Reply All’s The Case of the Missing Hit: could this be the best podcast episode ever?
Gimlet’s internet-culture podcast has produced a bona fide masterpiece, with this tale of a song which has seemingly been erased from history
Reply All, Gimlet’s popular podcast about internet culture, has been going since 2014, with 158 episodes to date. It has covered websites that let students anonymously troll each other; what happens when you have one of the most coveted Snapchat usernames on the internet; and the history of “incels”, among other topics. This week, however, Reply All released not only its best-ever episode, but perhaps the best-ever episode of any podcast, in the form of The Missing Hit.
The episode follows Tyler Gillett, a director who is plagued by a musical mystery: what became of a funky guitar song he used to listen to on the radio as a teen in Arizona, and which he can’t find any mention of, anywhere, on the internet (other than a mysterious forum that appears to have some of the song’s lyrics). The podcast’s hosts, PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, explore a glut of avenues to try to work out what Gillett’s song could be, from enlisting a band to recreate the song from his (admittedly incredibly detailed) memories of it to speaking to Steven Page, the lead singer of Barenaked Ladies, whose hits the track appears to ape. “How on God’s green Earth can you have a hit radio song that actually just gets vaporised from history?” asks Vogt at the outset, bemused at their inability to merely plug the lyrics into Google.