Title: The Radio
Label: A handful of consolidated major corporations and publishers
Keywords: Rock, Hip Hop, Electronic Dance, Country, Talk Show, Pop
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
Basically, in the world, there are two kinds of people…
… which is bullshit, and any time anyone says that it is automatically untrue no matter how clever whatever comes afterward is, because there are always a huge number of different kinds of people…
… so there are people who say that kind of shit anyway, and then there are people like us… well, the rest of you as I’ve excluded myself from our category in setting up this premise, who know that it’s all nonsense and to be regarded with suspicion.
So, how does this relate to music???
Radio. It’s the reason aliens still haven’t visited earth, except in special radio proof spaceships.
So, I’ll ask you: what kind of music do you listen to?
I realized awhile back that the expectations people have for how another person is going to answer this question are very narrow, at least where I’m at. Basically, here are your options:
Everything but country.
Everything but rap.
All kinds of music (rock, country, and rap).
And, though its thankfully becoming less common by now, dubstep, but that’s basically under the umbrella of Dance or Electronic or EDM.
Sometimes you can say you listen to electronic music and people will give you this look as if to say, “Oh, yeah, wow, I forgot that was a music…” If you listen to jazz it seems like you’re forever after regarded as snobbish and enigmatic.
Why is it like this? Is it because people are just… stupid?
… but, you could also take your finger and use it to blame the radio for narrowing people’s exposure and tastes in music… though instead of pointing the finger, you might have to wag it around up in the air because those frequencies are flying around us and through us and out into space at all times.
As radio exists at present it insists that there are only a small few categories of music fans. Because of the danger it was time, I decided, as an underground music journal writing person, to get the scoop, the low-down, the dirty, the cat’s meow on this little thing we call “radio”.
My first major stumbling block was realizing that, despite the near ubiquity of radio in our lives, I couldn’t actually find one among my things. Internet radio isn’t exactly the same, and I didn’t want to just talk about muzak. This presented kind of a huge problem.
But then, voila! I remembered a very important thing… that I didn’t actually have to go find a radio at all in order to write a review of it! I could draw on years of experience instead!
One thing I’d like to talk about at the outset is “variety stations”. These are the ones that advertise that they play the (s)hits of the 80s, 90s and 00s, and new-10s and whatever. Regardless of this, the only fact I have every been able to gather empirically about these stations is that you’re approx. 98% more likely there than anyplace else to be hearing a fucking shitload of Phil Collins at any given time.
Not a good thing.
The other stations seem to be set up to cater to the primary genres I mentioned earlier. Country stations, rock stations, “classic” rock stations, hip hop stations, non-genre-specific pop music surplus stations, energetic dance music stations like the ones they play on the overheads at telecommunications jobs to get you pumped up to SELL SELL SELL and I swear they’d be shoveling cocaine up your nose at those places if it were just a little more legal.
The formula or theory I believe behind the repetitive programming of radio stations must work something like this:
They play a piece of music, a pop single, over and over again until you become conscious of it. Then, they play it over and over again some more until, even if you thought you liked it at first and possibly contemplated buying it, you begin to feel overexposed to it very quickly. Then they continue playing it over and over again, until you are sick of it, completely. You eventually find you can almost begin to tune it out. It gets stuck in your head, infrequently, however. You sift in and out of consciousness of the music due to incessant exposure. You hate the track. They keep playing it. For survival purposes, you begin to make attempts at ironic approval, possibly even tempting yourself out of your very natural inner repulsion toward the single by listening to it outside of a radio or muzak context on your own time. You drain what little enjoyment out of it you can until ultimately becoming completely sick of it again and wishing to never hear it, ever again, please. They continue playing it over and over. One day, perhaps, as senility sets in with old age, you’ll forget you ever listened to anything but the single and reminisce fondly on it as it has become all you can remember of the life you once lived and, with help from the promoters who will continue playing it over and over again forever after, it will become a legacy you pass down to your children, who will pass it on to their children, who’s children will invent a special device to dismantle their eardrums with to avoid having to ever hear Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ again, at which point we will either be saved from destruction as a species or promoters will find a way to bypass the necessity of eardrums in hearing the fucking song, perhaps by genetically programming it into your dna so that it plays non-stop in your head and the only way to get rid of it will be to pay extra for advertisements.
So really, what we’re going through at this stage in history isn’t so bad, right?
I’d like to talk now of “classic” rock stations, because up to this point I hadn’t puked in my own mouth enough (with the notable exception of having had to dredge up a picture of Phil Collins on the google). I wonder sometimes about the psychology of the people who’ve had to cultivate the playlists for these stations, like in the decades before computers and demographic statistics analyzers (largely the same thing) took over the process… like if they imagined in their heads that in a burb out there somewhere was always going to be a 16 year old white kid with a mustache and a van who was about to get his mind blown to Pink Floyd’s ‘Brick In The Wall’… imagining themselves as some kind of preservers of this sacred legacy, a tradition of American history and cultural appropriation, of passing these rites down from the ancient world of the 1970s.
Classic is really a misnomer here, though, unless we were talking about classic suck.
A bizarre, but not too bizarre trend I’ve noticed is how the lines seem to get continually blurred in the way of primary genres. New rock increasingly begins to incorporate an irritating essence of country, which itself has begun to sound more and more like rock, and pop, with even elements of hip hop and electronic dance thrown in. It reminds me a lot of major corporate mergers. Soon we’ll be stuck with Time/AOL/Disney/Universal/GM/Sony/Google Corp, and be listening to electronic country rock hop made by Lady DaDa wearing camo stilettos and a trucker hat writing songs about how drinking gin and juice in her ford truck makes her want to cut her life into pieces, and by that point maybe everything will at least be so absurd we won’t even care anymore. What kind of music do you listen to? What do you mean? There is only one kind of music, and it is music.
Then, we can just walk back into paradise.