2021 was the year we needed podcasts more than ever. From giving us the chance to virtually armchair travel around the world, to listening to groundbreaking investigative journalism firsthand—there’s been a shedload of incredible podcasts hitting the airwaves this year.
If you’re in need of some solid recommendations for summer, you’re in luck because we’re here to tell you what to plug into as you hide from your extended family this holiday season. From true crime to inspiring stories, here are the best new podcasts of 2021.
To Live And Die In LA: Season 2
We devoured season one of this true crime podcast and the good news is, season two is even better than its predecessor. Rolling Stone journalist Neil Strauss looks into the case of 20-year-old aspiring actress Elaine Park who vanished from her Los Angeles home in February 2018. Asked by her family to help get answers, Strauss, along with his wife and celebrity neighbours, form an unlikely detective squad, unraveling the baffling and tragic case that eventually sends them down the rabbit hole of true crime investigation. If you're looking for one of the best podcasts of 2021, you've found it. Listen to it here.
Frank Film Club with Maisie Williams
Hosted by four women who work in film (including Game Of Thrones’ Maisie Williams, filmmaker Lowri Roberts, producer Chloe Culpin, and casting director Hannah Marie Williams), this podcast is for all the movie buffs out there. Discussing the latest in film, from shots and edits to casting and score, the friends will unpack little-known indies, box office smashes, documentaries, foreign language and everything in between. Their motto is, ‘Anything goes and everyone’s welcome!’—we like the sound of that. Listen to it here.
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
One of your favourite TV series, featuring one of the world’s greatest culinary wizards, is now available in podcast form and trust us, you’ll want to devour it. Follow the late, world-renowned chef, bestselling author and Emmy winner Anthony Bourdain as he discovers little-known destinations and diverse cultures that make our global community more connected. He’ll take your tastebuds on a journey from Myanmar to Morocco, Congo to Columbia, chatting with chefs and creatives that hero their hoods through food and culture. Listen to it here.
The Apology Line
If you could call a number and say you’re sorry, and no one would know…what would you apologise for? For 15 years, you could call a number in Manhattan and do just that. Allan Bridge posted flyers around New York City for people to call his Apology Line, which provided a chance for them to come clean, ranging from infidelity to murder. Going by the pseudonym Mr. Apology, he created a modern-day confessional; however, Allan was ultimately undone after getting too involved in his callers’ lives, including trying to stop a serial killer. Hosted by his widow Marissa, she takes listeners through his journey. Get chills right here.
The first podcast to ever be produced inside of a prison, Ear Hustle takes listeners inside San Quentin State Prison in the US. Each episode chronicles the daily realities of life inside prison shared by those living it, as well as stories from the outside, post-incarceration. The series was created by Nigel Poor, a Bay Area visual artist, and Earlonne Woods, formerly incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, and was co-founded with former San Quentin resident Antwan Williams. Listen to it here.
Up And Vanished: Season Three
When it comes to true crime podcasts you’re often left hanging at the end of the series, with no resolution. That’s not the case with Up And Vanished and its host Payne Lindsey who’s first season helped to solve the 12-year-old cold case of high school teacher Tara Grinstead. In 2021's instalment, Lindsey digs deep into the disappearance of Ashley Loring HeavyRunner, a 20-year-old indigenous woman who went missing from the Blackfeet Nation Indian Reservation in 2017. Lindsey and his team interview her family and people of interest in the case in the hopes of finding out what happened to HeavyRunner. Listen to it here.
What’s Wrong With You?
This provocatively named new podcast—hosted by Olivia Shivas and Paralympian Rebecca Dubber—explores the physical and social barriers that disabled people live with every day, and a world that’s not always accessible. Over seven episodes, the podcast will delve into parenting and childhood, travel, dating and sex, identity, religion, leadership and media representation. There will also be a series of guests—from models to MPs—who have a variety of experiences of disability with each bringing their unique perspectives to the topics. Listen to it here.
4D With Demi Lovato
It’s been a big year for Demi Lovato. After their revealing YouTube series Dancing With The Devil blew up the internet, the singer, actor and activist released a weekly podcast series, 4D With Demi Lovato. In each episode Lovato shares and explores what’s on their mind, offering up personal experiences and movements that are close to their heart. They’ll share the mic with special guests like author Glennon Doyle and performer Alok Vaid-Menon to chat about identity, creativity, activism, philanthropy, and beyond. Listen to it here.
The Baffle Club
If you’re on the hunt for the perfect podcast for your lockdown walk—this is it. Besties Lisa Hamilton and Jill Roach-Ellis have just dropped The Baffle Club, where they’ll try to make sense of the most head scratching moments in news, pop culture, overheard convos in the street and everyday life. From how to make friends in your 30s to how to deal with the fear of losing a loved one—expect tears, belly laughs and all around good vibes from this new podcast. Go and bless your ears right here.
Fans of One Tree Hill (us!) will want to listen to this podcast stat. Rewind the clock and bless your ears with Drama Queens, hosted by BFFs Brooke, Peyton and Haley (AKA Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton and Joy Lenz). True stans will love it as they dissect every episode, deliver every detail you must know, and devote themselves to you as you rewatch every single scene together. Guaranteed to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, the trio will also reveal some cheeky behind the scenes gossip that true fans will eat right up. Have a listen here.