After the Binge
I don’t know whether it’s sad, or unbelievably depressing that many of my most important and emotionally satisfying relationships are not with people, who I generally find terrifying, but rather with podcasts. Oh, but I love podcasts! They are the best. I honestly don’t know what I would do without them. They’re natural tranquilizers, audio anti-depressants, a support group populated by people I will never meet IRL and soothing voices that drown out the angry ones in my head screaming that everything I do will fail.
For me, podcasts are like romantic relationships. First, there’s that giddy exhilaration of finding something special, something you connect with instantly and powerfully. That’s how I felt when I discovered a podcast called Punch Up the Jam had devoted an episode to LFO’s “Summer Girls”, one of my all-time guilty pleasures and the subject of a previous Big Whoop post.
Listening to the episode I fell in love almost instantly. I loved the dynamic between hosts Miel Bredouw and Demi Adejuyigbe. Incidentally, I’m pleased I’m writing about these delightful podcasters instead of talking about them because there is no chance I would pronounce either of their names correctly. Christ, I can barely pronounce my own name and it's pretty simple.
Then came a period of infatuation. I started listening to other episodes and discovered that, while they’re not all as good as the “Summer Girls” episode, they’re all pretty terrific. That’s when the binge begins. I swear off all other podcasts, at least temporarily, so that I can focus on the object of my obsession exclusively.
I instantly fell hard for Punch up the Jam because they do in podcast form what I like to think I do here at Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place in features like My World of Flops, Literature Society and the various iterations of Control Nathan Rabin: do a close-read, deep dive into a ridiculous piece of pop culture, deconstructing it bit by bit, line by line in a way borders on obsessive. If the podcast were exclusively concerned with mocking pop music it’d get old quickly. Thankfully, the hosts love and understand top 40 detritus so the podcast is a celebration of plastic pop music rather than an evisceration.
Finally, I love Punch Up the Jam because the climax of every episode is a “Punch Up” where one of the hosts shares a “punched up” version of the song the episode is dedicated to. The punch-up is sometimes a mash-up but more often it’s a parody and, as readers of this site are perhaps aware, I am something of a fan of pop music parody and something of an aficionado of American pop parodist “Weird Al” Yankovic, having written his coffee table book and The Weird Accordion to Al, and I am absolutely blown away by Adejuyigbe’s spoofs. I very much want to pay money for an album of parodies from Demi, and would be honored to write the liner notes for it.
For the past few weeks I’ve been racing through the archives. I haven’t yet listened to every episode but I already feel obnoxiously entitled enough to chafe at the most recent episode for featuring a song (The Dixie Chicks’ “Cowboy Take Me Away”) too legitimately good and non-cheesy to be appropriate fodder for a podcast whose best episodes are devoted to transcendent garbage like “Summer Girls” and “It Wasn’t Me”, which contains maybe the funniest ever parody written by someone who is not “Weird Al” Yankovic. There’s some dumb part of me that thinks I know what's right for this podcast better than its own hosts. How idiotic is that?
I’m a little bummed that I only have thirty seven episodes to binge. If the binge is like a crush/infatuation, then what follows the binge is a relationship that’s either sustainable or fades away with time. After I finish my binge, for example, I’ll only have new episodes of Punch up the Jam to look forward to, and my obsessive, addictive brain is already a little concerned that the podcast will be taking September off when I need it most!
Will my intense enthusiasm for Punch up the Jam lead to a committed long-term relationship, like the ones I have with previous binges We Hate Movies, The Flop House, The Long Shot, Beyond Yacht Rock and many more, or will it fade with time as many infatuations do? It’s going to be sustainable. I just know it.
There’s always something bittersweet about the end of a binge that’s undercut by the exciting possibility that the next binge/obsession lurks right around the corner. In fact, I may have already discovered my next podcast obsession in Jonathan Goldstein’s Heavyweight, which I have not listened to yet but I will probably adore with my trademark unhealthy, pathological fever. Or, you know, it might leave me totally cold. You never can tell, but in this case, I’m guessing I will dig it.
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