Strong Songs

Music: it's good. On each episode of Strong Songs, host Kirk Hamilton takes listeners inside a piece of music, breaking it down and figuring out what makes it work.

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Music: it's good. On each episode of Strong Songs, host Kirk Hamilton takes listeners inside a piece of music, breaking it down and figuring out what makes it work.
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-11-14 02:47
last episode published
2019-11-13 05:00
publication frequency
12.83 days
Kirk Hamilton author ( managing editor  
Kirk Hamilton owner  
Number of Episodes
Detail page
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User Recommendation Date
Arnim Sommer Songs and the concepts in them broken down in an easy listening style. Sometimes connections to other songs that contain the same concept. Great! 25.04.2019


Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

"I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton

It takes an extremely strong song to top the charts three separate times in three separate decades, but "I Will Always Love You" is just such a song. Written and recorded (twice) by Dolly Parton and then re-recorded in show-stopping fashion by Whitney ...

"Making Christmas" from The Nightmare Before Christmas

When the full moon starts to climb, we'll all sing out... it's time to talk about the best stop-motion animated Halloween/Christmas movie musical ever made! Hee hee hee hee heeee! Tim Burton and Danny Elfman's maniacal miniature-musical The Nightmare B...

"Kiss From a Rose" by Seal

There is so much a man can tell you, so much he can say... especially if that man is named Kirk, and the thing he's telling you about is Seal's "Kiss From a Rose." Kirk goes back to the 90s for a close look at Seal's Grammy-winning, Batman-adjacent pow...

Listener Q&A: Fiddle Battles and Bad Sax

Kirk opens the Strong Songs mailbag to tackle your questions about demonic fiddle playing, lousy sax solos, Led Zeppelin counting, fake-out intros, reverb, children's music, and more. REFERENCED ON THIS EPISODE: "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the...

Secrets of a Great Band Director

In this Patreon-funded special episode, Kirk sits down with his former high school band director Janis Stockhouse to talk about her life as a music educator. Janis started teaching at North high school in Bloomington, Indiana, in the early 1980s. It wa...

"Think" by Aretha Franklin

Let's go back, let's go back, let's go way on back to that time Aretha Franklin recorded one of her best songs. On this episode, Kirk dives into two different versions of Franklin's classic tune "Think." First it's the laid back groove and roomy mix of...

"Like a Prayer" by Madonna

Life is a mystery, everyone must stand alone... except for everyone listening to this episode, because we're traveling together through doubt and deliverance with Madonna's "Like a Prayer." Kirk takes a look at the high-contrast drama of the megastar's...

Listener Q&A: Nirvana, P!nk, Jethro Tull, Radiohead

Kirk opens up the Strong Songs mailbag to answer your questions about Marty McFly's musical instructions, Ian Anderson's flute style, Kurt Cobain's guitar tone, how to count songs by P!nk and Radiohead, and what to do if you play an "unsexy" instrument...

Strong TV Songs: Animated Edition

It's time for something a little different, as Kirk takes a look at the theme songs from some of the most beloved animated TV shows of all time. This super-sized episode focuses on five different pieces of music, each of which is the theme for a differ...

"Paranoid Android" by Radiohead

Brace for a pressurized descent, as Kirk braves the undercurrents of Radiohead's alt-rock masterpiece "Paranoid Android." It's a structurally distinct, sonically adventurous, harmonically varied, and unexpectedly Bohemian Rhapsodyesque journey into the...

"Barracuda" by Heart

It's time for the hardest rocking song ever written about sea life, as Kirk takes a deep dive into Heart's 1977 body-shaker "Barracuda." A deceptively complex song written around a deceptively straightforward riff, "Barracuda" opens the door for a disc...

"Tightrope" by Janelle Monáe

Whether you're high or low, you got to tip on the tightrope... and Kirk's got to tip right into a Strong Songs analysis of "Tightrope" by Janelle Monáe. It's time for some thump, some pop, and some sizzle, along with some clever rap phrasing, phrygian ...

"Tiny Dancer" and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" by Elton John

Elton John and his lyricist Bernie Taupin wrote so many great songs over the years that it was impossible to pick a single one for Strong Songs. So, why not do two? Kirk dives into a pair of classics by the storied songwriting duo, talking about Elton'...

Listener Questions: Hamilton, Hozier, Mariah, Modes

Mailbag May returns for round two, as Kirk continues catching up on listener questions. NEW THEME MUSIC INBOUND! Strong Songs passed its first goal of 150 backers on Patreon! That means Kirk will write all-new theme music for the show. Keep an ear out ...

Listener Questions: Tool, Game of Thrones, More Cowbell

It's time for Mailbag May, a long-running (aka brand new) Strong Songs tradition where Kirk spends the month of May catching up on listener questions. NEW PATREON GOAL! A huge thank you to everyone who has signed up to back the show so far on Patreon! ...

Five Albums That Shaped Me

Strong Songs now has a Patreon! Learn more about how you can support the show here: Kirk gets his Patreon pitch out of the way up front, then lists five albums that have shaped him as a musician over the years, talking ...

"Satisfied" from Hamilton

A toast to the groom! To the bride! To knowing you'll always regret the sacrifice you made for your sister! Kirk takes an overdue dive into Lin-Manuel Miranda's epic Broadway musical Hamilton, focusing on Renée Elise Goldsberry's first act showstopper,...

"Mr. Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra

Today's forecast calls for blue skies, and today's Strong Songs calls for an in-depth analysis of Electric Light Orchestra's "Mr. Blue Sky." It's time to welcome all our pretty faces to the human race, thanks to ELO's most enduring concert-rock classic...

"Moanin'" by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

Dust off your head charts and brush up your best licks, cause it's time to wade into the warm, welcoming waters of jazz. This episode's Strong Song is Bobby Timmons' gospel-tinged "Moanin'," from Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers' 1959 album of the sa...

Listener Questions: Syncopation, Subdivision, and Crying Babies

The Strong Songs mailbag is overflowing, so it's time to dive in and answer some listener questions. Kirk digs into creative subdivision, syncopated melodies, major 9th chords, famous drum fills, chiptunes, "bad" singing that's actually good, jazz chor...

"Let It Go" from Frozen

What happens when you put a straight-up power ballad in the middle of a Disney movie? "Let it Go" happens, that's what. On this episode, Kirk climbs to the top of a snowy peak and summons all his magical powers to figure out why Elsa of Arendelle's sel...

"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Well, either way, this is definitely an episode of Strong Songs about Queen's genre-blending rock saga "Bohemian Rhapsody." Kirk dives into Freddie Mercury's operatic opus and learns a lot about vocal techni...

"Dancing Queen" by ABBA

It's time to get lost in the bittersweet beats of ABBA's 1976 hit "Dancing Queen." On this longer-than-usual episode, Kirk tries to tease out some of the things that make this song so iconic and enduring, from its lush arrangement to its clever harmoni...

Listener Questions: The Beatles, Brubeck, Bond and Beyond

It's time for an extra-long episode as Kirk answers your questions about Phil Collins drum solos, musical Wilhelm screams, odd time signatures, Beatles instrumentation, drop-tuned guitars, Bond music, and much more. SHOW NOTES/LINKS ———————————— "In th...

"Thriller" by Michael Jackson

Darkness falls across the land, and it's the right time for Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Kirk picks apart Rod Temperton's dance floor classic in all its groovy, corny, sound effect-y glory. Band/Artist: Michael Jackson Album: Thriller, 1982 Composed b...

"I Wish" by Stevie Wonder

Kirk breaks out the bass and digs into what makes Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" swing like it does, then looks back to some earlier Wonder tunes to guess at why his funkiest stuff tended to be in E-flat. Band/Artist: Stevie Wonder Album: Songs in the Key of...

"Single Ladies" by Beyoncé

On this episode, Kirk dives into one of the greatest pop songs of all time. Beyoncé's "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" is arguably the defining song of the last decade, but it's far from your average pop tune. With its unusual tensions and unstoppabl...

"You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon

This week, Kirk breaks down one of his favorite songs from one of his favorite albums. Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al" was a single from his incredible 1986 album Graceland, and its music video introduced a generation to the wonders of goofy lip-sync...

"Africa" by Toto

On the first episode of Strong Songs, Kirk breaks down Toto's hit song "Africa," a single so good that it still lights up the Internet today. Band/Artist: Toto Album: Toto IV, 1982 Composed by: David Paich and Jeff Porcaro Listen/Buy: Apple Music | Am...