Pound for pound, Song Salad delivers more smiles-per-episode than any other non-fiction podcast I am current subscribed to. The hosts have great chemistry, the concept is solid, the content is varied, the humor is genuine.
Song Salad is a weekly musically-charged podcast in which hosts Shannon and Scott produce a short song about a random Wikipedia topic using a randomly selected genre of music. Both driving forces of the episode are chosen by spinning a fictional salad spinner which is represented by an improvised sound effect suggested by fans of the show (to give an idea of the wackiness of said sound effects, one episode’s salad spinner noise is “a cat performing dubstep”).
At its core this simplistic concept relies on something crucial: the hosts have to be able to back up their jokes with some musical talent. Luckily, they carry this in spades. After the topic and genre are discussed the two pause the recording and come back once Shannon has written lyrics and Scott has produced the instrumental side of things. This symbiotic relationship really benefits the show’s longevity, as there I have yet to come across an episode in which someone dominates the creative side of things.
In a series relying heavily on improv/reactionary comedy to make a consistent product, that is scarily rare. I can’t throw an aural stick without hitting several majorly successful comedy shows that boil down to “here’s one person who’s good at improv carrying a troupe of 2-3 players.” Shannon and Scott sound like good friends genuinely excited to sit down and both flex their creative muscles and learn some new things.
I wouldn’t argue Song Salad is necessarily an educational podcast but it’s hard to argue one walks away without learning at least something interesting in the process (ranging from cool facts from the Wikipedia article to just how excited S&S get for performing New Zealand accents).
On that same note, pun intended, the music comes with the delightful bonus of learning about all sorts of funky subgenres one has never heard of. Math rock, stoner metal, and bubblegum pop are among some of the more recent adventures in musical experimentation. Between Scott’s attempts to be as faithful to the genre in his compositions as possible and the examples played for reference I walk away with something new and fun to look into, even if that area of music isn’t necessarily up my alley.
Even when faced with the adversity of a relatively lame Wikipedia topic, Song Salad shines. Episode [NUMBER] produces the genre “jingle” with the subject being a specific breed of tree found only on the Caribbean and parts of South America. It’s a sparse article with little in the way of actual information, at one point Scott has the frustrating realization that it’s easier for him to price out buying a literal island than it is to find somewhere that sells wood from that specific tree so they can use ad copy for lyric inspiration.
What comes out of this struggle is the wonderfully catchy jingle It’s a Tree That Becomes Wood, featuring hilarious lyrics from Shannon and a damn good island beat that would make Justin McElroy proud.
On the subject of the McElroy clan, the best recommendation I can give Song Salad is it feels like it’s almost custom-designed to be a companion podcast to Griffin and Rachel McElroy’s Wonderful! Both deliver delightfully positive, funny content on a weekly basis. I’m actually a few days behind on listening to other podcasts for review because my routine instantly switched to “listen to however many Song Salad episodes I have pre-downloaded then catch whatever else I have for the rest of my shift.”
Song Salad joins Fall of the House of Sunshine as one of the two podcasts that produce music I actively think about in my day-to-day life. Go, listen, enjoy!
You can find Song Salad on their website.