If you like expanding your musical horizons beyond what's on the radio or want to learn new connections between various songs and artists, the iTunes Weekly Rewind is a great podcast. Every week they take a look at some of the songs which have been playing on the radio, on TV, in movies, even in ad spots. But more than just giving a name and artist to a song you heard just fleetingly, they also use songs, artists, or events as springboards to not only go into depth, but to point out both what influenced an artist and whom that artist influenced. There are a lot of music geeks out there, and these guys rate right up there. As they should, since they're on the team which compiles the iTunes Essentials collections.
Some reviews for the show complain that the show only plays clips from the various songs, but considering they play clips from about 50 songs in each episode, it only makes sense. In addition, the flow of their comments doesn't get interrupted; they're not afraid to talk over clips when having a song playing in the background gives you enough of a reminder ("Oh, that song!") but they do know when to let you listen to specific aspects.
It's amazing the things you learn from a show such as this. Many people know The Carpenters hailed from Downey, CA (where my parents have lived in the same house since before I was born), but who knew The Blasters did, too? OK, so the first question would have been "Who are they?", and they explain that the Blasters were
…the first roots rock band of the post-punk era. Four guys out of Downey made their way to the nascent LA Punk making the world safe for rockabilly, country, blues early R&B and practically every other form of American Music (also the title of one of their best songs which also serves as their musical mission statement).
In the same episode they discussed Sly & The Family Stone as well as Dwight Yokum, and the fact they can go into depth about all these genres shows their knowledge is more than skin deep.
After Michael Jackson died, they dedicated a whole show to his music and as can be expected, did a fantastic job. Sure they talked about Thriller. One great comment compared it to movies, saying it was like Titanic commercially and The Godfather artistically. One of the guys said he was in an independent record store and one of the people recommended he buy this Michael Jackson album; he was so surprised he double-checked the name of the store. They also talked about how having Eddie Van Halen play on "Beat It" and the duet Paul McCartney showed how rock could be merged with R&B/soul.
Even with all that, Thriller took up very little of the episode. They naturally started with the Jackson 5, but what's cool is they brought it back around to talking about the Jacksons as a whole when they wrapped up.
The clips they play are limited to what's available on the iTunes Store, but they're pretty creative how they do that. If there's a new cover of a song which isn't in the store, they'll play the original, suggesting that it's worth revisiting. Or they'll bring up another song which is in the same context and play that clip.
One thing about the show is the individual personalities don't show very strongly, but after listening a while one gets a sense of some preferences. However, I don't feel cheated since this show is truly about the music, and the discussion centers around that. While listening, I'll often jot down a song or artist I want to check out at a later time. I'm not only discovering new artists, I'm rediscovering ones I had forgotten about.