Song Exploder is a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made. Each episode features an artist discussing a song of theirs, breaking down the sounds and ideas that went into the writing and recording. Hosted and produced by Hrishikesh Hirway.
Panic! At the Disco - Viva Las Vengeance
Panic! at the Disco is the Grammy-nominated project of Brendon Urie, who originally started it as a band with his high school friends from Las Vegas in 2004. In the eighteen years since, Panic! at the Disco has won American Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, iHeartRadio Music awards, and more. In August 2022, Brendon released the seventh Panic! at the Disco album, Viva Las Vengeance. The title track hit #1 on Billboard’s Alternative Airplay chart. In this episode, Brendon tells the story of how he, Grammy-nominated producer Jake Sinclair and Oscar-nominated songwriter Mike Viola all got together to make the song "Viva Las Vengeance."
For more, visit songexploder.net/panic-at-the-disco.
Book Exploder: Carmen Maria Machado - In the Dream House
Carmen Maria Machado is the award-winning author of In the Dream House, a memoir where each chapter has its own vivid style of storytelling. It won the Folio Prize in 2021, and was named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The New Yorker, and NPR.
In the Dream House depicts Carmen’s experiences in an abusive relationship, and in this episode, she spoke to Susan about a pivotal passage from the chapter “Dream House as House in Florida.”
Re-issue: Björk - Stonemilker
(This is a re-issue of Björk’s episode from December 2015.)
In January 2015, Björk released Vulnicura. She described it as "a complete heartbreak album." And in November, she released Vulnicura Strings, a companion album that stripped away the electronics. In this episode, Bjork breaks down the making of both the original version of the song "Stonemilker," which you’re hearing now, as well as the strings version. She traces her writing and recording process for the track, her collaboration with the electronic producer Arca, and why she wanted to make a second version.
For more, visit songexploder.net/björk.
Book Exploder: Michael Cunningham - The Hours
Michael Cunningham is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours. He’s the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. The Hours was published in 1998, and in addition to the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, it won the PEN/Faulkner Award. The book was later adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, and Julianne Moore. In this episode, Michael speaks to Susan Orlean about a passage concerning the suicide of Virginia Woolf, which comes at the end of the prologue.
For more, visit bookexploder.com/episodes/michael-cunningham.
Madonna - Hung Up
Madonna is the best-selling female recording artist of all time. She has twelve albums that have gone multi-platinum. She’s won seven Grammys, and has had fifty songs reach number 1 on the Billboard Dance chart. That’s more number 1s than anyone in any category, ever. In this episode, she talks about one of those number 1s: “Hung Up,” from her 2005 album Confessions on a Dance Floor. The song and that album were co-produced by Stuart Price, an electronic musician, producer, and DJ from the UK. “Hung Up” began in part because Madonna was working on a film with director Luc Besson (whose films include The Fifth Element and Taken). But the song also grew out of Stuart’s DJ sets.
Madonna has a new career-spanning album out, called Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones, and in honor of its release, Madonna and Stuart Price told me the story of how their collaboration and partnership led to one of Madonna’s biggest hits.
For more, visit songexploder.net/madonna.
Book Exploder: Min Jin Lee - Pachinko
Min Jin Lee is the author of the best-selling novel Pachinko. She’s a Guggenheim Fellow, and the recipient of South Korea's Manhae Grand Prize for Literature. In Pachinko, she tells a sweeping, multi-generational story of a Korean family that moves to Japan. Pachinko is an international best-seller, named one of the best books of 2017 by the New York Times, the BBC, the New York Public Library, and more. In 2022, it was adapted into an Emmy-nominated television series on Apple TV+. In this episode, Min talks to Book Exploder host Susan Orlean about a passage from Chapter 4 of Pachinko: a pivotal scene that takes place in June 1932, in a small fishing village in Korea.
For more, visit bookexploder.com/episodes/min-jin-lee.
I’ve been a huge fan of Radiotopia podcasts for many years.
Song exploder is an incomparable peek behind the music for your already favourite and perhaps not-yet-favourite tracks.
Today I discovered the 2017 episode of Perfume Genius’ Slip Away and it reduced me to tears in the kitchen while cooking some pasta. Simply because it connects you even more the the music you know and love. Getting to know the motivations and artistic process behind these selected songs elevates them even further. Man I love our talented artists.
My only criticism is that I wish Hrishikesh and team could release episodes more often!
12 out of 10.
Love you guys.
Every music lover should know about this
This is a podcast every music lover should know about. Very interesting glimpses inside the minds of musicians.
If you like to explore the artists minds a bit more this is great