In Review

Podcasts of the week: Obama, the Boss, Bellingcat and fashion 

Featuring Renegades: Born in the USA, The Bellingcat Podcast, and Wardrobe Crisis

The new podcast from Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama, Renegades: Born in the USA, raises interesting questions, said Neil McCormick in The Daily Telegraph. For example: “how did we get to the point where being a podcaster was an occupation deemed worthy of a rock ’n’ roll superstar and a political giant?” There is something “discombobulating” about listening to two of the world’s most famous men swapping “banter, anecdotes and homespun wisdom”, while reflecting on the “cracked reality of the so-called American dream”. Still, their conversations are “fun and enlightening”. Both have a “folksy” manner well suited to the “fireside intimacy” of the medium, and they combine levity with deep thinking and seriousness. It is Springsteen whose eloquence is the more “poetic, rendering the political as the personal”. A highlight comes when he gets out his guitar: indeed, more songs and a fraction less earnestness would usefully lighten the mix. 

Bellingcat is the UK-based citizen journalism project which uncovered the identities of the Salisbury poisoners, confirmed Bashar al-Assad’s use of cluster bombs in Syria and revealed the truth about the downing of flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine. Its founder, Eliot Higgins, has just published a book about it, so I’ve taken the opportunity to catch up with his podcast, said James Marriott in The Times. In some ways, The Bellingcat Podcast is an unlikely proposition. “All narrative journalism podcasting depends on the thrill of the chase”, whereas Bellingcat’s painstaking modus operandi involves “volunteers sitting in their bedrooms scouring spreadsheets, scrolling through Google Maps and zooming in on the backgrounds of grainy images”. Yet the podcast – series one on MH17 and series two on a group of soldiers who shot dead women and children in Cameroon – is “enthralling”. 

The fashion industry has embraced podcasting with gusto, said Harriet Wolstenholme and Chloe Street in the London Evening Standard. Vogue Stories and Chanel Connects (which has swanky guests like Tilda Swinton and Pharrell Williams) are good places to start. Or, for a more specialist, commercially-oriented take on the industry, try The Business of Fashion. Meanwhile SheerLuxe is good for fashion news, Wardrobe Crisis focuses on sustainability and environmental issues, and Articles of Interest looks at fashion through a more philosophical lens. A spin-off of the 99% Invisible podcast, it examines various fashion trends, and how they inform our choices. If you’ve ever wondered why women’s clothes have tiny pockets, this podcast is for you.

The Week Unwrapped: Missiles, ransoms and awe 

Does the US still need ballistic missiles? Why is Boko Haram releasing schoolgirl hostages? And do we need to experience more awe? Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters from the past seven days.

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