Pop Pantheon

By DJ Louie XIV

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The podcast where DJ Louie XIV and guests completely overanalyze all your favorite pop stars, then rank them in the official Pop Pantheon.

Episode Date
DURAN DURAN (with Annie Zaleski)
6013

Journalist and author of the 33 ⅓ book Duran Duran’s Rio, Annie Zaleski, joins DJ Louie for a deep-dive into ‘80s British pop-rock band and seminal music video-pioneers, Duran Duran. First, Louie and Annie parse the various music scenes-- glam rock, new wave, “The New Romantics”-- from which Duran Duran emerged before discussing the band’s formation in Birmingham in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, their deal with storied label EMI, and what factors lead their 1981 self-titled debut, a prescient blend of rock and dance music, to become a smash overseas but fail to impact here in America. They then move on to the band’s second record, 1982’s blockbuster Rio, their groundbreaking and trendsetting videos for singles like “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf”, the latter of which won the inaugural Best Music Video prize at the 1984 VMAs, how the group cleverly broke onto American radio thanks to their then-novel use of dance remixes, and how their massive success with teenage girls led them to be dismissed as fluff by the rockist critical establishment. Louie and Annie then lay out Duran Duran’s continued success with albums like 1983’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger and 1986’s Nile Rodgers-produced Notorious, why the band quickly fell out of favor with mainstream audiences during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, how they made one of the most unlikely comebacks in pop history with 1993’s Duran Duran (The Wedding Album) featuring two of their definitive hits, “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone”, and what their recent induction into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame means for their legacy. Finally, Louie and Annie rank Duran Duran in the official Pop Pantheon.

Tickets to see Louie DJ Pop Music at Gorgeous Gorgeous 7/16 in DTLA!

Buy Annie Zaleksi's 33 1/3 Book on Duran Duran's Rio

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Jun 30, 2022
Bey-Side: Beyoncé's "Break My Soul" and Renaissance Predictions
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In an emergency B-Side (Bey-Side??), DJ Louie, along with Pop Pantheon producer Russ, break down everything about Beyoncé's latest single, the '90s house-nodding club anthem "Break My Soul", which dropped last night. Louie and Russ lay out where Beyoncé's commercial and artistic trajectory stands leading into this new era, from which genres, songs and artists "Break My Soul" draws, whether or not it's any good, pontificate on whether Bey can score a radio hit in the third decade of her in her career, what the song might portend for the rest of her forthcoming solo album, Renaissance Pt. 1,  her first in 6 years, and what they each hope the album sounds like.

Listen to Louie's appearance on Eat, Pray, Britney

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Jun 22, 2022
Father's Day Special (with my dad)
3337

My dad, Tim, is not only the biggest Pop Pantheon fan who loves to share his many opinions on all the episodes, but is also a music fanatic and entertainment attorney who specializes in music. As such, I had the privilege of growing up in a household where the two of us bonded over our mutual love of pop and often got to experience it together. His passion for it all was (obviously) formative to my own identity, career and life.

For this bonus episode of Pop Pantheon, in honor of Father's Day this Sunday, I invited him on the show to talk a little about his own musical journey, a lot about our shared pop memories (including him taking me to see Alanis Morissette at Roseland Ballroom when I was 7, playing me "...Baby One More Time" for the first time in the car and screaming "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" at The 1989 Tour together), all of his opinions on the episodes and rankings, and of course, whether he thinks his fav pop girlie of all time, Taylor Swift, is in Tier 1 or Tier 2 of the Pop Pantheon.

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Jun 17, 2022
KELLY CLARKSON (with Legends Only's Bradley Stern)
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This week, DJ Louie is joined by music journalist and co-host of the podcast Legends Only, Bradley Stern, to discuss the original American Idol, Kelly Clarkson! First, Louie and Bradley discuss Kelly’s legendary run on Idol, from being deemed “forgettable” by Simon Cowell to winning the show and America’s hearts in a landslide victory, her display of down-home affability and incredible versatility on the show, equally adept at Motown as she was at rock, show-tunes and pop ballads, her first album, 2003’s Thankful, which played up her chameleonic and powerful vocal talent but played down her singular personality to middling results, how she fought tooth and nail to take more control of her artistry on her juggernaut second album, 2004’s more rock-oriented classic Breakaway, and calcified her on-record scorned-by-resilient persona on its signature hit, the iconic kiss-off anthem “Since U Been Gone”. Louie and Bradley then cover Kelly’s legendary and very public battle with label-boss Clive Davis over her third record, 2007’s largely self-penned My December, her mea-culpa for that defiance, 2009’s All I Ever Wanted, how Kelly eventually reached a detente with the powers that be in the 2010s and unlocked a very successful second decade of her pop career, and how all the qualities that made us fall in love with her twenty years ago as a cocktail waitress with a big voice and a dream on Idol lead to a third wave of her career as a beloved daytime talk show host, as well as to her viral covers series, “Kellyoke”. Finally, Louie and Bradley rank Kelly Clarkson in the official Pop Pantheon. 

Check out Louie's Kelly Clarkson Essentials Playlist on Spotify

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Jun 16, 2022
Bloghouse (with Lina Abascal)
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Bloghouse has come up a number of times in episodes of Pop Pantheon, from Robyn to Kesha to Scissor Sisters. So for this Week’s B-Side, DJ Louie is joined by Lina Abascal, author of the book Never Be Alone Again: How Bloghouse United the Internet and the Dancefloor, to discuss the late aughts micro-movement and how it influenced mainstream pop. Louie and Lina dig into what exactly bloghouse was, how the internet, innovations in music software and dance music trends came together to bring it into being, the major artists and songs of the era, how it evolved for its five year run, and how it influenced a generation of pop stars like Lady GaGa, Robyn, Kesha, Marina and The Diamonds, Kanye West, Katy Perry, Charli XCX, Calvin Harris, Britney Spears, Rina Sawayama, Dua Lipa, and more. Finally, Louie and Lina share some of their favorite classics of the era.

Check out Louie's Bloghouse Essentials Playlist on Spotify

Check out Lina's book, Never Be Alone Again: How Bloghouse United the Internet and the Dancefloor

LA Niche Legends! Grab tix for DJ Louie's Queer Pop Party, Gorgeous Gorgeous: Pride Edition, Friday, June 10 at Resident in DTLA!

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Jun 09, 2022
SCISSOR SISTERS (with Fluxblog's Matthew Perpetua)
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Happy Pride! To celebrate Pride Month, Fluxblog's Matthew Perpetua joins DJ Louie to talk one of the most iconic gay pop acts of the century, Scissor Sisters. Louie and Matthew talk the history of queer men in mainstream pop, Scissor Sisters' formation in the downtown NYC electroclash scene of the late '90s and early '00s, their fluke first hit, a BeeGees-esque cover of "Comfortably Numb", how their 2004 self-titled debut album played like a expertly made, fun-loving tour through gay music history, why they exploded as pop stars in the UK but remained a cult phenomenon here in America, and how they presaged artists like Robyn and Charli XCX by carving out a space for alternative pop stars stateside. They then talk about their second album, 2006's Ta-Dah, it's myriad of slightly obscure pop historical references, the smash hit and their signature song, "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'", their turn towards more sex-forward music on their 2010 Stuart Price-produced masterpiece, Night Work, and Louie shares a bit about what the record meant to him in his personal journey with his sexuality. Next, Louie and Matthew discuss their final album, 2012's Magic Hour, how they mainstreamed the word "kiki" on their gay club hit "Let's Have a Kiki" and the impact they've had on future queer pop stars like Mika, Sam Smith and Lil Nas X, as well as on campier American pop icons who followed in their footsteps like Lady GaGa and Katy Perry. Finally, Louie and Matthew rank Scissor Sisters in the official Pop Pantheon.

Read Matthew's review of Night Work in Pitchfork

Check out Louie's Scissor Sisters Essentials Playlist on Spotify

LA Niche Legends! Grab tix for DJ Louie's Queer Pop Party, Gorgeous Gorgeous: Pride Edition, Friday, June 10 at Resident in DTLA!

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Jun 02, 2022
Best Pop Music of 2022 So Far (with Who? Weekly's Lindsey Weber)
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We’re halfway through 2022 so for this week’s Pop Pantheon B-Side, DJ Louie is joined by Who? Weekly's Lindsey Weber to talk all their favorite pop songs and albums of the year so far, any trends they're spotting (short songs, short albums, and where are the main girlies??!!) and finally, Louie and Lindsey go through 15 buzzy new bottom tier Whos and decide whether they have a shot at top tier Themdom.

LA Niche Legends! Grab tix for DJ Louie's Queer Pop Party, Gorgeous Gorgeous: Pride Edition, Friday, June 10 at Resident in DTLA! 

Check out a playlist of Louie and Lindsey's 2022 Favs

Listen to Louie and Lindsey's previous Pop Pantheon Episode on Carly Rae Jepsen

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May 26, 2022
SHANIA TWAIN (with Kate Dries)
6159

Executive Editor of Dwell, Kate Dries, joins DJ Louie to talk the Queen of Country Pop, Shania Twain. First, Kate lays out some of the scant historical examples of country icons who have managed to crossover into mainstream pop stardom like Dolly Parton and explains a bit about why Nashville has been a hermetically-sealed ecosystem, resistant to change, outsiders and country artists who have ambitions beyond its traditional scope. Next, Louie and Kate discuss Shania's upbringing in Canada, surviving abject poverty, a household rife with domestic abuse, and the untimely death of both of her parents by writing, singing and performing in local bars beginning when she was just 8 years-old. They then move on to Shania's discovery performing at a resort in Canada which lead to her record deal Mercury Nashville, her flop first album, 1993's Shania Twain, her chance meeting with rock super-producer Robert "Mutt" Lange who quickly became her partner in both music and life through her massive run of success from the mid '90s-early '00s, and the genre-busting sound the pair developed on her blockbuster sophomore release, 1995's The Woman in Me. Louie and Kate also dive into Shania's third record, 1997's legendary Come On Over, which stands to this day as one of the biggest selling albums in history and provided the platform for Shania to make the leap from country legend to mainstream pop icon, parse apart how smashes like "You're Still the One", "That Don't Impress Me Much" and "Man! I Feel Like a Woman" displayed Shania's unique combo of girl-next-door approachability, '90s middle-finger-up feminist attitudes and an infectious sense of carefree joy and fun, how her flair for presenting herself visually and sartorially in music videos was both integral to her crossover and forever seared her into pop cultural memory, her globe-trotting fourth album2002's Up!, the dissolution of her marriage to Mutt and her subsequent loss of her ability to sing, her comeback Vegas residency and her 5th album, 2017's Now, and her legacy and impact on the pop landscape to this day. Finally, Louie and Kate rank Shania Twain in the official Pop Pantheon. 

Check Out Louie's Shania Twain Essentials Playlist

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May 19, 2022
MTV's Total Request Live (with Dunzo's Troy McEady)
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In this week's B-Side episode, host of the podcasts Dunzo and Beyond The Blinds, Troy McEady, joins DJ Louie to discuss Millennial pop cultural touchstone, MTV's Total Request Live. Inspired by a Zoomer in the Pop Pantheon Discord who, following last month's Christina Aguilera episode, revealed they didn't know what TRL was, Louie and Troy attempt to explain the show's history and format, how its' interactive vibe served as the turn-of-the-century pop fan's precursor to social media, lay out the major players from host Carson Daly to signature stars like Britney, Good Charlotte and Eminem and attempt to illustrate the power MTV had over their generation. They also wax poetic on some of their favorite forgotten songs, videos and artists from the "TRL Era", reflect on the show's top ten videos of all time and share a bit about why TRL meant so much to each of them as burgeoning pop fanatics.

Listen to Louie and Troy talking about Rihanna's Anti on Dunzo a few months ago 
 
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May 12, 2022
BILLIE EILISH (with Molly Lambert)
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Writer and host of the new podcast Heidi World: The Heidi Fleiss Story, Molly Lambert, joins DJ Louie to break down the spectacular emergence of Gen Z's most paradigm-shifting star, Billie Eilish. First, Molly, who profiled Billie last year for the cover of Elle, shares insights into what it was like spending time with her, how she's relating to her newfound megastardom, as well as her fans on social media and out in the world, and why she doesn't consider herself a "pop star" at all. Louie and Molly then discuss how unlikely 2010s breakouts like Lorde, Halsey and Lana Del Rey softened the ground for idiosyncratic, insular-sounding bedroom artists to become mainstream pop stars. Next, they track Billie's career origins, along with her brother and collaborator Finneas, on Soundcloud, how their viral hit "Ocean Eyes" lead to a record deal with Interscope when Billie was just 15, and how her debut EP, 2017's Don't Smile At Me, presented a new kind of teen idol who leaned into, rather than glossed over, the alienation, depression and anxiety of being a young person in the internet era, thus endearing her to a new generation of pop fans who craved less-aspirational and more relatable pop figures. They also dive into she and Finneas' far-ranging aesthetic influences from horror movies to trip hop, Gorillaz, Lil Peep, Bjork, Garbage and even Frank Sinatra, before laying out her explosion into the mainstream with her debut album, 2019's Grammy-sweeping When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, how that record expanded the duo's musical palette but also perhaps garnered Billie an unwanted and unintentional level of fame, how she went about addressing all of that on her sophomore album, 2021's more low-key masterpiece Happier Than Ever, how she's uniquely positioned to bring large swaths of the pop-consuming public along with her singular, strange musical instincts, and where she might go next. Finally, Louie and Molly rank Billie Eilish in the official Pop Pantheon.

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May 05, 2022
One Year of Pop Pantheon: Reassessing All the Rankings
3905

In this week's B-Side episode, DJ Louie reflects on a year of Pop Pantheon, shares how the podcast got started and offers a refresher on all of the tiers, how they work and if they've changed or been refined as the show has progressed. He then goes through all of the 31 artists ranked so far, decides if he still agrees with his ranking or if any artist's standing in the Pop Pantheon has shifted since the episodes originally aired.

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Apr 28, 2022
ABBA (with Carl Magnus Palm)
6431

ABBA Scholar and author of 8 (!!!!) books on ABBA, Carl Magnus Palm, joins DJ Louie for an epic deep dive into the Swedish pop legends. First, Louie and Carl discuss the history of pop and "schlager" in Sweden and how the country's musical traditions helped form ABBA's music before tracing the pre-ABBA careers of the four members, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, through the 1960s and how the group came together in the early 1970s, both as bandmates and romantic couples. Louie and Carl then break down how the "ABBA Sound" developed from the group's early recordings and their obsession with Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" and The Beach Boys' vocal-layering, ABBA's unique international ambitions, how the glam-rock nodding, Eurovision-winning "Waterloo" changed their career, the ways they continued to refine and expand their singular aesthetic on subsequent hits like "Mamma Mia" and "SOS", the darker and more wistful lyrical themes that began to surface on mid-period hits like "Fernando", the majestic ebullience of "Dancing Queen", their canny techniques for incorporating numerous pop subgenres into their work without ever losing their essential ABBA-ness, the powerful interplay of light and dark in their work, how the dissolution of the group's two romantic couples informed their more emotionally-complex latter period hits like "The Name of the Game" and "The Winner Takes It All", how the band came apart in the early 1980s, and how their legacy has evolved and changed over the last 40 years thanks to their greatest hits album ABBA Gold and the jukebox musical and film, Mamma Mia!. Finally, Louie and Carl rank ABBA in the official Pop Pantheon.

LA Pop Pantheon Girlies! Get Info for Louie's New Queer Pop Party, Gorgeous Gorgeous, on 4/22 at Resident in DTLA!

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Apr 21, 2022
Charli XCX's Crash (with Owen Myers)
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Freelance Music Journalist for the New York Times, Pitchfork, The Guardian and more, Owen Myers, joins DJ Louie to tackle Charli XCX's recently released 5th studio album, Crash, which Owen recently reviewed for Pitchfork. Louie and Owen discuss Charli's assertion of this album cycle as her "main pop girlie era" and whether that's really come to fruition, how Charli shrewdly draws on '80s titans like Janet Jackson, Cameo, New Order and Eurythmics as well as novelty '90s dance songs like September's "Cry For You" to create the sonic palette for the album, wonder where her true career ambitions lie between her avant-garde instincts and her desire to play in the mainstream, her prickly relationship to writing personal songs, break down The Crash Tour, and rank Crash in the Charli canon.

Read Owen's Review of Crash in Pitchfork

LA Pop Pantheon Girlies! Get Tix to Louie's New Queer Pop Party, Gorgeous Gorgeous, on 4/22 at Resident in DTLA!

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Apr 14, 2022
CHRISTINA AGUILERA (with Evan Ross Katz)
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Writer and podcaster Evan Ross Katz joins DJ Louie for a wide-ranging discussion about TRL-icon-turned-pop-iconoclast, Christina Aguilera. First, Louie and Evan discuss the teen pop boom of the late '90s and early '00s, how it presented young stars as both wholesome and over-sexualized, and the factory-style, scientifically-perfect-if-personality-less music that defined the era. They then cover Christina's emergence on The Mickey Mouse Club as the "little girl with the big voice", her breakthrough singing the Mulan theme song "Reflection", how Britney Spears' explosion helped shape her first album, 1999's Christina Aguilera, how the massive success of that record both launched Christina to superstardom and put her in an uncomfortable box that obscured her unique talents, how she re-wrote the script with her iconic sophomore album, 2002's Stripped, her penitent for massive sonic and visual reinventions on subsequent albums like 2006's Back to Basics and 2010's Bionic, the latter of which helped usher the word "flop" into common parlance and also recast Christina as a underdog and gay icon, and how her singular career choices and trajectory has influenced recent pop stars and is deserving of a modern reassessment. Finally, Louie and Evan rank Christina Aguilera in the Pop Pantheon.

LA Pop Pantheon Girlies! Get Tix to Louie's New Queer Pop Party, Gorgeous Gorgeous, on 4/22 at Resident in DTLA!

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Apr 07, 2022
NORMANI (with Keep It! Host Ira Madison III)
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APRIL FOOLS!!!

Keep It! host Ira Madison III returns to Pop Pantheon for a very special (and silly) episode on the glacially unfurling career of former Fifth Harmony member and aspiring pop starlet, Normani. Louie and Ira talk about why people fell in love with Normani as the clearest talent in 5H before debating the conditions that have allowed Normani to release only seven songs in the last five years before diving into her multiple attempts at getting her solo career off the ground. They begin with her two hit Spotify-core duets, 2018's "Love Lies" and 2019's "Dancing with a Stranger" with Khalid and Sam Smith respectively, before moving through her erstwhile Calvin Harris collabs, her apparent lift-off with 2019's banger Beyonce-referencing "Motivation" and its' break-the-internet music video showcasing her formidable dancing talents followed by her perplexing disappearance from music for two years, and finally her two recent underperforming "comeback" singles, the Aaliyah-sampling slinky R&B groover "Wild Side" and her latest non-event, "Fair". Finally, Louie and Ira place Normani in the official Pop Pantheon (SPOILER ALERT: she's Tier 5....).

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Apr 01, 2022
Grammys Special! (with Rolling Stone's Brittany Spanos)
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The Grammy Awards are this Sunday April 3 and to get you ready for the big show, Senior Writer for Rolling Stone Brittany Spanos is back with DJ Louie to talk all things Grammys! Louie and Brittany break down what the problems have been for the Grammys over the last few years before dissecting each of the four major categories, how the Grammys did this year, who's nominated and why, who they each think should and will win each award, who got snubbed and debate whether or not Olivia Rodrigo will just sweep the whole damn thing.

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Mar 31, 2022
KESHA (with Pitchfork's Cat Zhang)
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Assistant Editor at Pitchfork Cat Zhang joins DJ Louie for a deep dive into the career and music of misunderstood, resilient 2010s trash pop queen, Kesha. First, Louie and Cat break down the hip-hop-dance-pop party music of the mid-late aughts- a hedonistic period fueled in part by a desire for escapism during The Great Recession- and discuss artists like Fergie, Gwen Stefani and others who set the stage for the uptempo rap/EDM hybrid that would become Kesha's calling card. Next, they lay out Kesha's biography, growing up poor with a single mom who wrote country songs for artists like Dolly Parton, her initial connection to superstar producer/songwriter Dr. Luke, what made Luke such a prolific hitmaker in the 2000s, and finally how a chance appearance on the hook of Flo-Rida's "Right Round" provided the launching pad for Kesha's breakthrough debut album, Animal. Louie and Cat go long on Animal, breaking down it's unique, gaudy sonic landscape and Kesha's singular perspective as an anti-materialistic, dumpster-diving party animal who proudly flew in the face of respectability on hits like "Tik Tok", "Blah Blah Blah" and "Take It Off", the way the album inverted pop gender politics and drew on far-ranging influences from Daft Punk to the Beastie Boys to Bloghaus, the fine lines Kesha's rapping walked in terms of cultural appropriation, and the borderline-experimental ways Kesha and Luke found true heart and personality in the maximalist machinery of modern pop. They then chronicle the contentious creation of Kesha's follow-up album, 2012's Warrior, and how she and Luke's diverging artistic visions presaged greater rifts in their relationship, how the album's sole hit "Die Young" was pulled from radio following the school shooting at Sandy Hook, the moment Kesha filed lawsuits against Luke for sexual assault, battery, sexual harassment, and emotional abuse, how those lawsuits derailed her career for five years, her comeback with her radically different third album, 2017's critical-darling Rainbow, and how we see Kesha's influence on modern pop. Finally, Louie and Cat rank Kesha in the official Pop Pantheon.

Read Cat's retrospective review of Animal in Pitchfork 

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Mar 24, 2022
LISTENER MAILBAG!: Answering Your Questions on Dua, Beyonce, Kylie, Charli, Kacey and.... Ava Max!
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In a special mailbag episode, DJ Louie answers listener questions about the "Levitating" lawsuit, the greatest pop comebacks of all time, Kylie Minogue's placement in the Pop Pantheon, Charli XCX's new album, what Beyonce should do next, how artists are selected for the podcast, relatability vs. virtuosity in pop stardom, Christina Aguilera's signature song and more!

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Mar 17, 2022
DIANA ROSS PT. 2: THE SOLO YEARS (with Hit Parade's Chris Molanphy)
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Pop critic, chart analyst, writer of Slate's "Why Is This Song No. 1?", and host of the podcast Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy, joins DJ Louie once again for the second part of our series on Diana Ross. This episode, Louie and Chris discuss Diana's initially rocky transition from lead singer for The Supremes into solo superstar and how she finally scored a solo #1 with an unexpected, avant-garde cover of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" in 1970. They then discuss her spotty track record through the early-mid '70s, sometimes scoring massive hits with mostly adult-contemporary ballads like "Touch Me in the Morning" and "Do You Know Where You're Going To", but just as often releasing records that made little impact, all while pursuing a secondary career as a movie star most notably in her Oscar-nominated performance as Billie Holiday in 1972's Lady Sings the Blues. Louie and Chris then chronicle various pop movements that coincided with and affected Diana's career in this '70s- the racial segregation of radio, the birth of the female pop singer-songwriter like Carole King and Joni Mitchell, innovative R&B artists like Roberta Flack and Chaka Khan-  Diana's third wind as a disco queen, beginning with 1976's smash "Love Hangover", 1979's "The Boss" and eventually, her blockbuster, career-defining collaboration with Chic's Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, 1980's Diana and it's legendary singles, "I'm Coming Out" and "Upside Down". Finally, Louie and Chris debate what allowed Diana to beat the odds, defying pop's ageist bent with hits across three decades and what exactly makes Diana one of the ultimate Tier 1 Icons in the official Pop Pantheon. 

Send questions about this episode, the Pantheon, pop stars in general or whatever else is on your mind to PopPantheonPod@gmail.com

Join the Pop Pantheon Discord Monday 3/14 at 8PM ET / 5PM PT!

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Mar 10, 2022
DIANA ROSS PT. 1: THE SUPREMES (with Hit Parade's Chris Molanphy)
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Pop critic, chart analyst, writer of Slate's "Why Is This Song No. 1?", and host of the podcast Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy, joins DJ Louie for the first of a two-part series on American Icon, Diana Ross. First, Louis and Chris set the stage by discussing how the phrases "pop" and "pop star" came into form in the late 1950s, the establishment of the teenager as a target market group for music and the birth of the "teen idol". They then discuss Diana Ross' backstory growing up in the burgeoning Detroit music scene, how the formation of the predecessor to The Supremes, The Primettes, dovetailed with the creation of her future-label-boss-turned-husband Berry Gordy's Motown Records, why Motown and "the Motown Sound" were so transformational in the pop music landscape in the late '50s and early '60s, and how a popular wave of pre-Supremes girl groups like The Shangri-Las and The Marvelettes functioned as musicians and stars in this period. Next, Louie and Chris walk through The Supremes signing with Gordy, their flop first album and Diana being promoted to permanent front-woman, their historic collaboration with storied producers and songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland, their smash second album, Where Did Our Love Go? and subsequent astounding run of hits through the middle and end of the '60s, how their music evolved with the times, the inherent radicalism of a group of black women becoming the most popular pop act in the world, what makes Diana's star quality and voice to singular, and how Gordy positioned her for eventual solo stardom, often at the expense of the other girls in the group.

Join us next week for Part 2, which will cover Diana's solo career!

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Mar 03, 2022
Bonus: Louie and Rich Juzwiak on the Janet Jackson Documentary
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In a special bonus minisode, Jezebel's Rich Juzwiak joins DJ Louie to discuss Benjamin Hirsch's documentary Janet Jackson, which aired in January on A&E and Lifetime. With Janet's active participation, this doc was billed as the historically cagey superstar baring all about her formidable career and legacy, as well as various controversies which have swirled around her including the Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction" and the child sexual abuse allegations leveled at her brother Michael.  Louie and Rich break down how while the documentary presented some riveting new behind-the-scenes footage of Janet at her peak, it failed to adequately re-establish her unfairly tarnished legacy and to provide real insight into some of the more opaque elements in her celebrity narrative.

Read Rich's review of the Janet doc on Jezebel

Rich Rich's assessment of the original Super Bowl incident and the fallout on Gawker

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Feb 24, 2022
NICKI MINAJ (with Keep It! Host Ira Madison III)
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Keep It! Host Ira Madison III joins DJ Louie for a deep dive into the Queen of Rap, Nicki Minaj. Louie and Ira begin with a discussion of the first golden era of female rappers in late ‘90s and early ‘00s, how stars like Lil Kim and Missy Elliott blurred the lines between rapper and pop star, and speculate a bit about why many of the preeminent female MCs of this period disappeared from the charts in the mid-late aughts. They then break down what made Nicki such an exciting and dynamic force on her early mixtapes like Beam Me Up Scotty, her first run of head-spinning hit features, attempt to parse apart all of her different on-record personas, and discuss the formation of her formidable and foundational stan army, The Barbz. Next, Louie and Ira mull over the pressures Nicki faced in creating her smash debut album, Pink Friday, as the first commercially viable female rapper in years, her keen instincts to craft a sound that appealed to both rap fans and a broader pop audience and how that affected her artistry and cred for better and worse, the surprise success of “Super Bass”, her bonkers sophomore album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, why Nicki functions so well as perhaps the greatest, most versatile featured artist of all time, how she sometimes struggled to show true vulnerability on albums like 2015’s The Pinkprint, and lay out the impact she’s had on both pop and rap over the last nearly 15 years. Finally, Louie and Ira rank Nicki Minaj in the official Pop Pantheon.

Send questions about this episode, the Pantheon, pop stars in general or whatever else is on your mind to PopPantheonPod@gmail.com

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Feb 17, 2022
Super Bowl Halftime Show Extravaganza! (with Jezebel's Rich Juzwiak)
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Just in time for this weekend's big performance from Dr. Dre & Friends, Jezebel's Rich Juzwiak returns to Pop Pantheon to talk about a crowning moment in any pop star's career: The Super Bowl Halftime Show. First, DJ Louie and Rich explain the ever-evolving nature of the halftime show and how it crystalized into its modern form, which types of stars gets chosen for this prestigious slot, and what makes these performances work when they're good or flop when they're... not. They then each share their top 5 favorite Halftime performances of all time as well as a few of their least favorites, before giving a brief comment on every single show from 1991 to the present day. Finally, Louie and Rich discuss which pop stars they'd like to see headline the show in the future.

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Feb 10, 2022
NELLY FURTADO (with Bianca Gracie)
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Entertainment journalist Bianca Gracie joins DJ Louie to discuss 2000s quirky Canadian singer-songwriter turned unlikely dance pop diva, Nelly Furtado. First, Louie and Bianca lay out the ecosystem of alternative female pop stars in the late 90s and early 00s before turning to Nelly’s emergence, first on Toronto’s alternative hip hop scene and later as the earnest, genre-melding breakout star of her Grammy-winning debut album, 2000’s Whoa, Nelly!. After breaking down what made that record and it’s lead single, “I’m Like a Bird”, play like canny counter-programming to the early aughts teen pop boom and her prescient appearance on the remix of Missy Elliott’s 2001 hit “Get Ur Freak On”, Louie and Bianca ponder what made Nelly’s follow-up, 2003’s Folklore, a failure with both critics and fans, how she effectively rebooted her career in 2006 with an assist from Missy-collaborator Timbaland on her 2006 record, Loose, the sexist, rockist discourse of the mid 2000s around the idea of “selling out”, Nelly’s less commercially fruitful but perhaps creatively intriguing records of the 2010s and what they’d like to see her do next. Finally, Louie and Bianca rank Nelly Furtado in the official Pop Pantheon.

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Feb 03, 2022
CYNDI LAUPER (with The Ringer's Rob Harvilla)
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Senior Staff Writer for The Ringer Rob Harvilla joins DJ Louie for a deep dive into foundational early MTV-era icon, Cyndi Lauper.  First, Louie and Rob parse what made the early 1980s such a crystallizing moment for The Pop Star as we know it today and particularly the role MTV played in taking pop stardom 360°, making it a visual endeavor as much as a musical one. They then breakdown Cyndi’s rough-and-tumble upbringing in Queens and how it established her distinct star persona and voice, her stint as a cover band front-woman honing her skills as a canny interpreter of other people’s songs, and her first breakout attempt as the lead singer of erstwhile new wave band, Blue Angel. Next, they consider her seminal solo debut album, 1983’s She’s So Unusual, how she remade cover songs in her own image, the towering success of her first single “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” which both solidified her place in the pop canon but potentially became an albatross around her neck, as well as the versatility she displayed on her second hit, quintessential ‘80s power-ballad “Time After Time”’.  Next, Rob and Louie examine Cyndi's successful sophomore album, 1986’s True Colors, how it cemented both her more overt activist bent and her status as an LGBTQIA+ icon, Cyndi’s third record, 1989’s A Night To Remember, which she’s since referred to as “A Night To Forget”, how she struggled to regain her commercial footing through the ‘90s and ‘00s despite releasing some of her best music and finally, her surprising late-career renaissance as the Tony-Award winning composer of the hit Broadway musical, Kinky Boots. Finally, Louie and Rob rank Cyndi Lauper in the official Pop Pantheon.

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Jan 20, 2022
SELENA GOMEZ (with The New York Times' Joe Coscarelli)
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On the premiere episode of 2022, DJ Louie first wraps up last year’s cliffhanger by finally placing Rihanna in the official Pop Pantheon. Then, Pop Music Reporter for The New York Times, Joe Coscarelli, joins Louie to talk Disney-Princess-turned-peculiar-pop-figure, Selena Gomez. First, Louie and Joe dig into just who Selena Gomez’s fans are, how Disney stars have transitioned into pop stars over the last two decades, and Selena’s rise to fame on her Disney show, Wizards of Waverly Place. They then break down the neutered “pop punk” aesthetic of Selena, Miley, and Demi’s music in the late aughts, Selena’s… um…. “band”, Selena Gomez and the Scene, and how their eventual turn towards synthetic dance pop led to  her first crossover hit, 2011’s “Love You Like a Love Song”, and both Selena’s canny pivot towards adult stardom with her role in Harmony Korine’s controversial film, Spring Breakers, and her less successful one with her 2013 solo debut, Stars Dance. They then track how she eventually found a musical aesthetic following the one-two punch of the Lorde-and-Lana-fication of pop in the mid aughts along with her link up with songwriting duo Michaels and Tranter, the artistic revelation of her 2015 sophomore album, Revival, how she functions as a featured artist on late ‘10s hits like “It Ain’t Me” and “Taki Taki”, and each give their takes on her most recent record, 2019’s Rare. Finally, Louie and Joe debate Selena’s position in the official Pop Pantheon.

Read Joe's Profile of Selena in The New York Times

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Jan 06, 2022
RIHANNA PT. 2 (with Julianne Escobedo Shepherd)
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Former Editor-in-Chief of Jezebel and famed author of The Rihanna RihPort, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, Is back with DJ Louie for part two of their discussion about the newly anointed Queen of Barbados, Rihanna. Louie and Julianne pick up with Rihanna's 5th album, 2010's Loud, her commercial pop peak and a celebration following the thornier, darker Rated R the previous year. They then analyze what made "We Found Love" the emblematic EDM-pop song and Rih's biggest hit to date, the way she drew from female rappers on salacious hits like "Cockiness (Lick It)" and "Birthday Cake", the alluring fatigue of 2012's sprawling Unapologetic, how she became the superlative celebrity Instagrammer, and her subversive choice to re-unite on record with Chris Brown. Rounding out her career, they consider Rihanna's artistic peak, 2016's startlingly insular Anti, how she's recently applied The Rihanna Thing in non-musical ventures like her lingerie and makeup lines, and her impact on contemporary pop stars, before each sharing their ranking of Rihanna albums. Finally, Louie and Julianne have a lengthy and heated debate about whether Rihanna has ascended to (*gasp*) Tier 1 in the official Pop Pantheon. 

Ready Julianne's column, The Rihanna RihPort, in Jezebel

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Dec 16, 2021
RIHANNA PT. 1 (with Julianne Escobedo Shepherd)
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Former Editor in Chief of Jezebel and famed author of The Rihanna RihPort, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, joins DJ Louie for part one of a two-part  discussion about one of the biggest and most dynamic pop icons of the 21st Century, Rihanna. Louie and Julianne get into detail about what exactly the ethereal "Rihanna Thing" is and what allows her to be so versatile with genre before discussing the state of pop and R&B prior to her emergence in 2005 and breaking down the dancehall and reggaeton explosion of the mid-aughts. They then trace Rihanna's discovery by Evan Rogers, her famed audition for Jay-Z, her breakthrough smash with "Pon De Replay", and how her artistry and persona came into full-form on her second and third albums, 2006's A Girl Like Me and 2007's Good Girl Gone Bad. Louie and Julianne dive into Rihanna's penchant for songs about love as tragedy, why her voice was distinctly suited to deliver on the promise of "Umbrella" and what makes it so instantly addictive and recognizable, how she began to establish her singular personal style, the abuse she faced at the hands of then-boyfriend Chris Brown, and the ways she dealt with that on her fourth studio album, 2009's hip hop, rock, and dubstep-inflected Rated R

Join us in two weeks for part two of this discussion, where Louie and Julianne cover the second half of Rihanna's career, rank all of her albums, and debate whether she belongs in Tier 1 of the Pop Pantheon!

Ready Julianne's column, The Rihanna RihPort, in Jezebel

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Dec 02, 2021
ONE DIRECTION (with Rolling Stone's Brittany Spanos)
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Rolling Stone Senior Writer Brittany Spanos joins DJ Louie for a conversation about British boyband, One Direction. First, Louie and Brittany break down how generational waves of boybands have riffed on a similar formula in their performance styles, musical tropes, and teen fandemonium over the last 50 years. They discuss how One Direction both stands in that lineage and break from it, beginning with their formation on the reality show X Factor, use of newly emergent social media platforms to galvanize their massive stan army, The Directioners, and their aesthetic reliance on rock signifiers rather than American r&b. Louie and Brittany then tackle all of One Direction's albums, the culture of Directioner-ism, trace the heavily referential nods they makes towards moments in rock 'n roll history, common subjects of their songs, the bombshell departure of Zayn Malik, and their impact on both boyband and pop history. Finally, Louie and Brittanny rank One Direction in the official Pop Pantheon. 

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Nov 18, 2021
MINISODE: Answering Your Questions on Charli, Charli, More Charli, Hailee Steinfeild's Career, Katy and Tinashe, Girl Groups and ME!
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DJ Louie answers a slew of listener questions about Charli XCX: When will she have her next hit? What does her new single "New Shapes" tell us about the sound of her new record? Who are Louie's dream future collaborators for Charli? And more! He then gives some quick fire answers on Hailee Steinfeild, Katy Perry, Tinashe, Girl and Boy Groups as Pop Stars and one question that's a little more.... personal. 

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Nov 11, 2021
CHARLI XCX (with Switched on Pop's Charlie Harding and Nate Sloan)
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Charlie Harding and Nate Sloan of the podcast Switched on Pop join DJ Louie to talk one of pop’s great agitators, Charli XCX. Charlie, Nate and Louie parse out the dueling instincts in Charli’s career between her chart-topping ambitions and her impulse to disrupt the boundaries of pop. They situate her debut album True Romance amongst a slew of early ‘10s records treading the line between indie rock and pure pop while tracking what makes her first hit as a writer and feature, Icona Pop’s EDM masterpiece “I Love It”, such a quintessential example of Charli’s strengths as a songwriter, performer and student of popular music. They then ponder why Charli’s second album Sucker underperformed commercially while she simultaneously topped the charts with her A Fault in Our Stars OST single “Boom Clap” and her feature on Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”, discuss what makes Charli such a great fit in the world of PC Music, how her established pop persona affected the aesthetics of hyperpop, what makes her ongoing collaboration with A.G. Cook and others from his collective singular, and where her new single “Good Ones” signals she may go next. Finally, Charlie, Nate and Louie rank Charli XCX in the official pop pantheon.

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Nov 04, 2021
POST MALONE (with Larry Fitzmaurice)
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Editor, writer and author of the newsletter Last Donut of the Night, Larry Fitzmaurice, joins DJ Louie as the two attempt to understand “pop’s most suffocating presence”, Post Malone. First, Larry and Louie break down Post’s emergence with his debut hit, the post-Drake lament “White Iverson'', his incoherent and often baffling dismissal of criticisms that he appropriates Black musical signifiers and icky attempts to distance himself from the hip hop sounds on which he made his name. They then discuss Post’s ascent to the top of the streaming ecosystem with his blockbuster second record, Beerbongs and Bentleys, how his genreless dirge of music has come to define this era of pop and effectively ended the idea of The Album, his secret strengths as an emo rock, grunge, and nu-metal practitioner, how exactly this unlikely superstar became one of the most listened to artists in the modern pop ecosystem, and whether or not Post Malone actually has fans. Louie and Larry then rank Post in the official Pop Pantheon.

Read Larry's Piece "How Post Malone Became Pop's Most Suffocating Presence" in Vice

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Join the Pop Pantheon Discord Tonight (10/21) at 8PM ET / 5PM PT! 

Check Out a Playlist of All the Music From This Week's Episode

NYC: RSVP to See DJ Louie Play Free Afterparties for Who? Weekly's Shows at The Bellhouse 10/22 + 10/23!

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Oct 21, 2021
MINISODE: Answering Your Questions on Toni, Tamar, Aaliyah, Justin Timberlake and Iconic Pop Stars With Terrible Debut Singles
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DJ Louie answers listener questions about whether Gen Z is more familiar with Tamar or Toni Braxton, the Aaliyah rollout on streaming, how Pop Stars having (or not having) obvious musical descendants affects their legacy, what we should call Pop Pantheon listeners, iconic artists whose first single is still their best OR whose first single is their worst, and more.

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NYC: RSVP to See DJ Louie Play Free Afterparties for Who? Weekly's Shows at The Bellhouse 10/22 + 10/23!

LA: RSVP to Come See DJ Louie play the Who? Weekly X Pop Pantheon Party on 10/28!

Check out Pop Pantheon Graphic Designer Juan Pilar's Work and Hire Him!

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Oct 14, 2021
TONI BRAXTON (with Jezebel's Rich Juzwiak)
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Senior Writer for Jezebel Rich Juzwiak returns to Pop Pantheon to talk The Queen of Heartbreak, Toni Braxton. DJ Louie and Rich first break down the craft of melisma, the centrality of “The Voice” in early ‘90s pop, and how Babyface’s sound helped R&B cross over in that period. They then take a journey though Toni’s emergence, the anthems of codependency on her classic debut, her singular contralto voice, her primary motifs as both the heartbroken torch singer and the sultry mid-tempo R&B chanteuse, the agony of “Unbreak My Heart” and the ecstasy of “You’re Makin Me High”, the financial troubles which derailed her career in the late ‘90s, her comeback with “He Wasn’t Man Enough”, and the ups and downs of her discography since. Finally, Louie and Rich rank Toni Braxton in the official Pop Pantheon.

Check out Louie's Playlist of Toni Braxton Essentials on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2cthF6qdsqr2BeldVZyQLP?si=8fe757c5209f4927

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NYC: RSVP to See DJ Louie Play Free Afterparties for Who? Weekly's Shows at The Bellhouse 10/22 + 10/23!

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Oct 07, 2021
MINISODE: Answering Your Questions on Britney, The Pantheon and The Best Pop Songs of the Year
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DJ Louie answers listener questions about the difference between "pop" as popular music and Pop as a specific genre, the relevance of the Grammys, whether Britney is a Tier 1 Icon or a Tier 2 Megastar, what he thinks of Dua Lipa, whether artists can slide between tiers throughout their careers, lists his favorite songs of the year so far and more. 

Send your questions to PopPantheonPod@gmail.com! 

NYC: RSVP to See DJ Louie Play Free Afterparties for Who? Weekly's Shows at The Bellhouse 10/22 + 10/23!

LA: RSVP to Come See DJ Louie play the Who? Weekly X Pop Pantheon Party on 10/28

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Sep 30, 2021
JUSTIN BIEBER (with Pitchfork Contributing Editor Rawiya Kameir)
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Pitchfork Contributing Editor and Asst. Professor at Syracuse University Rawiya Kameir and DJ Louie get into it about one of contemporary pop’s most divisive figures, Justin Bieber. Louie and Rawiya discuss pop’s evolution beyond the need for male pop stars in the late ‘00s and how Bieber entered to fill the void, initially as one of the first music superstars to emerge on YouTube, and later as a certified hitmaker. They then dive into what makes the Beliebers perhaps the definitive Standom of the internet era, the numerous ways Bieber attempted to pivot to credible adult star in the first part of ‘10s, the implicit racial dynamics in his passion for R&B music as well as attempts by the powers that be to moderate that, how he became the most loathed celebrity on earth before mounting a massive comeback with his 3rd album Purpose, his ongoing knotty relationship to fame and latest incarnation as a chilled-out, proudly devout Wife Guy. Finally, Louie and Rawiya have a thorny debate about where Bieber belongs in the official Pop Pantheon.

Check out Louie's Playlist of Bieber Essentials on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5Gx2Fa46woFqHkJ0LTqiPY?si=5036fcedb6b74a57

Join the Pop Pantheon Bieber Discord Chat w/ DJ Louie on 9/23 at 9PM ET / 6PM PT!: https://discord.gg/xqVe5bsE

Read Rawiya's Review of Justice on Pitchfork: https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/justin-bieber-justice/

NYC: RSVP to See DJ Louie Play Free Afterparties for Who? Weekly's Shows at The Bellhouse 10/22 + 10/23!

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Sep 23, 2021
LORDE (with Billboard's Jason Lipshutz)
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Senior Director of Music at Billboard Jason Lipshutz joins DJ Louie to discuss everyone’s favorite off-the-grid alt-pop icon, Lorde. First, Louie and Jason break down the EDM pop and festival boom of the late aughts and early 2010s. They then break down how Lorde’s “Royals” presented an appealing response to that escapist era of pop culture and how the success of her debut album, Pure Heroine, set the stage for an anti-pop movement that’s only gained steam since with acts like Halsey, Billie Eilish, and Olivia Rodrigo, the critical triumph and commercial underperformance of her sophomore album, Melodrama, and how it purposefully de-centered her pop stardom, and they give early opinions on her latest album, last month’s Solar Power. Finally, Louie and Jason rank Lorde in the official Pop Pantheon.

Check out Louie's Playlist of Lorde Essentials on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4vfnoV3z77iXG1SlrKduZn?si=b2cb2233b6524a4e 

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Sep 09, 2021
KYLIE MINOGUE (with HuffPost's Noah Michelson)
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DJ Louie is joined by HuffPost’s Noah Michelson to discuss Australian Queen of Pop, Kylie Minogue. Louie and Noah trace the singularity of Kylie’s two-tract pop career: In most of the world, she’s an A+ list arena-trotting superstar with more than three decades of hits and yet here in America, she’s perceived as either a one-hit-wonder or a niche gay icon. They discuss why that is, break down Kylie’s entire career from late ‘80s teenybopper to mid 90s avant boundary-pusher to her later period resurgence with the smash global hit “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” and her recent solid run of well-made albums that relish in well-worn Kylie tropes. Louie and Noah then break down Kylie’s influence on the pop stars who came after her like Lady GaGa and Britney Spears, what makes her so beloved amongst the gay community, and the differing requirements for pop stars in America vs. the rest of the world. Finally, they take on the extraordinarily challenging task of ranking Kylie in the Pop Pantheon.

Check out Louie's Playlist of Kylie Essentials on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5wIrtrsbNMesqLHXcj3IdW?si=9a1f1897a76a4d1e

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Aug 26, 2021
CARDI B (with Pitchfork's Clover Hope)
4134

DJ Louie is joined by Pitchfork writer and author of the new book, The Motherlode: 100+ Women Who Made Hip Hop, Clover Hope, to discuss one of the hottest contemporary rap and pop stars, Cardi B. First, Louie and Clover break down the history of female rappers who operate as bonafide crossover pop stars, beginning with Roxanne Shanté and Salt N Peppa in the ‘80s through Nicki Minaj’s melting of the lines between hip hop and pop star in the last decade. They then discuss Cardi’s emergence as a social media personality, what made her uniquely charming in that space, the singular position of having to translate an established personality into musical form, the surprise success and critical acclaim of her debut album Invasion of Privacy, the unique ways Cardi’s musical career operates as just one aspect of her broader celebrity, and finally the doors she has helped open for the plethora of female rappers currently all operating at once in the pop space. Finally, Louie and Clover debate which tier to place Cardi in in the official Pop Pantheon.

Check out Louie's Playlist of Cardi B Essentials on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1R2aNuBZHWrjHbuh0gamO2?si=2fc5b3d72eb242a8

Buy Clover's Book The Motherlode: 100+ Women Who Made Hip Hop: https://www.amazon.com/Motherlode-100-Women-Made-Hip-Hop/dp/1419742965

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Aug 12, 2021
MAX MARTIN (with The New Yorker's John Seabrook)
4472

DJ Louie is joined by author of The Song Machine and New Yorker staff writer John Seabrook to discuss the greatest pop producer auteur of the modern era, Max Martin. Louie and John discuss Max’s roots in Sweden and why the country is such a historical breeding ground for world-class pop music. They then discuss Max’s initial run a hitmaker in the late ‘90s, crafting the sound of the teen pop boom with Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and *NSYNC, his reinvention in the mid 2000s with his protege Dr. Luke on pop-punk hits like Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone”, the duo’s continued, chameleonic radio dominance in the early 2010s with Katy Perry, Britney, and Kesha, and Max’s latest wave of success adding his glisten to the work of already-established superstars like Taylor Swift and The Weeknd. Finally, Louie and John debate the secret to Max’s unparalleled success and what his future looks like now that new stars prize authenticity over his patented brand of airtight pop perfection.

Check out Louie's Playlist of Max Martin Essentials on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0TnSOt8jOfuWsmMDDspWML?si=3b6a260a796247df

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Jul 29, 2021
CELINE DION (with Call Your Girlfriend's Aminatou Sow)
4160

DJ Louie is joined by writer and co-host of the podcast Call Your Girlfriend, Aminatou Sow, to discuss the Queen of the North, Celine Dion! Louie and Amina discuss Celine’s origins in the Francophone recording industry and Amina's early connection to her French music, the different perceptions of schmaltz in French-speaking vs. American popular culture, Celine’s relationship with her husband and manager Rene Angelil, her crossover as one of the biggest divas of the ‘90s, debunk annoying critiques that have dogged her career and denigrated her work, break down what constitutes art in pop music, and so much more. Finally, Louie and Amina debate which tier to place Celine in in the official Pop Pantheon and how to classify bilingual artists who mean different things in different parts of the world.

Check out Louie's Playlist of Celine Essentials on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6jp9JOwAUu1JBbsAP2ONXW?si=982a51bae903424d

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Jul 15, 2021
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE (with Jordan Sargent)
4840

DJ Louie is joined by former Gawker and Spin writer Jordan Sargent for a reassessment of a pop star who really demands one: Justin Timberlake. Louie and Jordan break down the ways Justin’s legacy has been altered by cultural reckonings on white male privilege, cultural appropriation, and his roles both implicit and explicit in harming the careers of Janet Jackson and Britney Spears. They then break down Justin’s gold-standard transition from boy bander to credible adult star and the successful-if-unsavory ways he put a white face on contemporary R&B music with his massively successful debut album, Justified. They also discuss how luck and privilege played into his cultural dominance in the mid aughts, the genuine, daring musical innovation on his smash second album FutureSex/LoveSounds, and how he and his collaborators lost the thread in the latter period of his career. Louie and Jordan then debate if you could tell an abridged history of pop without mentioning Justin and how his fall from grace in the eyes of the general public has affected his standing in the official Pop Pantheon.

Check out Louie's Playlist of Timberlake Essentials on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7eualDkxF3g4KbzVzbFEgQ?si=4be24c541900467a

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Jul 01, 2021
MISSY ELLIOTT (with Steven J. Horowitz)
4124

Returning guest, writer and editor for Billboard, Rolling Stone, Variety, Vulture and more, Steven J. Horowitz, joins DJ Louie to chop it up about pop revolutionary Missy Elliott. Louie and Steven discuss Missy’s entree into the music biz along with partner-in-crime Timbaland as a songwriter and producer for artists like Jodeci, Ginuwine, and Aaliyah. They then break down what makes Missy's music sound as mind-bending today as it did in the late ’90s, why her debut album, Supa Dupa Fly, caused such a stir when it was released, her one-of-a-kind video aesthetic and physical presentation, perpetual innovation as she crossed over from hip hop star to pop icon at the turn of the century and why all the great female rappers of Missy’s era stopped creating new music in the mid aughts. Finally, Louie and Steven rank Missy in the official Pop Pantheon.

Read Steven's ranking of every Missy song ever in Vulture: https://www.vulture.com/2019/09/best-missy-elliott-songs-ranked.html

Check out Steven's appearance on our previous episode on Ariana Grande: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ariana-grande/id1556457357?i=1000512516103

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Jun 17, 2021
LADY GAGA (with NY Times Contributor Lindsay Zoladz)
5296

DJ Louie is joined by New York Times Contributor Lindsay Zoladz to discuss Mother Monster herself, Lady GaGa! First, Lindsay drops some EXPLOSIVE ArtPop Hot Goss. Then, Louie and Lindsay dig into GaGa’s meteoric rise to mega-stardom, her bold queering of the pop cultural landscape, debunk some of the annoying critical narratives that plagued initial rise, chart the Pop-altering establishment of the Little Monsters, her musical, presentational, and social media innovations, whether or not ArtPop deserves Justice, and how, in the latter part of her career, she’s morphed from a hit-to-hit pop star into a much grander type of Icon. Finally, Louie and Lindsay debate the BIG question: is GaGa a Tier 2 Megastar or…. *gasp*... has she ascended to the top of the Pantheon as a Tier 1 Icon?!

Check out Lindsay's retrospective on the "Telephone" video in the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/10/arts/music/lady-gaga-beyonce-telephone.html

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Jun 03, 2021
ROBYN (with The New Yorker's Jia Tolentino)
4812

DJ Louie is joined by The New Yorker's Jia Tolentino to talk Niche Pop Icon, Robyn. Louie and Jia explore Robyn's early breakthrough during the teen pop boom of the late '90s with her Max Martin-produced hit, "Show Me Love", before going deep on her re-emergence nearly a decade later as pop's most beloved iconoclast. They break down the contours of her reinvention on her self-titled album in 2005, dig into tracks like "Be Mine!" and "With Every Heartbeat' to pinpoint what exactly constitutes a Robyn song, the crowning achievement of 2010's venerated Body Talk series, the ways "Dancing on my Own" and "Call Your Girlfriend" both define and subvert pop in its' purest form, and how Robyn has reimagined embodying sexuality as a female pop star. Finally, Louie and Jia assess what tier Robyn belongs in in the Pop Pantheon and explore the notion of creating a new tier for artists like her, whose success and influence is somehow greater than traditional pop metrics can measure. 

Read Jia's piece on Robyn and "Honey" in the New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/honey-reviewed-robyn-has-returned-and-she-has-what-you-want

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May 20, 2021
DRAKE (with The WSJ Mag's Myles Tanzer)
4976

DJ Louie is joined by Wall Street Journal Magazine Digital Editor Myles Tanzer for a supersized episode about the Certified Lover Boy himself, Drake. Louie and Myles track the collapsing boundaries between pop and hip hop, Drake’s groundbreaking emergence in the late '00s as a new kind of hip-hop-star-turned-pop-icon, the innovative emotional language of his work along with his singular sonic universe, how his influence has trickled down through pop, and so so SO much more. Finally, Louie and Myles grapple with a HUGE first for the podcast: After over 200 Billboard Hot 100 hits and more than a decade of uninterrupted pop cultural dominance, are they ready to elevate Drake as our first Tier 2 Megastar-to-Tier 1 Icon?!

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May 06, 2021
MADONNA (with Jezebel's Rich Juzwiak)
4045

This week, DJ Louie is joined by Jezebel Senior Writer and Pot Psychology Host Rich Juzwiak to discuss the Queen of Pop, Madonna. Their conversation focuses mainly on Madonna's latter period career, from 2008's Hard Candy through 2019's Madame X, and the ways Madonna's vice-grip on both her artistic muse and Pop writ-large have slipped after 25 years of dominance. Louie and Rich discuss Madonna's strange choice to make Hard Candy with a post-prime Timbaland and Pharrell, debate her legacy as an innovator and clout-chaser, her often cringey Instagram presence, her self-destructive feud with Lady GaGa, how notions Pop and diva-dom have shifted over her nearly four decade (!!) career, and the ideas- or lack thereof- behind her recent albums. Finally- and despite these recent missteps- Louie and Rich discuss Madonna's well-earned position atop the Pop Pantheon, what she could do now to right the ship, and whether she is in fact the greatest pop star of all time.


Read Rich's review of Madame X on Pitchfork: https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/madonna-madame-x/

Read Louie's review of Madame X on Buzzfeed: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/djlouiexiv/madonna-madame-x-pop-music-age-women


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Apr 22, 2021
CARLY RAE JEPSEN (with Who? Weekly's Lindsey Weber)
3754

In episode 3 of Pop Pantheon, DJ Louie is joined by Who? Weekly Co-Host Lindsey Weber to discuss Queen of Everything, Carly Rae Jepsen. Louie and Lindsey discuss Lindsey's pedigree as a JepFriend, including her travels across national borders to see Carly perform with a symphony in faraway Canada and her secret "Call Me Maybe" lip-sync video from 2012. They then get into why "Call Me Maybe" was Carly's only hit, if having your first song be an out-of-nowhere smash is a gift or a curse, the magic of Carly's perfect second album E•MO•TION, and the unique and prescient niche community Carly established around her as perhaps THE emblematic underrated Flop Star. Finally, Louie and Lindsey debate which tier Carly belongs in in the official Pop Pantheon. 

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Apr 08, 2021
CIARA (with Chris Stedman)
3486

In episode 2 of Pop Pantheon, host DJ Louie XIV addresses the veritable uproar from the KatyCats following last week's episode. He then briefly reviews the concept of the Pop Pantheon tiers before being joined by author and professor Chris Stedman to discuss the Princess of Crunk&B, Ciara. Louie and Chris dissect the idea of "flops" in the context of Chris' Pitchfork piece, "The Enduring Appeal of Pop Stars Who Flop", the trajectory of Ciara's career from centrist pop star to flop to critical darling and gay icon, the unjust tension projected onto women of color in pop who move between genres, and Ciara's resilience and longevity in the fickle and ever-shifting pop landscape over the last twenty years. Finally, they debate which tier Ciara belongs in in the official Pop Pantheon. 

Read Chris' piece, "The Enduring Appeal of Pop Stars Who Flop", on Pitchfork: https://pitchfork.com/thepitch/the-enduring-appeal-of-pop-stars-who-flop/ 

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Mar 25, 2021
ARIANA GRANDE (with Steven J. Horowitz)
3382

In the debut episode of Pop Pantheon, host DJ Louie XIV briefly introduces the concept and tiers of the Pop Pantheon. He is then joined by music journalist extraordinaire Steven Horowitz- writer and editor for publications like Billboard, Rolling Stone, Variety and Vulture- to discuss all things Ariana Grande: her arrival on the scene as an antidote to the EDM-pop of GaGa and Katy Perry, the benefits and pratfalls of her relationship with hip hop and R&B, where the concept of the "diva" stands in 2021, and the possibility of Ari as the last monoculture pop superstar. Finally, Louie and Steven debate which Tier to rank Ariana in the official Pop Pantheon. 


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Follow Steven Horowitz on Twitter: https://twitter.com/speriod

Check out all Steven's writing on: http://www.stevenjhorowitz.com/

Mar 11, 2021
Mini-sode: What Exactly is the Pop Pantheon?
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Welcome to the podcast! In this mini-episode of Pop Pantheon, host DJ Louie XIV breaks down how exactly the Pop Pantheon works, tier-by-tier. 

In each episode of Pop Pantheon, Louie and his guests will break down the career of pop icon, from titans of the genre like Beyonce to..... lesser titans, like Nicole Scherzinger. At the end of each episode, they'll attempt to place each subject in their proper pantheon tier. Is Ariana a Tier 2 Megastar or merely a Tier 3 Superstar? Is Charlie Puth a Tier 5 Niche Legend, or a Tier 4 Blue-Collar Pop Star? And has Taylor ascended to Tier 1 Icon Status yet (a topic of HOT debate)??!! This teaser helps explain what all the tiers are and the criteria for each one. The first official episode drops Thursday! 


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Mar 09, 2021
Pop Pantheon Teaser
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Welcome to the podcast! In the teaser for Pop Pantheon, host DJ Louie XIV breaks down the format of the show and all the pop music over-analysis you can expect. In each episode of Pop Pantheon, Louie and his guests will break down the career of pop icon, from titans of the genre like Beyonce to..... lesser titans, like Nicole Scherzinger. At the end of each episode, they'll attempt to place each subject in their proper Pantheon Tier. Episode 1 drops this Thursday! 

Follow Pop Pantheon on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/poppantheonpod/

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Mar 08, 2021