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Podcast Review: ‘And The Writer Is… With Ross Golan’

Not all heroes wear capes, but some do craft pop anthems.

Editor’s note: As part of CMN’s ongoing music journalism program, we asked our team of music writers to choose a single episode of a podcast about music to review . The choices were electric and interesting. Check out all the podcast reviews by browsing our music section

I think the best word to describe my outlook on podcasts — prior to this review at least – was contempt. I viewed podcasts much like a middle child who’s trying to make a name for themselves without stepping on their siblings’ toes.

I mean, you’re telling me I’m just supposed to listen to someone else talk?

I’d rather watch a video. Hell, I’d rather just read.

You can call that being stubborn, or close-minded, or whatever, but at the end of the day that’s just how it was. And let’s face it: we all feel that way about something.

So you can probably imagine my dubious intrigue when I stumbled upon – and by stumbled upon I mean found in an article recommending noteworthy podcasts to individuals like myself – And The Writer Is…with Ross Golan.

Unlike the many other music podcasts that interview the artists who sing today’s biggest hits, Golan instead interviews the men and women responsible for penning those tunes. The angle was unique enough that I was willing to dedicate an hour of my time to listen to it.

And I’m glad I did.

Golan’s guest was singer/songwriter Charli XCX, known for chart toppers such as “Boom Clap” and “Break the Rules.” Golan wasn’t particularly interested in those singles, but rather her work on Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” that sugary, electrifying pop anthem you couldn’t escape in 2013.

As it turns out, Charli wrote it herself.

The pair then proceeded to converse about what it means to be a female pop artist, comparing the industry’s 2013 climate to to today’s.

Charli largely attributes the success of the song to the timing of its release — she argues that before Lorde, Selena Gomez, or herself, female musicians were under the thumb of their management, unable to express the full extent of their artistry if it strayed too far from the commercialized style. In turn, “I Love It” challenged the institution, and reimagined what it meant to be a pop artist for those to follow.

Did you think of such implications while singing about “crashing your car into a bridge?” No? Me neither.

And that was just the first ten minutes of the interview.

Golan goes deeper, asking Charli about her childhood, her first writing sessions, her first record deal – which she got at sixteen (!) – and more in a manner that only another songwriter could.

This podcast explores the life of the unsung hero in the music industry, and I intend to listen in from now on.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

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