By dean


"Where I'm from, the birds sing a pretty song. And there is always music in the air."

-- The Little Man From Another Place,

Ummm, yes. Fine. But was our favourite little man talking about Heaven or hell.

I remember a few years ago, SUEDE's Brett Anderson quickly remarked how sometimes he would stop, in awe, that there was actually a medium out there like radio. That it is undeniably amazing that one could simply click a little knob inside a car or push a button on some box in your home and...golly, music would come out. You had the power, you had the control, and it was all well and wondrous. Which might be stretching it. But come on. Really. Don't you think radio is indeed a piece of magic that makes even die-hard technophobes feel just a little bit better? I mean, music exists out there even if one chooses not to listen to it and this is actually (when you stop to think about it) a comforting fact. After all, sounds are constantly being bounced around and transmitted up and down the world and you can only hear it if you -- yes -- turn them on. Music, literally, is floating in the air.

Uh oh. But here comes the catch (any seafood jokes will result in a twat). Much like having a wonderful bowel movement but realizing you're out of toilet paper, I think it's clear that amidst all this optimism there lurks a sinister plot. You see, Brett fails to mention the less beautiful side to radio: it's actually...very, very, very, very, very, very, very bad.

How bad? It's like shaving your rear end with a salt-encrusted cheese grater while thinking to yourself, "Hey, that ORGY song ain't half bad." No good and never any good. And you want to know why (come on, you know why)? This. This. This. This. This. That. But mostly This. And This.

It's repetition. Lord help us all and all that we hold sacred: it's repetition. Radio just might ("might," mind you) be able to get close to its remarkable potential if just once in awhile it refused to play the same song 343.8 (gotta count promos, of course) times per day. Radio with repetition is evil because anything with repetition is evil. C.S. Lewis knew it, Picasso knew it, Stephen King knew it...heck, even OASIS knew it after Be Here Now (and if that's not a clinching argument, I'll go pants my "Mad Fer It!" T-shirt strutting kitty). Radio only exists so it can pound familiarity into your skull.

And the logic behind it? Well, "studies" show that people tend to tune in to radio stations more frequently if they recognize the songs they hear. Which is fine. No, really. But if the average listener is about as quick and aware as Sean Penn's character in Fast Times At Ridgemont High, what good does this do? We end up not only 1.) hearing the same brain-squishing ten songs every hour but 2.) hear the same brain-squishing two genres that the stations like to play. Like that oh-so-witty SUGAR RAY single? Don't worry, keep the radio on and you'll hear it about as much as you exhale by the time the day is done. But you want to hear a new single from a brand new band from time to time? Fine, but it'll still sound like SUGAR RAY. Drat. You see, something can only be "new" if it actually sounds old. But that's a whole rant altogether (oh, Lord).

Luckily, we shouldn't off ourselves just yet. There's still one simple and obvious solution that even a fertilized egg can do: ignore the bastards. In these days of RealAudio, MP3's, Internet-connected fanbases, and constantly-improving postal speeds of this Great Nation Of Ours That Likes To Scare Us With One Cent Stamp Increases, just why does one even have the remotest urge to turn on the radio? Any song you enjoy, you should own already. If you get a kick out of waiting amidst 3 hours of witless Alterna-shit in order to hear "that great new BLUR song," something is wrong with you. Go buy the fucking single. Tape it off someone. Download an MP3. Something. At the very worst, even get a copy off of the radio and never, ever listen to the station again. Because listen: radio stations have about as much respect for you as a serial rapist has for genital herpes. Don't play their game. Don't think of yourself so lowly. Let the bastards die.

Don't you see? Listening to the horrors of everyday radio only encourages them. And I don't care if I'm beating a deceased Mr. Ed. Thinking, "If radio is more diverse now, with even 2 or 3 'Alternative' stations out there in one city, that's gotta be nice" is wrong (it's the old cliché, but it doesn't matter how many different stations are out there, they all play the same 10-song, label-enforced rotation...come to think of it, that's not really a cliché -- but it should be). And thinking, "Well, gee, if one song out of 40 is decent, then radio has to be worth it" is a clear crime in itself. Treat the not-nice-men like they treat you. Don't let 'em force-feed bad music and frustrated feelings just so you can enjoy three minutes out of your day. Get around them and flick your middle finger at them forever.

Radio used to be adventurous and dangerous. Radio -- like its popularizing genre -- was the real rock 'n roll. Sadly, it's forgotten its purpose for years now. The revolution is gone. The danger is dead. The only thing left "subverted," is tricking the average listener into believing that they're actually grasping onto something new or eclectic. The good news is that we have no idea how long these AM or FM stations will last anyway. New technology has been creeping up on all mediums -- digital or not -- so how long does a 100+ year-old medium like radio last? Dunno. Something's gotta change, though. Something will change. But unlike a lot of other innovations out there, it can't be fast enough.

So it all goes back to the beginning. Brett thinks radio is "magic?" Could be. Forgetting all that's wrong with the disgusting medium, how many members of this human race could have predicted that we would have reached such a place in technological history? I'm sure Ogol, the neanderthal busy humping the local flora, was a bit too preoccupied to even fathom such an event as "floating" music. But Ogol was also lucky. He didn't have to put up with four songs each day for months on end. He didn't have to have his head mashed in with the same melodies and styles and tunes and sound-bites. He didn't have to hear another NEW ORDER cover. At least the only repetitive rhythm he ever heard was his own grunting.

Which is why radio should be clear-cut, uprooted, and napalmed off the planet. The potential to be incredible is there, I'll give Brett that. Unfortunately, there's only so much one sane person can take. And take. And take. And take.

Hrumph. Let me put it for the Sean Penn characters out there: music is always floating in the air...but it's not actually good music.