Hit Parade

A Little Love and Some Tenderness Edition

How Darius Rucker defied genre stereotypes twice—first with Hootie & the Blowfish, then with his solo country stardom.


Episode Notes

One of the most improbable blockbuster successes of the ’90s was Hootie and the Blowfish: a South Carolina bar band fronted by a Black lead singer that played jangly alt-pop. That singer, Darius Rucker, built a career that’s one of a kind. Rucker’s tastes growing up were eclectic, as were the influences on his young bandmates. Their Cracked Rear View album took a year to catch on, but then it dominated the charts.

The story gets more interesting after Hootie fell off: Darius Rucker’s career is a prime example of how chart success is a product of musical trend. First, Rucker tried to become a neo-soul star. Then he tried his hand at country music, even though Nashville had not produced a major Black solo star since Charley Pride.

Join Chris Molanphy as he traces this improbable journey—the role Rucker’s band played in mainstreaming alt-rock, Rucker’s effort to find a genre to call home, and how he finally became a chart-conqueror again..

Podcast production by Kevin Bendis.


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.