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Pop Pantheon

Author: 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.
187 Episodes
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Bandsplain’s Yasi Salek joins DJ Louie to trace Nirvana's brief, iconoclastic trail through pop's mainstream in the early 1990s. Louie and Yasi unpack the group's origins in Aberdeen, Washington, their time on famed indie label Sub Pop, known for popularizing the "grunge" sound, and their bleak, sparse debut in 1989, Bleach, which garnered them a cult following. Next, they tackle Nirvana's breakthrough smash, the generational anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, and 1991’s unexpected blockbuster Nevermind, which briefly remolded the pop charts in their image and became one of the biggest albums of all time. They then discuss Kurt’s infamous marriage to Hole front woman Courtney Love, prickly relationship to his own fame and success and how his heroin addiction spun out of control during the promo cycle for 1993’s darker and grittier In Utero. Finally, Louie and Yasi detail Kurt’s tragic death by suicide in 1994, encasing the group in amber and forever giving their legacy a grand tragic air, before ranking Nirvana in the official Pop Pantheon. Listen to Pop Pantheon's Nirvana Essentials Playlist on SpotifyJoin Pop Pantheon: All Access, Our Patreon Channel, for Exclusive Content and MoreShop Merch in Pop Pantheon's StoreCome to Pop Pantheon Live: Tortured Poets & The State of Taylor Mania on 4/22 at the Bellhouse in BrooklynBuy Tickets to Pop Pantheon Presents: Taylor Mania at Parkside Lounge on 4/19Come to Gorgeous Gorgeous LA on 4/20 at Los GlobosCome to Gorgeous Gorgeous NYC on 5/10 at Sultan RoomFollow Yasi Salek on TwitterFollow DJ Louie XIV on InstagramFollow DJ Louie XIV on TwitterFollow Pop Pantheon on InstagramFollow Pop Pantheon on Twitter
It's listener mailbag time!Louie and Russ are answering all your questions about their expectations for Taylor's The Tortured Poets Department, their personal pop pet peeves, the formula for following up a blockbuster album, why there are no more male pop stars and so much more. Plus, stay tuned until the end of the episode for a very special surprise guest appearance :-). Join Pop Pantheon: All Access, Our Patreon Channel, for Exclusive Content and MoreShop Merch in Pop Pantheon's StoreCome to Pop Pantheon Live: Tortured Poets & The State of Taylor Mania on 4/22 at the Bellhouse in BrooklynBuy Tickets to Pop Pantheon Presents: Taylor Mania at Parkside Lounge on 4/19Come to Gorgeous Gorgeous LA on 4/20 at Los GlobosCome to Gorgeous Gorgeous NYC on 5/10 at Sultan RoomFollow DJ Louie XIV on InstagramFollow DJ Louie XIV on TwitterFollow Pop Pantheon on InstagramFollow Pop Pantheon on Twitter
Critic and writer Naomi Zeichner joins Pop Pantheon to explore the career of the “vocal bible,” Brandy. Louie and Naomi unpacked Brandy’s self-titled 1994 debut, released when she was just 15, her landmark acting roles as Moesha and Cinderella, and 1998’s Darkchild-assisted Never Say Never, which reimagined her at the vanguard of R&B futurism and became one of the signature blockbusters of the decade. They then discuss 2002 adventurous electropop-R&B fantasia Full Moon, 2004’s deeply personal Afrodisiac and her later period output, like 2012’s Two Eleven, which kicked off a cultural and critical reappraisal of her work. Finally, Louie and Naomi rank Brandy in the Official Pop Pantheon. Listen to Pop Pantheon's Brandy Essentials Playlist on SpotifyJoin Pop Pantheon: All Access, Our Patreon Channel, for Exclusive Content and MoreShop Merch in Pop Pantheon's StoreCome to Pop Pantheon Live: Tortured Poets & The State of Taylor Mania on 4/22 at the Bellhouse in BrooklynBuy Tickets to Pop Pantheon Presents: Taylor Mania at Parkside Lounge on 4/19Come to Gorgeous Gorgeous LA on 4/20 at Los GlobosCome to Gorgeous Gorgeous NYC on 5/10 at Sultan RoomFollow Naomi Zeichner on TwitterFollow DJ Louie XIV on InstagramFollow DJ Louie XIV on TwitterFollow Pop Pantheon on InstagramFollow Pop Pantheon on Twitter
In a preview of this week's Pop Pantheon: All Access episode, Beyoncé eighth studio album, Cowboy Carter, dropped last Friday. Once perceived as a foray into country music, this sprawling 80 (!!) minute epic turned out to be so much more than that and, as with any Bey project, begs for some serious unpacking. DJ Louie, Russ and Oxford American's Danielle Amir Jackson are here to do just that, breaking down the music, themes, references, history and breadth of the expansive second installment in Beyoncé's unfurling new trilogy. To hear the rest of the this episode plus receive weekly bonus episodes of Pop Pantheon, gain access to our Discord channel and so much more, subscribe to Pop Pantheon: All Access at the Icon Tier. You can also subscribe for the audio only directly in the Apple Podcasts app. 
Tonight, Beyoncé will drop her eighth studio album, Cowboy Carter, her first explicit full-length foray into country music. As with every Bey project, there's a ton of meaning and history to unpack. DePaul University professor and author of Black Country Music: Listening for Revolutions, Dr. Francesca Royster, and writer and editor Taylor Crumpton, author of TIME piece Beyoncé Has Always Been Country, join the show to explain the long and often under-sung history of Black women in country: from the birth of many of the genre's core aesthetics and tenants during slavery, to 20th century recording artists who have attempted to break Nashville's white and male mass co-option, to recent breakthroughs from stars like Mickey Guyton. Dr. Royster, Taylor & DJ Louie attempt to position Cowboy Carter in this long and arduous lineage, unpack the details and gestures of singles "Texas Hold 'Em" and "16 Carriages", and parse how Beyoncé's country pivot is tapping into a much larger story than may appear at first blush. Join Pop Pantheon: All Access, Our Patreon Channel, for Exclusive Content and MoreShop Merch in Pop Pantheon's StoreCome to Pop Pantheon Live: Tortured Poets & The State of Taylor Mania on 4/22 at the Bellhouse in BrooklynBuy Tickets to Pop Pantheon Presents: Taylor Mania at Parkside Lounge on 4/19Come to Gorgeous Gorgeous LA on 4/20 at Los GlobosFollow Taylor Crumpton on TwitterFollow DJ Louie XIV on InstagramFollow DJ Louie XIV on TwitterFollow Pop Pantheon on InstagramFollow Pop Pantheon on Twitter
In a preview of this week's Pop Pantheon: All Access episode, music critic Jewly Hight joins DJ Louie for a wide-ranging discussion about Kacey Musgraves' fifth studio album, Deeper Well, which dropped last week. Louie and Jewly discuss how this record fits in the broader narrative arc of Kacey's music and career trajectory, her influences from across the folk rock spectrum and the themes on this music from break-ups to death to the meaning of life itself, all filtered through Kacey's singular lens of blissful wonderment. To hear the rest of the this episode plus receive weekly bonus episodes of Pop Pantheon, gain access to our Discord channel and so much more, subscribe to Pop Pantheon: All Access at the Icon Tier. You can also subscribe for the audio only directly in the Apple Podcasts app. 
Culture writer and author Lina Abascal returns to Pop Pantheon to revisit the fleeting early 2010s moment when EDM DJs utterly consumed American popular music via two of the genre’s most emblematic figures, David Guetta and Calvin Harris. Louie and Lina trace David’s roots in the Paris club scene through to his breakthrough in the U.S. with hits like "When Love Takes Over", "Sexy Bitch" & "Memories", "Where Them Girls At?", "Titanium" and "Turn Me On", his big pop collaborations with artists like Sia, Kelly Rowland and Nicki Minaj. They then tackle Calvin’s bloghouse-y origins through to his peak-era work, from 2011’s “We Found Love” with Rihanna to smashes like "Feel So Close", "Sweet Nothing", "One Kiss" and "This is What You Came For". Finally, Louie and Lina discuss how the EDM bubble burst, how Guetta and Harris adapted, and rank both David Guetta and Calvin Harris in the Official Pop Pantheon. Send your mailbag questions to PopPantheonPod@Gmail.com!!Listen to Pop Pantheon's Calvin Harris & David Guetta EssentialsJoin Pop Pantheon: All Access, Our Patreon Channel, for Exclusive Content and MoreShop Merch in Pop Pantheon's StoreCome to Pop Pantheon Live: Tortured Poets & The State of Taylor Mania on 4/22 at the Bellhouse in BrooklynBuy Tickets to Pop Pantheon Presents: Taylor Mania at Parkside Lounge on 4/19Come to Gorgeous Gorgeous LA on 3/23 at Los GlobosFollow Lina Abascal on InstagramFollow DJ Louie XIV on InstagramFollow DJ Louie XIV on TwitterFollow Pop Pantheon on InstagramFollow Pop Pantheon on Twitter
In a preview of this week's Pop Pantheon: All Access episode, Justin Timberlake put out his sixth studio album, Everything I Thought It Was, last Friday. But is it possible to hear this music— or appreciate Justin's talents— outside of the narrative nosedive his career has taken in the last decade? Vox's Kyndall Cunningham joins Louie and Russ to discuss. To hear the rest of the this episode plus receive weekly bonus episodes of Pop Pantheon, gain access to our Discord channel and so much more, subscribe to Pop Pantheon: All Access at the Icon Tier. You can also subscribe for the audio only directly in the Apple Podcasts app. 
Host and culture writer for Dazed, Vogue and more, Kemi Olivia Alemoru, and writer on race, culture and politics and author of the upcoming book Black Genius, Tre Johnson, join the show to discuss how we as critics and the public interface with the work of famous pop stars who have done awful things. Kemi, Tre and Louie dig into the complex legacies of Kanye West and Michal Jackson in particular, parsing apart how darker revelations about each of their characters have impacted how they think about their legacies, how cultural commentators should talk about them and their own personal listening habits. They also attempt to figure out a universal rubric for how and when we should separate art from artist. Join Pop Pantheon: All Access, Our Patreon Channel, for Exclusive Content and MoreShop Merch in Pop Pantheon's StoreCome to Pop Pantheon Live: Tortured Poets & The State of Taylor Mania on 4/22 at the Bellhouse in BrooklynBuy Tickets to Pop Pantheon Presents: Taylor Mania at Parkside Lounge on 4/19Come to Gorgeous Gorgeous LA on 3/23 at Los GlobosFollow Kemi Olivia Alemoru on TwitterFollow Tre JohnsonFollow DJ Louie XIV on InstagramFollow DJ Louie XIV on TwitterFollow Pop Pantheon on InstagramFollow Pop Pantheon on Twitter
In a preview of this week's Pop Pantheon: All Access episode and as a capstone to our latest series on Ariana Grande, Bustle's Nolan Feeney joins DJ Louie to discuss Ari's seventh studio album, Eternal Sunshine, which dropped on Friday. Louie and Nolan dig into all the record's themes, aesthetics, how it toys with her public narrative, the impact of collaborator Max Martin, absence of long-time songwriting aces Victoria Monet and Tayla Parx and so much more.To hear the rest of the this episode plus receive weekly bonus episodes of Pop Pantheon, gain access to our Discord channel and so much more, subscribe to Pop Pantheon: All Access at the Icon Tier. You can also subscribe for the audio only directly in the Apple Podcasts app. 
For part two of our Ariana Grande series, Pitchfork senior editor Anna Gaca is here to discuss the aesthetic pivot of 2018’s Sweetener, the superstar's first album following the horrific bombing of her Manchester concert and which found her reaching for light amidst unthinkable darkness. From there, Louie and Anna tackle the tabloid frenzy of Ari's relationship with comedian Pete Davidson and how their break-up, along with the death of her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller, turned 2019’s thank u, next into a once-in-a-career deluge of public fixation and artistic revelation. Finally, they consider 2020’s ode to stay-a-home pandemic sex, Positions, discuss their hopes for her imminent seventh studio album, Eternal Sunshine, due tonight, and re-address Ariana Grande's ranking in the official Pop Pantheon. Join us on Pop Pantheon: All Access next week for our review of Ariana’s seventh studio album, Eternal Sunshine.Listen to Pop Pantheon's Ariana Grande Essentials PlaylistJoin Pop Pantheon: All Access, Our Patreon Channel, for Exclusive Content and MoreShop Merch in Pop Pantheon's StoreCome to Pop Pantheon Live: Tortured Poets & The State of Taylor Mania on 4/22 at the Bellhouse in BrooklynCome to Gorgeous Gorgeous NYC on 3/8 at Sultan RoomCome to Gorgeous Gorgeous LA on 3/23 at Los GlobosFollow Anna Gaca on TwitterFollow DJ Louie XIV on InstagramFollow DJ Louie XIV on TwitterFollow Pop Pantheon on InstagramFollow Pop Pantheon on Twitter
Pop music critic at the LA Times, Mikael Wood, joins Pop Pantheon for our first ever full re-examination of the first ever artist we ever ranked in the official Pop Pantheon: Ariana Grande. In Part 1, Louie and Mikael trace Ariana’s roots as a performer, from her start on Broadway as a teenager to her Nickelodeon years and her bubblegum debut single through to her first studio album, 2013’s Babyface-assisted Yours Truly. Then they tackle 2014’s My Everything, which ensconced Ariana as pop’s newest superstar, and 2016’s Dangerous Woman, which marked her rite of passage from child starlet to sexually-embodied adult pop star. Finally, they discuss the 2017 terrorist attack at her concert in Manchester; an international tragedy that forever altered the course of Ariana’s persona, narrative, music and career.Join us next week for Part 2 where we'll explore 2018's Sweetener, 2019's Thank U, Next and 2020's Positions and join our Patreon for our album review of Ariana’s upcoming seventh album, Eternal Sunshine, due March 8. Listen to Pop Pantheon's Ariana Grande Essentials PlaylistJoin Pop Pantheon: All Access, Our Patreon Channel, for Exclusive Content and MoreShop Merch in Pop Pantheon's StoreCome to Pop Pantheon Live: Tortured Poets & The State of Taylor Mania on 4/22 at the Bellhouse in BrooklynCome to Gorgeous Gorgeous NYC on 3/8 at Sultan RoomCome to Gorgeous Gorgeous LA on 3/23 at Los GlobosFollow Mikael Wood on TwitterFollow DJ Louie XIV on InstagramFollow DJ Louie XIV on TwitterFollow Pop Pantheon on InstagramFollow Pop Pantheon on Twitter
When was the last time a single pop star dominated culture like Taylor Swift? From her blockbuster re-recordings, which brought a new generation of fans into the Swiftie fold, to her world-conquering Eras Tour, record-breaking 4th Album of the Year Grammy for 2022’s Midnights and the endless fascination with her personal life and new relationship with Travis Kelce, Taylor Swift has become the biggest music superstar of the millennium. In the wake of her eleventh studio album, The Tortured Poets Department, Pop Pantheon’s DJ Louie XIV will be joined by Every Single Album’s Nora Princiotti, writer Hunter Harris and Rolling Stone’s Brittany Spanos to break down Taylor’s latest record, dissect her place atop the current pop firmament and ponder how long this blazing hot streak can possibly last. Get Your Tickets Here!
Jennifer Lopez might not have stopped the world when she released her new self-financed visual album, This is Me... Now: A Love Story, last week. But she certainly drummed up a lot of conversation, much of which most certainly would not have been happening had she simply dropped a new record. After watching the film, DJ Louie got together with writer Sydney Urbanek, who is currently developing a series for her newsletter Mononym Mythology on the history of the visual album, to talk This is Me... Now, how it fits into the broader lineage of visual albums and serves as just the latest in a long history of pop musicians turning to film as a way to flesh out the world of their music. Join Pop Pantheon: All Access, Our Patreon Channel, for Exclusive Content and MoreShop Merch in Pop Pantheon's StoreCome to Gorgeous Gorgeous NYC on 3/8 at Sultan RoomCome to Gorgeous Gorgeous LA on 3/23 at Los GlobosFollow Sydney Urbanek on TwitterFollow DJ Louie XIV on InstagramFollow DJ Louie XIV on TwitterFollow Pop Pantheon on InstagramFollow Pop Pantheon on Twitter
In a preview of this week's Pop Pantheon: All Access episode, as we gear up for Justin Timberlake's sixth studio album Everything I Thought I Was, due in March, DJ Louie and writer Rachel Brodsky gather to reflect on his debut, 2002's Justified. The two parse out how Justin's public profile nosedive has impacted the public's experience of this music, whether it's possible to enjoy this album in vacuum, and If perhaps there's been an overcorrection on Timberlake in recent years that ignores some of delights of his peak work. To hear the rest of the this episode plus receive weekly bonus episodes of Pop Pantheon, gain access to our Discord channel and so much more, subscribe to Pop Pantheon: All Access at the Icon Tier.
Writer Natalie Weiner joins Pop Pantheon to unpack Sheryl Crow’s “winding road” to pop superstardom. Natalie and Louie trace back Sheryl’s early days in the music business, from her gig singing backup on Michael Jackson's blockbuster Bad Tour to writing songs for Celine Dion and Tina Turner, then discuss the roots rock infused pop of 1993's Tuesday Night Music Club that made Sheryl a star and won her Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards. From there, they break down her signature 1996 self-titled album, 1998’s The Globe Sessions, her status as a tabloid celebrity, Sheryl’s second wave of hits like “Soak Up the Sun” and “Picture,” her continued output of varied and critically acclaimed records, and the massive influence she's had on contemporary acts from HAIM to BoyGenius to Kacey Musgraves and more. Finally, they rank Sheryl Crow in the Official Pop Pantheon. Listen to Pop Pantheon's Sheryl Crow EssentialsJoin Pop Pantheon: All Access, Our Patreon Channel, for Exclusive Content and MoreShop Merch in Pop Pantheon's StoreCome to Gorgeous Gorgeous LA on 2/17 at Los GlobosCome to Gorgeous Gorgeous NYC on 3/8 at Sultan RoomFollow Natalie Weiner on TwitterFollow DJ Louie XIV on InstagramFollow DJ Louie XIV on TwitterFollow Pop Pantheon on InstagramFollow Pop Pantheon on Twitter
In a preview of this week's Pop Pantheon: All Access episode, Beyoncé dropped two singles plus announced her new album! Usher performed at the Super Bowl Halftime Show! Variety's Steven J. Horowitz joins Louie and Russ to discuss it all, plus a new music speed round featuring Justin Timberlake, Kacey Musgraves & Ice Spice. To hear the rest of the this episode plus receive weekly bonus episodes of Pop Pantheon, gain access to our Discord channel and so much more, subscribe to Pop Pantheon: All Access at the Icon Tier.
In anticipation of Usher's Super Bowl Halftime performance on Sunday, we're re-sharing our episode on him from September 2022. Music writer and Assistant Professor at Syracuse University, Rawiya Kameir, is back on the show to discuss the career and confessions of the great Usher. DJ Louie and Rawiya break down Usher’s musical origins singing in the church, the failed boy band he fronted in the early ‘90s, Nu Beginnings, and how his deal with the storied LaFace Records and subsequent “flavor camp” with Sean “Puff Daddy’ Combs set the stage for his self-titled debut record in 1994. They then dive into his breakthrough sophomore album, 1997’s My Way, how it solidified Usher’s persona as a smooth, sensitive, emotionally-conflicted lover boy as well as one of the most dexterous R&B singers of his generation, its blockbuster follow up, 2001’s 8701, which furthered Usher’s thematic fascination with the complexities of and distress caused by love and sex and of course, his magnum opus, 2004’s Confessions, a hit-packed concept album about the aftermath of infidelity that sold over 20 million copies worldwide and stands today as Usher’s signature artistic and commercial achievement. Next, Louie and Rawiya debate Usher’s latter period output, from swings at trendiness on 2008’s Here I Stand and 2010’s Raymond Vs. Raymond to more rewarding experiments on 2012’s Looking 4 Myself and 2016’s Hard II Love. Finally they rank Usher in the official Pop Pantheon.Check out Louie's Usher Essentials Playlist on SpotifyJoin Pop Pantheon: All Access, Our Patreon Channel, for Exclusive Content and MoreShop Merch in Pop Pantheon's StoreCome to Gorgeous Gorgeous LA on 2/17 at Los GlobosCome to Gorgeous Gorgeous NYC on 3/8 at Sultan RoomFollow Rawiya Kameir on TwitterFollow DJ Louie XIV on InstagramFollow DJ Louie XIV on TwitterFollow Pop Pantheon on InstagramFollow Pop Pantheon on Twitter
The long-simmering beef between Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion recently exploded from our streaming services with the release of their respective diss tracks "Big Foot" and "Hiss" and onto social media, where Nicki vented her ire for her rival for days, then, thanks to the rapper's most ardent fans, onto some people's front doorsteps and even to the gravesite of Megan's mother. This beef is yet another moment where the ferocity of stan armies and their relentless defense of their pop star favs went from fun and games on the internet to doxxing, threatening people's families and more. Rolling Stone's Mankaprr Conteh is here to discuss the beef, the role stans have played in it, our increasingly cloistered internet bubbles and realities, what we lose artistically and personally when stanning dominates our cultural discourse and why it may be time to seriously rethink the stan ecosystem, for all of our sakes. Read Mankaprr's breakdown of Nicki and Megan's beef from Rolling StoneWatch Ryan Ken's Tik Tok on stanningJoin Pop Pantheon: All Access, Our Patreon Channel, for Exclusive Content and MoreShop Merch in Pop Pantheon's StoreCome to Gorgeous Gorgeous LA on 2/17 at Los GlobosCome to Gorgeous Gorgeous NYC on 3/8 at Sultan RoomFollow Mankaprr Conteh on TwitterFollow DJ Louie XIV on InstagramFollow DJ Louie XIV on TwitterFollow Pop Pantheon on InstagramFollow Pop Pantheon on Twitter
In a preview of this week's Pop Pantheon: All Access episode, it’s been 25 years since a Black woman won Album of the Year. If neither Beyonce or SZA can do it, who can? Louie + Russ ponder that question with Variety’s Chris Willman as they walk through the good, the bad + the infuriating from the 2024 Grammys.To hear the rest of the this episode plus receive weekly bonus episodes of Pop Pantheon, gain access to our Discord channel and so much more, subscribe to Pop Pantheon: All Access at the Icon Tier.
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