Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Photo: Matthew Eisman/Getty Images
PodmassPodmassIn Podmass, The A.V. Club sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at podmass@avclub.com.

Bizarre Albums
Miss Piggy’s Aerobique Exercise Workout Album

Illustration for article titled iBizarre Albums/i lives up to its name with a look back at Miss Piggy’s workout jams

When YouTubers and podcasters encounter strange pop culture artifacts, the response is often mockery. Tony Thaxton, however, is not interested in lampooning the misfits of media, celebrating them instead. In each episode of Bizarre Albums, Thaxton—a drummer for Motion City Soundtrack—recounts the history of a baffling album that shouldn’t exist yet somehow does. He’s covered everything from Terry Bradshaw’s country record to Freddy Krueger’s greatest hits and does so in a fast-paced, sarcasm-free manner. In this episode, he explores the cultural landscape that paved the way for Muppet diva Miss Piggy’s release, the most fabulous fitness album ever made. The unprecedented success of Jane Fonda’s 1982 workout video was so parodied throughout the era that it was nearly inevitable the Muppets would take a stab. Thaxton provides a track-by-track breakdown with snippets of the music composed by Joe Raposo accompanied by Frank Oz as Miss Piggy commanding the listener to snackcercise. There’s more pop trivia stuffed into this 20-minute episode than most podcasts manage in an hour, and there’s a refreshing lack of cynicism all the way through. [Anthony D Herrera]

Cool Mules
You Should Be Thankful

Illustration for article titled iBizarre Albums/i lives up to its name with a look back at Miss Piggy’s workout jams

There’s no great mystery at the heart of Canadaland’s new true crime podcast. There’s no missing piece of evidence that’s keeping detectives up at night, no key witness who has yet to reveal their damning testimony, and no real question about who’s to blame. Yaroslav “Slava” Pastukhov, former music editor at Vice Canada, freely admits, and has pled guilty, to orchestrating a botched international drug-trafficking scheme that resulted in prison time for a handful of impressionable twentysomethings. Case closed. And yet, each new episode of Cool Mules features some jaw-dropping tidbit that makes you wonder, how could anybody be this stupid? While the bumbling hipster Slava is certainly to blame for his role in the crime, the podcast is just as much of an indictment of the office culture at Vice, in which coolness was the only currency that mattered and young interns worried they would be branded as “snitches” for telling the higher-ups that an editor was pressuring them to traffic cocaine. It created the perfect breeding ground for a predatory opportunist like Slava and left young, eager journalists without much in the way of support. [Dan Neilan]

Deep Cuts
The Stratemeyer Syndicate | Case File #1

Illustration for article titled iBizarre Albums/i lives up to its name with a look back at Miss Piggy’s workout jams

For fans of vintage teen mysteries, Deep Cuts has some news for you: Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon probably didn’t write them at all. This new podcast revels in taking pop cultural gems and exposing the murderous, deceitful, and glorious underbelly of their creation. This episode on the Stratemeyer Syndicate, the publishing magnate responsible for Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and The Bobbsey Twins, is the most complete history of the company and its creator, Edward Stratemeyer, you are likely to hear. Hosts Dave Baker and Andrew Price investigate these series through a new lens, comparing the Stratemeyer Syndicate’s use (and misuse) of ghost writers to that of the Goosebumps series and how this formula for book production has been adopted by other famous franchises. So many secrets about the novels’ seemingly wholesome content are revealed that you’ll feel like a reluctant sleuth by the end of the episode. [Morgan McNaught]

Inside Voices
Griffin Newman Has A Little Stinker Voice

Illustration for article titled iBizarre Albums/i lives up to its name with a look back at Miss Piggy’s workout jams

Kevin T. Porter (Gilmore Guys, Good Christian Fun) has created the ultimate podcast for fans of podcasts. Each week, a host from one of your favorite shows sits down for an in-depth discussion about their own voice, how it sounds, whether they like it or not, and how their relationship with it has been influenced by their role as a podcaster. This inevitably evolves into a conversation about the medium itself, why they got into it, and how it has shaped their careers for good or ill. Fans of Blank Check will be very familiar with Griffin Newman’s voice, which is known to alternate between grumbly discontent and manic excitement depending on the bit he’s engaging in with co-host David Sims. But the actor-comedian hasn’t always had such confident command over how he sounds. Anxiety over rejection and missed opportunities in show business directly informed Newman’s relationship with podcasting, where he not only has control over how he’s presented but has a direct line to an audience eager for his unique brand of goofiness. If you’re looking to get meta about your podcast fandom, Inside Voices is the place to start. [Dan Neilan]

Just Break Up
Awkward Isn’t Real

Illustration for article titled iBizarre Albums/i lives up to its name with a look back at Miss Piggy’s workout jams

Sam Blackwell and Sierra DeMulder, longtime friends and co-hosts of Just Break Up, are both upfront about their lack of credentials when it comes dispensing relationship advice. They declare this right at the top of each episode, and it’s this candor that makes their insight so worthwhile. Blackwell and DeMulder are able to pool their respective dating histories as they respond to letters from listeners. Coworker crushes, the potential for rejection, and checklists for first dates are all open to discussion, but so are the heavier topics, like how to pursue future relationships after leaving an abusive one, and how to deal with infidelity and alcohol dependency. The hosts’ depth of compassion for each other is matched by the empathy they have for the listeners who write in. It’s a show that teaches us how to acknowledge the humanity of the folks who hurt us even while demanding accountability from them. [Jose Nateras]

Smart Mouth
Key Lime Pie With Rebecca Leib

Illustration for article titled iBizarre Albums/i lives up to its name with a look back at Miss Piggy’s workout jams

Smart Mouth is a satisfying interview show that blends food history with personal heritage, evoking feelings of a good meal enjoyed with friends. Host Katherine Spiers’ focuses on teasing out the backstories of her guests and their favorite dishes. The approach works swimmingly on comedian and L.A. politico Rebecca Leib, who reveals that despite her Midwestern roots, her childhood diet didn’t include a lot of dairy or sweets, save for a zealous embrace of key lime pie. Her idiosyncrasies are surpassed by the pie itself, which is having an identity crisis as of late. Forget that key limes aren’t native to the Florida Keys, and not even essential to making the dessert—there’s strong evidence that the first key lime pie was whipped up in a New York test kitchen. Florida pie-hards take umbrage at the suggestion and are searching for proof that would reestablish the Sunshine State as the Big Bang of the key lime universe. Perhaps the lesson here is that authenticity is a ghost that ruins the relish of this tangy treat. [Zach Brooke]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter