Podcast of the week: Popsessed
Conor Behan and Holly Shortall’s pop-culture commentary is a pure delight
Popsessed is the Irish magazine show we truly deserve in 2019
I am largely terrified of chat-show style podcasts unless the subject matter is incredibly specific. Host-to-host dynamics and chemistry, unless you’re a devout fan of what they’re discussing or the host themselves, can often feel alienating. There’s nothing I dread more than tuning in to a podcast and feeling pushed out by chat, rather than pulled in.
However, hosts Conor Behan and Holly Shortall are nothing short of delightful to listen to in their weekly pop-culture commentary, Popsessed. They’re warm and earnest: the conversation is focused and fast-paced.
The episode I recommend starting on is the seventh of their run, New Year, New Neck. The conversation is hugely topical: this episode looks at the return of Dancing on Ice and the Golden Globes – as well as celebrity news stories, like Britney Spears’ cancellation of thirty upcoming shows. Behan and Shortall discuss precisely what is happening in the pop-culture landscape right now, but with a healthy balance of critique and humour.
For example, when they’re chatting about the Golden Globes, there’s as much attention given to the allegations of sexual abuse around director of Bohemian Rhapsody, Bryan Singer, as there is to the viral red carpet superstar, Fiji Water Girl. This combination of levity and succinct insight makes this an elevated, interesting listen.
Each news item gets breathing room. These are celebrity-culture news items that do come up on mainstream Irish radio, but the gift here is that we aren’t listening to a collection of soundbites.
The hour moves quickly, which is rare for a podcast of that length. By the time we get to the story of an Instagram superstar’s plastic surgery plot twist, I couldn’t believe there was half an hour gone. I normally get distracted by about twenty minutes, but the hour works really well here.
There is something in the tone of this show that feels as though it could have been broadcast live from a soundstage on Channel 4 in the mid-2000s – Behan and Shortall are sharp, funny, engaged commentators. Segments like “Deserved/Not Deserved” and the “Neck of the Week” are hilarious.
It is also refreshing to have two Irish voices to listen to, with each episode focused on relatable content, albeit framed with insightful and intelligent opinions.
This is the Irish magazine show we truly deserve in 2019 – I’ll be happily listening every week.