The best podcasts, in the entire world, right now
Podcasts – they’re kind of a big deal now. This month, the second series of The Ron Burgundy Podcast launched with the kind of blanket promo usually reserved for a Hollywood blockbuster. Will Ferrell was a guest on all the US TV network late-night talk shows in one night. Doesn’t really matter that the Anchorman spin-off pod isn’t particularly brilliant, it’s still a sign of just how far podcasting has come.
Anyway, let’s concentrate on the good stuff. That’s what we’ve been doing each fortnight with Podcasts For The People so far. Check out recommenders one and two, if you haven’t already. If you are just joining us, this column is designed to be your instant cure for podcast paralysis – a regular injection of new listening suggestions. There are tips from me, and you. I’m @GregCochrane on Twitter, shout out your current favourites if you want to see them in the next column.
In the meantime, since most of your recommends are kinda grizzly this time, I’m off to listen to the much-hyped Dr. Death that’s currently topping most-listened charts around the world.
What Greg’s been listening to
The low-down: Call me Mr Obvious but it would be an oversight not to acknowledge the significance of Song Exploder at some point on Podcasts For The People, so why not now? And maybe, if you’re interested in music and are only just taking your first steps in podcast listening, this is good timing. The idea is simple; the world’s biggest and best artists take apart one of their own songs. Where to start with all 166 episodes? Recently, Sharon Van Etten was great dissecting ‘Seventeen’, and further back, Fleetwood Mac, Janelle Monae, Lorde, Metallica and The National are all essential. It’s a modern day rite of passage to be on it.
Where to hear it: All major podcast places, and the Song Exploder site
The low-down: What’s that tense feeling in your neck and shoulders? It’s probably that emotional burden you’ve been carrying around for years! Enter: Heavyweight. A largely feel-good podcast with a mission to resolve the unresolved – volunteers revisit a moment in their lives they wish they could change to make it right. And boy, hearing other people’s problems lifted is cathartic. Like the time host/mediator/shrink Jonathan Goldstein got his eldery father and uncle together in a room (episode 1) to finally get heart-to-heart on some lingering childhood trauma. Series four begins on September 26, so catch up before then. Guaranteed to brighten your morning commute.
Where to hear it: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts
Blood On The Tracks
The low-down: Nicola Roberts, Nigel Owens, Doc Brown and The Lightning Seeds’ Ian Broudie walk into a room… nope, there’s no punchline, that’s genuinely the kind of improbable panel BOTT put together. Far from being disastrous, it’s usually pretty entertaining. Refereed by Colin Murray, it’s a mash-up: Steve Lamacq’s Roundtable meets 5Live’s Fighting Talk. Four guests go head to head on music taste, playing tracks to compete on topics like ‘best song about alcohol’ or ‘best Scottish songs’. Surely any show that puts Rose McGowan and Maverick Sabre together to talk about Nicki Minaj has got to be worth a go?
Where to hear it: BBC Sounds
The low-down: We’re hopelessly addicted to social media. Can’t get enough of it. The average Briton checks their phone every 12 minutes. Konnie Huq (of Blue Peter fame) asks a range of notables to abstain from Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram for a whole seven days. Sound simple? The likes of Adam Buxton, Deborah France-White and Huq’s husband Charlie Brooker all try to avoid their mentions for a week with various degrees of success. At least one of them failed spectacularly.
Where to hear it: BBC Sounds, and other major podcast platforms
The low-down: Into cricket? No, me either. Terrible. So dull it makes golf look like UFC. At least that’s what I thought until last month I tuned in to watch batsman Ben Stokes win something called a super-over and England lifted the one-day Men’s World Cup. Now, the Ashes is on, I’m hooked. Tailenders – hosted by Radio 1’s Greg James, England’s best ever bowler Jimmy Anderson and former Maccabees guitarist and wickety guru Felix White – is a podcast about cricket… loosely. I mean, it brings cricket to people like me who don’t know a googly from a jaffa. It doesn’t matter, Tailenders – with expert insight, running jokes and an overall theme of inclusivity – makes the whole culture feel like a club you won’t want to leave.
Where to hear it: Wherever you get your podcasts
What you’ve been listening to
Last Podcast On The Left
Recommended by: Dottie Dash, @DottieDelish on Twitter
The low-down: Kinda dark you lot, aren’t you? LPOTL is a comedy commentary series about the horrors of the world, both imagined and real. You get forages into the stories of mass murderers, brutal crimes and conspiracy theories. They’re currently having a field day with all the Jeffrey Epstein stories.
Dottie says: “Last Podcast On The Left is engaging and hilarious, and the hosts are magnetic!”
Where to hear it: Stitcher, Soundcloud, Apple – or their official website
Those Conspiracy Guys
Recommended by: Joshua Webb, @jdub1230 on Twitter
The low-down: What was I just saying about you guys being dark? Some of TCG is fairly disturbing, like their deep-dives into the world of various true crimes (recent episode: Fred and Rosemary West). Not exclusively about murderers though, it’s about anything where there could be more than meets the eye. Like, um, cannibalism, life on Mars, and whether there’s something to the ‘27 Club’ other than coincidence. Not ghoulish, it’s light-hearted and assiduously researched.
Joshua says: “The humour and knowledge, and the fact they don’t try to push their ideas. They just present them.”
Liam R. Tustin adds: “For the awkward looks I get when I explain to people what I’m listening to… especially from my Nan.”
Where to hear it: Google Podcasts, Spreaker, Spotify
Recommended by: Gill Roberts,@Gillroberts on Twitter
The low-down: Grab your popcorn for this DIY film podcast hosted by Marc and Steve. In it they review the big new releases and take listener questions. There’s even some impressions. And they make a special effort to support other podcasts, which is nice.
Gill says: “The two that present this are very funny and don’t take themselves too seriously. Good mix of old and new film reviews uncovering some gems I would never have seen before.”
Where to hear it: Podbean, Apple, Podcoin and more
Podcast: The Ride
Recommended by: @SeparatedDad on Twitter
There’s a podcast for everything; even one about theme park rides. Podcast: The Ride bills itself as “three childless men in their thirties… who know WAY too many things about Disney, Universal, and beyond”. So if almost two hours of chat about Big Thunder Mountain sounds like your bag…
@SeperatedDad says: “Because when you love theme park rides at Disney, nothing beats these guys.”
Where to hear it: Major podcast apps
My Favourite Murder
Recommended by: @Thiszuzu on Twitter
The low-down: You’ve heard of Swifties and KatyCats? But what about Murderinos? Sounds a bit more macabre doesn’t it? That’s the nickname given to the sizeable following of this US true crime podcast hosted by comedians Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. They met, appropriately, at a Halloween party.
Zuzu says: “It makes me feel like less of a sicko.”
Where to hear it: Stitcher, Spotify, Player FM