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Top of the pods: the best podcasts about music

Written by
Kate Solomon

If the bios on Tinder are anything to go by, music is ‘life’ to at least 90 percent of Londoners. Whether you’re into obscure psytrance, your dad’s record collection or Little Mix, there’s guaranteed to be a podcast out there discussing the minutiae and inside stories of your favourite tracks. With all this dead time on our hands, what better opportunity will you have to dig into the world of music podcasts? Here’s where we reckon you should start...

The nuts and bolts of songs

Song Exploder
In each episode, an artist takes one of their most popular hits and break it down for you, talking about the inspirations behind it and anecdotes from the recording process. Sounds like one for the heads but it’s actually very easy to digest. 

Tape Notes
If you want to geek out even further, download Tape Notes which brings musicians and their producers together to discuss the art of knob-twiddling. Definitely not for the casual listener, this one goes deep. 

Switched on Pop
A musicologist and a songwriter walk into a bar... and make a podcast? This one takes pop songs and discusses what makes them tick as well as how they fit into ‘the cultural landscape’. You’ll find yourself listening to music in a whole new way. 

You’ll only get a new series of Dissect a couple of times a year, but it’s worth waiting for. Each season, the podcast analyses one album, dedicating a show to each song so that you get a real beat-by-beat insight into exactly what’s going on. The series on Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Damn’ is particularly rich. Other albums that have been taken apart include Frank Ocean’s ‘Channel Orange’ and Kanye West’s ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’. 


Photograph: a katz/

Music news and culture

Questlove Supreme 
The Roots’ Questlove (above) hosts a freewheeling music chat with an incredible roster of guests. It’s much more like listening into strangers chatting than a traditional podcast set-up, and the stories they come out with are unimaginable. 

A bunch of New York Times writers and critics get together every week to discuss the biggest stories in music – remember when Taylor Swift couldn’t get her master recordings back off Scooter Braun? Popcast dissected the issues expertly while dropping references to every genre of music you could imagine.

NPR’s All Songs Considered
This one is pretty Ronseal (forgive the dated shorthand): the music buffs at NPR (the American public radio station) curate a show of impeccable songs old and new so you’re bound to discover something you love. 

Stories and personal narratives 

‘Desert Island Discs’
Ah c’mon, you don’t need us to explain this one to you! You’ve probably already got your eight tracks, a book and a luxury picked out – now you just have to do something notable enough to get you on the show. 

George Ezra & Friends 
The lovely, deep-voiced George Ezra talks to performers and music-adjacent people about their work and playing live. Everyone who’s anyone has been in for a chat with George, from Ed Sheeran to Elton John. 

‘Soul Music’
Possibly one of the most underrated bits of journalism on the planet, this quietly magnificent BBC show takes a song, finds ordinary people from around the world with jaw-dropping memories or associations connected to it, and lets them talk with no host or narrator. Dive into its 28-series-and-growing archive and you will be sure to find an inspiring and moving moment at every click. 

Genre-specific pods

Turned Out a Punk
Taking punk seriously for the first time in... well, possibly ever, music obsessive Damian Abraham talks with a different person from the entertainment industry every episode to find out how the genre has affected and impacted their lives, often with surprising results.

Cocaine & Rhinestones
It might not surprise you to learn that the stories behind country music’s biggest stars and songs are even wilder than the songs themselves. Cocaine and Rhinestones brings them to life in a narrative form. Like a podcast ‘Nashville’ – you don’t need to be a country fan to get completely hooked on this.

That’s Not Metal 
With a tongue-in-cheek title ridiculing snotty, old-school rock gatekeepers, this podcast explores the length and breadth of metal in all its forms in the 2020s – you know, iron, steel, all that jazz.  

RA Exchange
This illuminating series from Resident Advisor keeps the heavy hits coming, interspersing them with conversations with some of the biggest and most influential names in techno and electronic music. Squarepusher was a recent highlight.

...and after that, learn more about music with our guide to the best music documentaries on YouTube. Or, if you’re still looking for more, check out our definitive list of the best podcasts to listen to right now. Plus, we’ve got our very own podcast – ‘your city or mine?’ – in which Time Out Group CEO Julio Bruno talks to thought-leaders and pioneers about the innovations and ideas shaping our cities.

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