Sunday, 14 June 2009

The Top 5 Podcast Spectacular: Halfway There

With a title like this, I am expecting everything from The Top Five Podcast Spectacular. I’m expecting the show to open with a huge marching band accompanied by elephants and ten thousand singing children, all capped off by a special appearance by Neil Diamond on the back of a swan. I’m expecting something, well, spectacular. Does Gabe and Mike’s Podcast reach my lofty views of what is ‘spectacular’?

Points for originality go to both of them. Gabe and Mike are obviously very good friends and don’t bore us too much with ‘in-joke’ self destructive comedy. They have made the decision to incorporate a guest band into each episode of their show. I really like the idea a lot and the band in question probably loves it too. Fame in the vast multi-media ocean does require both parties to throw a lifeboat. Whilst I like the idea of the Top 5 Spectacular House Band, what I cannot bear is the way they use the band’s tracks as music beds. This is twofold, one you can’t appreciate the songs in question and two it’s sometimes tough to hear what Gabe and Mike are talking about because you find your brain plugging in and out of the song lyrics. The Top 5 fellas aren’t the first to commit this very obvious imaging sin and won’t be the last, it’s still quite distracting...but they are doing it for good reasons so you can’t stay too mad at them...but maybe stop doing it now, thankyou!

The “Top 5” formula works a treat and stops the adventures of Gabe and Mike becoming just another audio earful of two guys rambling about their shoes, Space Invaders and nothing in particular. Their passions for “Tech and Tunes” are handled in the same way as their ever-changing main subject, with five headings leading on to discussion between the two. The advantage of this is that both feel compelled to talk on a subject and then move right along with the next one, both guys building up their Top 5 lists to the inevitable and sometimes disgusting list-topper.

As far as Gabe and Mike: the presenters go, despite the vague hint of alcohol or relaxants causing the tiniest hint of rambling (which may be incorrect and libellous, only time will tell), Gabe and Mike are well spoken, funny and likeable guys. Whilst I personally don’t relate to the antics these two Californian twentysomethings get up to (being a twentysomething from the very rural South West of England) I imagine that, with the right exposure in the right direction, this pair could be folk heroes! After listening to a few episodes, the one thing I would say is that I still get the two mixed up with the only really stand-out difference is that Mike has a sleazier life than Gabe (or is that the other way round?)

When I was emailed the RSS feed and asked to put my journalistic goggles on, I started off admittedly sceptical. A grand title and the general premise didn’t totally inspire me that these two could bring anything new to the table. Gabe and Mike don’t shake the Podcasting world to its very core, but certainly have enough ideas to make a difference if they wanted to devote more time and energy to what they do. House bands and countdowns are a good start and show that both guys have put some inital thought into what they do, not just turned on the microphone and hoped somebody would say “boobs” by mistake. The show is in need of a lot of polishing and tweaking though. Some new audio elements (and a music bed without vocals, pretty please!) and maybe some unique ways of audience interactivity would go a long way to making this show what it sets out to be...spectacular!

UPDATE: Gabe and Mike have made numerous changes to the show recently, including dropping the guest band music beds. This was one aspect that we did critique heavily in this review and are glad that it has been fixed up. The show sounds better than ever and is worth a listen!

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