Best podcasts of the week: The stars of Who Shat on the Floor at My Wedding? return with a gripping new mystery

Picks of the week

Glad We Had This Chat With Caroline Hirons
Widely available, episodes weekly
You can get celebrities to spill serious tea by digging into their beauty bags, which skincare guru and natural chatterbox Caroline Hirons knows all too well in her new interview series. It’s an impressive start with first guest Sarah Jessica Parker, who reveals her favourite Boots beauty buy for under £2, gets frank on ageing and her body, compares her parenting style with that of husband Matthew Broderick and gushes over Zadie Smith. Hollie Richardson

The Case of the Tiny Suit/Case
Widely available, episodes weekly
After their smash-hit podcast Who Shat on the Floor at My Wedding?, Helen McLaughlin, Karen Whitehouse and Lauren Kilby return with another important mystery. It is set in Sweden, where a woman finds a tiny corduroy suit hanging on her veranda. The plot thickens when a suitcase later appears, complete with skin-coloured pantyhose and some very old swimming goggles. Cue some very amateur sleuthing. Hannah Verdier

Paul Weller performing in 2022. Photograph: Andrew Hasson/The Guardian

The Queen’s Reading Room
Widely available, episodes weekly
Kate Mosse, Curtis Sittenfeld and Ben Okri are all guests on the second series of Queen Camilla’s literary podcast, hosted by Vicki Perrin. They’ll be inviting listeners into their reading rooms, letting us snoop on the books that made them. First up: Neil Gaiman. HR

Lemme Say This
Widely available, episodes weekly
Peyton Dix and Hunter Harris promise to only cover the things that matter on their new pop culture podcast. So if you want to know why certain corners of the internet are convinced that Justin and Hailey Bieber are lesbians or need a taxonomy of Hollywood nepo babies, join their “glorified group chat”. HV

The Paul Weller Fan Podcast
Widely available, episodes weekly
Dan Jennings recorded nearly 200 episodes of his fan podcast with Paul Weller’s collaborators, but never the man himself. After becoming a cult hit, season two sees Jennings get full access to Weller (above) for a track-by-track deep dive into his new album, 66. Jennings remains forensic in his podcasting, delivering valuable insights for fans. HV

There’s a podcast for that

Lauryn Hill, right, in concert at the Brixton Academy in 1999. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

This week, Hannah Verdier chooses five of the best podcasts about songsfrom a nostalgic 90s discography to a loving breakdown of country music’s roots

60 Songs That Explain the 90s
Can you really distill a whole decade into 60 songs? Of course not, so the Ringer’s Rob Harvilla goes beyond the obvious nostalgia to bring an offbeat perspective. His episode on Cher’s Believe kicks off with a declaration of his gloriously immature love for MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head. He explores the terrible songs he performed late at night in college before diving into Sheryl Crow’s If It Makes You Happy. And there’s a chance to look back on lost love during Ex-Factor by Lauryn Hill (above). Warning: there are far more than 60 episodes, so you might get lost in this podcast.

McCartney: A Life in Lyrics
Fifty hours of conversation with Paul McCartney has given Paul Muldoon plenty of material to analyse his songs. This podcast is grandly billed as “a masterclass, a memoir and an improvised journey” and it doesn’t disappoint, taking in personal stories as well as the craft of songwriting. Beatles classics such as Love Me Do, Live and Let Die and Magical Mystery Tour are all present, along with Wings’ Silly Love Songs and Picasso’s Last Words (Drink To Me), which was written after Dustin Hoffman challenged McCartney to use the artist’s words to prove he really could write about anything.

Song Exploder
The OG of music podcasts, Hrishikesh Hirway’s series has exploded 300 songs so far with the people who made them, including Janelle Monaé, Foo Fighters and Dua Lipa. His 20-minute episodes squeeze so much out of each tune, whether that’s Kesha talking about working with Rick Rubin on her meditative anthem Eat the Acid, or Dave Grohl opening up about Taylor Hawkins’ death in The Teacher. Classics are well covered too, with New Order celebrating Blue Monday (in their characteristically modest and deadpan way) and its power to rescue any dancefloor over 40 years after it was recorded.

Cocaine and Rhinestones: The History of Country Music
The genius of country music hangs on the genre’s ability to tell a story every time, but Tyler Mahan Coe’s podcast goes beyond the huntin’, shootin’ and abadonin’ tropes to give the real history of many of its much-loved songs. Happy endings aren’t always guaranteed, as he digs into the heartache-filled love story of country couple Tammy Wynette and George Jones, Bobbie Gentry’s disappearance from the spotlight, and Loretta Lynn’s battle against the morality police. Mahan Coe grew up immersed in country music, and his love of the subject shines through as he approaches it with expert knowledge and a whole lot of research.

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Aria Code
Is it only men who get to sit down and dissect songs on podcasts? One genre where you don’t need to stroke your beard is opera, as Rhiannon Giddens – the fabulous purveyor of folk who lends her banjo skills to Beyoncé’s Texas Hold ‘Em – proves. This podcast is like pure poetry, as she floats through one aria at a time, taking in love, death and the power of opera. Giddens and her guests make the genre accessible to all, from Madama Butterfly and Carmen to more modern musings on the subject of X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X.

Why not try …

  • A hip-hop take on favourite fairytales for all the family, in Once Upon a Beat.

  • Cult podcaster Jamie Loftus (My Year in Mensa, Ghost Church) catches up with former internet stars in Sixteenth Minute of Fame.

  • Big names (first up, Ben Stiller and Bette Midler!), get real about their shortcomings in Fail Better with David Duchovny.

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