Best way to learn pop American music
August 8, 2019 6:24 PM   Subscribe

As in the type of music you hear on the top 70s or todays hits radio stations. I vaguely recognize lots of the songs, but I can't really recognize the artist or the title. And I definitely don't appreciate their history. How can I learn more about that kind of music?

I'd be happy with a trivia night level understanding of the music (matching the lyrics to the title). But it'd be cool if I could have a course in top hit music similar to that which you can get for say classical music.

But I'd be happy with say a Pandora-like streaming service which audially announces the artist name/album before each song and slowly learning things by osmosis.
posted by earlsofsandwich to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If "top 80s" works, the Internet Archive has several hundred episodes of American Top 40, which is how a lot of people learned this back then--artist/title introductions and often a few words of trivia. The year-end round-ups may work best. Evidently the show is still going on in some form.
posted by Wobbuffet at 6:43 PM on August 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

"In The Number Ones, I'm reviewing every single #1 single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, starting with the chart's beginning, in 1958, and working my way up into the present."

Currently up to September 1975. Yes, it's only the Number Ones, but it's like a whole course in pop music. Well-written, opinionated and required daily reading!
posted by maupuia at 6:47 PM on August 8, 2019 [7 favorites]

You might enjoy going through the Now! That's What I Call Music series.
posted by reductiondesign at 7:09 PM on August 8, 2019

You might like the podcast Hit Parade, which goes into depth about songs that made the Billboard charts and is organized by artist (Stevie Wonder, Credence Clearwater Revival) or theme (disco, b-sides, Swedish imports). It’s really great and it plays a lot of music samples.
posted by sallybrown at 7:20 PM on August 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

I was just going to say Hit Parade!
posted by exceptinsects at 7:23 PM on August 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Might be more than you're looking for, but The Rest Is Noise.
posted by dobbs at 7:56 PM on August 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Came here to recommend Stereogum’s The Number Ones as well. You can learn a lot from the comments too.
posted by saul wright at 9:48 PM on August 8, 2019

Play this game:
Listen to a song, without seeing any information. 1 pt each for artist, song title, album, year, with a bonus 1 pt for these (or just name/artist for easier mode) for getting these correct before they start singing.
posted by freethefeet at 10:48 PM on August 8, 2019

In addition to the 80s episodes of AT40 available on Internet Archive, IHeartRadio has a channel where they broadcast an endless stream of old episodes, including stuff from the 1970s.

If you have access to Sirius/XM they have pop music channels organized by decade that play a deeper mix than you typically hear on the radio.
posted by zeusianfog at 12:08 PM on August 9, 2019

And if you are a visual learner, pretty much every music video ever made is available on YouTube, and starting in the 80s and going forward, almost every top 40 song has a video.
posted by zeusianfog at 12:10 PM on August 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

OH, and if you want a critical take on contemporary pop from an expert, check out the eminently watchable YouTube channel ToddInTheShadows. I am a major pop music nerd and I always learn something from Todd.
posted by zeusianfog at 12:14 PM on August 9, 2019

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