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Top 10 99% Invisible Episodes
Best episodes ranked by Goodpods Users most listened
389- Whomst Among Us Has Let The Dogs Out
02/12/20 • 38 min
The story of how “Who Let The Dogs Out” ended up stuck in all of our brains goes back decades and spans continents. It tells us something about inspiration, and how creativity spreads, and about whether an idea can ever really belong to just one person. About ten years ago, Ben Sisto was reading the Wikipedia entry for the song when he noticed something strange. A hairdresser in England named “Keith” was credited with giving the song to the Baha Men, but Keith had no last name and the fact had no citation. This mystery sent Ben down a rabbit hole to uncover the true story.
510- Wickedest Sound
10/04/22 • 42 min
Jamaica is famous around the world for its music, including genres like ska, dub, and reggae. It’s tempting to think that the powerful amplifiers and giant speakers at the dance parties were designed to perfectly capture Jamaica’s indigenous sounds. But it’s actually the other way around. Those speakers and amps came first. And the electricians, mechanics and engineers who built and adapted that technology would then play a decisive role in the creation of Jamaica’s modern music. They helped pioneer approaches to making and performing music that would spawn whole other scenes from the Bronx to the UK.
08/23/22 • 31 min
466- The Weight
11/17/21 • 45 min
Fitness trends come and go. But the simple weight is an anchor in the shifting tides of culture. As workout equipment has become canonized within the realm of home appliances, this heavy metal object aids in our dual — and sometimes conflicting — pursuit of athletics and aesthetics.
In season 2 of the Nice Try! podcast, show host and former 99pi producer Avery Trufelman heads inside the home, interrogating how individuals channel utopian ambitions through the lifestyle technologies and home goods that determine the ways we clean, cook, exercise, and sleep in order to lead better lives. But the problems these objects are designed to solve, and the way they solve them, promote a distinctly American ideal that prioritizes personal betterment over improving society as a whole.
500- 99% Vernacular: Volume 1
07/19/22 • 33 min
For the 500th episode of 99% Invisible, we started thinking about the kinds of designs that we love from the places we have lived -- and even some regional vernacular we love from places we haven’t lived, but just admire. 99% Invisible is all about who we are through the lens of the things we build. We often tell stories about how people shape the built world, but these are more about how the built world has shaped us.
505- First Errand
08/30/22 • 28 min
Back in March, Netflix picked up a long running Japanese TV program based on a children’s book from the 1970s. The show is called Old Enough, but the name of the original Japanese program translates to My First Errand. Because in each episode, a child runs an errand for the very first time. Episodes are only 10 to 20 minutes long, but in that short time a toddler treats the audience to a bite-sized hero's journey.
My First Errand is a gimmicky show with hokey music and a laugh track, but it’s also rooted in a truth about Japanese society: most children are remarkably independent from a very young age -- way more independent than children in the US. In Japanese cities, fifth-graders make 85 percent of their weekday trips without a parent. And this remarkable child mobility is made possible by everything from the neighbors next door to the width of the streets.
499- Say Aloe to My Little Frond
07/12/22 • 39 min
Houseplants are having a moment right now. In 2020, 66% of people in the US owned at least one plant, and sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic. Meanwhile, Instagram accounts like House Plant Club have a million followers. Over the past decade there has been a steady stream of think pieces offering explanations for the emergence of this new obsession. But while millennials may have perfected the art of plant parenting, this is not the first time people have gotten completely obsessed with houseplants. Journalist Anne Helen Petersen digs into the history of domesticated plants in a series of articles on her Substack, Culture Study, and joins us to talk about what she's found.
490- Train Set
05/10/22 • 32 min
The greatest mode of transportation is the funicular, which is a special kind of train pulled by a cable that runs up steep slopes. But trains are great even when they're not going up treacherous terrain. And in that spirit: here are some of the most ambitious, fascinating, and downright crazy trains that the world has ever seen.
480- Broken Heart Park
03/08/22 • 37 min
In the 1990s Dave Davis worked as the groundskeeper at a small neighborhood park in a suburb of St. Louis called Creve Coeur. It was an unpaid position, but it came with a strange perk: as part of the job, he got to live in a house on the grounds. On the outside, it looks like an ordinary ranch-style house, but once you got inside, something seemed a little off: it looked like someone had completed it in a hurry. It turns out that this house wasn’t supposed to be the home for the groundskeeper, and the park was never supposed to be a park. It was private property that belonged to a prominent Black doctor back in the 1950s. But the land was taken from him before he could even finish building his home.
492- Inheriting Froebel's Gifts
05/24/22 • 32 min
In the late 1700s, a young man named Friedrich Froebel was on track to become an architect when a friend convinced him to pursue a path toward education instead. And in changing course, Froebel arguably ended up having more influence on the world of architecture and design than any single architect -- all because Friedrich Froebel created kindergarten.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s son, John, was an architect, but his most famous creation wasn’t a building. It was a toy set that kids have been playing with for over 100 years.