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The 10 Best Music Podcasts You Need To Hear

The best music podcasts are equal parts fascinating and addictive, telling the stories behind the music and breaking down what’s in the secret sauce.

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We’ve entered the golden era of podcasting, especially when it comes to music podcasts, but as the ecosystem grows larger and more diverse, decision paralysis inevitably sets in. Where to begin when there’s a seemingly endless amount of options? From band-specific shows to genre-, era- and album-devoted series, there is a podcast for every type of music fan, from the most esoteric obsessives to mainstream-pop heads. Here are some of the very best music podcasts out there today.

10: Punch Up the Jam

Comedians are regularly called upon to punch up a joke or fix a script, but to improve a pop song? Not so much. Enter Punch Up The Jam, the comedic tag team of Miel Bredouw and Demi Adejuyigbe who both champion and tear apart some of popular music’s enduring hits. Each week the duo (and guest) break down a hit song and then attempt to re-arrange it with hilarious results. Look no further than their take on Guns N’ Roses’ iconic hit ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ or ‘Escape (The Pina Colada Song)’. Nothing is off limits.
Listen on Apple Music and Spotify

9: R U Talkin REM Re: Me

Comedy writer and host of the hit podcast and (now-defunct) TV show Comedy Bang! Bang!, Scott Aukerman had a few musical-comedy podcasts under his belt before starting R U Talkin REM Re: Me with his friend and collaborator Adam Scott (of Parks And Recreation fame). What starred out as a few sporadic episodes of U Talkin’ U2 To Me? later evolved into their greater passion… R.E.M. Less a deep dive into the musicality of the band than addictive banter and wild tangents that also revolve around R.E.M., clearly the duo are onto something, as they count Mike Mills and Peter Buck as past guests.
Listen on Apple Music and Spotify

8: KCRW’s Lost Notes

The best music podcasts fill in the blanks, providing context and telling the stories behind some of the music you love, but KCRW’s Lost Notes takes it one step further, interrogating the past through the lens of today and how to reconcile those differences. Hosted by longtime music writer Jessica Hopper (author of The First Collection Of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic), Hopper honed her on-air storytelling skills during her time with This American Life and seeks to find “the greatest music stories never told”, from a punk-rocker turned father who revisits his misogynistic past, to the legacy of John Fahey re-evaluated through the women who were in his life.
Listen on Apple Music and Spotify

7: Sound Opinions

Dubbed as the “world’s only rock and roll talk show”, Sound Opinions has existed in many forms since its first incarnation as a Chicago radio show back in 1993. Hosted by veteran rock critics Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis, the duo have decades’ worth of musical knowledge at their disposal, but also an insatiable curiosity for what’s happening in music today. Ambitious in scope, the pair will tackle anything from the legend of Robert Johnson to De La Soul and the Paisley Underground, alongside exclusive interviews and live performances. With over 722 episodes and counting, you’ll never run out during a long road trip.
Listen on Apple Music and Spotify

6: Dissect

While many of the best music podcasts break down classic songs, genres and artists, the Dissect podcast trains their lens on the album, dismantling a single title across a whole season. From unpacking Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to analysing Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, Dissect is less cultural criticism and more musical sleuthing. Initially started as a passion project by host Cole Cuchna, it’s now part of the Spotify podcast network, as the streaming service makes further inroads in podcasting, closing the gap between podcasts and music.
Listen on Apple Music and Spotify

5: Switched On Pop

What makes pop songs so catchy? Musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding make it their goal to solve this question without taking away the magic of the music. Like all the best music podcasts, Switched On Pop is democratic in scope, pondering the secret formulas of pop music and going off the rails in best way possible. From the weirdness of 90s pop to the timeless catharsis of Martha And The Vandellas‘Dancing In The Street’, life after Auto-Tune and what ‘Cotton Eye Joe’ tell us about a century-plus of pop music, Switched On Pop is there to answer life’s big questions.
Listen on Apple Music and Spotify

4: Cocaine & Rhinestones

As the son of outlaw-country artist David Allan Coe, Tyler Mahan Coe knows a thing or two about country music. On his podcast, Cocaine & Rhinestones, Coe doesn’t just recount the wild stories of county, but backs them up with an arsenal of facts. Along with covering the big names of the genre – Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline – Coe also highlights some of the overlooked names in country – from The Louvin Brothers to Doug and Rusty Kershaw. Coe doesn’t just tell you the story behind Loretta Lynn’s banned song ‘The Pill’, he digs into US history and the cultural politics of birth control. With the archives in the Country Music Hall of Fame at his disposal, Coe uses country music to tell a larger story about America.
Listen on Apple Music and Spotify

3: Song Exploder

Explaining the creative process can be, well… a process, but hit podcast Song Exploder has succeeded in explaining the origins behind the biggest hits without getting lost in the weeds. Often copied but never replicated, Song Exploder lets the artists themselves break down their songs without getting in the way. Since 2014, musician and composer Hrishikesh Hirway (now musician Thao Nguyen) host and produce the show, revealing the creative process of artists as diverse as Lorde, The Mountain Goats and John Carpenter, to name a few.
Listen on Apple Music and Spotify

2: Questlove Supreme

Even as more musicians are getting into the podcasting game (Hozier, Nicki Minaj, Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig, Perry Farrell and even Rick Rubin), no other host holds it down quite like Questlove. The Roots drummer and author possesses an encyclopaedic musical knowledge quite like no other and can convince his guests to fall down the rabbit hole with him. Past guests have included the likes of Chaka Khan, Michelle Obama, Herb Alpert and even Michael McDonald. It’s nirvana for music nerds but also one of the most engaging talk shows on air.

1: New York Times Popcast

It may be called Popcast, but the New York Times’ music podcast covers a wide scope of music. Hosted by music critic Jon Caramanica, you can count on the roundtable of critics to tackle every subject matter with rigorous enthusiasm, from the rise of Post Malone to Chris Cornell’s legacy, the bootleg merch trade, the future of jazz and the unfair hand dealt to Ashley Simpson. While each episode usually includes an expert guest (or guests) on the topic at hand, the dream team of writers Joe Coscarelli, Caryn Ganz, Jon Pareles and Caramanica each offer diverse expertise in genres and eras to keep the discourse piping hot.
Listen on Apple Music and Spotify

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