Cover Songs, Fall TV Mid-Season Check, #BigSell30 – IP 96

Why not take a break from re-watching the Black Panther trailer and listen to this brand new episode of Inside Pop!

First up, we discuss some of our favorite cover songs. What makes a great cover song and what are some of the best? We discuss covers and originals performed by Prince, Adele, Joni Mitchell, Johnny Cash, Bob Marley, Whitney Houston, Annie Lennox and more!

Remember the sense of optimism you felt at the beginning of the TV season? That belief that you’d be bowled over by a ton of new amazing shows and that all of your favorite returning shows would continue to be your favorites? Well, we felt that way too and now it’s time to face the music (or the should we say ‘the flat screen’). We’re doing a mid-season check in to see which shows are must-see and which are about to be deleted from the DVR. We discuss This is Us, The Deuce, Queen Sugar, The Defenders, The Exorcist, Wisdom of the Crowd and more!

And we’ll also check in on the #BigSell30 Challenge and discuss how our lives have improved while experiencing one new piece of pop culture every day this month.

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Blade Runner 2049, Riz Ahmed, Vegas Baby documentary, Big Sell 30 – IP 95

This week we dive inside Box Office Busts, a bold new doc and #BigSell30 is underway!

First up,  Sean and Amita examine why the highly anticipated, sure-fire hit Blade Runner 2049 actually failed at the box office. Why did the masses stay away from Denis Villeneuve’s artistry and Ryan Gosling’s baby blues? And are the masses actually missing out on a great film? We’ll discuss!

Also,  Amita was in the same room with her celebrity husband, Riz Ahmed, and didn’t faint! Find out how she got to see him in person and what happened.

Then, Amita interviews Oscar nominated director, Amanda Micheli about her new documentary, Vegas Baby, which follows multiple stories of women and couples and their struggles to have a child.

Plus, Amita reviews last week’s Big Sell from Sean, an early film from Ava DuVernay, Middle of Nowhere, and then sells him on a new single from Lin-Manuel Miranda featuring a slew of popular Latino singers and hip hop artists, who came together to raise funds for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico. And we review some of our favorite Big Sells thus far in the Big Sell 30!

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The Big Sell 30 Day Challenge 2017!

Each week on Inside Pop, hosts Amita Patel and Sean David Johnson take turns recommending something new in the world of pop culture for the other to check out in a segment called “The Big Sell”.

During the month of October, join Sean and Amita in their commitment to try one new piece of pop culture every day, for 30 days with the Big Sell 30 Day Challenge- a new song, TV episode, movie, viral video, app – anything goes!

Follow Inside Pop on Twitter (@PopInsiders) and Facebook for daily big sells and share your suggestions using #BigSell30

And of course listen to Inside Pop every Wednesday for some special Big Sells from some very special guests.

**Participation in the Big Sell 30 Day Challenge guarantees increased muscle tone, a shinier aura and a head jam packed with the very best pop culture.

Big Sell 30 Day 30: Trick Baby

We made it to the FINAL BIG SELL of #BigSell30! Amita here to finish up this incredible month filled with so much pop culture. I’m creating a new phrase- Peak Pop Culture y’all!

I felt a ton of pressure to give you guys the last Big Sell and realized that sometimes you have to go back to the beginning to figure out the end. The Big Sell has been a part of our podcast since the first episode and has evolved into one of our favorite segments because of all of the new pop culture we both have been able to experience. When we went to Podcast Movement in Chicago this year, we had the privilege to learn from one of the best in the podcast community- Pat Flynn, host of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. He suggested ways to change up your format to gain listeners and one of his tips was to do some type of challenge. That session was where the Big Sell 30 Day Challenge was born.

Also at Podcast Movement, we took the Big Sell to the next level and got a couple of guest Big Sells- one of which was a multiple big sell from the fun and fabulous ladies of the Sistah Speak Podcast Network. We connected with them immediately and if you are a loyal listener, you may recall that we got 4 Big Sells from them and only featured 3 in our podcasts in September. It only seems appropriate to bring everything full circle on this final big sell of #BigSell30.  So the final Big Sell comes from that incredible weekend meeting some amazing ladies and where the Big Sell 30 was born- we’d like to share that episode and Big Sell with all of you!

trick-baby-images-5be8a1ff-888a-4a85-b9f0-4c131c1857dThe lively and hilarious Sistah J wanted to challenge our listeners and gave us a Big Sell of the 1972 Blaxploitation film, Trick Baby. It’s a throwback big sell! So put on some polyester pants, pick out your afro and enjoy this bad ass movie!

Thanks for being part of our 30 Day Challenge. It was fun, enlightening, inspiring and also pretty challenging as well! We loved all of the response on Twitter @PopInsiders and we’re looking forward to doing it again in 2017!

Big Sell 30 Day 29: Foodstand

Hey everyone- just two more days left for #BigSell30! Amita here with your penultimate Big Sell.

I had the opportunity to chat with Rachna Govani, food lover and co-founder of Foodstand to get a Big Sell from her. Foodstand is a free app to help you build good eating habits- which comes at the perfect time since we are entering the food focused holiday season. Between the celebration of Diwali, candy filled Halloween and the celebratory feasts of Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Christmas, Americans are known to pack on the pounds over the next few months.

foodstandFoodstand is spearheading a movement to be more conscious about what you eat, how you eat and has created multiple challenges to help you achieve those goals.

I could honestly listen to Rachna talk about food for days because her passion for good food and creating a food community is so energizing. She’s extremely smart and as I mentioned in our interview, Rachna is also a good friend and I couldn’t be prouder of her. I also wasn’t kidding about her being a rockstar in the food world- she recently attended SXSL- the South By South Lawn event at the White House and had the opportunity to speak with Russell Simmons about his efforts to make affordable healthy food accessible for the community in Flint, MI. You can find out more about Russell’s non-profit efforts here and read more about Rachna in this interview with her on

As you will hear in our interview, I decided to Big Sell the Foodstand app to all of you and Rachna graciously gave us a Big Sell of another app- the free meditation app Insight Timer.

Enjoy our conversation and leave a comment below or tweet us @PopInsiders and let us know what you thought this conversation or any of the other Big Sells from #BigSell30.





Big Sell 30 Day 28: The Secret History of Twin Peaks

Sean Johnson here with my final solo Big Sell of #BigSell30.

If you’re reading this post or if you’ve listened to our podcast I assume you know something about the joy that comes with allowing yourself to indulge in pop culture obsession. I’m describing the type of fanaticism that compels you to grab onto something in the world of pop culture and study it, analyze it, discuss it and  become more emotionally involved with it than what might be considered healthy. Today I’m going to Big Sell you something that is connected to the origins of my pop culture devotions.

Before I spent hours attempting to figure out the meaning of the numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42; or fretting over the potency of the alien black oil or debating the ramifications of having more than one slayer exist at a time — there was one question that consumed me:


twin-peaksThe first season of Twin Peaks ushered in what is now considered to be the second golden age of television. The weirdly brilliant show from co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost is an exquisite mixture of horror flick, comedy, Nancy Drew detective story and a very niche food channel show that focuses on damn good coffee and pie.

You may have heard that the show is being re-booted and a third season will air on Showtime next year. Yay? Uh-oh?

I am praying to the pop culture gods that this new season will not disappoint. It’s a safe bet we’ll discuss the new season on Inside Pop as soon as it premieres. But for now I will Big Sell you on what can be considered a prequel to the reboot. To tide fans over until the new Twin Peaks season arrives, Mark Frost has written “The Secret History of Twin Peaks.” It’ a 300 page hard cover novel that details the history of Twin Peaks; from a Lewis and Clark encounter up until Agent Cooper’s run in with a mirror. My guess is the ratio of answers provided versus question raised will be low – but that’s what we expect – and what we love – about the Twin Peaks experience, right?

the-secret-history-of-twin-peaks-cover-mark-frostThe Big Sell of the novel is for the die hard Twin Peaks fan. But if for some reason you have yet to discover this amazing show do yourself a favor and watch it (don’t binge; savor each episode). The Pilot is phenomenal and the rest of the first season just gets better. The second season goes off the rails – but the episode that finally reveals the identity of Laura Palmer’s murderer is one of the scariest things you’ll ever see on television (yes, the scene is just as blood-curdling as last week’s The Walking Dead depcition of Negan’s bloody bad; but instead of a dark forest, it takes place in Laura Palmer’s living room).

If you give the book a try, make sure to tweet me @popinsiders. We can obsess together over every mention of owls, logs and lodges.

Check out the book trailer (chock full of easter eggs) HERE

Big Sell 30 Day 26: Rose by Jeanne Balibar

Hello – Sean here with DAY 26 of our Big Sell 30 Day Challenge. Today’s #BigSell30 is inspired by one of our listeners, @miniarcadia150 who recommended the video “Mirate,” by Latin singer, Aldrey. The song is in Spanish and the video includes English subtitles. It’s a power pop ballad with a message of self acceptance. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

This video got me thinking about all of the music I love that’s sung in a language I don’t understand. Usually when  it comes to songs, lyrics are just as important (if not more important) to me as the music. But in the case of this Big Sell – I have loved the song “Rose” by French singer Jeanne Balibar for years and have no idea what it’s about. But it still moves me.

roseCheck out “Rose” on Spotify or here on YouTube. It’s moody, ethereal and hypnotic. I love it and sing along in made up French words and can only hope the song isn’t about killing kittens or the merits of reality stars turned political candidates. And I also ask you to think of your favorite song that is sung in a language you don’t understand. Leave a comment here or tweet us @PopInsiders and let us know why you love it!

Just a few days left in our #BigSell30! We hope your head is bursting with all of the new pop culture you’ve discovered this month. We have some great Big Sells ahead for you in these last few days. Stay tuned!

Big Sell 30 Day 25: The Perfect Podcast

perfectpodcast-a2Sean here with our 25th #BigSell for our Big Sell 30 Day Challenge. This is a ‘perfect’ big sell. It’s also a bit narcissistic! Hosting and producing Inside Pop with my partner in crime Amita Patel has been creatively fulfilling, challenging in the best way possible and super fun! I’ve enjoyed it so much that I decided to launch a second podcast a few months ago. My big sell for you today is my ‘other’ podcast, The Perfect Podcast.

The Perfect Podcast celebrates the highest achievements in music, film, literature, food, visual arts and more! In each episode I talk to a different person about the creation they believe achieves perfection. From the perfect short story to the perfect music video to the perfect cocktail to the perfect skyscraper – the show explores and celebrates the artists who have achieved the elusive, intimidating, confounding and 100% subjective state of . . . Perfection!

So far I’ve interviewed a runner about the time he unexpectedly achieved a Perfect Run, an editor from Publisher’s weekly about his pick for a Perfect Graphic Novel, and a cigar aficionado about his go-to daily Perfect Cigar.

Recently I interviewed Jamie Broadnax, the founder of Black Girl Nerds, about her choice for a perfect fictional character. I was ecstatic when she chose the leader of the X-Men and former queen of Wakanda – Storm. It’s a great conversation that touches on representation, feminism and kick-ass Mohawks.

The goal of the podcast is to celebrate all types of culture with a diverse roster of super smart, passionate people. In addition to getting my guests to share their expert opinions I also ask them to discuss their personal connections to the subject. In my most recent episode art critic Vince Aletti discusses his Perfect Portrait: a picture that inspired him to come to NYC 50 years ago and has remained a totem for him ever since.

In my “perfect world”: 1) You take a listen to and love The Perfect Podcast and subscribe 2) In the future I get to interview Mark Romanek about “Got Til It’s Gone” (my pick for a perfect music video); Nile Rodgers about Bowie’s Let’s Dance (or Duran Duran’s “The Reflex” or Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”); Shonda Rhimes, David Mitchell, Annie Lennox, Questlove and the list goes on and on and on.

Coming soon . . . A Perfect Song (you’ll have to listen to hear what my guest chooses).

Follow Inside Pop @PopInsiders and let us know how you’re enjoyed #BigSell30.

Big Sell 30 Day 24: Instagram’s Beautiful Destinations

Happy Monday! Amita here again starting the home stretch of the Big Sell 30 Day Challenge. #BigSell30 has enlightened me on so many new things that I want to try to branch out and experience more and more every day. (Truth be told, it’s also a fun challenge to find something really unique to share with y’all everyday!)

I know you can all agree that going back to work after the weekend can be tough so today’s Big Sell is a little Monday escape. I’m a big fan of Instagram and enjoy nature and scenic photography. I also enjoy traveling and while I wish I could travel more than I do, the Beautiful Destinations Instagram account lets me live vicariously through their incredible photos and videos. Now, with over 7 million followers, sbeautiful-destinationsome of you may already be following them or have at least heard of them, but if you haven’t, you’ll feel the itch to travel really soon.

When you scroll through the stunning photos – you can enjoy the colorful fall foliage in the Catskills, see white sand beaches in Îles Aux Cerfs (Had to google this one- it’s actually on the island of Mauritius) and then be transported to a beautiful waterfall in the lush landscape of Iceland! I’ve said enough, and now want to book a trip to Iceland…

Here’s a sampling of some of their posts:
bd-chile bd-portofino bd-turkey

Take a minute, escape from the norm, beat the Monday blues and be prepared to book a vacation soon!

Be sure to tweet us @PopInsiders to let us know how your #BigSell30 is going. Only a couple of days left to send us a Big Sell- don’t wait!



Big Sell 30 Day 23: Kerry Washington & Aziz Ansari

Amita here with your #BigSell30 today! We’re in our last week of Big Sells and looking back at the last few weeks, as much as we felt like this was a challenge for us and for you, I have also realized how much I’ve learned about myself and felt like I’ve also revealed a lot about myself through this process. The Big Sell is getting deep!

That being said, I’ll reveal a little more to preface today’s Big Sell: As a television and digital producer, one of my favorite jobs is to interview someone about their process. I had the honor and pleasure to do this recently with some of music’s biggest stars (Can’t discuss who now, but will soon!) and I just revel in hearing who inspires them or what it took to create a specific project/album/role.

actors-on-actorsVariety Magazine’s Actors on Actors series does exactly that but with a slight twist on the typical interview format. In this web series, two actors interview each other – it feels like you’re in a personal conversation- you get to see actors learn about each other, and from each other. The episode I’d like to Big Sell features two of Television’s biggest stars (and friends of the podcast): Kerry Washington and recent Emmy Award winner Aziz Ansari.

kerry-and-azizTheir conversation is a revealing look into who they are as performers; but also focuses on roles they took behind the camera (Aziz on Master of None and Kerry on Confirmation). It’s smart, funny, insightful and at 22 minutes, it’s a rare opportunity to dive deep into their individual processes as actors, their struggles as people of color in Hollywood and how they are now in positions of power because of their hard work and success. I love to hear insider info like this and you don’t always get this much information in a 5 minute late night talk show appearance or 3 minute morning show chat.

Kerry gives great insight into her role as a producer on the HBO movie Confirmation and I think she’s a great interviewer. Whenever Scandal is over, she should consider some type of interview series, she’s really smart, thoughtful and asks great questions. (Agent Advice!)

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock (5622630r) Kerry Washington and Aziz Ansari Variety Studio: Actors on Actors, Los Angeles, America - 03 April 2016

Aziz gives a great insider look into how his hit Netflix series Master of None came about and he reveals a great tidbit about the two episodes he directed- “Parents” and “Nashville” (they were his first attempts at directing and they shot the series out of order, so those two were shot at the end).

It’s such a great series and I’m already excited to watch the Mindy Kaling/Conan O’Brien conversation as well as the Courtney B. Vance/Tracee Ellis Ross one as well. Enjoy!

Leave a comment below or tweet us @popinsiders to let us know what you think of today’s Big Sell. Also, be sure to let us know how #BigSell30 is going for you and you still have a few days to tweet us a Big Sell to be featured in the Big Sell 30 Day Challenge!