Hit Parade

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The Bridge: Radio-Friendly Unit Shifters

Chris Molanphy talks to veteran Billboard analyst Geoff Mayfield about the Billboard charts in the early SoundScan era.

Episode Notes

In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is first joined by “The Bridge” producer Asha Saluja to digest the latest episode of Hit Parade about how Nirvana launched the post-Christmas music sales phenomenon. Chris recalls his most memorable (and sultriest) post-Christmas CD purchase from his college years. And Asha shares her Hot 100 chart-topper from the week she was born, a banger that handily beats Chris’ schlocky birth-week song. (You’ll want to hear this one—it’s a doozy!)

Next, Chris is joined by Geoff Mayfield, a veteran music industry analyst and journalist who managed Billboard’s charts department in the 1990s as the magazine adopted SoundScan technology for point-of-sale tracking—fundamentally changing the way its charts were tabulated, and telling music-biz honchos some news they didn’t always want to hear.

Finally, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, gives him a chance to turn the tables on him, and previews next month’s full-length episode. Slate Plus members can sign up for a chance to be our trivia contestant on a future episode here.

Podcast production by Asha Saluja.

About the Show

Chris Molanphy, a pop-chart analyst and author of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” series, tells tales from a half-century of chart history. Through storytelling, trivia, and song snippets, Chris dissects how that song you love—or hate—dominated the airwaves, made its way to the top of the charts, and shaped your memories forever.

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  • Chris Molanphy is a feature writer and critic who writes widely about music and the pop charts.