Why do Prince songs make us feel so alive? Why, exactly, is "Sorry" such a goddamn jam? In search of answers, we listened to Tuner, an independent podcast that reveals the inner workings of the songs (most of us) love. Hosts Brian Barone and John Lagomarsino, both musicians, have set out to examine 'pop music' - by which they mean, literally, music a lot of people like - and in doing so traverse a sprawling plain of musical references, from Frankie Valli to One Direction. Each episode centres on one song - Adele's "Hello"; Michael Jackson's "Thriller" - but comparisons and connections are drawn throughout, situating each piece within its wider historical and theoretical context. It's slightly more technical than Song Exploder, but that makes it sound dry, which it's not; it's funny, fast-paced, unpretentious, perfectly intelligible for the uninitiated. It's really well produced. Perhaps most impressively, it succeeds in preserving the special magic of pop classics, even as it turns them over to show us how they tick. Eleven episodes are available now, each about 15 minutes long.
Gateway episodes: #2 Sittin' on the Dock of the Bey (12 Oct 2015) / #6: Bat Out Adele (14 Dec 2015) / #8 Ain't No Valli Low Enough (25 Jan 2016)