In these lockdown times, many of us are looking to alternatives from the news.
Following on from our six great music podcasts feature last year, here are some of my new favourite music-related podcasts:
Wind of Change
For those who like investigations, crime, the CIA and a classic 80s power ballad you will love this eight-episode podcast.
For more than 10 years New Yorker writer Patrick Radden Keefe has been investigating a rumour he heard about the 80s classic power ballad Wind of Change – that the German band Scorpions didn’t actually write it, The CIA did.
The song in question is so familiar – you will know it – and its release became the soundtrack to the peaceful revolution sweeping Europe in the 80s. According to some fans, it’s the song that ended the Cold War.
Listen to learn about spies doing the unthinkable, government secrets and the propaganda hidden in this hugely popular song.
Reply All – The case of the Missing Hit
Have you ever had a song stuck in your head but you can’t figure out where it is from?
This podcast follows a man from California who is haunted by the memory of a pop song from his youth. To ease the anxiety of not being able to find it anywhere on the internet, he digs deep and goes on a journey of discovery.
It’s very well done and less than an hour to listen to.
Table Manners with Jessie Ware
UK musician Jessie Ware had a reality check when she was performing at Coachella – that being a pop star wasn’t really allowing her to connect on a deeper level with other people. So she took a bit of a break and started this podcast with her mother.
Table Manners invites guests into Ware’s home to chat and eat a meal that she and/or her mother have prepared.
Guests have included Dolly Parton, Tom Jones, Kylie Minogue, St Vincent, Twiggy, Ed Sheeren, Ruby Wax, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Alanis Morrisette, Robbie Williams and more…
Planet Jarre: The Podcast, hosted by Matt Berry
If you are fan of synthesisers, or the music of French composer, performer and producer Jean-Michel Jarre, this is a must-listen.
Jarre is interviewed by English actor, comedian, musician and writer Matt Berry and their respect of each other and way of speaking makes it an easy listen.
They discuss the roots of Jarre’s career, his early explorations into the then novel genre of electronic music, and the instruments and tools he used to create his groundbreaking album Oxygene.
I love a well-produced podcast – and this one definitely uses soundscapes effectively to play with your ears.
The Pantograph Punch – Artist in Residence
Artist in Residence is a series made in collaboration with The Pantograph Punch, which asked 10 New Zealand artists who work in theatre, music, poetry and dance to create a 15-minute personalised performance during the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.
Each artist was asked to make something to help with an aspect of life in isolation listeners might be struggling with.
The musical artists who contributed are Bic Runga, Ruby Solly and Coco Solid.
Twenty Thousand Hertz
Each episode investigates the world’s most recognisable and interesting sounds: the sound of your washing machine cycle ending (who decides the tone?), the music of Minecraft and the theme songs to shows like Seinfield, or the story behind famous jingles like McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It”.
Other episodes explore topics like the work of Foley artists in cinema, and synesthesia. Listen to this podcast and you will never be able to hear the fanfare that introduces every 20th Century Fox movie the same way again.
Who is Daniel Johns?
Fans of The Big Day Out podcast may enjoy this as it takes us back to the era of 90s grunge music – and delves deep into the world of Australian band Silverchair, the very fast impact they made on the world and how that sudden fame affected the band’s front man Daniel Johns.
Johns does not like the media – and does not do interviews – but in this podcast he wants to do to tell his story. He talks honestly, as well as sharing intimate interviews with his ex-wife Natalie Imbruglia and The Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan.
Your Favorite Band Sucks
If you are a person who passionately hates certain bands – or just feels like hearing different (negative) takes on your favourite bands – this podcast is for you.
In each episode, the two hosts discuss their most-hatred bands and explain why others should also dislike artists like Frank Sinatra, Destiny’s Child, Beck, Pearl Jam, Joy Division, The Replacements, The Shins, Justin Beiber and more.
A warning though – as the passion rises in conversation some swearing is involved.
David Walliams’ Marvellous Musical Podcast
Put together by Classic FM in the UK this podcast is for kids … and adults who love David Walliams like I do!
Each episode is under 20 minutes long (perfect for the attention span of children) and the podcasts themselves are funny, educational and cheeky. Just like Walliams’ books.
Once you or your children have listened to the podcasts you can put your knowledge to the test with supplied quizzes.
Disgraceland is a very American-sounding podcast about famous musicians behaving very badly.
The thirty-ish minute episodes trace the most insane criminal stories pop stars are implicated in: Did Jerry Lee Lewis get away with murdering his fifth wife? How did Sid Vicious and Sam Cooke really die?
One slightly annoying thing for me about this podcast is way it over-embellishes the stories, but Disgraceland is not journalism, it’s entertainment – inspired by true events.
More great programmes from RNZ
An hour of conversation and music selections from some of NZ’s well-known people, including comedian Thomas Sainsbury, chef Al Brown and actor Madeleine Sami.
Tony Stamp reviews the latest albums from both here and abroad.
William Dart draws on his encyclopaedic knowledge and gargantuan record collection to offer insights and surprising links into rock, pop, country, folk and beyond.
Wonderful live classical recordings from RNZ Concert.
And lots of our great artist interviews can be found on Music 101.