Apple Podcasts celebrates the best shows of 2021

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After releasing the Apple Music Awards early this morning, Apple is now celebrating the best podcast shows of 2021. This year, Apple Podcasts Best of 2021 features shows and creators that “provided listeners with a powerful sense of connection in a challenging and uncertain time, curated by Apple Podcasts’ world-class editorial team.”

For the “Best Show of the Year” category, Apple Podcasts gave the award to “A Slight Change of Plans” with Maya Shankar from Pushkin Industries and the “Newcomer of the Year” award to “Anything for Selena” with Maria Garcia from WBUR and Futuro Studios.

According to Apple, “these deeply personal yet universally relatable shows grapple with profound change, perceptions of identity and self-worth, and the meaning of belonging, with thought-provoking discussions that reflect the human experience.”

“2021 marked the start of a new chapter for podcasting with shows that moved us in ways unlike ever before,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats. “We are honored to recognize the phenomenal creators who are redefining podcasting with this year’s best shows, and to help more listeners around the world discover, enjoy, and support their inspiring work.”

In addition to Best Show of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, Apple Podcasts recognized a curated collection of shows and episodes that “defined and reflected 2021.” Here they are:

Shows of the Year according to Apple Podcasts

  • A Kids Book About: The Podcast with Matthew Winner, for taking a thoughtful, friendly, and considered approach to explaining the big things in life — fear, failure, and divorce, for instance — but also activism, sharing, and money, to kids.
  • Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain, for making listeners feel as though they’re her best friend, helping them through doubt and sadness with her unique frankness, keen observations, and genuine affection.
  • Good Inside with Dr. Becky, for Becky Kennedy’s calming, validating voice to parents everywhere, acknowledging that if this time (and parenting generally) feels hard, that’s because it is.
  • Las Culturistas with Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang from Will Ferrell’s Big Money Players Network, for a joyfully escapist experience that takes listeners on a quirky, hilarious, and unforgettable journey into the beating heart of culture.
  • Pantsuit Politics with Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers, for offering a unique approach to the news and politics through grace-filled conversations that unpack the valid, complicated, hard differences that persist in this moment.
  • Teenager Therapy with Gael Aitor, Kayla Suarez, Mark Hugo, and Thomas Pham, for reminding everyone that direct, vulnerable conversations among friends — no matter the issue — is the best medicine.
  • The Experiment from The Atlantic and WNYC Studios with Julia Longoria, for elucidating the notion that countries — like people — are unfinished works in progress, and facilitating a dialogue about what it means to be a citizen.
  • The Midnight Miracle from Luminary with Talib Kweli, yasiin bey, and Dave Chappelle, for a completely original experience that transports listeners into the room with remarkable energy from its hosts and very special guests.
  • This Land from Crooked Media with Rebecca Nagle, for investigating and explaining the experiences of Native Americans to recontextualize America’s understanding of its own history.
  • U Up?” with Jordana Abraham and Jared Fried, for exploring the very real — often hilarious — concerns of trying to find a partner, with banter that keeps listeners coming back no matter their relationship status.
Maya Shankar from “A Slight Change of Plans” podcast

Episodes of the Year according to Apple Podcasts

  • A Friendly Ghost Story, about a painful, personal ghosting experience that explores the complexity of human relationships, from “Invisibilia” with Yowei Shaw and Kia Miakka Natisse by NPR.
  • Bubba Wallace, from Club Shay Shay by FOX Sports, which sees host Shannon Sharpe and Bubba Wallace, a Daytona 500 runner-up and the first African American driver to win Rookie of the Year in a NASCAR series, discuss the intersection of sports, politics, entertainment, and humanity.
  • Glorious Basterds, about a chance encounter with Paul Rudd at a movie theater that causes a formerly devout Jehovah’s Witness to rethink her future and embark on a new life, from “Storytime with Seth Rogen” by Earwolf.
  • How Do I Love Someone? a nonfiction rom-com about love during the pandemic, from “WILD” with Megan Tan by LAist Studios and KPCC.
  • My Parents, Ellen and Tom, a clear-eyed gem of an episode that sees host Ian Coss examine divorce by interviewing his parents about how and why their marriage ended without anger or recrimination, from “Forever is a Long Time.
  • The Body Mass Index, about the complicated history of the BMI and the “obesity epidemic,” from “Maintenance Phase” with Michael Hobbes.
  • The People in the Neighborhood, which examines the murder of George Floyd through the neighbors who bore witness to it, from “Still Processing” with Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris by the New York Times.
  • The Symphony, a mesmerizing, lyrical trip featuring Kevin Hart, Questlove, Mo Amer, Bill Burr, Pras, Michelle Wolf, and Jon Stewart, from “The Midnight Miracle” with Talib Kweli, yasiin bey, and Dave Chappelle, by Luminary.
  • The Unwritten Rules of Black TV, which traces the cyclical, uneven history of Black representation on television, from “The Experiment” with Hannah Giorgis by The Atlantic and WNYC Studios.
  • This Strange Story, about people who were completely cut off from the world when 9/11 happened and how they processed it, from “9/12” with Dan Taberski by Wondery and Pineapple Street Studios.
Maria Garcia from “Anything for Selena” podcast

Podcasts Charts

Apple Podcasts had also published new charts highlighting the most popular new shows, free channels, and individual shows and channels with subscriptions that launched this year in the US. Here are some of them:

Top New Shows

  1. “We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle”
  2. “Mommy Doomsday” with Keith Morrison from Dateline NBC
  3. “The Apology Line” with Marissa Bridge from Wondery
  4. “Dr. Death Season 3: Miracle Man” with Laura Beil from Wondery
  5. “Murdaugh Murders” with Mandy Matney
  6. “O.C. Swingers” with Justine Harman
  7. “The Ezra Klein Show” from New York Times Opinion
  8. “Suspect” with Eric Benson and Matthew Shaer from Wondery and Campside Media
  9. “Dark History” with Bailey Sarian
  10. “Unraveled” with Alexis Linkletter and Billy Jensen from discovery+

Top Free Channels

  1. audiochuck
  2. The New York Times
  3. iHeartPodcast Network
  4. Dateline NBC
  5. Barstool Sports
  6. ABC News
  7. ESPN
  8. Exactly Right
  9. Crooked Media
  10. TED Audio Collective

Top Subscriptions – for Individual shows

  1. “Bad Blood: The Final Chapter” with John Carreyrou
  2. “The Just Enough Family” with Ariel Levy
  3. “U Up?” with Jordana Abraham and Jared Freid
  4. “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross
  5. “The Handoff” with Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo
  6. “How I Built This” with Guy Raz
  7. “Chameleon” with Josh Dean, Vanessa Grigoriadis and Trevor Aaronson
  8. “Diet Starts Tomorrow” with Aleen Dreksler and Sami Sage
  9. “Planet Money” with Amanda Aronczyk, Erika Beras, Mary Childs, Jacob Goldstein, Sarah Gonzalez, Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi and Kenny Malone
  10. “Swindled” with A Concerned Citizen

Top Subscriptions – for Channels

  1. Wondery
  2. Luminar
  3. Sword and Scale
  4. Tenderfoot TV
  5. QCODE
  6. Pushkin Industries
  7. Imperative Entertainment
  8. Radiotopia
  9. Realm
  10. The Athletic

As you know, here at 9to5Mac we also have our own podcasts that you can listen to on Apple Podcasts:

  • An hourlong weekly Apple news podcast called 9to5Mac Happy Hour released on Fridays
  • A brief news podcast called 9to5Mac Daily with episodes released Monday through Friday
  • A fortnightly Apple Watch podcast called 9to5Mac Watch Time released every other Wednesday
  • A weekly tech news podcast from the perspective of developers called Stacktrace released on Wednesdays
  • A biweekly podcast about Apple in the enterprise called Apple @ Work

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