Bored of listening to the same music on your commute? Then there’s a good chance you need to spice things up a little bit with some new podcasts to mix things up a bit – here are the shows that got us all excited and sharing theories across the NME office in 2017.
Whatever you’re into – there’s going to be something that will no doubt take your fancy. Film and pop culture? Got it. Songwriting? You betcha. Murder mysteries? Yep, plenty of them. We’ve broken down the best podcasts below, from the finest dramas to the grizzliest true crime.
The one for the True Crime fan
What is it? A six-part thrill ride that spins “a complex web of love, lies and intimidation”, says NME’s Alex Flood. “When Deborah Newell, a wealthy 50-something interior designer, met John Meehan on a dating site he seemed like a total catch. They were married within four months. But as their relationship progressed, it soon became clear that this knight in shining armour was not who he said he was. Dirty John recounts, in captivating fashion, Deborah and her family’s growing horror as they discover the violent and sinister truth this man tried to hide from everybody.” It’s gripping and infuriating.
For fans of: S-Town, Breaking Bad, lies
Where to listen: www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-dirty-john/
The ones to make you gasp
What is it? From the makers of Serial and This American Life, this outstanding podcast entranced the world back in March when all seven episodes dropped online. Host Brian Reed follows up on a tip from the enigmatic John B McLemore about a murder in his home town, but the podcast soon unravels to be something far more shocking and sweeter than that. One of the year’s most stunning podcasts.
For fans of: Southern Gothic, whispering, Serial
Where to listen: www.stownpodcast.org
The Butterfly Effect
What is it? Author and broadcaster Jon Ronson investigates the effect of free porn in the modern world. From the people who made it happen to those who lose out because of piracy, it’s an eye-opening an often heartwarming exercise in breaking taboos.
For fans of: The Men Who Stare At Goats, My Scientology Movie, investigations
Where to listen: www.audible.co.uk
The one for Hollywood obsessives
You Must Remember This
What is it? Similar in format to Serial, but a little more niche, shall we say. You Must Remember This exclusively focuses on the ‘secret and/or forgotten histories of 20th century Hollywood’, detailing the rise of the film industry on the West Coast and the fascinating stars that helped build the institution. In particular, the series focused on musician-turned-cult-leader Charles Manson and the build up, execution and fall-out from his grisly crimes, will likely go down in podcast history. This year features in depth investigations into the lives of horror actors Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, as well as Jean Seberg and Jane Fonda, as well as a season called ‘Dead Blondes’, which told the stories of Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Veronica Lake, Grace Kelly and Jean Harlow. Addictive.
For fans of: L.A. Confidential, Birdman, Hollywood
Where to listen: www.youmustrememberthispodcast.com
The ones to make you feel smart
What is it? Acclaimed author and economist Malcolm Gladwell digs deep on a range of topics from the education system to religion, with a set of deeply interesting and personal case studies. A touch of chin-stroking and cutting analysis here and there, in typical Gladwellian fashion.
For fans of: Documentaries, sociology, Panorama
Where to listen: www.revisionisthistory.com
This American Life
What is it? This American Life is a weekly American radio show and podcast that focuses on non-fiction journalistic reports around a broad scope of topics. In fact, it’s this show that spawned the hugely successful Serial as a spin-off series. TAL is considerably wider in its scope, and in the past has featured first-hand stories of men with long-hair, plumbers and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A diverse bunch, then.
For Fans Of: Serial, documentaries, compilations
Where To Listen: www.thisamericanlife.org
The Cold War: Stories From The Big Freeze
What is it? One for the history buffs, this. The Cold War lasted over decades, but broken down into 15-minute segments, Bridget Kendall tells the story of the conflicts and incidents that formed the decades-long stand off with the people who are in the thick of it.
For fans of: Deutschland 83, US-Russia relations, The Americans
Where to listen: www.bbc.co.uk
The ones to make you laugh
My Dad Wrote A Porno
What is it? Yes, it’s exactly like the title suggests. Jamie Morton’s father has self-published a dreadful erotic novel and put it on Amazon. The only way to get over the shame is to embrace it – and enlist his two pals Alice Levine and Jamie Cooper to read along, with hilarious and cringe-inducing results. Elijah Wood, Daisy Ridley and Michael Sheen are such big fans – they’ve all made guest appearances in various episodes. We’re now on book three and there have been a whopping 90 million downloads of the show to date.
For fans of: 50 Shades Of Grey, dodgy dialogue, cringe-a-long
Where to listen: www.mydadwroteaporno.com
Adam Buxton Podcast
What is it? British funny man Adam Buxton found fame when broadcasting on 6 Music with co-presenter Joe Cornish. The latter has since moved into filmmaking and Buxton now hosts his own podcast, with guests like Scroobius Pip, Rob Delaney and Louis Theroux bringing anecdotes aplenty. This year has seen excellent turns from Kathy Burke, Simon Amstell, the League of Gentlemen lads and Edgar Wright.
For fans of: Laughing, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, Vic & Bob
Where to listen: www.adam-buxton.co.uk/ad/
The ones for the music fan
Mogul: The Life and Death of Chris Lighty
What is it? Based on the life and times of Violator Records founder Chris Lighty, Mogul tells the inside story of his rise to the top, during which he helped manage and release record by 50 Cent, Q-Tip, Missy Elliot, Diddy and more – as well as his suicide in 2012. Told with cameos from rappers Warren G, Fat Joe and others. It’s a profound and often funny journey through hip-hop’s origins and explosion.
For fans of: Hip-Hop, Empire, The Get Down
Where to listen: www.gimletmedia.com/mogul/
What is it? The podcast invites esteemed musicians to break down one of their most successful songs, beat-by-beat. In 2017 MGMT were on the show to detail the insightful and bizarre stories behind ‘Time To Pretend’, The Killers took apart ‘Rut’, Lorde did ‘Sober’, St Vincent did ‘New York’ and Alt-J did ‘In Cold Blood’.
For fans of: NME’s Soundtrack Of My Life, 6 Music
The ones for the pop-culture buff
What is it? After moving from the now-defunct Grantland website (RIP), Andy Greenwald, Chris Ryan Juliet Litman and more talk pop culture, breaking down the finest television, films and music on offer.
For fans of: Game Of Thrones, award shows, fan theories.
Where to listen: www.soundcloud.com/channel33