The best music podcasts of all time
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21.04.2023

The best music podcasts of all time

best music podcasts
Words by Elissa Gonzaga and EMILIA MEGROZ

We listened to every music podcast ever made (probably) so without doubt, here are the best music podcasts of all time, period.

You know that feeling you get when you listen to a song that you love so much that you just want more? Having it on replay isn’t enough – you just need to know what exactly they put into that track. So, where do you start? Music lovers, look no further: here are the best music podcasts for your listening pleasure, which just might quench your curious mind.

This curated list includes a series of very different music podcasts, each bringing something new to the table. The secrets behind creative processes, untold stories and raw, emotional recordings of exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences will be uncovered.

You can also check out the best film podcasts of all time, the most binge-worthy podcasts, and the best Australian podcasts here.

We’ve carefully evaluated and selected these podcasts based on their diverse and niche genres to appeal to an inclusive range of audiences, especially our beloved readers. We’ve done the research for you – from production quality, engaging hosts and even its’ overall entertainment value – they’re all five stars.

Every podcast will bring something new to the table. So whether you enjoy Pop or Hip-hop, or Indie music, these podcasts are sure to satisfy your diverse tastebuds. Let’s dive into the list and discover some amazing music podcasts!

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

1. Best music podcast for beginners? Song Exploder

Behind every song, is a story. With Song Exploder, listeners can expect to travel on an emotional journey that will stir their memories, and transport them to a different time and place. Discovering the stories behind your favourite songs can just be as exhilarating as hearing them for the first time, making this podcast a highly reviewed podcast – It’s so successful as that it’s become a Netflix show!

Song Exploder is a podcast where musicians perform a short dissection of one of their songs and explain how the track came to be. Host and creator Hrishikesh Hirway has been praised for the simplistic yet creative nature of his podcast. Hirway edits the interviews so the podcast contains only the artist’s voice, making for short, sharp episodes that are as interesting as they are easy to digest. There are episodes featuring notable artists including Björk, Courtney Barnett, Fleetwood Mac, Weezer, Alt-J, Metallica and even an episode where Ramin Djawadi explains how he came up with the main title to Game of Thrones. You can listen to every episode of Song Exploder online.

Song Exploder is one of the best music podcasts in the world, hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway, a musician, composer, and producer based in Los Angeles. The concept is simple: Hirway invites musicians and bands to break down the creative process behind one of their songs, revealing how it was written, recorded and produced. Artists typically play instrumental or vocal tracks from the selected song, pointing out specific aspects or decisions that were made during its creation.

With smooth, atmospheric storytelling from the artists themselves, listeners are provided with intimate insights into their inspirations, struggles and decision-making processes. What’s special about Song Exploder is that it sheds light on the importance of collaboration in creative processes. The podcast featurs discussions on how artists have worked with numerous collaborators to bring their unique vision to life: a glimpse into the complex web of relationships and dynamics that shapes a song’s sound.

Over the years, Song Exploder has had a diverse range of artists come on the show, including Grammy-winning musicians, up-and-coming indie acts, and even composers of film and TV scores. Some of the more popular episodes include Billie Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted”, Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” and Radiohead’s “Nude”. Coupled with Hirway’s ability to skilfully elicit candid and revealing stories from his guests, Song Exploder truly is a gem music lovers will be sure to cherish.

Join in the celebration of the art of songwriting and the creative processes that come with it! Whether you want to delve deep into your favourite song, or curious about the inner workings of music, a journey through the show’s vast archive is a treat you don’t want to miss.

2. Best music podcast format? Dissect

If you are a music geek, Dissect is the podcast for you. Hosted by Cole Cuchna, a self-taught musician and music lover, Dissect digs deep into the nitty-gritty details of albums and their stories. Showcasing thoughtful and thorough exploration of some of the most iconic albums of the past few decades, this podcast is a must-listen for any music lover.

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Each season is dedicated to analysing a single album, with new episodes weekly that feature each song on the album. While exploring the lyrics and melodies of each song, Dissect takes it up a notch by breaking down the production, instrumentation and cultural context that inspired it, providing listeners with a deeper appreciation for the artistry behind these tracks. Cuchna also skilfully considers how each song fits into the larger narrative arc of the album and how it contributes to the overall message the artist is trying to convey, granting listeners a richer understanding of the album as a whole. It truly brings a unique perspective to the world of music criticism.

From the stories of Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, to Frank Ocean’s “Blond”, there’s bound to be something that’ll will get you hooked. Each episode is meticulously crafted and edited, with clips of songs and interviews seamlessly woven into Cuchna’s narration. The show’s music selection and sound design have also received praise for its production value, flaunting an original score composed specifically for each season.

One of the best music podcasts of all time, Dissect is not your average show. There are no guests, no music news and episodes aren’t released on a regular basis ­­– yet, the podcast still managed to top the New York Times‘ best of 2018 podcast list. In each season of the show, host Cole Cuchna dissects an album by a popular artist; conducting an in-depth, long-form analysis of each track and exploring their lesser-known intricacies. Cuchna mostly focuses on hip hop music, and previous seasons have included an exploration of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Lauryn Hill’s iconic Miseducation album. The meticulous style of analysis gives audiences insight into the hidden influences and research that goes into creating music. In turn, Cuchna fosters deeper respect for artists and their work. You can listen to every episode on Spotify.

That’s not all! Dissect is now back with a brand new series, and an even better concept. Each season now features, what Cuchna calls, a mixtape, where each episode will dissect a song from different artists under a unified theme. To kickstart the season, a mixtape called ‘Lyrical Masters’ has been put out, exploring some of the best, most potent lyricists in Hip-hop history. So, what are you waiting for?

3. Best music podcast for versatility? All Songs Considered

Hungry? All Songs Considered is the best music podcast for its versatility, it cooks up a special blend of music news, interviews with artists, and live performances, from a wide range of genres. If you identify as trendy, this is all you need to continue to stay up-to-date.

All Songs Considered is a weekly podcast hosted by respected US music journalists Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton. The show is a part of NPR and is perfect for those who want to stay in the music loop, but aren’t interested in simply hearing about the latest pop release. Every week, Boilen and Hilton delve into an array of new music from around the world and deliver a top-tier selection of what they’ve uncovered. The podcast traverses a selection of new music from all corners of the globe – from Ethiopian hymns to Billie Eilish. You can listen to and download episodes of All Songs Considered online.

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Each episode features a handful of songs from different genres, accompanied by commentary from hosts, who discuss the cultural and social context of the music, as well as their personal reactions to it. One of the most popular features of All Songs Considered is its Tiny Desk Concerts, which are live, intimate, and stripped-down performances recorded at NPR’s HQ in Washington DC. You can expect to see special guest appearances from Taylor Swift, Dave Grohl and BTS, among many others.

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But what sets All Songs Considered apart from the rest is their inclusivity, nurturing a platform that hold respectable space for a diverse range of artists. Boilen and Hilton often put the spotlight on music from artists of colour, women, and LGBTQ+ musicians, inviting them to partake in conversions about representation and equity in the music industry.

Deserving of the numerous awards and accolades to its name, there really is no reason to not dive into the thoughtful commentary and diverse selection of music All Songs Considered has to offer.

4. Best music podcast for pop fans? Switched on Pop

Who loves Pop? Let’s be honest, we all do. Indulge in the world of pop music through the lens of musicologist, Nate Sloan, and songwriter, Charlie Harding, on what we think is the best music podcast for pop fans overall, where they entertainingly analyse the intricacies of pop tunes with a curious approach, taking apart the elements of a song and exploring how these elements infuse to become a hit.

Each episode of Switched on Pop strings listeners along an immersive experience of a particular song, traversing its structure, themes, lyrics, and musical techniques. It is no doubt that their fascinating blend of music theory, cultural commentary and personal anecdotes has successfully earned them a dedicated following among music lovers and pop enthusiasts.

The hosts’ undeniable chemistry will guarantee music to your ears as they engage listeners with thought provoking conversations about cultural themes surrounding pop music, from politics of representation to the impact of streaming services on the industry. It’s not just a technical analysis of a song, but an exploration of the social and political issues that music touches on. Sloan and Harding are not afraid to delve into controversial topics, always doing so with sensitivity and nuance.

And not to worry – while the podcast focuses primarily on pop music, they don’t shy away from exploring a variety of other artists and genres! Their extensive breadth of coverage will be sure to entice you, whether you’re a die-hard fan or just a casual fan curious about how music works, you’re sure to learn a thing or two! Make the switch to Switched on Pop today, or sometime soon. Well, you’re already missing out.

5. Best music podcast for hip hop? The Joe Budden Podcast

The next one on our list of the best music podcasts is one for all the Hip-hop lovers out there, all around the world. The only podcast with a niche genre on the list, it’s one you definitely don’t want to miss. The Joe Budden Podcast, hosted by the man himself, Joe Budden, features discussions on all things Hip-hop – from news, analysis, gossip and interviews with artists and industry figures.

Being in the industry himself, Budden provides a unique perspective on the podcast, his personal experience as an artist allowing listeners a more exclusive and intimate entrance into the Hip-hop scene. While some may label him as controversial, given his deeper understanding of the complexities in the industry, his willingness to speak his mind in a candid manner may be refreshing for some!

Each episode features Budden and his co-hosts, Rory and Mal, engaging in heated conversations filled with humour surrounding a range of topics related to Hip-hop. A popular segment, ‘Sleepers’, well-known for introducing listeners to new music from emerging artists, as well as deep cuts from established artists, is one of the many reasons The Joe Budden Podcast is well-received.

On a rainy day, when you need something entertaining and full of energy to get the adrenaline going, try The Joe Budden Podcast. It packs a punch and that makes it one of the best music podcasts available today.

6. Best music podcast for expertise? Questlove Supreme

If you could define the intersection of music and culture in two words, Questlove Supreme would be the answer. This captivating podcast is hosted by Grammy-winning drummer, Questlove, where he takes listeners on a journey through his vast musical universe, offering insightful and engaging conversations concerning the music and entertainment industry.

With his encyclopedic knowledge of music, coupled with a profound passion for the artform, Questlove brings a wealth of experience and insight to each and every episode, connecting seemingly disparate genres and artists for compelling discussions that will have music aficionados on their toes.

This podcast features an eclectic mix of interviews, music discourse and personal anecdotes, as you delve into the nuances of music and its impact on culture. The show boasts a diverse array of genres – including Hip-hop, Jazz, Funk, and beyond, focusing on artists and songs that have shaped his personal musical career. His guests are equally as impressive: Michelle Obama, Erykah Badu and Stevie Wonder, just to name a few.

Beyond musical content, Questlove also touches on important social and cultural issues, adding depth and meaning to one of the best music podcasts, elevating it to a platform that’s more than just a music show, but a space for meaningful discussions on a broader scale. In a regular segment of the show called ‘Questlove’s Supreme Court’, Questlove and his guests debate and vote on various topics entertainingly, adding to the shows charm that will sure have listeners wrapped around their fingers.

7. Best music podcast for reach? Popcast

Like its name, Popcast is undeniably one of the most POPular podcasts for Pop music. (Or at least that’s how we see it.) New York Times music critic, Jon Caramanica, covers a wide range of topics surrounding Pop music, including its’ history, evolution, cultural significance and artists and album recommendations. This podcast explores what it means to be in the music industry in today’s society, how the latest trends and developments like streaming, social media and technological advancements have had an impact on the genre.

Each episode immerses you in a conversation, kind of like when you and your friends gather that one person asks, “So, what’s the tea?”, then the insider starts spilling the stories that she’s heard and all of you listen because you want to know the latest gossip. Yeah, it’s similar! Except these gossip sessions brings fresh perspective about the ever-evolving landscape of Pop music, uncovering the complexities that songs go through before they’re finally finished.

Caramanica’s deep passion for pop music shines through his discussions, having the ability to articulate ideas and concepts that are difficult to understand. Listening to him speak will gift listeners with a peace of mind, be it just a casual listener or a keen music enthusiast. And yet, it is as if it was made to intentionally leave you on the edge of your seats, episode after episode and you still want more. Popcast offers a one-of-a-kind investigation into Pop music, revealing what it is exactly that makes it so fascinating and addictive. So, tune in to Popcast and brace yourselves for an entrancing journey through the World of Pop like never before!

Best music podcast for Aussies? 8. The J Files

Arguably the best music podcast in Australia, The J Files is a weekly podcast broadcast on Double J. The episodes generally run for about two hours each, so they’re perfect to pop on for a long car trip or a big PT commute. Host Caz Tran uses each episode to shine a light on one particular artist and explore the deeper stories behind their music. Recent episodes have focused on artists such as M.I.A, Arctic Monkeys, The Roots and Missy Higgins. It airs from 7pm on Thursdays and is available on demand from the ABC Listen app and on other podcast platforms (except Spotify). You can also listen to episodes online.

Best music podcast for controversy? 9. Disgraceland

If you’re a lover of both true crime and music, Disgraceland is the best music podcast for you. This podcast uncovers the dodgier side of musicians – those who’ve ‘gotten away with murder’ throughout their careers. The multi award-winning show began in 2018 and has become one of the most popular music podcasts to date. Creators describe the bi-weekly episodes as the intersection between “music history, true crime and transgressive fiction”. It’s important to note that some of the stories they tell are somewhat fictionalised for dramatic effect: “[Disgraceland isn’t] “sit around the campfire” storytelling. More like ‘slightly buzzed guy at the end of the bar who’s seen some shit’ storytelling.” Recent episodes feature stories about Snoop Dogg, John Lennon and XXXTentacion. You can listen to all three seasons of Disgraceland online or on Spotify.

Best music podcast for interviews? 10. LSQ

LSQ is a podcast hosted by well-respected music journalist Jenny Eliscu (pronounced like l-s-q). In the first part of each episode, Eliscu chats to musicians and songwriters about their musical and creative evolutions. The second part of each episode features a look-back into the archives of Eliscu’s extensive interview collection, which includes conversations with well-known artists such as Amy Winehouse, Lars Ulrich and Kanye West. The episodes run for about 40 minutes to an hour, so they’re perfect to chuck on during your morning commute. You can listen to every episode of LSQ online.

Best music podcast for stats? 11. Hit Parade

Hosted by US pop chart analyst Chris Molanphy, Hit Parade is all about uncovering why the most popular songs are, well, so popular. Episodes are packed with stories about songs, conversations with guests and you can even test your music knowledge with the podcast’s music trivia episodes, a bonus that makes this stand out among the best music podcasts for pop music fans. Past episodes include a look into how rap went pop in the early ’90s and Aretha Franklin-themed music trivia. You can listen to Hit Parade online or on Spotify.

Best music podcast for history? 12. Déjà Vu

Déjà Vu, hosted by US entertainment journalist Stereo Williams, is a podcast which explores the link between past and present musicians in the pop scene. Each hour-long episode uncovers the ways in which music from today’s biggest artists is inextricably linked to popular music of the past. Maybe Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna and Beyoncé weren’t as original as you thought. All episodes are available to listen to on Spotify.

13. Best round table music podcast? 13. Music Now

Music Now is a podcast curated and hosted by the writers and editors of Rolling Stone — so it’s bound to be one of the best music podcasts overall. The episodes range from long-form interviews with musicians to big roundtable discussions about music news, history and suggestions on the best new tracks to listen to. Recent episodes include ‘Green River and the Birth of Grunge’ and ‘How Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X are reshaping music’. All episodes are available online and on Spotify.

Best music podcast for unearthing gems? 14. Not 97

If you’re a fan of listening to music that’s truly under the radar, Not 97 is the best music podcast for you. In each episode, three hosts and a guest get together to discuss the best in new, largely undiscovered music from around the world. They play songs from artists who a) have a social media following of fewer than 10,000 people and b) have released their music within the past six to eight months. What’s more, they often listen to and discuss new talent from around Australia, including artists such as The Cactus Channel and Stella Donnelly. All episodes are available to listen online and on Spotify.

We’ve also reviewed the best Melbourne podcasts. Head to any of the below for more information.

Review: Melbourne’s demystifying podcast, ‘Classical Uncovered with Graham Abbot’

Review: Melbourne’s mental health foursome The Zoop Podcast

Review: Melbourne’s hip-hop podcast, ‘Kulture Sound’

Review: Melbourne’s ‘not a food wanker’ podcast ‘The Melbourne Digest’

Review: Melbourne podcast ‘Please Explain’