Song Exploder

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Song Exploder TV Poster Image
Insightful docu about creativity, collaboration, and music.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Producing music takes work, collaboration, and creativity. 

Positive Role Models

The musicians and the music featured vary across different genres and styles. Each episode reveals how the composing process is a creative way of telling a story. 


Conversations and lyrics sometimes address violent themes like death, frustration, and anger. 


Some lyrics make references to love, romance, extramarital relations, etc. 


Strong language like "goddamn" is audible in lyrics, and curses like "f--k" are spoken during conversations. 


Instrument labels like Yamaha and Steinway & Sons are visible. So are Apple computers. The songs featured are from popular albums and musicals. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigarette smoking is sometimes visible.  

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Song Exploder is a documentary series featuring popular musicians sharing the creative processes that went into one of their hit recordings. There’s some cursing ("goddamn" is audible in lyrics, and curses like "f--k" are spoken during conversations), and on occasion cigarette smoking is visible. Topics like death, extramarital affairs, and other mature themes are mentioned, but within the context of the creative process. 

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What's the story?

Based on the popular podcast of the same name, and hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway, SONG EXPLODER: HOW MUSIC GETS MADE is a reality docuseries that features popular musicians deconstructing the creative process that went into their most popular songs. From discussing what inspired the sounds and lyrics of a hit song to revealing the collaboration that went into producing it, the show highlights how the song went from a concept to musical hit. At the end of each episode, the featured song is played in its entirety. 

Is it any good?

Each roughly 25-minute episode of this interesting documentary series offers viewers a chance to understand how some of today’s most popular songs, scores, and soundtracks came together. Singers like Alicia Keys, rappers like Lin-Manuel Miranda, and bands like R.E.M. share details about what inspired them, some of the unique aspects of the composition, and how they feel about the work today. 

Overall, Song Exploder offers an insightful look into the creative process and explores how some of the music we love came to be. Thanks to the outstanding sound quality of the series, which replicates that of the podcast from which it's adapted, listening to the series is just as good as watching it. No doubt that music lovers will appreciate what is being offered here, but even those without a musical background will appreciate knowing more about what goes into creating the music we love. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about some of the processes the artists featured in Sound Exploder used to produce their music. What inspired them? Who helped them along the way? How did first renditions of the song evolve as they continued working on them?

  • What is your favorite song? Do you know what inspired it? 

  • What kinds of things must be done to successfully adapt a podcast series into a television series? What are the challenges? Aside from this one, can you think of any other TV series that evolved this way?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love music

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