Sunday, June 28, 2009

Take those old records off the shelf...

...No, really. Take them off the shelf and play something different for a change.

A recent post on a friend's blog lamenting the lack of quality songs these days brought to mind a musical complaint of our own: ridiculously overplayed songs on classic rock radio.

Now this complaint is by no means exclusively ours. Many music fans express their chagrin over the seemingly abundant airplay of classics such as "Free Bird," "Piano Man," "Brown Eyed Girl," et al., however there are a number of, shall we say um, "lesser" songs out there that are just as abounding.

Let us clarify: while bountiful repetitions of "Free Bird" and the like might get on the nerves of some, we find it hard to complain about those instances, as they are, no doubt, the result of listener requests. Can you imagine how many calls classic rock stations get each day from some good ol' boy requesting some Skynyrd or some middle-aged office toiler with brown eyes asking for some Van Morrison? Irksome as that may be, we dare not challenge this time-honored and democratic tradition. Radio requests are pretty much as American as apple pie.

Our beef is with another category of songs whose radio recurrence is a bit more subtle and a lot harder to understand. These are songs that may not have necessarily been all-out charttoppers, but still recognizable. And for some reason, we find these songs in heavy rotation every day.

Why? Are these other songs cheaper? Do stations not have to pay as much to BMI or whoever for these less popular titles? Or do they just put them on one big, looped playlist and walk away, forcing us to suffer an autopilot DJ?

Who knows? Well here are a few of those songs that prompt us to change the station:

"She's a Beauty"
The Tubes, 1983

Be careful, once this gets in your head, it's hard to get out...You'd know it if you heard it:

...But don't fall in love! (She's a beauty!)
One in a million girls...

Oh, where to begin with this gem? Hmm. Well first of all, the song itself is probably not all that anger-provoking (except that it may sound like it's about guarding the heart, but it may actually be about prostitutes). Having peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100, the redeeming thing about this song is that it just oozes with the 1980's. For some reason it is very evocative of 80's movies like Three Men & a Baby and The Secret of My Success.

Unfortunately, this track seems to appear hourly on both of the major classic rock stations in our area. We suspect it is a similar story in other markets. We aren't exaggerating - hourly. Ridiculous. So why the broadcast overkill? Surely people aren't calling in for this track. There's an almost endless rock & roll library from which to choose. We demand an explanation.

*Furthermore, have you seen the video for this diddy? Granted, it was only two years into the MTV era (the music video artform was still young and evolving), but this vid is nothing short of inappropriate. Although extremely mild by today's standards, we can see why this may not have received a lot of attention from VJ's in '83. For crying out loud, the bass drums on the drumset are painted like boobs! It probably wasn't long after this was made that the Tubes faded back into obscurity. But if they're getting paid every time their song plays on the radio, we're sure they don't mind such obscurity...

"All She Wants To Do Is Dance"
Don Henley, 1984

...Man, could you change the station? I've had a rough night and I hate the Eagles, man!The popular disdain for the Eagles that began to snowball after "The Dude" whined about them in The Big Lebowski is still going today. We submit that such disdain is definitely not warranted by the Eagles' music in and of itself. Instead, this is a direct result of insane radio overkill. Have you noticed this? This broadcast saturation has ruined the Eagles!

The overkill is not limited to just Eagles tracks, either. The overplaying has unfortunately carried over to their solo projects, and this hit from Don Henley is no exception. If you go out to your car right now and put your radio on "scan," we assure you that you will hear this song within the next fifty-two minutes. Whoever you are out there controlling the playlists (Clear Channel), please, please ease up on the Eagles - they're making enough already off concert ticket prices. Quit forcing them down our ears every hour!

"Insert annoying Rush song title here"
Rush, 1974-85

Rush. We don't get it. We just don't get it. Today, "Freewill" was playing on a local station, and although it is [thankfully] not a victim of radio overplay, it did serve as a reminder of all the other Rush songs that do get played day in and day out. "Freewill" embodies everything that is annoying about a Rush song, from that wannabe progressive-ish sound of synthesized distortion to Geddy Lee's uber-shrill vocals. We get to enjoy those nuisances in wonderful tracks like "Fly By Night," "Limelight" and "Tom Sawyer" - all of which are constantly in heavy, heavy rotation.

Jason Segel fronts a Rush tribute band in I Love You, ManThe fascination with Rush is something of a pop-culture phenomenon that is just beyond us here at The Briefcase. Generally attributed to older crowds like Stephen Colbert, Jack Black and the creators of the 2009 film I Love You, Man, Rush fandom is difficult to explain. Conan O'Brien has called them "the Canadian Lynyrd Skynyrd," and he couldn't be more right - not because they're classic and great, but because they're on the radio just as much as [but probably more than] the boys from Jacksonville. So please, lineup programmers, please lay off the Rush. Our sanity - and commuter safety across the country - just may depend on it.

Bob Seger, 1975

Bob Seger gets enough overplay with "Old Time Rock and Roll" and "Night Moves," do we really have to sit there and take "Katmandu"?? There just can't be anyone calling in hour after hour for this bad boy. It is quite terrible. The gist of the song is a duality: Bob loves America and his record company, but Bob hates working in the land of the free so much that he's got to move to Nepal. Sadly, his misspelling of Kathmandu might indicate that he doesn't know too much about his dream town, and that he just chose it for its number of syllables and rhyming potential (a subject addressed by the previously mentioned DnC post). Ka Ka Ka Ka Ka Ka Katmandu... Really, who wants that in their heads all day? Something has to do be done to stop this auditory travesty.

What classic rock songs do you feel should be taken out of rotation? Feel free to share...