hip-Hop Edition
Oct 12, 2018 • 21 min
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…
The Nights on Broadway Edition
Sep 28, 2018 • 91 min
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…
Music Trivia: The Aretha Franklin Edition
Aug 31, 2018 • 26 min
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,…
Madonna: The Veronica Electronica Edition (Encore)
Aug 16, 2018 • 75 min
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…
The Feat. Don’t Fail Me Now Edition
Jul 27, 2018 • 72 min
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…
The Deadbeat Club Edition, Part Two
Jul 13, 2018 • 54 min
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…
The Deadbeat Club Edition, Part One
Jun 29, 2018 • 62 min
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…
Music Trivia: The MTV and Alt-Rock Edition
Jun 15, 2018 • 18 min
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…
The Twerking and Chatrouletting Edition
May 25, 2018 • 66 min
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…
Music Trivia: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Edition
May 11, 2018 • 19 min
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…
Hit Parade: The You Give Rock a Bad Name Edition
Apr 27, 2018 • 70 min
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…
Music Trivia: Welcome to Hit Parade—The Bridge
Apr 20, 2018 • 10 min
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…
Hit Parade: The Veronica Electronica Edition
Mar 29, 2018 • 73 min
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…
Hit Parade: The Def Jams Edition
Feb 23, 2018 • 88 min
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…
Hit Parade: The B-Sides Edition
Jan 26, 2018 • 83 min
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…
Hit Parade: The Silver Medalists Edition
Dec 28, 2017 • 53 min
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…
Hit Parade: The Queen of Disco Edition
Nov 24, 2017 • 74 min
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…
Hit Parade: Le Petty Prince Edition
Oct 30, 2017 • 71 min
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…
Hit Parade: The Great War Against the Single Edition
Sep 29, 2017 • 76 min
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…
Hit Parade: The Charity Megasingle Edition
Jul 28, 2017 • 66 min
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,…
Hit Parade: The Imperial Elton and George Edition
Jun 30, 2017 • 71 min
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…
Hit Parade: The Fab Four Sweep Edition
May 26, 2017 • 51 min
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…
Hit Parade: Red, Red Wine Edition
Apr 28, 2017 • 38 min
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,…