In 2014, musician and composer Hrishikesh Hirway launched the podcast Song Exploder, which twice a week, invited an artist to talk about, dissect and explore the creative process behind the making of a song. Four years later, this podcast was ranked among the best in the music industry, having hosted Solange, Bjork and MGMT, as well as the composers of the Game Of Thrones and Stranger Things series and the film Black Panther.
In October 2020, Song Exploder made a comeback in televised form on Netflix, and for its first four episodes welcomed Alicia Keys and Sampha, R.E.M., Ty Dolla $ign and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Through their fascinating discussions, Hrishikesh Hirway deconstructs a song along with the artists themselves, from writing to recording to post-production. The demonstration is interspersed with extracts from the separate tracks of the song, interviews, testimonials and is beautifully concluded by listening to the whole song.
We thus learn that the emotions experienced by Alicia Keys and Sampha when they made the track 3 hours driver were diametrically opposed – she was joyful, he was in mourning; how by wanting to break away from their usual music style in a very instinctive manner, the group R.E.M. composed their biggest hit Losing my Religion; that Ty Dolla $ign beyond being a major rapper is also an exceptional musician who is incredibly sensitive; not to mention the secrets behind one the most important songs in the hit musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Not only does Hrishikesh Hirway deliver a restrained, didactic documentary series that explores different musical genres and eras, but he also reveals the complexity and plurality of musical creation. Ultimately he engages the artists, all of whom are incredibly humble, in an introspective work that breathes new emotion into the song being analysed.
The first four episodes of Song Exploder are available on Netflix. Four new episodes will be released on December 15th.