And Introducing E28: Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor, the women by the stage name Lorde is a friend to conspiracy. In fact, if you search “Lorde conspiracy” you’ll get 345,000 results back – stuff about age truthers trying to reveal that she’s actually in her mid-thirties, her formerly secret onion ring review Instragram account, and of course, her connection with Bleachers frontman and producer of most recent album, Jack Antonoff. For the latter, Twitter user Hillary Benton alleged via a extremely detailed and hilarious Powerpoint presentation that Lorde’s album Melodrama isn’t about the breakup of a relationship, but actually about her affair with Antonoff while he dating Lena Dunham. Shocking! And Introducing, a podcast that breaks down stories behind the music gets Benton on board to discuss the vitality of her Powerpoint, what the name of Lorde’s fandom should be (Junkies? Disciples? Christians?), and what makes this conspiracy story so captivating. And Introducing is a fun, second-wave style podcast – sparse to no production values, just some voices on mics and a bit of bedding music. Hosts Molly O’Brien and Chris Wade want to gab and laugh at a form of art that takes itself too serious at times, and they do so with ease. They are great hosts who know when to give and take with their guest, ask the right questions, and don’t get bogged down in tiny, insignificant details or insider terms. While being seemly opposites, And Introducing is the ideal companion to Song Exploder, if you’re a listener who loves music and want to go deeper than hearing the songs.
History of Fun E28 & E29: The podcast genre of “let’s take a story from history and tangent about it” is one that I’m a fan of, and Polygon’s History of Fun is the gaming and culture’s website take, with them going into the “hidden backstories behind the things we love to do.” From listening to two episodes of the show, my takeaway is that means whatever hidden backstories we could dig up from Wikipedia. Episode 28 goes into the history of John Madden Football, while 29 covers the E3 video game convention. Don’t get me wrong, there is some interesting stuff in here – EA pressuring Sega into lowering it’s cartridge licensing fees, E3 expanding to Japan for a one off. But it’s nothing you can’t find with a little Googling of the subject. Which brings us to the format and.. yikes. Much like The Dollop, storyteller Chris Plante eludes to the episode’s topic being read to co-hosts Russ Frushtick and Allegra Frank and then makes them play annoying guessing games on the various names and subjects that come up, which bring the stories being read to a grinding halt. There are a whole lot of references, a whole lot of non-jokes and a whole lot of laughter, but none of it is interesting and the hosts aren’t captivating. For this listener, History of Fun is the junk-food of podcasts – you might eat it up while listening, but find yourself hungry ten minutes after finishing.
Bubble E01: Fairhaven is a place like just about any other modern city – yuppies bragging about their activated charcoal diets at brunch, app based delivery systems fulfilling every instant want and need, douches trying to interrupt random women who jog. Oh, and there’s imps who trying to attack and kill random humans. And I can’t forget that Fairhaven itself is trapped inside a literal bubble to keep those imps out. Bubble, a new narrative comedy written by Jordan Morris (Jordan, Jesse, Go!) for Maximum Fun focuses action on the too-cool-for-school Morgan (Alison Becker) and the just-trying-to-get-by Mitch (Mike Mitchell), two residents of Fairhaven who also happen to be really good at killing imps. Structured like something you’d see on SyFy, Bubble comes alive with great performances (guest star Rob Huebel plays a tremendous dick), clever audio production, and a compelling story, greatly assisted by Tavi Gevinson’s narration. I can’t wait to see where this one goes. Also, make sure to stick around after the credits.
Crazy/Genius E06: Media about its own industry is remarkably common to find today, as we see more newspapers bought out by private companies and newsroom staff laid off. Journalists are writing about their lives, people! But did you know that places without local news sources are less likely to participate in civil discourse? “Who Killed Local News?” is the question raised on Crazy/Genius, a podcast focused on asking the big questions regarding technology and culture from The Atlantic. Essentially a long-form article you would see in the magazine turned into a podcast, Crazy/Genius is a zippy deep-dive into areas you may only know the outline of. Former Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile lists his four signs of the news apocalypse, while a discussion about subscription news sites like The Information and The Athletic go into whether the future of news will be written for the richest benefactors. The show doesn’t linger on an area for too long and you hear first hand sources from interviews. Apart from the name which I don’t quite follow, there’s a lot to like about Crazy/Genius.
In Brief: Dave Chang talks about mental health while working in the high stress world of restaurant kitchens on The Dave Chang Show. Q-Tip (the spy gadget maker) meets Q-Tip (the rapper) on a live ep of Off Book: The Improvised Musical. Edgar Wright breaks down putting together the Baby Driver soundtrack on a super great episode of R U Talkin’ R.E.M. RE: ME?. And Sha-Na-Na superfan Hot Dog is back on a Comedy Bang Bang that struggles to get going.
Pod News: Accounting firm PwC predict that podcasting will be one of the big things in the next five years. WNYC is bringing back their Women’s Podcast Festival in November. Got a pitch for ESPN’s 30 for 30 podcasts? You can listen to podcasts on your Apple Watch! (soon) Google is going to have a podcast app for Android, too. You can also search for podcasts on Google and a player will appear!
The Final Question: The Dollop is touring in December and I’ve just picked up my tickets. What pods have you seen live and do you end up re-listening to the live ep once it is released? I’m fussy on live episodes – I had a hard time with Doughboys but have heard every single live episode of Comedy Bang Bang. How do you do?