If you use any form of public transport or relax in a public space, it’s hard to miss one of the omnipresent items that everyone seems to have dangling out of a bag, wrapped around their neck or in their ears: a pair of headphones. I’m guilty of the same, but with the fresh start of 2017 and the surplus of amazing podcasts, I’m reaching for my own pair to benefit from some extra education in a diverse range of subjects, as well as the embarrassment of laughing aloud on a bus full of strangers…and I reckon you should too, as I’ve got plenty of recommendations to ensure that it’s worth it.
Song Exploder – For the music lover
You’ll never listen to music the same way again thanks to the brilliant Song Exploder. In sunny Los Angeles, the musician and composer Hrishikesh Hirway interviews other musical talents, before neatly editing out his soothing voice and leaving a fascinating exploration of how the artists created their songs. Past guests include everyone from Björk to U2, and a recent favourite is Angel Olsen discussing her critically-acclaimed album of 2016, ‘My Woman’, to reveal the interesting tidbits and Bowie references behind my latest musical obsession, ‘Shut up Kiss Me’. For all film fans, the podcast has just kicked off its exploration of great film music with the La La Land soundtrack. Short and sweet, this is one not to miss.
The Sporkful – For the foodie
“It’s not for foodies, it’s for eaters”. After the indulgence of Christmas, you might be slightly sick of the sight of food, but for those of you who appreciate this show’s mantra, their fantastic podcasts help us understand people better through food. Whether it’s their recent offering on New Year’s Resolutions or the racial prejudices involved in dining out during their four-part series: ‘Who Is This Restaurant For?’, the host Dan Pashman brings warmth and good humour by the bowlful, alongside a variety of entertaining guests like Alton Brown.
Mostly Lit – For the woke bookworm
Described as a ‘journey to keep up with the London experience, while exploring the intersection of literature, millennial wellness and black pop-culture’, this is like being with the living room of a student house, watching your twenty-somethings friends, Alex Reads, Reckless Rai and Derek playfully bicker in a delightfully wide-ranging conversation. Make yourself a cup of tea to sip at moments of truth and try not to spit some out at the funnier moments. Honestly, I don’t know how you haven’t been convinced by the description alone, but like the title suggests, this subverts all expectations of literature podcasts by looking at books through the relatable perspective of optimistic, but critical, voices of young adults finding their place in today’s world.
In Our Time – For the curious
This gem of BBC Radio 4 is hosted by Melvyn Bragg, but I can’t remember the last time that I would regularly listen to a radio show. Instead it’s best to enjoy the extensive and usefully alphabetised back catalogue alongside the regular updates, all of which feature a panel of four experts in the field. Detailed, but never inaccessible, this will have you busting out the best facts in your next history-related seminar.