The top five music podcasts
Music podcasts are a difficult breed. With the current outdated copyright law, most podcasts can't utilize full songs in their recordings, making anyone but the best sound like boring music nerds. Of course, we love boring music nerds, but being able to speak eloquently or interestingly about music is a difficult demand. We've gone through many hours of talking-head audio to bring you our favorite feature-oriented music podcasts. Any we missed?
5. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On
It's no secret Smithsonian Folkways has catalogued and recorded some of the most important music in the history of the world. With all those recordings, it's difficult for most people to sift through the hundreds of releases the label has put out into the world on CD alone, and delving into their LP back catalogue is brain-hemorrhaging, at best. This 26-part feature follows suit with other Smithsonian podcasts in that it collects songs together by theme while host Michael Asch guides the listener through the history.
4. HowStuffWorks: Stuff From the B-Side
The greatness of the Stuff From the B-Side podcast comes from its diversity. Some of our favorites include: "Why is the Jaws theme so scary?" "Why were singers castrated?" "Before they were robots: early Kraftwerk" and "How to decipher classical music titles." It's informative not about a particular genre or movement, but about music itself, and that's what we love about it.
3. APM: Sound Opinions on Demand
Hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot fuel this self-described music talk show from Chicago. It's a great look at what can happen when two rock journos get together and argue it out, point to new music, do reviews, offer call-in sections and chat about music in an altogether interesting way. We can't say we always agree with them, but that's part of the reason we think they're so great.
2. NPR: All Songs Considered
Coupled with the excellent Live Concerts podcast, Bob Boilen's hosting skills and his music know-how makes this hands-down one of the best of the traditional music podcasts. Team that together with great interviews and an eclectic mix of music and guests, and this is easily one of our favorites.
1. The Best Show on WFMU with Tom Scharpling
Okay, we'll be honest: The Best Show on WFMU isn't exactly a music podcast in the strictest sense of the word. In fact, you won't hear any music in the podcast form (if you listen to the stream, songs will be there, but again, licensing prevents these from appearing on the podcast). There is an inherent musicality here, though, probably because Superchunk drummer Jon Wuster is a regular caller, alongside the likes of Ted Leo, Aimee Man, Ben Gibbard and many others. It might take a while to get used to host Tom Scharpling's insane ramblings and awkward pauses, but once you're caught up in the "mirth, music and mayhem," you're sure to be hooked.