Switched On Pop | The Sound of Sapphism
A podcast breaking down the music of pop hits.
Switched On Pop
Published 08 November 2022
girl in red

Pop music surrounds us, but how often do we really listen to what we’re hearing? Switched on Pop is the podcast that pulls back the curtain on pop music. Each episode, join musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding as they reveal the secret formulas that make pop songs so infectious. By figuring out how pop hits work their magic, you’ll fall in love with songs you didn’t even know you liked.

In the 20th century, queer people had the phrase “are you a friend of Dorothy?”, But in 2022, there’s the saying “do you listen to girl in red?”.

If you’re young, queer, or on Tiktok, you might have noticed a growing community of artists and listeners over the past few years under the banner of “sapphic pop”, a term recently coined referring to music by and/or for sapphics (a.k.a. women or femme folks attracted to other femme folks).

Journalist Emma Madden defines the folk-inspired sound as having a “soft tactile approach” that’s “more sensual than it is sexual”. This umbrella folds in everyone from indie pop veterans Tegan & Sara to nonbinary artists like King Princess; even artists like Hozier and Sufjan Stevens are, improbably, considered sapphic pop, with their music having the same sonic qualities of other songs dedicated to feminine yearning.

From articles popping up in multiple news outlets to the majority of Taylor Swift’s openers for this upcoming tour (looking at MUNA, girl in red and Phoebe Bridgers, specifically), the terminology of “sapphic pop” has come to define a scene almost out of nowhere.

This week on Switched On Pop, we explore exactly what sapphic pop is, where it came from, and how artists feel about it – even asking Tegan & Sara and King Princess directly.

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