Now we all know that the radio is a system for getting people to buy things through advertising. And that it masquerades as a system for entertainment by playing “music.” And that there is a distinct difference between music
It is a well known fact in marketing circles that 80% of people are being fed “music” that is familiar to them, that they won’t turn off, that won’t be too weird for them, so that they stay listening to one station while all the marketing filters into their minds on conscious and unconscious levels. The advertising time can be sold on the strength of the dubious qualities of the “music” for large amounts of money and that’s what its all about.
Its all here
by the way if you don’t believe me.
And it was one such example of “music” that started me thinking about all this. What’s Up by 4 Non-Blondes
I don’t know how anybody could actually choose to listen to this. I can’t see a single good quality to it, its pretty much an ordinary boring song about nothing in particular which was heavily stylized and marketed and is still being played on the radio 16 years after it was (ill-) conceived. My theory is its there to get a niche market.
I’m leaving out new music and there’s a wealth of crap there and it seems to be getting worse and worse. For instance Lady Gaga is on right now as I’m supposed to be doing my job, a finely honed marketing machine if ever I have the bad luck to hear it. Note: I have since found out that Ms. Gaga is actually pretty cool so this is kind of a bad example. But still I can't condone me listening to her music.
But some music is the stuff of life, there are so many geniuses out there pumping out the tunes. And I can tell it when I hear it because I get shivers running up my spine and down my arms and it makes the hairs stand up. The good stuff is made by proper artists who are all in their own way trying to advance society and culture but the stuff I’m talking about today is made simply to move numbers from one column to another.
Its just a job to these people and the bottom line is king. The “music,” video and all sorts of other details like time of day its played, or what advertisements go with what “music” are all deployed with military precision.
Remember The Spin Doctors? And the song Two Princes, well its another load of old toss that doesn’t mean anything and is pretty unobtrusive but look back to 1993 when Nirvana were in their heyday. the recording companies became aware of a new type of music. Nirvana were revolutionary and far more significant culturally than musically. We’re all better off for them being there, they changed the path of music history. Now Kurt wasn’t into labels, he was the real thing but somebody somewhere slapped the label grunge
onto it and set the recording companies tripping over themselves trying to get themselves a share of this new market.
Hey presto, the Spin Doctors, sold at the time as I remember one vacuous VJ said, “the kings of grunge.” Please…
You don’t hear much from them anymore, they in all likelihood made little or no money off it. The companies that spent and thus gained all the money back from sales and whatever other pies they had their fingers in are still rolling out the crap, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the band themselves are stacking shelves in supermarkets and driving cabs like the rest of us or if they’re lucky, playing music for enough money to survive.
So getting back to good old 4 Non Blondes.
Why are we being played this muck? Well it could be as simple as the royalties being really cheap, this has a lot to do with a lot of “music.” The more something gets played the cheaper it is for the radio station to play in the future. It costs far more to play something unknown.
There are many songs like this and I have compiled a list of stuff that seems to always be on the radio. And until you factor in the finance side, there is no logical reason for it.
And by the way I do
have to listen to it, its played in work ruthlessly, an MP3 player wouldn’t suit the job.
So here is a quick list compiled just this week of “music” which
1 I don’t like for many well thought out reasons, and therefore are almost certainly bad, or at least not good enough.
2 Have had unbelievable amounts of airtime over many years for no good reason.
In no particular order
4 Non Blondes – What’s Up (1993)
Listen to a seal barking instead, its organic.
Youssou N’Dour and Neneh Cherry – 7 Seconds (1994)
Booooring, depressing too.
Sinead O’Connor – Mandinka (1987)
This is a local thing, Irish radio has to play a lot of Irish stuff, this is on about 3 times a week here and its dire. And you wanna hear shrill? Forget about it.
Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U (1990)
Really depressing, the strings are the worst part of it, very cowardly production.
Jennifer Paige – Crush (1998)
Who isn’t sick of this? Go on, I dare you.
REM – Everybody Hurts (1992)
Oh would somebody just shoot him and put him out of his misery? I might hurt, I do not need someone whining in my ear to remind me, and that guitar playing is so cliche, ordinary and boring.
Natalie Imbruglia – Torn (1997)
Ultra Neutral, not such a bad song, just soooooo middle of the road, inoffensive and incredibly overplayed. Old people will like it years from now.
Manic Street Preachers – A Design For Life (1996)
How many times can you hear the line “a design for life” without puking? I can get to 200, amazingly that’s only halfway through the song.
Shania Twain – Feel Like A Woman (1997)
Like bits of 4 different songs mashed together and secured with duct tape, badly. Stops and starts all over the place, must have been written by a three-year-old.
Sheryl Crow – All I Wanna Do (1993)
The atmosphere in the video sold this, not bad, just not good enough and the thousandth time hearing it it gets a bit much, and these unemployed layabouts she sings of, who cares about them and their day? There are people out there writing songs that mean something and this is not one.
Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl (1967)
Fucking wanker, that is all.
KT Tunstall – Black Horse And The Cherry Tree (2005)
I nearly left this one out but its a good example of development going round in circles. Fair play to her for playing all those instruments but she should get someone else to write for her. It sounds like an advertisement for a compilation of songs based around blues riffs. If the words yes
are repeated any more than three times in succession its a bad song. If it was a roof it would leak.
Macy Gray – I Try (1999)
Boooooooring, I could listen to it nine hundred and ninety nine times.
Tasmin Archer – Sleeping Satellite (1992)
No too bad but very boring, a music industry plant if ever I saw one, what happened to her? I presume she got paid and she went home, still gets played plenty, more so in the winter for some reason.
The Cardigans – My Favourite Game (1998)
These people are robots and have no souls.
None of this shit moves anybody, or inspires anybody. It doesn’t innovate and its all incredibly good at getting stuck in people’s heads and when one is stuck in mine I get very annoyed, hence this rant. The lines often run seamlessly into eachother, I don’t know if its design or coincidence but I’m sure its a bad thing in most cases.
If anybody knows any more good ones I’ll be happy to include them, I was only compiling for a week in only one location and this is in no way the extent of the issue.
Put the “music” I have listed above up against real artists like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Pink Floyd, Aphex Twin, Queen, The Prodigy, James Brown or Coldcut. What’s good music now? What to do if you like a lot of the “music” I have listed above
Don’t panic, there’s nothing wrong with you, you’re just not that
Why do people appear to like “music?” My theory is the tv tells them to. Most “music” sells on the virtues of a flashy video, the “music” itself is loaded with hooks but its the overall aesthetic that seems to be tasted and digested by whoever the fuck is consuming it. Noise + marketing = “music.”
You don’t listen to Kate Perry, you listen to a corporation whose public face is Kate Perry. Wake up.