Editors' Picks

What We're Listening to Right Now

Our editors on what they're tuning into these days.

By Staff June 25, 2020

Our editors share what's on their playlists right now.

Our editors share what's on their playlists right now.

Image: Shutterstock

Song Exploder

"As someone with zero musical talent, I find the process of writing and recording music incomprehensible. How do you figure out how the verses and the chorus fit together? Why does the same song sound great at one tempo and lame at another? How do you use studio technology to manipulate and improve what you're playing? The podcast Song Exploder is made for people like me. Each episode features a single artist discussing the creation of a single track, with snippets of demos, samples and reference tracks that help explain how a song came to be. The most recent episode features producer and rapper Havoc of the duo Mobb Deep discussing the group's epic 1995 song 'Shook Ones Pt. II.' Hearing how Havoc cut out a snippet of a Herbie Hancock song and warped it into the sample that gives the track its heft and menace is like the moment when the three-dimensional images pops out of the poster you've been staring at for hours." —Cooper Levey-Baker

Wind of Change

"'Wind of Change,' a fascinating and fun 8-part podcast by Patrick Radden Keefe, asks the question: Did the CIA write the song that helped bring down the Berlin Wall? It was 'Wind of Change,' a tune by the German metal band The Scorpions, that became the No. 1 song in Europe around the time of the fall of the Soviet Union. Bonus: Local photographer Cliff Roles did PR for the Scorpions back in the day. When I asked him if the CIA wrote 'Wind of Change,' he gave a hearty laugh." —Ilene Denton

John Prine 

“I’ve been listening to lots of John Prine music ever since his death in April…everything from old vinyl albums and classics like 'Angel from Montgomery' and 'Illegal Smile' to tunes from the last CD he recorded, 2018’s The Tree of Forgiveness. Lots of memories, and a renewed appreciation for what a great and unique songwriter he was for more than five decades.”—Kay Kipling

Decoder Ring

“I’m a fan of Fresh Air and The Daily so they’re a regular part of my podcast diet, but I’ve also recently discovered the Decoder Ring podcast, which investigates pop culture and finds the answers to some of life’s burning questions. Slate host Willa Paskin has endless intellectual curiosity about the quirkiest things. For example, did you ever wonder why the yellow rubber ducky became so ubiquitous in the bathtub? Paskin finds out. And who wouldn’t want to listen to a podcast about a popular emoji called “Unicorn Poop: How Did Excrement Get Cute?” It’s good to laugh these days." —Susan Burns

The 1619 Project

"Nikole Hannah-Jones' Pulitzer Prize-winning '1619 Project' gave me an education I never got in school—so I was thrilled to discover, belatedly, its five-part companion podcast. Hosted by Hannah-Jones and featuring profound stories and interviews, the series explores how slavery built the American economy, wealth, land ownership, the birth of American music, the civil rights movement and more. The series came out last year, but it feels especially appropriate in these troubled times." —Megan McDonald 

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