Could this be the best podcast episode ever?” shouted the Guardian last week.
Betteridge’s law of headlines instantly jumped to mind: Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.
The less hyperbolic Hot Pod newsletter called it an all-timer of an episode, while Vulture said it was instantly legendary.
The podcast world is relatively split and it’s rare to find one unifying topic/show being discussed at a given time — the instant success of Serial was a clear example.
But last week, Gimlet Media’s long-running Reply All released episode 158, ‘The Case of the Missing Hit’, prompting salivation in some quarters.
The show is hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman and gets 5m downloads a month. Vox’s Switched on Pop, which we discussed last year, would be an obvious example of a show it’s influenced. They tackle ‘internet issues’, from Snapchat hacks to bitcoin and Facebook.
The latest episode was a curiosity posited by filmmaker Tyler Gillett : He swears he remembers this ‘hit’ song from the ’90s and starts humming and singing it to his wife, who says she’s never heard it.
In fact, nobody recognises it, not even Google. Gillett makes a hilarious recording of what he recalls — the hook, some of the first verse, and the chorus — using his mouth as all the instruments.
The song sounds like Barenaked Ladies meets U2, say all the critics that Reply All talks to in search of the Missing Hit. They get a full band to record it, with Gillett’s memory serving as impressive director. At times it feels like Gillett has made it all up, that it’s a hoax.
But we can all relate to getting a song stuck in our head but can’t remember — this is the ultimate example of that.
The episode keeps us guessing and has a good payoff — but warning: The song will get stuck in your head, and chances are it will probably be a hit after Reply All.
Is it the greatest podcast episode ever though? Ah now...
You've got to hear this:
From Wondery, the makers of true crime podcast Dirty John, comes The Dating Game Killer, exploring how a dating show led to the capture of a prolific serial killer. Four episodes into its six-part run, it might be the true crime hit of the year.