It’s hard to believe there was a time when the Podcasts app was just another unused automatic download on our Apple devices, doomed to collect digital dust on our home screens. Nowadays, there’s a high chance you don’t just have a favorite podcast or two—but rather a go-to series to stream for your every craving, like sports, true crime, and sex.
Need to tune out the world? There’s a podcast for that. Need to tune into the world? There’s plenty of podcasts for that, too. Maybe you’re looking to embark on your next self-improvement journey, brush up on ancient history, or need a good laugh. Or, maybe you just need something to play in your earbuds to ensure you don’t live a single second without consuming content. Either way, the ever-saturated podcast market has got you covered.
As the podcast landscape continues to explode, it also means that the competition is as fierce as ever. So, you can take your pick from the cream of the crop. 2022 is already looking like a bountiful harvest for the podcasting landscape, and we’ve hand-picked some of the greatest listens for you to enjoy. From instant cult classics (had to!) like Sounds Like a Cult to unique narratives like Sweet Bobby, here are the best podcasts of 2022 so far.
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The Town with Matthew Belloni
Following 14 years of experience as a former editorial director at The Hollywood Reporter, Matthew Belloni started his podcast, The Town, to give listeners the inside scoop on Hollywood’s biggest stories. Not just a box office obsessive, Belloni gets into what he calls “what people in show business are actually talking about,” such as the streaming wars, major studio head shakeups, and the reason why movies just seem to keep… getting… longer. Unlike the movies themselves, The Town likes to cap each week at just around 30 minutes of the latest Hollywood talk.–Josh Rosenberg
Armchair Expert With Dax Shepard
Is it time to give Armchair Expert the heavyweight title (read: best best podcast) belt? It just might be…–Brady Langmann
Call Her Daddy began as a sex and relationships podcast on Barstool Sports, and has since transformed into a cultural phenomenon. In each episode, host Alex Cooper interviews celebrities about their lives, and specifically probes the taboo topics they’d probably rather avoid. Do you want to know how Hailey Bieber feels about being in the public eye, why Jamie Lynn Spears is estranged from her sister, or how childhood fame affected Keke Palmer? Well, grab a pair of headphones and tune in.–Bria McNeal
The Old Man & The Three with JJ Redick and Tommy Alter
As someone who dribbles up NBA podcasts in the morning like they’re trying to hit a triple-double before halftime, I simply can’t get enough of basketball’s “new media,” as Golden State’s Draymond Green coined it. If you want to hear what NBA players have to say about the state of the league, there’s nowhere better to turn than new media co-leader JJ Redick. He’s a former NBA star who has had interviews on his podcast, The Old Man & The Three, with superstars such as Stephen Curry, Donovan Mitchell, Joel Embiid, Trae Young, Kevin Durant, and more. Along with Tommy Alter (a former writer and producer for Showtime’s Desus and Mero) the duo not only get into how their guests got to the big stage today, but how they were able to build upon certain defining moments throughout their careers in the league.–Josh Rosenberg
Yeah. Roast me. I’m a Modern Love guy. The uber-popular column from The New York Times, which features first-person dispatches from the bunkers of modern dating, has a podcast. Here, the Times hires celebrities to read already-published columns with some panache. And I love it, OK? No more questions, please. I’ve had “Falling for Your Sperm Donor” in my queue for too long.–B.L.
From hit films like Midsommar and Wild Wild Country, to bestselling books like The Girls, it seems like pop culture and cults have gone hand-in-hand for the past few years. And there might be a reason for our society’s fascinated frenzy over such communities. Now more than ever, we all seem pretty prone to fall into borderline cults–whether it’s spiritual influencers preaching discount codes or targeted ads infiltrating our feeds. Each episode, Sounds Like a Cult hosts Isa Medina and Amanda Montell use a healthy dose of humor and skepticism to debunk potentially covert cults of today’s zeitgeist–from SoulCycle to true crime.–Emma Carey
With episodes arriving multiples times a day, there are few series as dedicated to covering the Russian invasion of Ukraine as NPR’s State of Ukraine. NPR’s team of journalists are conducting on-the-ground reporting each day–featuring interviews with politicians, crucial background information, and new developments. So, whether you’ve been keeping up on the news or feel like you don’t know enough, this series is a great way to get and remain informed on the current affairs of Ukraine.—E.C.
Wag your finger at Gen Z, their fried attention spans, and their war on skinny jeans all you want, but, whether you like it or not, their favorite app, TikTok, is important. If you want to keep up your finger on the pulse of pop culture, then keeping up on TikTok trends is pretty much a non-negotiable. Hosted by Rolling Stone writers Brittany Spanos and EJ Dickson, Don’t Let This Flop is a series where, in their own words, “two smart people talk about the dumbest shit that happened online this week.” From the origins of the “gorgeous gorgeous girls” trend, to how the Will Smith slap “made the entire Internet stupid,” the hosts break down the biggest Internet news of late–and their implications on culture at large.—E.C.
Stolen: Surviving St. Michael’s
Following their Season One investigation into the unexplained disappearance of an Indigenous mother in Montana, the second season of Gimlet’s Stolen sees investigative journalist Connie Walker uncover her family’s traumatic history within the Canadian residential school system. The series centers around an encounter between Walker’s father, an officer in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and a suspected drunk driver whom Walker’s father quickly recognizes as a residential school priest from his past. Walker’s own journey of unearthing her family’s painful history provides a deeply intimate lens into the horrific period of forced assimilation, abduction and abuse of Indigenous children by the Canadian government.—E.C.
Perhaps you’ve been following the Elizabeth Holmes scandal since she came on the scene as a young entrepreneur in a Steve Jobs-esque turtleneck. Or, maybe you’d never heard of Holmes until seeing that clip of Amanda Seyfried adopting the put-on deep vocal inflection in Hulu’s miniseries adaptation. No matter your expertise, if you’re looking to learn more about Holmes and the great scandal of Theranos, NBC’s The Dropout is the perfect companion listen for your rabbit hole. Hosted by ABC’s Rebecca Jarvis and produced by Taylor Dunn and Victoria Thompson, The Dropout gives listeners unprecedented access to the Elizabeth Holmes scandal–from employee interviews to exclusive trial testimonies.—E.C.
Comedian Nicole Byer confronts her perpetually single status head-on in this hilarious interview series–reaching out to friends, fellow comedians, and exes to help her look inward and find the answer to her burning question: “Why won’t you date me?” Though the series is centered around dating, Byer and guests incorporate plenty of thoughtful discussions about everything from their career origins, to sex work, second puberties, and “how to have a WAP.”—E.C.
Hosted by radio presenter Kirat Assi, Sweet Bobby traces the true story of Assi’s deceptive online romance with Bobby–a man whom she learns over time is nothing like he says he is. The series has elements of true crime and catfishing narratives, but what stands out the most about this series is Assi’s vulnerability in her reporting of her own story.—E.C.
When journalist Hamza Syed had a chance encounter with S-Town producer Brian Reed the night before he began journalism school, he urgently told Reed about his first story idea–which would soon become the basis of The Trojan Horse Affair. From The New York Times and Serial Productions, The Trojan Horse Affair investigates the origins of a mysterious letter sent to a councilor in Birmingham, England, describing an elaborate plan for Islamic extremists to infiltrate the Birmingham school system. City officials immediately scrambled to figure out how they could eliminate this threat, but, years later, Syed and Reed set out to ask the question that arguably should have come first: Who actually wrote the letter?—E.C.
Hosted by author and former Vibe editor-in-chief Danyel Smith, Black Girl Songbook aims top highlight and uplift the Black women in music whose voices have changed the industry forever–from Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin to Lauryn Hill and Rihanna. Featuring interviews with greats like Jennifer Hudson, along with anecdotes from Smith’s extensive experience in reporting, and in-depth dives into music history, each episode aims for listeners to “hear and feel Black women getting the credit they deserve.” The series’ utilization of Spotify’s “Music + Talk” feature, which interweaves songs from Spotify into episodes, makes for an especially immersive listening experience.—E.C.
Since its inception as a news organization, Vox has made a mission of delivering concise, hard-hitting explanatory journalism–with their “explained” series solidifying them as a go-to for both current affairs and educational rabbit holes. And, beginning in 2018, Vox expanded this series to a daily news podcast that packs a punch. Released every evening, Today, Explained takes a special focus on a current news topic worth explaining, from monkey pox to the Free Britney movement.—E.C.
From all the way across the pond, we have the voices and contagious laughs of Audrey, Tolly, and Milena—three British women of color offering up absolutely no filter. Ranging from episodes focused on specific pop culture moments and chit-chat, to interviews with celebrity guests like Regina King and Lucky Daye, to a biweekly minisode where they answer listener’s dilemmas, The Receipts Podcast is a total blast. If you’re listening, prepare to hear too much about everything—from what the best ABBA song is, to dilemmas about how to get your boyfriend’s mom to stop pooping in the bath. Yes, really.—Ammal Hassan
Stuff You Missed In History Class
For any history nerd, I’m sure you’re already well-acquainted with this gem of a podcast. Holly Frey and Tracy Wilson bring to you exactly what the name entails: a deep dive into all of the forgotten topics in your history class. Using their extensive research, the podcasters take you through an array of new topics, with everything from the story of the last queen of the Hawaiian Kingdom, to the history of hypertension, zippers, monarch butterflies and more.—A.H.
Brought to you by The New York Times, The Daily releases new 20-minute episodes every day, focusing on major current events. NYT journalists Michael Barbaro and Sabrina Tavernise take you through everything you need to know to get your daily dose of news. An example? “How Gorbachev Changed The World,” following the Russian leader’s death. Sometimes, the journalists offer a breakdown into a topic the world should really be paying attention to, like the youth mental health crisis.—A.H.
Here’s the setup: an anonymous listener has provided host Kelsey McKinney with a story from his or her real life (with a few details changed to protect the innocent and the not so innocent). Then Kelsey recounts the story to an unsuspecting guest, usually a comedian or some other man or woman about town–Josh Gondelman, Brian Park, Tracy Clayton have all appeared– who doubles as you, the listener. They chime in exactly where you would with a “are you kidding me?” or an, “oh no, this guy sounds like bad news.” Past episodes have featured all that you’d expect (preschool parents gone wild, family squabbles at Thanksgiving) but also all that you’d never expect (a vacation ruined by a large lamp, a scammer in the rare orchid community). —Kelly Stout
You may have heard countless people say the goal of life is finding happiness. But have you ever actually asked yourself how to be happy? Well, Yale professor Dr. Laurie Santos has made it her life’s work to study the science of happiness—and really get to the bottom of what actually makes us happy. Through episodes interviews with guests and a whole lot of scientific research, Dr. Santos introduces you to surprising and inspiring stories that will forever change everything you know about happiness.—A.H.
Celebrity Memoir Bookclub
Today, celebrity memoirs have come to replace the phenomenon of celebrity-owned perfumes in the ’00s. Everybody’s got them and they wont stop shoving it down our throats. But if you’ve ever been curious as to what some of these celebrities are saying in their never-ending memoirs, you’ve found your people. Hosts Ashley and Claire walk you through all of the hottest celebrity memoirs on the market right now. Through them, you can take a journey through stories both touching and unimaginably vapid. You may laugh, or you may cry, but you sure as hell will enjoy yourself.—A.H.
Ever wondered what happens when an autopsy technician and a hairstylist band together to deliver a spooky podcast? Well, you won’t have to wonder anymore. With Morbid, you’ll listen to a number of heavily researched true crimes and creepy historical tales sure to satisfy the total weirdo in you. Rest assured, you won’t face a dull journey through these stories. Expect a handful of humor to keep you fully captivated.—A.H.
From the studio that brought you Stuff You Missed In History Class, you can a find the more general Stuff You Should Know. With episodes on everything from the history of incestuous families to why bowling is awesome—and even how gossip works!—trust me, there is so much you didn’t know you had to know until you knew, you know?—A.H.
Once, I heard Ringer Food‘s “Food News” hosts Juliet Litman and David Jacoby rant entirely too long about the extinction of the Choco Taco. Another time, they inexplicably managed to give me a craving for Burger King’s Impossible Southwest Bacon Whopper, which I’ve never even had? Hell, even looking at the episodes I haven’t listened to yet, it seems like I’m blissfully unaware (for now!) of bologna-sniffing dogs and pumpkin spice goldfish. Each episode is about a half an hour long. Each one is delightful. And that’s just about all I have to say.—B.L.
Against The Rules With Michael Lewis
Praise your favorite streaming service of choice, one of our favorite podcasts—Against The Rules With Michael Lewis—returned for a third season in 2022. If you’re unfamiliar with the podcast, it sees Moneyball writer Michael Lewis explore the concept of fairness. High-concept! Sure. But wait until what you see what Lewis does with the premise. Against The Rules is just as nuanced, eccentric, and unforgettable as the rest of the author’s work.—B.L.
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