The Best Music Podcasts To Binge While You’re Stuck In Isolation
May as well become a music expert while you're stuck at home.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold around the globe and we face the very real possibility of being confined to our homes for the foreseeable future, there’s no better time to lose yourself in hundreds of hours of dense musical analysis.
We’ve rounded up the best and most fascinating music podcasts for you to get stuck into — ranging from longform interviews and album dissections to close looks at iconic artists and festivals. There’s something for everyone, so get stuck in — after all, you may as well become a music expert while on lockdown.
Ever become so obsessed with a song that you want to pick it apart from the inside out? That’s the impulse behind Song Exploder, a podcast that takes a macro look at some of the biggest, most adored songs on the planet.
Artists are invited along to examine each layer of their own creations, sometimes telling stories of the fights that went on behind the scenes (as with the wild Warpaint episode), sometimes just leaning into the art (as with Courtney Barnett’s appearance).
Switched On Pop
If you’ve ever sat there wondering, ‘What obscure chord progression is this pop song using and does it come from classical music?’, Switched On Pop is going to be up your alley.
Think of it as a masterclass in songwriting, applying a scientific perspective to the earworms that have been stuck in your head for years. So next time you listen to Dua Lipa’s ‘Don’t Start Now’, you can tell your friends that the bassline is straight from Giorgio Moroder’s playbook.
Dolly Parton’s America
The great and curious unifying power of Dolly Parton is at the heart of Dolly Parton’s America, hosted by Jad Abumrad.
Exactly why does this country musician from Tennessee inspire such love and devotion from so many different demographics — from the LGBTIQ community to hardline conservatives. Featuring interviews with Dolly fans and analysis of her songwriting prowess, it’s a fascinating anthropological look at a music icon.
Inside The Big Day Out
As the title suggests, Double J’s Inside The Big Day Out excavates and examines the tumultuous history of one of Australia’s most beloved festivals.
Hosted by Gemma Pike, it takes us through the festival’s inception and mass expansion, through the tragic death of Jessica Michalik during Limp Bizkit’s set in 2001, to the event’s ultimate demise in 2014. Meticulously well-researched and well-presented.
Listen: Episode 1 – A Vision of Nirvana
Australia’s own Max Easton is the host behind the fascinating and informative Barely Human. A close look at some of the most subversive and avant-garde artists in music, the show places a discography in its proper context, examining the social forces that songwriters like Roky Erickson and GG Allin are responding to.
That level of detail means that you don’t have to know the artist in question before diving into an episode either — you’ll be transformed into a Death-head in minutes.
In each episode of Flopstars, music journalists Nic Kelly and Sam Murphy take a look at an artist or album that has shifted the pop needle — but for whatever reason haven’t managed to crack through the upper echelons of the charts.
The podcast only launched in February, and so far they’ve deep dived into Carly Rae Jepsen’s acclaimed album EMOTION, Charli XCX, Lady Gaga’s much-maligned ARTPOP, and Tove Lo.
And The Writer Is…
We’re obviously familiar with the artists that sing our favourite songs, but what about the people that write them?
And The Writer Is…, hosted by songwriter Ross Golan — he’s written with Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and Nicki Minaj, to name but a few — features interviews with the world’s biggest songwriters and producers, from Jack Antonoff to Benny Blanco to Justin Tranter to Julia Michaels.
Australia’s own Sarah Aarons (she has writing credits on Zedd’s ‘Stay’ and ‘The Middle’, among others) features in one particularly good episode.
Punch Up The Jam
Punch Up The Jam is a podcast about love, hosted by people who are deeply in love with music. A portrait of sonic obsession, it sees the two hosts — Miel Bredouw and Demi Adejuyigbe — place their hearts right on their sleeves and go to bat for a slighted pop hit.
Adejuyigbe has sadly departed the show, leaving Bredouw as the sole host, but there’s still tonnes of episodes with him for newcomers to pore over, and Bredouw more than holds her own with her sheer, unrestricted passion.
The J Files
An Australian institution, The J Files is a loving tribute to some of the most important acts in the world. PJ Harvey, Jurassic 5, Nirvana — all of these artists have been given The J Files treatment, picked apart by professionals and by fans.
But the focus isn’t just on internationals, and a lot of Australian up-and-comers have been given that same level of attention and interest by the show. The recent episode about The Bamboos, for instance, was one of the best yet, a loving look at a soul institution.
Listen: The J Files
A serialised music podcast, Dissect is as much a work of deduction as it is anything else; an attempt to understand the creative forces that produced some of the most important albums of the last few decades.
The recent season on Kendrick Lamar’s Damn., for instance, is as compelling and fast-paced as any season of true crime television, and just as concerned with unpacking mysteries. There’s a reason why people have a straight-up obsession with this podcast — there’s nothing out there like it on the market.