Australian Podcast Awards logo and Kylie Minogue's 'Golden' album cover

Continuing on from last week’s Office Playlist, we’re focussing on Australia. The Australian Podcast Awards have brought some amazing podcasts into the spotlight, while Kylie Minogue’s new album Golden may have just turned that colour because it was left out in the country sun too long.

The Australian Podcasting Awards

The Australian Podcasting Awards emerged last year after a former life as the Cast Away Awards. In addition to improving their name, they’ve put together a list of exceptional Australian podcasts, with the winners to be announced on the 5th of May.

There’s 14 different judging categories and one popular vote that will make for a great awards night. Nominations were open to the public and there’s a team of 28 on the judging panel.

What’s amazing about these finalists is that they are such good podcasts and very, very few of them have ever been near the top 200 podcasts on the iTunes charts (sorry Apple Podcasts). Many are produced by radio industry professionals, but equally many are not. That tells us that Australian podcast listeners are predominantly choosing American podcasts, or Australian podcasts with the backing of existing radio stations.

Hopefully this awards night will help raise the profiles of these excellent productions. I haven’t had a chance to listen through the long list, but here’s a few standout selections that I really like.

‘Am I Ready To Be A Father?’ is the Startup of fatherhood, with host Ryan Jon making himself the subject of the podcast and his friends, family and interviewees the bit players. Ryan is a radio presenter, but he manages to talk to us like a friend and he’s roped in some big names to explore the challenges of being a dad, including Jimmy Barnes and Eddie McGuire… hmmm.

What makes this really interesting is Ryan’s life story. He was adopted and grew up with a single mum. So he’s genuinely not sure what this fatherhood thing is all about. It’s a fun engaging listen and I’m looking forward to hearing more of it.

‘Am I Funny?’ is similarly titled and follows a similar formula. Leon Sjogren is a radio producer (I bet he knows Ryan Jon) and he’s challenged himself to do his first standup comedy performance by the end of the series. Along the way he speaks to comedians like Merrick Watts and Will Anderson.

It’s the latter that tells him that he would never, ever let anyone record his first standup performance. So that final episode is going to be interesting!

‘SPUN Stories’ is very similar in style to The Moth, recording stories told in front of an audience. SPUN Stories is recorded and produced in Darwin where there’s no shortage of extraordinary stories, despite the small population.

Personal stories in podcasts are really powerful and the reaction of the live audience emphasises the emotion in the stories.

‘Neighbuzz: The Neighbours Recap Podcast’ is a podcast I would never, ever listen to… but I know who would! I’m just not a big fan of the group chat podcast. I like a little more production and editing in my audio.

While the focus here is Neighbours, the appeal is the conversation between Vaya, Kate, Catherine, Penny and Hunter – which is very entertaining. For a group of people in a room podcast they do a great job of keeping everyone on mike during a wide ranging chat.

The Australian Podcast Awards will hopefully make a bit of a media splash when they are announced in a couple of weeks, giving these podcasts a much-needed moment in the spotlight. There’s some high quality podcasts being made in Australia and we could all benefit from listening to them and supporting them.

Kylie Minogue ‘Golden’

We can’t ignore a new album from Kylie Minogue. Half the Written & Recorded team are life-long Kylie tragics, and the other half no better than argue (and after talking about Neighbours a moment ago it seems a natural progression).

Although it has to be said, in a blind tasting (or listening), where I just played the album without warning, nobody stopped to ask, “is this Kylie”. In fact, when I played it again, with an introduction this time, the response was frankly underwhelming.

Like every Kylie album, Golden comes with a new distinct sound for our singing budgie. There’s a strong country flavour here, with a heavy dance beat that might make it perfect for line dancing.

The opening track is simply called Dancing, with a declaration that will stick in your head for days to come – “When I go out I wanna go out dancing”. It sounds like Kylie is getting her Dolly Parton on in parts. And why not?

If the second track isn’t performed at Eurovision in a months time, then there’s no justice in the world. If you remember Germany’s entry in 2006 – ‘No No Never’ by Australian Jane Comerford – ‘Stop Me From Falling’ will feel very familiar to you. Maybe it’s a cynical move by Kylie to release an album of potential Eurovision songs weeks out from the world’s biggest song contest.

Kylie recorded most of Golden in Nashville, but I don’t think that’s why it’s a little bit country and a little bit western. I’m sure she could have achieved the same result in any studio around the world. When Dusty went to Memphis she was bathed in the soul of the studio she recorded. Kylie still sounds like Kylie – just a bit country.

I use Pitchfork as a shortcut for new release information and I was surprised to see them reviewing Kylie. Less surprising was their rating of 5.4 out of a possible 10. I guess it could have been worse.

Pitchfork suggests that at its worst, Golden sounds like it’s playing along to the country rhythm selection on a cheap Casio keyboard. Which shows they’re missing the point of the cheap camp fun that Kylie can provide.

Kylie’s paid her dues. We don’t expect her to re-invent pop music. A solid back-beat and a “Whoa oh” that we can sing along to is all we need to love Kylie. If you’re not smiling within 30 seconds of playing any song on this album, it’s simply missing the point.

14 albums into her career, Kylie’s reached the kind of status that Kamahl or Barry Crocker had. We know these are the albums that will be filling Op Shops in years to come (even if they are discarded digital files instead of old warped records!).

Play it loud! Enjoy it! At least 3 times. Then put on her greatest hits album that was released before this was even an idea 🙂

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