Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Reply All's search for an ungoogleable song results in one of the year's best podcast episodes

Illustration for article titled iReply All/is search for an ungoogleable song results in one of the years best podcast episodes
Photo: George Coppock (Getty Images)

On Thursday, Gimlet Media’s investigative Reply All podcast—a regular fixture in our Podmass feature—dropped a new episode exploring the all-too-common phenomenon that is trying (and failing) to articulate an earworm from your youth. Things are easier nowadays, of course, what with Google’s omniscience and apps like Shazam, but what happens when our current tools fail? Is it truly possible for a once-popular song to somehow never find its way online? That’s the question driving “The Case Of The Missing Hit,” an hourlong investigation into a ‘90s-era song that seems to exist only in the mind of the man who called Reply All looking for help. Thankfully, he remembers it shockingly well.

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It’s probably best to listen to the episode unspoiled, but if you need a little more convincing, scroll past the below stream.

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What makes the episode so gripping is the breadth of the journey, which begins with host PJ Vogt hiring a band of musicians to recreate the song based on the lyrics and melodies provided by the caller. Vogt then takes that recording and plays it for storied music critics, producers and DJs of the era, and even Steven Page of the Barenaked Ladies, the band everyone seems to think influenced the track. Nobody recognizes it.

Vogt still finds it, though. He also finds the man who wrote it, Evan Olson, who shares a story about its history that’s both revealing and a little sad. “So Much Better,” which is as cheesy as it is infectious, has now made its way online, and you can listen to it below. Music, and we say this with respect, doesn’t get more ‘90s.

Since hitting YouTube on Thursday, it’s already picked up more than 25,000 streams. Also available? A spacey, stripped-down cover of it from Reply All co-host Alex Goldman. Both are worthy of your ears.

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Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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