From Auto-Tune to boy bands to the rise of country pop, CTV’s all-new original documentary series THIS IS POP dives deep into some of the most pivotal moments in pop music history over the past seven decades. Produced by Banger Films, the eight-part docu-series features exclusive interviews with the biggest names in music – including Shania Twain, Boyz II Men, and T-Pain – and explores their impact on the industry and pop culture. THIS IS POP airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT, beginning March 6, on CTV, and the all-new CTV.ca and CTV app.
“We are thrilled to be looking back and bringing these iconic moments in pop music to CTV audiences,” said Karine Moses, Senior Vice-President, Content Development & News, Bell Media. “At a time where the world is constantly changing, THIS IS POP offers a dynamic escape for viewers to relive and commemorate some of the most celebrated decades in music history.” Each 60-minute instalment of THIS IS POP is directed by an award-winning Canadian filmmaker – such as Jared Raab, Simon Ennis, and Lisa Rideout – who bring their own style and voiceto one common goal: to look at how these seminal moments unfolded, and left long-lasting legacies on pop music and culture which continue until today. The eight game-changing moments that THIS IS POP explores include:
- “Auto-Tune” (Saturday, March 6 at 10 p.m. ET) – Love it or hate it, Auto-Tune has changed pop music. From Cher’s “Believe” to Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown,” the sound has penetrated the globe and revolutionized music since its invention in 1997. Some say the pitch-correction technology has ruined music, while others have found fame by using the tool creatively. Tracing Auto-Tune’s roots to predecessors like the synthesizer, the good, the bad, and the ugly of this game-changing technology is revealed, grounded in a personal account of Auto-Tune’s most famous user, T-Pain. This episode also features interviews with Auto-Tune inventor Dr. Andy Hildebrand, British record producer Ken Scott (producer and engineer for The Beatles and some of David Bowie’s biggest albums), and synthesizer pioneer Suzanne Ciani. Directed by Jared Raab (NIRVANNA THE BAND THE SHOW).
- “Hail Britpop!” (Saturday, March 13 at 10 p.m. ET) – Britpop. The word can elicit an eye roll, an itch to get on the dance floor, or a sudden urge to cry and sing “Wonderwall.” In the early ‘90s, when America was hooked on grunge, The Brits retaliated with a return to catchy, witty, and downright fun pop, speaking to their own stories and cultural roots. This musical zeitgeist known as “Britpop” went far behind the headlines of “Oasis vs. Blur” – bands like Elastica, Echobelly, Pulp, Lush, and Suede became international exports with a unique sound. With musical scenes in both London and Manchester, Britpop was the “perfect storm” of creative songwriting, eclectic personalities, and cultural forces behind some of the catchiest tunes on the planet. Featuring interviews with Blur’s Alex James and Dave Rowntree, Skin from Skunk Anansie, and Creation Records’ Alan McGee (who discovered Oasis). Directed by Reginald Harkema (Monkey Warfare).
- “Stockholm Syndrome” (Saturday, March 20 at 10 p.m. ET) – Since 1974, when a little-known group named ABBA won Eurovision’s song contest with their track “Waterloo,” Sweden has been a global force in exporting pop music. Cassette players and bedroom walls have been filled with the likes of Roxette, Ace of Base, and Robyn, and ‘90s playlists featuring Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and *NSYNC would be obsolete without the work of Swedes Denniz Pop and Max Martin. Today, Swedish producers and songwriters continue to be the powerhouses behind the biggest pop stars. Featuring interviews with ABBA’s Benny Andersson, Ace of Base’s Ulf Ekberg, and The Backstreet Boys’ Brian Littrell, this episode explores how one – Scandinavian country came to dominate global pop music. Directed by Jared Raab.
- “The Boyz II Men Effect” (Saturday, March 27 at 10 p.m. ET) – Before Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and 98 Degrees, there was a “boy band” from Philadelphia called Boyz II Men that ruled the charts. With their incredible vocal harmonies and preppy-cool style, Boyz II Men became the “soundtrack to our lives” with hits like “End of The Road”, “I’ll Make Love To You”, “Motown Philly,” and “One Sweet Day” – heard at weddings, proms, karaoke bars, and funerals alike. Going back to the band’s humble beginnings in Philadelphia, this episode pays homage to the influential R&B group who set the template for ‘90s boy bands. Featuring interviews with band members Nate Morris, Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman, GRAMMY® AWARD-winning producer and musician Babyface, and Nick Lachey. Directed by Chelsea McMullan.
- “When Country Goes Pop” (Saturday, April 3 at 10 p.m. ET) – It’s a tale as old as time – a country song goes “pop” and country music fans protest. From Dolly Parton to Shania Twain to Lil Nas X, the scrutiny around what makes a song “country” has been a raging debate that shows no signs of slowing down. Featuring renowned Canadian musician Orville Peck, pivotal and controversial moments of the Country Pop genre are examined in this instalment, as artists including Brandi Carlile and Twain herself share their stories to help demonstrate why country music has such a fetish with authenticity. Directed by Simon Ennis.
- “The Brill Building in 4 Songs” (Saturday, April 10 at 10 p.m. ET) – New York City’s Brill Building and pop music go together like bread and butter, or in this case, like King n’ Goffin, Leiber n’ Stoller, or Barry n’ Kim. In the 1950s and 60s, songwriters, record producers, and wannabe pop stars flocked to 1619 Broadway in New York with dreams of churning out the next big hit. Full of small rooms with upright pianos, The Brill Building was labelled a “song-factory”, but its true spirit grew out of a community that collaborated and challenged each other to achieve greatness. The result would culminate in an incredible musical era known as “The Brill Building Sound” and would define pop music to this day, delivering hits like “Leader of The Pack,” “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” and “Sugar Sugar.” Featuring interviews with singer Andy Kim, Neil Sedaka, Steven Van Zandt, and singer-songwriter Linda Perry. Directed by Chelsea McMullan.
- “What Can A Song Do?” (Saturday, April 17 at 10 p.m. ET) – For decades, musicians have been using music as their weapon of choice against social injustice, discrimination and marginalization. From Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” to Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” a song is one of the most powerful ways to transmit a message to a large audience. This episode explores the idea that music actually be a catalyst for change, with musicians like Chuck D, Arlo Guthrie, and Hozier sharing their unique approach to writing about injustice. Directed by Lisa Rideout.
- “Festival Rising” (Saturday, April 24 at 10 p.m. ET) – There is no rite of passage quite like the music festival. Millions of people attend them each year and now more than ever they infiltrate our culture from “festival wear” clothing lines to playlists. Taking a journey from ‘60s counterculture to modern-day “selfie” culture, the evolution of the music festival is explored to examine deeper ideas about the importance of collective experiences, and they act as a cultural mirror that reflect interests and ideals. Focusing on some of the most iconic festivals in history including Monterey Pop, Glastonbury, The US Festival, Woodstock 99, and Bonnaroo, accounts from Jefferson Airplane’s Jack Casady, Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew, and Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke bring to life to all the sights and sounds of the pop festival. Directed by Dylan Reibling.