Music Dissected, Thank You Internet


There’s a bit of a hot trend in the world of #content that I’m really liking right now. It’s the music/song explainer. YouTube and podcasts have enabled this new new form of music appreciation, which goes way beyond the stodgy old album review or concert critique, both of which I find fairly insufferable even if I have penned a few of my own.

For me, these new pieces really enrich the listening experience, provide backstory and also fill in some of the gaps created from no longer reading about musicians on album jackets and in magazines. My favorite creators of this genre is Song Exploder, the podcast where “musicians take apart their songs and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made”, Polyphonic, which features “Video essays about music, and other aspects of pop culture” and Vox’s Earworm which has delved deep into the world of examplorantory music journalism

This Earworm piece about gated drums is the best explainer on the topic on the internet. I know because months ago in a weird obsessive moment, I went down a deep rabbit hole to find out the back story of Phil Collins drums in In the Air Tonight. After a ton of Googling, I found out all about gated drums. Save yourself some time and watch this video.

If it’s deep explainer videos you like, Polyphonic will also deliver in spades. This John Bonham video takes what you already knew, that John Bonham was a ridiculous next level drummer, and articulates why with excellent animations in a much more nuanced way. See also this Good Vibrations video to see what I mean. 

And then there’s Song Exploder, which is by far my favorite podcast. There’s almost nothing better to me than hearing the backstories of how musicians created songs. Tie that into the actual dissection of songs, piece by piece, and you’ve got the makings of truly mind-blowing listen for a music lover. The production and storytelling is so strong, I find myself listening to the podcast with bands and singers I don’t even really like, just to hear the stories. My only wish is that they would occasionally do a throwback piece. The Rolling Stones or Paul Simon or something, for posterity. 

Two of my favorite Song Exploder episodes are Episode 95: Moonlight and Episode 55: The Arcs

Thankfully technology and its talented creators have gifted us these new mediums to explore the old stale genre of music journalism. In this case, a very strong win for us and the internet.