TOP 10: Most Popular Great Pop Culture Debate Episodes of 2023

December 20, 2023

BY Eric Rezsnyak

This was a big year for the Great Pop Culture Debate podcast. We hit our 100th episode in September, after just three years in existence. We had some amazing guest panelists join us on the podcast, including Peaches Christ and Aggy Dune. And we created more content than ever on this here website, beefing up Top 10 lists, visual puzzles, TV recaps, and even launching a great weekly newsletter (which you should absolutely sign up for right here).

As we wrap up 2023, we thought it would be fun to go back and see what our most-listened-to episodes were this year. To be clear, these are the episodes that received the most downloads between 1/1/2023 and 12/2023. Other episodes may have more listens since release, but these are the ones that received the most listen this year alone.

Have you listened to them all? We’ve provided links to the episode landing pages, as well as embedded them. So now you have no excuse not to catch up! And while we have you, make sure you are subscribed to the podcast on your platform of choice, like Apple, Spotify, Pandora, or Overcast.

10. Best Gen 1 Pokemon

(Season 7, released 5/29/2023)

Gotta catch ’em all, and this year, many listeners chose Pikachu, Eevee, Charmander, and the other most popular pocket monsters from the Kanto Region. Big thanks to panelists Bob Erlenback and Curtis Creekmore, and special guest Brayden Rezsnyak, for sharing their Pokedex analysis with our listeners. Guess we’ll need to do Gen 2 in the future!

9. Best Classic Children’s Game

(Patreon-sponsored episode, released 2/20/2023)

Did you know that our top-tier Patreon supporters get to choose an episode for us to record, program the panelists, AND join us for the debate? It’s true, and it’s just one of our incredible Patreon perks, so you should totally join us today if you haven’t already done so. This episode was sponsored by Bob Erlenback, who also had Joelle Boedecker, Jim Czadzeck, and special guest Elliot Czadzeck join the panel, debating everything from Clue to Hungry Hungry Hippos, Jenga to Scrabble, and everything in between. It seemed to be a hit with our listeners. Yahtzee!

8. Best Cher Song

(Season 7, released 5/15/2023)

We started our Divas Series spotlighting the catalogues of great women in music with Season 6’s Best Barbra Streisand Song episode (although technically we started with Season 0’s Best Madonna Single, which is exclusively available only to Patreon supporters). It’s not at all surprising that our episode devoted to the legend Cher would be a hit with listeners. Thank you to panelists Bob Erlenback and Jonny Minogue, and especially to special guest star Aggy Dune — are you even doing a Cher episode if Aggy Dune is not involved? In 2024, look for the Divas Series to continue with Elton John and Tina Turner.

7. Best Best Actress Oscar Winner

(Patreon-sponsored episode, released 2/6/2023)

Another Patreon-sponsored episode! Longtime Patreon supporter Steve Nikoloff selected this topic for his second Patreon-sponsored episode, and selected Karissa Kloss and Kevin Dillon as his chosen panelists. This was a terrific discussion centered on some of the most iconic film performances in Academy history. If you’re a film buff, or just love talented women who rule the silver screen, check it out. You should also listen to Steve’s first sponsored episode, Best Emmy Winner for Best Drama, and get ready for his 2024 episode, Best TV Family, coming in February! Thank you again to Steve for being an incredible supporter of our show!

6. Best 80’s Cartoon

(Season 7, released 4/17/2023)

One of my personal favorite episodes to record this past year — and one of the most controversial. Brendan Hay, Derek Mekita, and Kate Racculia made up the delightful panel for this episode, in which we learned a great many lessons about micro-generations, how the highly gendered cartoons of the past can split a jury, etc. Regardless, it’s a wonderful nostalgic journey, and it sparked a lot of strong emotions among our listeners. If you’re looking for Best 90’s Cartoon, we actually already did it — again, as part of the Patreon-exclusive Season 0 — but we’re cooking up a different way to approach that content, including Best Nickelodeon Original Series, which will be part of Season 9 in Spring 2024.

5. Best Song of 2003

(Season 7, released 4/3/2023)

We kicked off Season 7 with our Best Song of 2003 episode, which featured panelists Curtis Creekmore, Jake Pitochelli, and Kevin Dillon. If you think 2003 is a hella random year, we picked it because it was literally 20 years ago. Which is upsetting for SO many reasons. But it ended up being a great year to explore, with amazing songs in a variety of genres that have stood the test of time. In fact, we were so happy with the episode that we’d continue doing a Song of ______ [whatever year was 20 years prior] episode each year. And then we looked at the Top 100 songs of 2004. Absolutely rubbish. Embarrassing, really. So we scrapped that idea, and for Season 9, we’re throwing it even FURTHER back with Best Song of 1994 — 30 YEARS ago. Christ. Be on the lookout for that in Spring 2024. And we’ll do a Top 10 on the Best Song of 2004, because there were roughly that number of decent, memorable songs from that year.

4. Best Song of 1985

(Patreon-sponsored episode, released 1/30/2023)

Another Patreon-sponsored episode — that’s THREE if you’re keeping track, which should really encourage people to subscribe, because clearly your work is being listened to! — this time by longtime Patreon supporter and brother of yours truly, Dr. Chad Rezsnyak. Chad picked 1985 because it was the year he was born, and we pulled a stunt for the panel: it was all four Rezsnybros on the mic, GPCD Host Eric Rezsnyak (me), Chad, Todd Rezsnyak, and Brian Rezsnyak. The four of us slugged it out over the biggest hits of the 80s, and threw a little brotherly shade at the same time. It is frequently mentioned as one of people’s favorite episodes of the show, specifically because it’s four brothers slapping at each other over stupid shit. Make sure to check out Chad’s other sponsored episode, Best Final Fantasy Game, and look for his 2024 sponsored episode, Best Nintendo Villain, in early 2024.

3. Best One-Hit Wonder of the 1990s/2000s

(Season 6, released 9/19/2022)

Our first pre-2023 episode to make our list of the most-listened-to episodes of the year! Music episodes are reliably among our most popular episodes; they almost all perform really well with our listeners. Our Best One-Hit Wonder of the 70s/80s episode is one of our all-time most-popular episodes, and I expected the version for the 90s/00s to be even bigger. It had a slow start, but this is an episode with legs, racking up a bunch of listens slowly, over time. More than a year after it premiered, the episode gets downloads literally every single day. Much of that is due to the great arguments and brilliantly funny takes by panelists Amy Pilott, Andrea Guerrero, and Kate Racculia. We would do One-Hit Wonders of the 2010s, but do we even HAVE One-Hit Wonders anymore? We might go back and do the 60s; let us know if you’d like to see it!

2. Best Phil Collins Song

(Patreon-sponsored episode, released 2/14/2022)

When Patreon sponsor Chad Rezsnyak told me this was the topic he wanted for his second Patreon-sponsored episode, I remember thinking, OK, that’ll make a great discussion, but nobody will listen to it. How wrong I was. Our Phil Collins episode was THE most popular episode of this podcast for more than a year, racking up numbers of downloads that I honestly never thought any other episode could match (I was wrong, more on that in a second). For this panel, Chad chose Rezsnyak brother Todd and honorary Rezsnyak Kate Racculia, who provided thoughtful, respectful, and funny insights into the incredible musical catalogue of Phil Collins. It’s a great episode, and again, one of our most popular. I made this offer in the episode, but it stands: Mr. Collins, if you are reading this, I would be delighted to take you out for a nice dinner the next time you’re in New York City. Totally serious. Slide into our DMs and we’ll make it happen. Thank you for the music.

1. Best 80s Soundtrack

(Season 5, released 5/2/2022)

I honestly never thought any episode would unseat Mr. Collins as our most popular episode, but Best 80s Soundtrack proved me wrong. It launched strong in the summer of 2022, but since then it has remained consistently popular, pulling in new downloads nearly every day, 18+ months after it was released. We get why it’s so popular — it’s a great episode! Panelists Jim Czadzeck, Jonny Minogue, and Kate Racculia were in rare form, discussing all the great 80s tunes and equally iconic films in which they were featured. Our Best 90s Soundtrack Album episode is currently among the most popular of Season 8, and for Season 9 we’ll be serving up Best 80s Teen Film, so look for that in Spring 2024.

Thank you to everyone who listened to the Great Pop Culture Debate this year. Are your favorite episodes on this list? Let us know which ones you think people SHOULD listen to by dropping your thoughts in the comments.

Looking for more Top 10 Lists? Check out our archive by clicking here.

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