Storyclock Research Log

Reply All "The Case Of The Missing Hit"

By Ryan Polly

Reply All

You can use the Storyclock Notebook to research and develop movies, tv shows, speeches, essays, and all sorts of other stuff. Today, we’re posting our first research log on a podcast! We’ll be taking a look listen at one of the most intriguing podcasts I’ve ever listened to: an episode of Reply All called “The Case of the Missing Hit”. We listened to the podcast and used the Storyclock Notebook to visualize it’s structure in the form of a clock.

Let's Break It Down



Opening Image Remarks: PJ talks about OCD and obsessing over little things.

Problem Presented: Tyler was singing a song that was stuck in his head to annoy his girlfriend in the car, and was surprised when she said she had never heard it– he heard it all over the radio in the late 90s. When he tries to search the lyrics online, nothing comes up. He begins to obsess over trying to find this song, eventually going to Reply All to see if they can help.

Acceptance and Break Into Act 2: The Reply All boys accept the challenge. PJ lays awake at night thinking about the lyrics.

"Trailer" Moments: Tyler describes the song as Barenaked Ladies meets U2. He sings his own painfully-beautiful rendition of the song and the hosts of the show think it’s bonkers. The guitar riff and a few words of the lyrics are found on a forum/video from Trinidad and Tobago. A band meets at a fancy recording studio to record Tyler’s song, Tyler suddenly becomes a confident music producer. They listen to the band’s recording and it is ridiculous… and actually awesome?

Midpoint: PJ takes the now-recorded song to music critics at Rolling Stone and none of them recognize it.

Things Get Worse: PJ takes the song to even more critics and still, none of them recognize it.

Hero's Last Resort: PJ takes the song to big-time music critic legend Rob Sheffield. Rob doesn’t recognize the song but does gather from the sound and specifics of the lyrics that it’s most likely from 1997-99.

Game Over: Steven Page, former Barenaked Lady, hears the song and confirms that although it has Barenaked Lady elements, it’s not their song.

Breakthrough and Break Into Act 3: Steven Page does however give PJ and good history of the music industry in 1997-2002, and gives him a piece of information that leads him to believe that a huge record label might have signed an artist, played their song on the radio, and then buried the record.

Shadow's Final Push: Producer of Barenaked Ladies suggests that Tyler might have accidentally wrote the song himself, subconsciously taking multiple lyrics and melodies from different songs.

Problem Solved: The lyrics are posted to Facebook and Evan Scott Olson, a song writer, responds. Turns out, he wrote the song! Evan comes on the podcast to talk about the history of the song, and how it got lost in oblivion.

Final Image Remarks: Tyler and the band listen to the original song and are astounded at how close it is to their version. Everyone who listens to the podcast gets the song stuck in their head for eternity.

Closing Thoughts

There aren't many podcasts that I will listen to multiple times, but immediately after this podcast ended I had to show my wife, tell my friends about it, and then listen to this song on repeat. I was so impressed by the level of investigation and how entertaining the story was throughout the episode. The real life events were crafted into this little 50 minute episode by thinking through the structure and how to best lay them out in a story.

My challenge to you: go listen to your favorite episode of podcast storytelling and use Storyclock to visualize it in the form of a clock. Did you notice anything interesting about the structure? You did? Great! Now steal that structure and use it in your own podcast. It’s 2020 baby, and everybody’s got a podcast!

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