Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia

Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia

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How That Song Became #1
Music Trivia: The Aretha Franklin Edition
Aug 31 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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 • 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,…