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Best Music Podcasts 2021- Top Music Podcasts
With seemingly endless music libraries from streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, it seems like the most insatiable music lover would be set for life. However, as any discophile will tell you, the greatest part about discovering new music is the hunt. There’s nothing like finding a song or artist that resonates with you (and then subsequently falling into the rabbit hole of their origin story). Though features like Spotify’s artist bios and Genius’s “Behind the Lyrics” can help fill in some of those gaps, there’s so much more to the music world to discover than meets the eye. Or, um, ear.
Cue: Music podcasts. Whether you’re hungry for more background on your favorite artist, want the breakdown on production, or just need to switch it up from listening to the same playlists every day, there is sure to be a music podcast out there that is harmonious to your needs. And the library is expanding by the day. From decades-old radio shows like BBC’s Desert Island Discs, to the hit podcast-turned-Netflix series Song Exploder, it hasn’t been lost on producers that music and podcasting make a perfect duet. So, pause that eternal song shuffle and give one of these shows a try. You’re sure to find a beat that you can jam to on this list. These are some of the best music podcasts in the game.
Created by Hrishikesh Hirway and now hosted by Thao Nguyen, Song Exploder is the perfect listen for any DIY musicians out there – or just those with some admiration for the craft. Each episode breaks down a song element by element with the artists who made them – and the guest list is not too shabby. From Maggie Rogers to Meek Mill to Metallica, and everything in between, there’s a high chance that Song Exploder has covered some of your favorite hits.
Something along the lines of a long-form Song Exploder, Dissect breaks down an entire album each season – song by song. So far, host Cole Cuchna has analyzed groundbreaking albums from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Lauryn Hill, Tyler the Creator, Beyoncé, and Childish Gambino.
Louder Than a Riot
Since debuting in September, NPR’s Louder Than a Riot has delivered some of the best investigative journalism in podcasting. Analyzing the ongoing connection between “rhyme and punishment” in America, hosts Rodney Carmichael and Sidney Madden are set out to disentangle the interwoven history of hip-hop and mass incarceration. Each episode, Carmichael and Madden break down a new artist’s story as a means of uncovering a different aspect of the criminal justice system.
Switched on Pop
From “catchy” choruses to “infectious” melodies, when you think about it, it’s not uncommon for us to talk about pop music as if it’s a science. So, why not treat it like one? Musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Chris Harding have set out to do just this. Each episode, the two cover a different pop song and tell you exactly what makes it so good.
Slow Burn Season 3: Biggie and Tupac
It would be remiss for a podcast covering the greatest scandals of the late 20th-century to not discuss the tragic and unsolved murders of two of hip-hop’s biggest legends: Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace and Tupac Shakur. Host Joel Anderson continues his thoughtful and thorough investigation on this season by looking beneath the beef of the two rivals feuding, and into the greater implications of their lives and deaths.
One of the biggest selling points of Questlove Supreme’s podcast is that it delivers interviews with music and cultural icons that “only Questlove and Team Supreme can deliver.” And, for a man as beloved and well-connected in the industry as Questlove, it’s hard to argue with that. With a stacked guest list, thoughtful approach, and downright fun environment, Questlove Supreme gives a unique spin on the typical interview podcast.
Rolling Stone: Music Now
When it comes to music journalism, Rolling Stone is a staple source. So, it’s only right that their podcast would be one of the best in the game. Functioning as somewhat of a general music news show, Music Now covers everything from industry news, to in-depth profiles, interviews, song recommendations, and anything else the writers and editors of Rolling Stone have in store.
All Songs Considered
There’s nothing like being gifted new song recommendations by a friend. And, while you might not know All Songs Considered hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton personally, their laidback and sincere demeanor will immediately put you at ease. Along with their new music roundups, All Songs Considered also weaves in conversations with emerging artists, as well as reflections on the icons of the music industry.
If you’re a sucker for artists-interviewing-artists stories, Talkhouse is for you. Each week, Talkhouse pairs up two creatives, typically from the music and/or film industry, and lets them chat their way through everything from cultural commentary to personal stories and, of course, frequent sh*t-shooting. You’re sure to find one of your favorite artists on the series lineup – or, if you’re lucky, more than one of them in conversation together.
KCRW’s Lost Notes mission is to uncover “the greatest music stories never told” – which is, of course, a broad ambition. However, Lost Notes has a way of zooming in on the small details of music history as a means of drawing a bigger picture, and, season by season, has really hit its stride. Season 1 host Solomon Giorgio kicks off the series with an eclectic range of unknown stories, while season 2 host Jessica Hopper unpacks artists legacies – playing special attention to women pioneers in music. The latest season, hosted by poet and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib, is a thoughtful meditation on the monumental decade of music that is the 80s.
No Effects with Jesse Cohen
Jesse Cohen of electronic duo Tanlines enters interviews with one promise: He will never ask artists to recount the origin of their band name. Intent upon covering the sides of artists that neither stage lights nor typical interview Q&As illuminate, the result of this musician-interviewing-musicians pod is an earnest and often never-before-seen look at your favorite artists. Though now on a two-year hiatus with an indefinite return, the No Effects library is a hidden gem with a plethora of contemporary and rising artists of today.
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