Big Sell 30 Day 20: There’s Always Room For Chocolate

Sean here with an Inside Pop first. Over the course of the past 11 months, despite our love for all things edible, Amita and I have never covered anything food related on Inside Pop. Well, that’s about to change as I #BigSell you an amazing new cook book called, There’s Always Room for Chocolate: Recipes from Brooklyn’s Chocolate Room.

12burner-chocoalte-web1-master180There are many things to love about this book. First of all, its origins. Before Brooklyn became the bastion of handcrafted, artisanal preciousness; the dessert cafe, The Chocolate Room opened on 5th Ave in Park Slope Brooklyn and evolved into the epicenter of chocolately deliciousness. A cookbook to help bring their amazing treats beyond Brooklyn borders was inevitable. Secondly, the recipes are easy to follow and give you everything you need to reproduce dishes like The Brownie Sundae, Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Cookies and a classic Chocolate Cream Pie. The New York Times sings the book’s praises in a recent review.

And finally, the editor. Full disclosure I’m married to the man who helped shape this great book. So although I may not be completely objective, I can attest to the attention, effort, artistry and care that was put into creating this wonderful new cookbook.

Check it out at your local bookstore or order it here on Amazon.

We have 10 more days of #BigSell30; 10 more chances to discover and experience one new piece of pop culture every day during the month of October. Follow us on Twitter @popinsiders for daily recommendations and to share your choices and experiences. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #BigSell30.




Moonlight, Mary J. Blige, Queen Sugar, Alexa – IP49

Is Fall 2016 shaping up to be one of the greatest seasons for Pop Culture ever? Consider our latest episode that celebrates the ridiculous heights achieved in music, film and TV in just the past 7 days.

First up we discuss the independent feature, Moonlight which opens this week. This movie has filled Sean’s soul and rocked his world so hard that it gets the full House of Hyperbole treatment. Find out why he thinks this film cannot be missed!


Then, we discuss the new single from the Queen of Hip Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige. Mary has sat on the throne for 2 decades but we think her new song, “Thick of It,” is one of the most soul baring and emotionally gut wrenching songs she’s ever recorded. We also reveal the role Mary has played in our personal friendship and podcast partnership.

Plus, we talk about the new television drama on OWN, Queen Sugar. The show is halfway through its first season and continues to bring an impressive blend of  melodrama, social realism and the most gorgeous cinematography on TV. All hail Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay! Whether you’re a huge fan or haven’t had a chance to catch it, Amita shares a tip on the ‘best’ way to view past and upcoming episodes.

And #BigSell30 moves into the home stretch with a Big Sell from friends of the show Caroline and Tom Romita (and their new best friend, Alexa).

Big Sell 30 Day 18: Rationale

Hey all! Amita here with today’s Big Sell. The #BigSell30 has kept me on my pop culture toes this month! We hope it’s been fun for all of you to experience one piece of pop culture every day for 30 days too.

If there was a prize for trying to combine a bunch of Big Sells and make a Super Big Sell- I think this might qualify! 🙂 Take some Black Excellence, with a dash of British influence, (inspired by our fellow British podcasters JoJCast) initially discovered on my Spotify Daily Mix and one of his tracks qualifies as a Super Short Song!

As I mentioned before, I have been enjoying my Daily Mixes from Spotify and three of my mixes have usually been pretty straight forward – one is mostly mainstream pop, one is hip-hop/rap and one is Soul/R&B. But the 4th Mix is a great mix of mostly unknown artists that Spotify curated just for me and it’s where I found today’s Big Sell- Zimbabwe-born British singer-songwriter, Rationale. 

I instantly felt David Bowie, Tracy Chapman, Sade, INXS, James Blake and so many more vibes from Rationale. He came out with an EP last year and the song I heard in my Daily Mix was Fast Lane“. It’s a great mid-tempo song, but his voice is something else. It has such depth and soul and I had to listen to more. The next single I became obsessed with is the title cut, Fuel to the Fire” which is an emotional song that has some 80’s influences with a modern pop feeling. The music video is captivating and a perfect compliment to his powerful lyrics- check it out here. I’m also enjoying “The Re.Up” and his latest singles “Palms” and “Something For Nothing”. (Yes I named basically all of his tracks and I don’t care- I fell in LOVE with all of his music!)

As you can see, I became obsessed and started to do some more research to find more info about him. Here’s the skinny on Rationale: He is 32, loves to dance and also produces all of his own music. He did an interview explaining why he called himself Rationale and the reason seems like it’s kismet that I found him for #BigSell30:

L: Why choose the word “rationale” in particular?

R: I had a job in a charity call centre and the boss told us: “Today we’re going to be selling stuff, make sure you get an extra £1 out of people as it’s for charity. Give them an introduction and a hard sell, then, once you’ve got their attention, give them the rationale.” That word stuck with me.

Hard Sell- Big Sell…it’s meant to be! He already has a few notable fans- Pharrell, Justin Timberlake and Elton John have all praised him over the last year and his full album release is scheduled for next spring. He is officially saved on my Spotify and I KNOW that Sean is going love him. I can’t wait for all of you to listen- mark my words and remember his name, he is going to blow up very soon in the states and you can thank me later.

Please tweet us @PopInsiders or leave a comment below and tell us what you think of Rationale!

And don’t forget to tweet us to let us know how your #BigSell30 Challenge is going.

Big Sell 30 Day 17: Kate Tempest Featuring JoJCast

From the beginning of the #BigSell30, Jo and J, the hosts of the JoJCast, have been big supporters of our goal to experience one new piece of pop culture everyday throughout the month of October . Amita and I are super appreciative of all of the amazing big sell recommendations they’ve tweeted over the past couple of weeks. We’ve been big fans of their Screen Dump podcast since late last year so we are especially thrilled to have them join us for this Inside Pop Special International Edition!

JojCast’s Big Sell is British music artist, Kate Tempest’s new album, Let Them Eat Chaos. If you listen carefully to this podcast you’ll hear Amita and I become increasingly intrigued by their description of this musician/poet we’d never heard before. Jo shares the fact that she has “…an emotional epiphany,” every time she see’s Tempest perform. I love (and quite often depend on) music that elicits deep emotional responses so I was ready to immediately check out this #BigSell! In addition to the new album, Jo and J also recommended Kate Tempest’s appearance on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series (link below). After watching the first song, “Ballad of a Hero,” I was floored!

After listening to our conversation we think you’ll also be inspired to check out Kate Tempest and listen to JoJCast (they’re also podcasting about music now and I guarantee there are many other great recommendations from them ahead).

Listen to: Kate Tempest’s new album: Let Them Eat Chaos

Watch her on:  Tiny Desk Concert

Be sure to follow Inside Pop on Twitter and Instagram @PopInsiders and don’t forget to send us your Big Sells for #BigSell30

Big Sell 30 Day 16: Your Favorite Super Short Song

As we move into the second half of our Big Sell 30 Day Challenge (wherein we all commit to experience one new piece of pop culture every day for 30 days) I want to try something different. In acknowledgement of the days when we don’t have a lot of time to devote to pop culture consumption, I want to Big Sell you YOUR favorite super short song.

Most rock, pop, and hip hop songs are typically 3 and a half to 5 minutes long. I’d like for you to think about a really short song you love (something under 2.5 minutes), listen to it and revel in the fact that the song is giving you everything you need in a pop song in less than half the time of a song of average length.

I have two favorite super shorties you’re welcome to claim as your own. Prince and the Revolution’s, “I Wonder U” from the album Parade. I think this may be the only Prince song that isn’t sung by Prince (please correct me if I’m wrong). Instead Wendy and Lisa’s ethereal vocals take center stage; their chant/mantra/prayer ( I Wonder U/What’s On Your Mind)  floats over heavy percussion and flutes and guitar for 1:39. I actually wish this song was a little longer.

And then there’s The Smiths’, “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want.” At 1:52 it is without a doubt the shortest song with the longest title with the saddest effect in my music collection. It’s a perfect song. Morrissey’s Lyrics and Johnny Marr’s guitar pull you down into the depths of despair in under two minutes. If the song lasted any longer you might not be able to recover!

You can listen to the The Smiths’ track on Spotify HERE

So what’s your favorite super short song? Leave a comment below or tweet us @popinsiders and let us know. Be sure to follow Inside Pop on Twitter and Instagram @PopInsiders and don’t forget to send us your Big Sells for #BigSell30

Big Sell 30 Day 15: Better Things featuring Alan Noah of The Test of Time Podcast

Hey everyone! Hope you’re having a great weekend! If you’re looking for a new TV show, podcast or song, the Big Sell 30 Day Challenge has you covered. We are challenging ourselves and encouraging you to experience one new piece of pop culture every day for 30 days.

Today’s Big Sell is from a fellow podcaster and friend of ours, Alan Noah of  The Test of Time Podcast.

Alan’s Big Sell is the new FX series, Better Things created by frequent Louis C.K. creative collaborator and co-star, Pamela Adlon.


The semi-autobiographical comedy series stars Adlon and debuted a few weeks ago. So far it has been well received and FX has already ordered a 2nd season.

We had such a great time talking to Alan and definitely check out The Test of Time Podcast as well!

Be sure to follow Inside Pop on Twitter and Instagram @PopInsiders and don’t forget to send us your Big Sells for #BigSell30!

Big Sell 30 Day 14: Your Childhood Hero Interviews a Supreme Court Justice

Sean David Johnson here to give you a new #BigSell and to celebrate the fact that The Big Sell 30 Day Challenge has reached the two week mark! I hope you’ve enjoyed the #BigSell30 as much as Amita and I have. We appreciate everyone who has shared their pop culture suggestions. And we have so much more to come in the next two weeks!

My Big Sell for today is another podcast. As you may know, Death, Sex & Money is one of my favorites (I ‘big sold’ the series to Amita earlier this year and she likes it too). The show’s host, Anna Sale, is a master interviewer. She speaks to guests, both the famous and the every day person, about those three very personal words in the show’s title; and gets them to open up and share their inner lives in a really illuminating way. Amita and I also gained such great information and inspiration from her presentation earlier this summer at Podcast Movement (PM16)  in Chicago.

For the past few weeks Anna Sale has been on maternity leave and her hosting duties have been filled by a roster of former guests. I’d like to Big Sell the episode in which Sonia Manzano interviews US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.  If you’re an American child of the 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s (or the parent of that child) you may know Sonia Manzano better as Maria from Sesame Street.

These two women discuss their similar childhoods (growing up poor in the South Bronx), how their lives have been touched by family members with substance abuse problems, the current state of race and representation in this country and so much more.

Justice Sotomayor is incredibly open and Ms. Manzano creates such an easy rapport – the result is an inspiring, empowering and informative conversation.

You can listen to this amazing conversation HERE

Be sure to follow Inside Pop on Twitter and Instagram @PopInsiders and don’t forget to send us your Big Sells for #BigSell30

Big Sell 30 Day 13: Roman GianArthur’s OK Lady

Sean David Johnson here with lucky day 13 of our Big Sell 30 Day Challenge. We’re almost halfway into our project of trying one new pop culture experience everyday for 30 days in October. It’s never too late to join – follow #BigSell30 on Twitter for recommendations and please send us suggestions and updates on how the challenge is working out for you!

Today I’d like to #BigSell you Roman GianArthur’s EP, OK Lady.

I first discovered the singer-songwriter-guitar maestro Roman GianArthur on Wondaland Presents: The Eephus, a collection of songs by artists signed to Janelle Monae’s Wondaland music label. GianArthur’s contribution, “iKnow,” is one of the highlights of that EP. Soon after hearing that song I discovered his incredible single, “I-69.” The song’s sweet melody coupled with its playful, sexual lyrics result in a great tune and a very compelling Big Sell for a well known sexual practice.

There’s Only One Rule/Do Unto Me As I Do Unto You/You Know It’s True/The Best Love is Mutual

Preach! (Also, Sold!)

As I searched for more music from GianArthur, I came upon an EP on SoundCloud called OK Lady. The EP blends the songs of Radiohead and D’Angelo in a really interesting way. Not quite covers, more than mash-ups, he seamlessly blends the musical styles of two modern day musical giants and creates a sound that is uniquely his own.  Listen to it HERE.
I’m looking forward to more music from this talented artist (I saw him perform at AfroPunk this summer and he blew the entire crowd away with his set, which started with one of the best covers of Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy I have ever heard!).
Be sure to follow Inside Pop on Twitter and Instagram @PopInsiders and don’t forget to send us your Big Sells for #BigSell30.



Fall TV Review, Bruno Mars, Childish Gambino – IP 48

This week, Inside Pop helps you deal with increasing demands of Peak TV. We review the new Fall TV shows we’re sampling, the returning shows that are still solid and the programs that are either being saved on our DVR or on the cusp of being buried in the Pop Culture Graveyard. Some of the shows that make the list include: HBO’s Insecure, Hulu’s The Mindy Project and NBC’s The Good Place & This is Us.


We also discuss the new single from Bruno Mars, “24K Magic” and analyze his Vegas party themed video. Plus, Amita’s Big Sell features music from Atlanta star, Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino.

The multi-talented creator, writer and director of the hit series also sings and raps and Amita handpicks three singles from his last album Kauai, “Palisades”, “Sober” and “Pop Thieves” for #BigSell30. We also discuss his creative collective- Royalty, featured here in GQ Magazine as well as The Roots musical collective discussed here.

Listen. Share. Subscribe and follow us @Popinsiders on Twitter and Instagram. And don’t forget to join us in the Big Sell 30 Day Challenge!

Big Sell Day 11: Lake Street Dive

Amita here with your daily dose of pop culture for the Big Sell 30 Day Challenge! Join us and try one new piece of pop culture every day for 30 days.

Most of my Big Sells on Inside Pop and in the #BigSell30 are usually musical. I grew up playing the piano, violin and french horn and was in the orchestra, marching band and sang in choir all throughout school. Music is in my veins and I don’t think I can go a day without listening to something. So, when I started to put together a list for The Big Sell 30, it was no surprise that most of my choices were songs or music videos. #Predictable or #Reliable?

So, it’s no surprise that today’s Big Sell is another music choice! I’m selling a really fantastic Jazz/Pop/Country quartet called Lake Street Dive. About 2 years ago I found them while I was doing some online research for something music related and I was hooked. I watched their great jazzy cover of The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” that was recorded on a sidewalk in Boston (They met while attending The New England Conservatory of Music). You can watch that awesome video here. The lead singer, Rachael Price has an incredible voice and the group has really strong and smart harmonies that I just eat up.

Their EP, Fun Machine features that cover along with a few others like George Michael’s “Faith” and Hall & Oates “Rich Girl”- but that’s not my Big Sell! (Fooled ya- but you should check that out)

They’ve released 2 albums of original music since the Fun Machine EP and their most recent album, Side Pony was released earlier this year. (Still not my Big Sell…keep waiting!)

As soon as I discovered Lake Street Dive, I listened to their self-titled debut album on repeat and this song just spoke to me. It has so much soul and I will always turn it up and sing along. No more fake sells- THIS is my Big Sell! The single “Don’t Make Me Hold Your Hand” by Lake Street Dive- You can listen to it here on Spotify.

Check it out and let me know you think!

Follow Inside Pop on Twitter and Instagram @PopInsiders and don’t forget to send us your Big Sells for #BigSell30!