Looking for a great new podcast to play in between your favorite playlists? If you’re a music lover, then you’ve come to the right place. Although there are a near-endless amount of music-centric podcasts out there, we’ve rounded up some of the best to help you get started.
Some of the podcasts you’ll find here are geared towards specific genres of music, while others take a wider approach, delving into other creative ventures as well. Whether you’re into the history of music, artist interviews, or even opinionated reviews, you’ll find something worth exploring here.
Back in the days before instant downloads, every album came with its own collection of liner notes, found on the sleeves of LP record albums or in the booklets tucked inside CD cases. From credits to backstories and comments, these little notes became a form of connection between the artists and their fans. While liner notes may now be a thing of the past — or, at least, not the first thing fans dig into when listening to a new release — the podcast Broken Record is all about restoring that lost conversation between artists and their audiences.
The crew behind Broken Record is almost as impressive as the podcast’s high-profile guests. Rick Rubin, the producer and host of the podcast, is backed by writer Malcolm Gladwell and Bruce Headlam, a former New York Times editor.
If you’ve ever listened to a song and wondered what inspired it, Song Exploder is for you. The podcast features top musical guests who break down the stories behind their songs, piece by piece. Host and creator Hrishikesh Hirway has conversations with artists and then edits out his side of the dialogue before airing each episode, with the aim of keeping the focus solely on the music.
You’ll leave each episode with a whole new take on each song after learning about the creative process behind its inspiration and production. Song Exploder has proven to be so fascinating that it’s also been turned into a Netflix documentary series.
R U Talkin’ R.E.M. Re: Me?
You might be wondering why a podcast dedicated to R.E.M. is worth the listen, especially if the band doesn’t really resonate with you. Look, we were in the same, hesitant boat. But we can now assure you that Scott Aukerman (Comedy Bang! Bang!) and Adam Scott’s (Parks and Rec, Big Little Lies) R U Talkin’ R.E.M. Re: Me? more than deserves a spot in your podcast queue.
“[The podcast] sounds like an absurd bit of niche normcore satire, two white celebrities in their 40s discussing a musical act that peaked sometime in the mid-1990s,” David Sims writes in The Atlantic. “It is that; it’s also, somehow, so much more.” Full of passion and hilarity, this digression-filled trip down the R.E.M. discography rabbit hole is a real joy to listen to no matter your knowledge of the band. More recently, Aukerman and Scott have delved into another beloved band in the podcast U Talkin’ Talking Heads 2 My Talking Head.
Ever wish you had more friends who were as into music as you? If you struggle to find great conversation partners who are willing to delve as deeply into music as you are, be sure to check out Sound Opinions.
The show features rock critics Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis who not only interview artists but also start intelligent conversations that listeners are invited to call and weigh in on. Whether you’re into reviews, music history, or just want to stay on top of the latest music news, Sound Opinions has a little bit of everything.
Some bands just have that unexplainable magic that attracts a cult-like following. Whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying that artists like Green Day, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and R.E.M. have all amassed huge — and hugely loyal — fanbases. Spotify’s Bandsplain is dedicated to finding out why.
Throughout each episode, host Yasi Salek delves into a specific band using a specially curated playlist. With the help of both artists and critics alike, the host then breaks down each band’s specific sound to try and pinpoint that special “something” that their fans can’t get enough of. The podcast does a great job of spanning multiple genres; in addition to the aforementioned bands, the podcast has also covered Lil’ Kim, Dave Matthews Band, Blink 182, and Steely Dan.
Turned Out A Punk
If you’re a die-hard punk fan, look no further for your new favorite podcast: Turned Out A Punk is the show for you. This podcast is hosted by Damian Abraham, who was once the lead singer of a critically acclaimed punk band himself.
A self-proclaimed punk obsessive, Abraham chats with guests from all walks of life to find out how their lives were forever changed once they discovered punk. The podcast features tons of cool stories, all of which will only make your heart grow fonder of the genre.
Want to up your musical IQ when it comes to pop culture icons? Questlove Supreme is a super fun way to do it. Hosted by The Roots drummer, Questlove, each episode features a guest that’s made history in either the musical or cultural landscape at large.
What ensues is often both informative and hilarious and touches upon guests’ pasts and current projects. Previous guests have included cultural icons, like Michelle Obama and Maya Rudolph, as well as beloved musicians, like Usher and Chaka Khan.
Lightning Bugs: Conversations with Ben Folds
If you’re all about the creative process, then check out one of the newer podcasts on our list, Lightning Bugs: Conversations with Ben Folds. A true Renaissance man at heart, Folds is not only a New York Times best-selling author and musician, but a killer host, too. While many of his guests are musicians, Folds casts a wide net, chatting with folks from the worlds of art, silence and public policy.
The goal of the podcast? To spark conversations about the creative process. If you’ve ever wanted to understand what makes your favorite creative tick, then these (often philosophical) discussions will captivate you. Best of all, Folds invites each of his guests to collaborate with him on a song, which he plays at the end of their episode.
Cocaine and Rhinestones
If country music is your jam, do yourself a favor and subscribe to Cocaine and Rhinestones. Hosted by Tyler Mahan Coe, who you may or may not recognize as the son of the outlaw-country legend, David Allan Coe, Cocaine and Rhinestones isn’t just about country music. In fact, it delves into the history and stories behind some of the best country songs of the 20th century.
Sure, you’ll get plenty of cool stories about country legends, like Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, but you’ll also learn about the political and cultural climates that helped shape certain iconic songs, allowing you to understand them in a whole new way.