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The software of hit songs now. We’ll look at the algorithms, computer generated beats and producers making it happen for Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and more.
We call pop singers “artists” and think of them conjuring hit songs from the struggles and joys of their lives. But the fact is these days that most top pop hits in America are driven by a bunch of middle-aged Swedes and Norwegians and more, in a kind of factory of lyrics and beats and algorithms. Scratch the latest top hits of Taylor Swift – Bad Blood, Shake it Off – or The Weekend’s Can’t Feel My Face or a whole lot more, and you’ll find the factory. This hour On Point, how our pop music gets made now.
-- Tom Ashbrook
From Tom’s Reading List
New Yorker: Blank Space: What Kind of Genius Is Max Martin? — "Among the stranger aspects of recent pop music history is how so many of the biggest hits of the past twenty years—by the Backstreet Boys, ’NSync, and Britney Spears to Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, and the Weeknd—have been co-written by a forty-four-year-old Swede. His real name is Karl Martin Sandberg, but you would know him as Max Martin, if you know of him at all, which, if he can help it, you won’t."
The Atlantic: Hit Charade — "Millions of Swifties and KatyCats—as well as Beliebers, Barbz, and Selenators, and the Rihanna Navy—would be stunned by the revelation that a handful of people, a crazily high percentage of them middle-aged Scandinavian men, write most of America’s pop hits. It is an open yet closely guarded secret, protected jealously by the labels and the performers themselves, whose identities are as carefully constructed as their songs and dances."
Los Angeles Times: Ke$ha says her career is doomed if lawsuit against Dr. Luke remains unresolved — "Kesha’s career is “effectively over” so long as the litigation between the pop star and her producer remains unresolved, according to a preliminary injunction filed by the artist. The singer is making a push for a judge to take action in the 2014 suit against her former producer, Dr. Luke, who she accused of physically and sexually abusing her for years."
Read An Excerpt Of "The Song Machine" By John Seabrook
This program aired on October 2, 2015.
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