Everyone’s got a podcast now – let’s help each other find the best ones
There’s a vast universe of podcasts out there. From DIY bedroom audio blogs to mega-budget documentaries. Podcasting is having a moment – 15 years since it started, 20 percent of 15-34 year-olds in the UK are now listening to one every week. Soon, there will be a million of them out there. That’s something like 79 years of non-stop listening.
Of course, there are the well-known names: Serial, The Adam Buxton Podcast, My Dad Wrote A Porno. But, away from those, it can be daunting to know where to start.
That’s where this comes in… Podcasts For The People is a new, fortnightly podcast round-up where I’ll share my favourites and NME’s clued-up readers (that’s you) will recommend some too (don’t leave me hanging!). Together, we’ll stumble on greatness.
It won’t just be about music podcasts – although we’ll aim to unearth a bunch of those – but other topics as well: comedy, social issues, news, sports, true crime, interviews, film and politics. Anything podcasts are about, which is everything. Even *silently shakes head* Love Island. The policy: no recommendations are too obvious, nothing is too niche. It doesn’t matter. Even if you make a podcast, put it forward. I’ll regularly be asking for your tips on NME’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and sharing them in this column so we all discover the next decent listen. Get ready to rep your favourites. I’m @GregCochrane on Twitter.
What Greg’s been listening to
Have You Heard George’s Podcast?
The low-down: Let’s start with an award-winner. Have You Heard George’s Podcast? cleaned up at the most recent British Podcast Awards. For good reason. In it, London spoken word artist and performer George The Poet explores family, young black British culture, poverty and crime, often using music as his way in. The A Grenfell Story episode totally floored me. The way he narrates his story, and that of others, is super innovative and immersive – like the way he uses a micro detail in a grime song lyric to make a macro point about society. Honestly, George makes podcasting feel limitless.
Where to hear it: Listen on all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Acast. Start with this.
Digging Deep: The Robert Plant Podcast
The low-down: A nostalgia feast for fans of the former Led Zep frontman. Each episode of Digging Deep sees Plant revisit a specific moment in his career through an individual track and the gentle questioning of presenter Matt Everitt. “It’s not self-indulgent,” Plant jokes, “it’s hugely indulgent”. If that sounds dry, it’s not. Naturally the conversations stray from the songwriting and Plant starts spraying the anecdotes (Jimmy Page and Phil Collins get mentioned in ep1). There are only a handful so far, focussing on ‘Calling To You’, ‘Bones Of Saints’ and ‘Achilles Last Stand’, with new episodes dropping every other week.
Where to hear it: Apple Podcasts and more. Start with this.
Hip Hop Saved My Life
The low-down: When he’s not squabbling with his Sri Lankan mother for our entertainment, comedian Romesh Ranganathan is saluting the art of hip hop. Each episode gets encyclopaedic about flow, lyrics and beats. Past guests include Doc Brown, Loyle Carner and Frankie Boyle (yep). Season two recently launched. Mark Ronson – check out his archive Ted Talk about sampling – joins Ranganathan for a 50-minute geek out about Pharoahe Monch, Ghostface Killah and Nate Dogg. Ronson also has a good moan about living in sunny L.A (poor, Mark).
Where to hear it: It’s on all the majors. Start with this.
The low-down: Where Shirley Manson – an absolute natural at interviewing – sits down with an artist she admires to zero in on one song that changed their career. And, sure, that bit’s good, but the Garbage frontwoman’s no-bullshit talent for coaxing interesting stories from her guests is where it shines. Her conversation with Big Boi about Outkast is a vibey listen, while she managed to pin down Courtney Love for a rare chat about everything from her less-than-easy upbringing to her creativity now. “I’m 54… I’ve wondered if I have anything to say anymore,” wonders Love, “and that’s a really gnarly place to be.”
Where to hear it: Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Start with this.
It’s A Pixies Podcast
The low-down: “I’m wetting my pants in anticipation,” says someone calling themselves ‘pixies beer f1 life is good’ in the Apple comments for this one. And, in a way, that kinda sums this up. This is a dream if you’re major into Black Francis – takes a bit of getting-used-to hearing him referred to as Charles in this, though – and co. Listeners are planted in the studio with them, in an 18th century church near Woodstock, as they made their new album Beneath The Eyrie (out September). That means ear-wigging on conversations and aborted takes, often with the reward of a snippet of new music at the end. Where is their mind? Very much on the job at hand.
Where to hear it: Find it on all the majors. Start with this.
What you’ve been listening to
Insane In The Men Brain
Recommended by: Rich Wilson, @NME on Twitter
The low-down: Hey, I did say it was OK to plug your own podcast. Also, let’s take a second to appreciate that pun. This one has featured guests including comedian Rob Beckett and Scroobius Pip. Host Rich got in touch, explaining: “It’s a podcast about men’s mental health but done in a very inclusive yet unorthodox way. It’s an excellent listen, and is available on all podcast platforms.”
Where to hear it: Find it wherever you listen to your podcasts. Start with this.
I Am The Egg Pod
Recommended by: Andrew MacDonald, @NME on Twitter
The low-down: Chris Shaw hosts this breezy nerd-out themed around the Fab Four. Each episode sees a guest come on to chat about a different Beatles-related albums. It’s full of surprises, like, you possibly wouldn’t expect a deep-dive from beatbox rapper Beardyman on Paul McCartney’s ‘McCartney II’. Andrew says: “It’s the best Beatles podcast, informative, funny and welcoming.”
Where to hear it:
Apple Podcasts. Start with this.
Killed to Death
Recommended by: Tom Schenck, @NME on Facebook
The low-down: This long-running series brings together arguably the two most popular things in podcast world: true crime and comedy. If you like, you’re in luck, there are more than 200 eps to jump back into. Tom comments: “A hilarious improv-take on true-crime podcasts, and shows off a lot of different comedians.”
Where to hear it:
Search for it on the Apple app. Start with this.
Recommended by: Andy Williams, @NME on Twitter
The low-down: Because nothing’s funnier than a story that gets entirely out of control. Listeners send hosts Joe Wilkinson (you might recognise off 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown), Poppy Hillstead and David Earl “unsubstantiated rumours” they’ve heard. The “Gossipmongers” spread it from there. Andy adds: “It’s basically a Chris Morris podcast without Chris Morris.”
Where to hear it:
On the Acast app. Start with this
How Did You Manage That?
Recommended by: ScragMag, @NME on Twitter
The low-down: The neat thing about podcasts is that lots of them are niche. Really, How Did You Manage That? is a series aimed at people wanting to get into music management seeking a bit of insight. That means in-depth wisdom-sharing from those who’re doing it; the likes of The 1975’s boss Jamie Oborne and Sarah Gallagher, who looks after Olly Murs. ScragMag writes: “This opens you up to nuggets of knowledge no-one else does in the music management realm.”
Where to hear it: Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Acast. Start with this.