In 2005, Nickelodeon premiered an animated series called Avatar: The Last Airbender, about a young boy and his friends who have to keep peace and balance in the world. It combined fantasy and martial arts, and ran for four seasons, won an Emmy and a Peabody, and in 2012, spawned a sequel called The Legend of Korra. This time, the story was about a girl, Korra, a teenager, and just as the characters were older and the world they inhabited was older, the themes of the show matured as well. In December 2014, after 4 seasons of its own, the series and franchise aired its finale. It made headlines for the final shot of the very last scene, where Korra and her female companion Asami come together as a couple, romantically. Composer Jeremy Zuckerman used a mix of Chinese and western instruments for the series. In this episode, he deconstructs the music he wrote, reflects on the significance of that scene, and also what it felt like to close the curtain on a franchise he'd been working on over the course of twelve years of his life.

Direct download: SongExploder30.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:37am PDT

The Imitation Game is a biographical film about Alan Turing, a mathematician who pioneered computer science and helped the British government break Nazi codes, but was then later prosecuted by the British government for being gay. Composer Alexandre Desplat created the score, which was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar — his eighth Oscar nomination. In this episode, he breaks down the orchestration of the main theme from the film, which plays during the title sequence.

Direct download: SongExploder29.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:08am PDT

On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart while reentering the earth's atmosphere. John Roderick, singer and songwriter of The Long Winters, wrote "The Commander Thinks Aloud" about that fateful moment. This episode was made from an interview I did with John Roderick in front of a live audience in Seattle, where we discussed how and why he made this song.

Direct download: SongExploder28.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:01am PDT

The band Blonde Redhead formed in 1993. Twenty-one years later, in 2014, the trio released their 9th album, and in this episode, they deconstruct Penultimo, a song from that record that caused some dissent between the band members. At the heart of the controversy was the Pitchfactor effect pedal by Eventide, a harmonizer that does a lot, or maybe too much. Coming up, you'll hear how tricky it was to begin this song, as well as finish it.

Direct download: SongExploder27.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:38am PDT

In November 2014, Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan released his 11th album, called 36 Seasons. A lot of people worked on it: soul band The Revelations served as a kind of house backing band for the whole thing. Lil' Fame from M.O.P. and engineer Daniel Schlett helped produce, and there's a host of guest vocalists, including the ones on this track: singer Tré Williams, and rappers AZ and Kool G Rap. But the person who put the whole thing together, came up with the idea, and corralled all of these contributors is someone who doesn't appear on the record. His name is Bob Perry, and his title is A&R, which stands for artist and repertoire. Nowadays, that usually means the person at a record label who acts as a talent scout for new artists, but back in the day, the A&R reps were often responsible for much more. In this episode, Bob Perry talks about how the Ghostface song "The Battlefield" came together, and Revelations guitarist Wes Mingus breaks down how the beat was assembled.

Direct download: SongExploder26.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:26pm PDT



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