Since I used to work in radio, and I still love music, I'm often asked about what would make radio better. I have lots of opinions on that (including, you know, me getting a job on the radio again, but I digress), but for now, let's focus on the music itself. The number one complaint I always got when I was on the air was the repetition. WHY do radio stations play the same songs over and over, until they're basically embedded into your genetic code? It's because that's what radio programmers think the audience wants. And, false! Hiring great personalities who know what they're talking about helps too, but we can only expect so much from our radio stations nowadays, yeah? Herewith, a list of the ten songs that make me want to rip the ears clean off of my head whenever I hear them. Eradicate these earwigs from the airwaves forever, and radio will automatically improve ever so slightly.
(DISCLAIMER: there will be no hating on Nickelback, Bieber, etc. While clearly those 'artists' deserve plenty of vitriol, they're also such easy targets. I'm earning my place here on the Huff Post!)
1. "Hotel California", the Eagles. Is there a more reviled song in the history of music? Clearly, there are people who love the Eagles. And who are these a-holes? Why do they keep insisting that the Eagles reunite and go on tour? Why do people pay to see them? I will never, ever understand the appeal of this band. Yet, this song won't go away. Who still calls up classic rock radio stations and requests this outdated, meandering, lame piece of crap? Does anyone hear those opening notes and go, "WHOOO-WEEE! Turn it up!!!" If you are such a person, stop reading this blog right now and get some serious music therapy. I'm sure that while you're standing in line to get into Hell, "Hotel California" is the song they play over the loudspeakers. And then once you're inside the gates, they turn the sound WAY up.
2. "Under the Bridge"/"Soul to Squeeze", Red Hot Chili Peppers. The bane of every modern rock radio station. "UtB" was a huge hit in 1991 and is played pretty much every damn day on the radio here in the Portland area. It's not that it's a BAD song... far from it. But because I have personally heard this song more than 800 kabillion times since its release, I have a gut reaction from the first note. Once I hear it, I immediately make it stop. Same thing with "Soul"... I just can't. It's been played into the ground. Please, no more.
3. "Stairway to Heaven", Led Zeppelin. Do I even need to explain this one? It has to be the most overplayed song in the history of radio. It closed every grade school dance when I was a kid. You awkwardly held on to each other's shoulders and rocked back and forth, maybe occasionally turning, and wishing like hell this song would be OVER ALREADY. Everyone who works at a Guitar Center hates this song, because they probably hear the opening riff 4,000 times a day. Zep just needs to be retired from all radio. We've heard it all, they're not making any new music, and they just strike me as one of those bands that if you genuinely WANT to listen to them, you're going to put on their CD in your car. Radio doesn't need to play them anymore.
4. The Entire Grateful Dead catalog. I feel no need to dive deep into this one.
5. "What's Up?" 4 Non Blondes. Terrible band name, bloody awful song. Linda Perry is a talented songwriter, but this is, without question, the worst song of the 1990s. Astonishingly, it was a huge hit that continues to be played on the radio, and it's also a fave at the karaoke bars. It goes on forever, and it's only made worse by watching the god-awful video. One benefit of being laid off is that I don't have to play that ever again. Which reminds me, I'll also never have to play...
6. Any Song Ever Released by Sublime. Everyone who knows me is well aware of my contempt for Sublime. This is another one that just eludes me: I will never, ever, understand the success they've had. With songs about date rape, underage prostitution, and rampant weed smoking, this group of misogynists targeted the white frat boy crowd back in 1992, and those boys still remain loyal. I worked in alternative radio in 1993 on the East Coast, and we not only didn't play them, I don't think I even heard of them until I moved out here in 2001. I was always baffled when anyone requested them, but especially when the callers were women. The music, as it were, is terrible, and I will go out on a limb and say they wouldn't have this sort of following if Bradley Nowell hadn't been a dumbshit and OD'd on heroin. They have a song about a girl giving a guy a handjob. All the 13 year old boys out there can have a giggle over it, but it doesn't belong on the radio.
7. "Margaritaville", Jimmy Buffett. Another one that needs no 'splainin.
8. "Smells Like Teen Spirit", Nirvana. Thanks for knocking all the crap off of radio back in the early 90s, guys. Thanks for some great music and stuff. But we can retire this song until the generations behind us start asking, "What were some good bands back in the olden days, when people still listened to the radio?"
9. "We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions", Queen. I love love LUH-HUH-HUH-OVE Queen, okay? But time for this dual single to go bye-bye from the radio and just let people hear it in stadiums, okay? Because driving alone in your car is not the time for fist-pumping, foot-stomping action.
10. "Black," Pearl Jam. Back in the early 90s, someone at some radio station thought they'd be a maverick and play an album track from Pearl Jam's blockbuster debut, Ten. How daring to not play the single the record company demanded! It was revolutionary! Pearl Jam fans pissed their ripped jeans when they heard "Black" on the radio. But oh man, it is NOT one of their best songs, no matter what anyone tells you. It's long. It's repetitive. It's whiny, and at times, unmelodic. Come on, PJ has tons of other songs that are so much better than this one. I'd like to know why radio stations aren't playing anything from their most recent release anymore and are going back to the 90s Pearl Jam stuff. I'd argue that "World Wide Suicide" is better suited for today's radio than the same old stuff we've been hearing for 15 years.
So there you have it. I'm not suggesting something so radical as, say, creating a radio station with great local personalities and a diverse and eclectic playlist or anything. I mean, let's not get too crazy here.