Our top picks of podcasts released so far this year.
Dear Joan and Jericha
Joan and Jericha are two British agony aunts, teaming up to offer some practical advice to their radio listeners on how to deal with life in the modern age. So far, so normal. Except Joan and Jericha are far from normal and this podcast has overtaken to My Dad Wrote a Porno to become the funniest – and filthiest – thing you can download through iTunes. Lacking any empathy, compassion or common sense, Joan and Jericha are staunch supporters of the patriarchy and have never met a problem that wasn't a woman's fault. Starting off inscrutable and deadpan, comedians Julia Davis and Vicki Pepperdine become more absurd with every episode, delivering a biting satire that will leave you wide-eyed and weeping with laughter.
Watching The Throne
Kanye West: misunderstood musical genius or bat shiz crazy blowhard? It's often hard to tell, especially after all his unhinged recent pro-#MAGA rambling. But among all the press-hungry antics its easy to overlook the brilliance of his music. Watching the Throne makes a good argument as it explores the recorded output of Kanye in extreme detail. I mean, there's deep dives and then there's this. A recent episode spent nearly 90 minutes examining the thoughts, themes and lyrical nuances of a single track. This is not uncommon. Like the man himself, this is entertaining, interesting and best in small doses.
Kiwis might recognise Fearne Cotton from the occasional TV appearance that has screened here, but in her British homeland, she's a pretty big deal. The host of BBC1's morning radio show for six years, Cotton made headlines when she decided to walk away from her "dream job" to focus on her family and new projects. One of those projects is this podcast: Happy Place. The premise is simple: Cotton speaks to people she finds inspirational about success and happiness. From Dawn French and Gok Wan to former Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, Cotton questions how we view success and reveals a new side to these well-known characters. Inspirational and uplifting, this is the feel-good podcast of the year.
If you're ever having a bad day, Unhappy Hour is the podcast that reminds you it's ok to stew for a while. And that it could almost always be worse. Matt Bellassai - formerly of YouTube fame - hosts the podcast in which he talks about all the things he hates with a hilarious level of ire, presenting everything from the worst news of the week to deep dives into topics like "why Disney princesses are the worst". None of it matters, it's not hurting anyone, it's just funny and cathartic and really, what more could you want in such troubled times?
Taking a human approach to an issue many find too vast to understand, the New York Times' ground-breaking podcast Caliphate opened the story behind Islamic State in a way we'd never seen (or heard) before. Through the voices of Times reporter and Isis expert Rukmini Callimachi, as well as a young Isis recruit from Canada, Caliphate explored themes of fear and religion as it attempted to understand the ideologies of Isis, and who exactly it is that America is fighting. It's a gripping, addictive listen, and one that breaks new ground for the possibilities of podcast storytelling.