Break It Down – A Different Take on Pop Culture

by Rebeckah McCarthy

Break It Down is an Irish podcast hosted by the perfect pairing of Hillary and Holly. Hillary is currently in final year in UCC studying Music and English and Holly has just graduated this year from a BA International. The podcast explores many facets of pop culture. Break It Down is for those who are lovers of pop culture who enjoy having an in-depth conversation about shows which normally wouldn’t receive as much attention for their cinematography decisions like Love Island

The first episode I listened to was “Love Island: The hyper-reality of TV.” As I am a massive fan of the show, especially within the last two years, it was interesting to hear the take of the girls. The introduction to the episode was light-hearted as they discussed TikTok obsessions with a guest on the show (same girlies).

Break It Down includes a 60-second summary segment which gives you a rough idea about what theme/topic they are discussing in that show – which is a fabulous addition as it helps listeners stay engaged and gives them a taste of the topic which they may not be familiar with. This particular 60-second summary was spot on! I mean, nobody could explain Love Island any better!

The podcast itself has an impressive flow to it and keeps you engaged throughout the episode. I thoroughly enjoyed the analysis of the camera angles used for Maura Higgins’ entrance in the show and the description that it was almost predatory in nature. Break It Down brings it all to the table, even if you don’t have a massive interest in analysing pop culture and have a simple interest in the show it is still very accessible. But for anyone who enjoys analysing media to an almost academic extent and enjoys discourse on cinematography then this is the podcast for you. 

I was lucky enough to get in contact with Holly and Hillary and ask them a few questions to get to know more about them and the podcast! During this conversation, we touched on many topics such as future plans, inspiration, who would be their ideal candidate for the show (dead or alive) and finally what their favourite form of entertainment is. The broadcast is the perfect balance between eccentricity and education (Holly and Hillary are onto something!).

The girls really get into the nitty-gritty about how the show is not all it seems to be but how easy it is to be drawn in and feel involved with the show. They explain that Break It Down is a podcast which explores the unexplored areas of pop culture: “What we mean by this is we take a pop culture topic, maybe a movie, song or a book and explore it from an angle that is overlooked. A lot of the time people don’t see the value in popular culture and instantly dismiss it as ‘low culture’, but we don’t believe in this or guilty pleasures! We want to prompt people to think about the media they consume in different ways, and really think about it critically and analytically.” 

Holly and Hillary’s future plans for the podcast include collaborations with other podcasts such as Bandwagons and Behind the Future. They are continuing to plan their weekly episodes and are taking everything as it comes. 

With podcasting becoming more and more popular, and with its potential to overtake media formats such as vlogging in popularity in the near future, I had to ask what Hillary and Holly’s favourite aspect about podcasting was. They both told me of their love of researching and getting into the minutiae of culture: “Getting the opportunity to research and explore topics that we usually wouldn’t have thought about! Like, when else would one get the opportunity to do some heavy research on the Monster Mash? We actually have a Halloween series coming up which we are so excited about!” Holly tells how she “nearly died when Hilary blew up [her] phone at 5am a couple of weeks ago saying [they] should break down the Monster Mash for [their] Halloween episode.” With grá emanating from her she proclaims, “It’s just SO perfect!! Like, I would LOVE to listen to a podcast episode about the Monster Mash? We have been best friends for years, so it’s an amazing opportunity to be able to do something like this together and share the great experiences that come along with podcasting. Our ‘podcast celebrations’ are the best excuse to crack open a bottle of wine. Also, we love meeting other podcasters and being welcomed to the community! Since we started, we’ve been connecting with so many brilliant Irish podcasters and Irish artists in general! We already have had so many amazing experiences like collaborating with Sissy That Pod. Also working with Cork artist Shelley Trinder who designed our Break it Down logo!”

As the show is about analysing pop culture I asked the two girls who they would love to interview, dead or alive:

Hilary: “For me, it’s David Bowie. Not only is he my absolute hero, but there’s always something about his interviews that fascinates me, he’s always extremely engaging and seems to give something different to every interviewer. Right now, I’m starting my dissertation on Bowie and Postmodernism and I would love to ask him a few questions about his influences and his opinions on media and identity. If he were still alive I’m sure he would have some fascinating ideas and insight on this dystopian time we are living through.”

Holly: “The person that popped immediately into my head was Greta Gerwig. Gerwig is someone that I really look up to and is kind of everything I wish to be! I think that her writing is just so wonderful, her characters always seem to resonate with me. Gerwig has such a fiery passion that radiates so strongly in her interviews, to the point that it almost feels contagious, so I think it would be delightful to hear her point of view on literally any Break It Down topic!”

Break It Down is available fortnightly and you can keep an eye on their social media accounts for any updates, specials or collaborations that are on the way! Listen to Break It Down wherever you get your podcasts. If you have any suggestions for Hillary and Holly, you can contact them on their social media or send an email to breakitdownhh@gmail.com.