Friday, September 15, 2006

Pop music: good and bad

In a sidebar conversation at the Felberpalooza (OK, in dee's room as she treated Ann and me to her Limoncello, since we found ourselves in an apparently "dry" part of Pennsylvania on a Sunday night, where not only the bars were closed but the pizza places didn't even sell beer!) I presented one of my pet Crackpot Theories: the generally insipid quality of the music playing on commercial radio is part of a Massive Right-Wing Conspiracy to steer radio listeners (especially morning commuters) away from stations that play music and towards stations that feature right-wing call-in shows. Ann objected to this on the grounds that not all pop music sucks, a point I had to allow.

On my morning commute I can pick up about a dozen radio stations, half of them clearly and consistently, some of them on multiple positions on the dial. On the extreme ends of the dial are my local NPR affiliate - which, after "Morning Edition" ends at 9:00 AM and the local and national news wraps up by 9:10 AM, plays classical music for the rest of the morning, interrupted by "The 90 Second Naturalist" at 9:13 AM and "Pulse of the Planet" at 9:40 - and at the other is the top-rated "Classic Rock" station, Rock 107, which I listen to solely for the morning team of Daniels and Webster (Webster's blog is eventually going to show up on my list of "Blog Links", I swear!), since I cannot stand the overplayed "classic rock hits" that are in perpetual rotation there ("Scenes from an Italian Restaurant", anyone?) In between are several college stations of ever-changing quality, two pop stations, an "Alternative Rock" station that plays an inordinate amount of Metallica and Guns'N'Roses, several country stations, about one-and-a-half Christian stations, and several robo-stations that are fed their programming by satellite.

Most mornings I rotate between the DJs on 107, the programs on NPR, the Alternative station (when they're not playing crap or polluting the air with unending blather from their waanabe-so-cool DJs), and the two pop stations. I can just about tolerate some of the pop that's out these days, especially the stuff that has a good beat and you can dance to. Some of it is so insipid I find myself scanning the dial for the country remake of "Life Is A Highway" or pretty much anything else.

Still, even vapid, ephemeral pop songs have their value. Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" taught everyone how to spell a fairly difficult word through the repeated line "This s**t is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S." And then there's...ummm...OK, that's the only example I can think of at the moment. (Iron Maiden's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" actually got some metalheads to pay attention for at least part of their English Literature classes, but that's metal, not pop, and that was more than 20 years ago!)

But on the other hand, Fergie (from the Black Eyed Peas) has, with her song "London Bridge", committed a serious crime that will haunt many, many children as they grow up to be tourists. It isn't the song per se that's the problem, it's the video. Actually, it's the bridge featured in the video.

It isn't London Bridge.

It's the Tower Bridge. It's a common enough error, one that was possibly made by the folks who bought London Bridge and trasported it to Arizona decades ago, only to realize (according to legend) that what they had bought wasn't what they thought they had bought. But Fergie had an opportunity to set many folks straight when it comes to bridges on the River Thames, and she blew it. Oh, well.

I wonder if the right-wing call-in show hosts will have anything to say about that.

1 comment:

rimalicious said...

sorry about yesterday, lost my connection and was too exhausted to mess with it