What’s new to listen to
Ximena Smith rounds up the best of recent podcasts.
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FOCUS SOUND & VISION
Song Exploder The go-to listening companion for much of a North Island summer trip was the excellent back catalogue of this music podcast, every episode of which features a musician talking through each element of a song and how it all came together. Host and creator Hrishikesh Hirway, pictured, edits episodes so song clips are added in at relevant points and he takes out his questions for added intimacy. At the end of each episode, the full song plays through. Almost a decade of fortnightly episodes means the nearly 250-episode archive is an absolute treasure trove: The Roots, Lorde and Fleetwood Mac have appeared over the years, while more recent episodes feature Madonna, Sampa the Great and Iron & Wine. You don’t have to be a musician to appreciate the artistry presented in each episode, which is probably why Song Exploder is accessible, riveting and undoubtedly one of the all-time best music podcasts. New episodes released fortnightly wherever you get your podcasts. The New Gurus Journalist Helen Lewis hosts this new BBC series, which investigates the proliferation of gurus in contemporary culture. From productivity coaches on YouTube to wellness influencers on Instagram, Lewis proposes that we are living in a golden age of gurus, powered by the rise of digital technology. While these modern-day gurus are often secular, they nevertheless always promise a path towards enlightenment and, sometimes, their followers can rack up in the millions. Each episode, Lewis looks at a different realm of gurudom with her open-minded but critical eye. For example, one episode delves into the world of cryptocurrency hype, while another looks at anti-racist diversity gurus. Lewis is never patronising and she manages to have quite thoughtful and probing conversations with many of the gurus, drawing a lot out of them. When you finish listening to The New Gurus, make sure to go back and listen to Lewis’ radio documentary that touches on similar themes – it’s called The Church of Social Justice, and it’s available on the BBC Sounds app. All episodes of The New Gurus are available to listen to now on your preferred podcast app. I’m Not a Monster: The Shamima Begum Story The new season of this BBC 5 Live series looks at the story of Shamima Begum, pictured, the London teenager who ran away to join Isis in 2015. In 2019, Begum sparked fierce public debate when she tried to return to the United Kingdom, and her citizenship ended up being revoked by the UK Government (Begum is still in a legal battle to try to have her citizenship restored). Hosted by Josh Baker, The Shamima Begum Story pledges to cut through the divisive media frenzy that surrounds the case and tell listeners what really happened. I’m only a few episodes in, but so far, the series is promising – Baker keeps away from the sensationalist language favoured by many other media outlets when it comes to reporting on Begum’s case, which bodes well for the rest of the season. New episodes of The Shamima Begum Story come out every Wednesday, wherever you get your podcasts.