The best music podcasts to shoot in 2022

The podcast is the new book. Don’t get me wrong, we love a good story and will never stop reading, given a tangible story in hand. Yet the effectiveness of a podcast cannot be overlooked. The best ones deliver great storytelling straight to your speakers or headphones, allowing you to be entertained on the go or while you complete a project.

Like books, podcasts come in all genres, from food podcasts to those on history, trees, sleep, outer space, true crime — you name it. The music podcast is one of the most engaging, because it’s one of the best topics to converse, debate, and get poetic (or nostalgic about). Some like to wonder about the nature of the lyrics of a classic song. Others focus on the characters behind the mic stand or the electric guitar. And they cover everything from the incredible stories that tend to overshadow country music to the ridicule of rock stardom. Sometimes they just play a good set of live tunes that you didn’t realize you needed.

Here are the best musical podcasts to feast your ears on in 2022. And if you want to keep the musical theme alive, check out the best musical movies or the best vinyl records to have in your collection.

Cocaine and rhinestonesCocaine and rhinestone podcast logo.

This podcast is the work of die-hard country music junkie Tyler Mahan Coe. If you recognize the name, it’s because his father is David Allan Coe, a songwriter who shot to fame after his Nashville street debut. Young Coe carries on the legacy, purely from a storytelling perspective. It turns out that country music – real George Jones country music, not Dierks Bentley – is full of amazing sagas. It’s hardly surprising, given the subject matter of so many classic country songs, but Coe connects all the dots and paints painstakingly clear contextual backgrounds, allowing for maximum enjoyment. Plus, you’ll likely end up with a new artist or two worth investigating on your favorite streaming service.


BandsplainBandsplain podcast logo.

Whatever you think of Spotify, the bots inside know a thing or two to link your musical tastes to other great artists. The service also occasionally produces a great podcast, like the cult Bandsplain. The series takes on all sorts of artists and albums, from Kool Keith and Gin Blossoms to Metallica and Phish. It’s all over the place, but based on expert opinion and stellar playlists, all put together by Yasi Salek. It’s like a very neat version of those little conversations you have with your best music buddies about, say, why Blink 182 produces such earworms. In other words, break out the THC or CBD gummies (or whip up a nice Boulevardier or Hot Toddy), and listen.


Dolly Parton’s AmericaDolly Parton's American Podcast logo.

Jad Abumrad is at the helm of this podcast. He is responsible for Radiolab, one of the best radio shows of the last generation. This miniseries started out really as a curiosity — he and Dolly are both from small town Tennessee — but quickly blossom into a sweet character portrait of a true American icon. Dolly Parton talks about everything from pop culture influences and connections to her ability to play dozens of instruments (none particularly well, she humbly says). Eventually, you realize why she’s adored by just about every human on the planet, and that kind of unifying magick is truly uplifting. After just one episode, I put Dolly on my list of celebrities I’d like to have a beer or coffee with.


All songs consideredPodcast logo All songs considered.

I can’t tell you how many times Bob Boilen drew me to an amazing band that I had never listened to before. That’s the beauty of this NPR program, co-hosted by Rob Hilton. Both really love music, and not just the currently hot indie act or provocative pop artist. The podcast covers all types of music, with the main theme being quality. The commentary is still wise and the guests have gotten better as the show has aged. It has truly reached its peak, with music at the center of a rich cultural tapestry that Boilen and Hilton help bring to life.


Questlove SupremeQuestlove Supreme podcast logo.

In podcast land, Questlove Supreme is practically old, having been running since 2016. As you listen, you quickly realize it’s been such a hit. Questlove is an unrivaled personality with a unique approach to music, having so much experience behind the drum kit, in the production studio, etc. time to get that insider info that only a fellow musician could extract. Many know the host as a drummer for The Roots and for the one-liners he’ll deliver on Fallon from time to time. This podcast crawls into his musical brain, as well as that of his guests.


The Classic Rock PodcastThe Classic Rock podcast logo.

A true garage project from an outfit that adores the world of classic rock, this podcast is a slow-paced analysis of some of the greatest albums of all time. You know, the work of the Monkees, the Beatles, the Clash, Bowie, Buddy Guy, The Police, etc. And it’s not just for the flowery kids of the 1960s and 70s (although that’s obviously the goal), as the show has taken on more contemporary acts, like Death Cab for Cutie and Weezer. Of course, determining whether something is classic or not is subject to all sorts of opinions, and that’s precisely what this podcast is about. If nothing else, you’ll earn new respect for a beloved LP and pop the question yourself by revisiting it from start to finish.


Shout! Black gospel music momentsShout! Gospel podcast logo.

This excellent, fairly low-key show from Waco, Texas focuses on gospel and how the genre really was (and still is) formative in American music. The genre is the foundation of just about everything we love today and it’s a fun journey to revisit some of the hits with host Robert Darden. Like most public radios, it does not lack nuances and details. Better still, it features the best of gospel – authentic hits that sound surprisingly like some of the mega pop we enjoy today, if you listen closely. More importantly, it focuses on the black community behind so many of these successes, from a time when they were mostly overshadowed or given little or no credit.


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About Irene J. O'Donnell

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