This article previously appeared on Crossfader
There’s a general understanding that podcasts about music can tend to become esoteric and self-indulgent, especially if the podcasts aren’t based around interviews with musicians. SONG EXPLODER is great because it gives the average fan incredible insight into how the music they love is crafted, giving deeper connection to the musicians you already love. But the process of talking about music is often not incredibly interesting to the people not actively engaged in the conversation, which inherently makes for bad podcasting. In certain circles, the process of being a music fan is primarily a dick measuring contest of who has heard the most music or been to the most shows, which is not at all engaging to the casual fan.
What music fans have needed is a podcast where the hosts understand how to be good hosts first and music geeks second. AND INTRODUCING is exactly such a podcast, grounded in a straightforward concept with likeable hosts who know how to actually keep a conversation going rather than getting bogged down into an argument about when, exactly, Marilyn Manson kicked a long-forgotten drummer out of the band. Hosts Molly O’Brien and Chris Wade are people steeped in writing about pop culture, and they use pieces of already existing writing about music to guide each episode of their show.
What really elevates the show from good to great is their consistent ability to put musicians into a wider cultural context that actually makes sense. There’s a tendency among people who write or talk about musicians to either deify or vilify them, and while this can be entertaining in the right hands, it’s not always the most informative way to think about how much musicians actually matter in our broader world. Recently, the podcast did an episode on Kanye West’s sudden heel-turn towards Trumpism, and it was one of the best discussions of Kanye’s entire saga. The show did a great job tracing through Ye’s complicated career, weighing his enormous influence against his outsized ego, and ultimately weighing in that Kanye’s politics don’t necessarily define his musical legacy. After all, a person who is brilliant at producing music won’t automatically be brilliant in all aspects of life, and the fact that Kanye is a shithead shouldn’t inherently take away from the pleasure you derive from his music.
Every artist/musical movement AND INTRODUCING covers gets a similar treatment, not absolute reverence, but honest appreciation where it’s due. The best episode so far has to be the Woodstock ‘99 episode, which gloriously details the most infamous music festival in rock history (you may think you know how depraved things were, but trust me, you don’t). What makes this episode especially great is when they delve into a discussion of how perfectly Woodstock ‘99 captured the impotent rage of the late ‘90s, where what had once been a radically open, peaceful festival became entirely subsumed by rampant corporatism that led to mindless destruction.
People who care about music tend to really care about it, and there’s been a real need for a podcast for music fans to come together to hangout and discuss the culture of being a fan as much as the art itself. AND INTRODUCING seems to be that exact podcast; it’ll be rewarding to watch them grow from here.