Hit Parade

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The Bridge: Hip-Hop, Hit Pop

Chris Molanphy and Amy Coddington give Milli Vanilli props as himbo forefathers of rap and pop cross-pollination.

Episode Notes

In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy is joined by Amherst pop-music professor Amy Coddington to provide some context on how Milli Vanilli helped change the sound of pop music at the turn of the ’80s and ’90s. She says Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan—and whoever vocalized for them—made rap more palatable for both adults and kids. From a 2021 vantage point, it seems quaint that music buyers would be outraged and demand a refund for an album not sung by the pretty faces on the cover. But Americans in the late ’80s were still acclimating to post–hip-hop, post-MTV standards of pop.

Next, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, gives her a chance to turn the tables on him with a clever question of her own about birthday No. 1 hits, 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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Host

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