I.R.S. #4 - LAST CHANCE TO FILE!
The battle of the shoulda-beens is down to the final weeks. Hz So Good’s 4th annual I.R.S. (as in, It Really Shoulda been a Top 10 hit) wants to give you “tax relief” this season. That's why filing your return with us is a lot easier. Here's all you do:
(1) Hit "Compose" on your email.
(2) In rank order, best first, list as many (well, less than 100) - or as few - songs (title AND artist) as you like, that you feel shoulda been Top 10 in the U.S. (you don't have to check if they were, leave that to us). Songs don't have to have ever charted or been released as singles. If you've done this before, you can list the same or different songs, it's up to you.
(3) Hit "Send."
(4) Do the above BEFORE MARCH 31st.
A few filers will receive "refunds" courtesy of www.radiologoland.com and us: we're throwing in some CDs, and, thanks to Randy Price, a CD set of this year's I.R.S. Top 104.
You can see the Top 104 count down in the next Hz, out just before that other I.R.S. deadlines, and hear it in 2 parts: starting, yes, April 15th, on Bob Radil's Friday Night 60s-70s show, 6-10pm ET on www.rewoundradio.com, and finishing the 16th on my Saturday show, The Rest of the Week with Rich Appel, 6am-1pm ET on http://www.wrnjradio.com/streaming.php.
Our preparers are standing by.
a division of
Hz S Gd
“Fighting to stay free” #152...March 2011
And now, ladies and gentlemen…
…our feature presentation.
HOW WILL OUR KIDS LEARN ABOUT MUSIC?
For most of us, growing up has been marked by one technology naturally replacing another. Each time that happened, the benefits of the replaced technology remained intact. With cable television, you could still watch broadcast channels 2-83; with a touch-tone phone, you could still call the same friends and loved ones.
Some would say that what music-driven radio is moving towards – and what could replace it - follows the same path. But there's a crucial difference: music.
Radio may not own the product which takes up much of its airtime, but it has, for over a century, been, for most listeners, its chief curator. The reams of research saying that people learn about music – and specifically about the music they buy – because of radio would reach from here to whatever planet Tom “Big Daddy” Donahue is on now.
You may ask, what makes radio different from television, and music different from TV shows or movies? After all, there is a finite number of TV programs, just as there is a finite number of songs (although it doesn't seem that way, especially if you're able to challenge the limits of an iPod Classic). One difference is that even with hundreds of channels available, the number of shows you NEED to watch in order to learn the history of the medium IS finite. You can be a fan of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but if the only episode you see is “Chuckles Bites the Dust,” you've still got the general gist of the show. If the only Elvis Presley song you ever hear is “Hound Dog,” I'm sorry, but you still don't know Elvis. The TV ratings game decrees that a show can't change much from week to week, but a recording act who's a true “artist” can paint with different colors each time out.
Then there's the other difference: the emotional bond we have with music. When do you think the last time was someone called a TV station or network to tell whoever answers the phone how great tonight's episode of 30 Rock was? Ok, I know that could happen, I'm exaggerating a little. But you have to admit, it's more likely to occur after that place a certain 3-4 minute audio-only experience takes you. That's not just because watching a TV show or movie requires greater commitment. I've seen folks get excited about one TV show, sometimes one particular scene in a show. I can watch George Costanza's pants-down fall-down in “The Boyfriend” ep of Seinfeld (“Vandalay!”) a hundred times and laugh as hard every time, but it doesn't hit me in the same way as the 500th play of Gerry & the Pacemakers' “Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying.” And have you noticed that in certain books about music, it could take you longer to read a passage about a song than it would to listen to that song? That says something.
Up to now, in the relatively short history of recorded music, every generation has hungered to learn about music, especially contemporary music. And up to now, every generation has learned about music from radio. Not just because radio played songs, but because these songs have been arranged as if listeners were visiting a music museum, and because there were tour guides, experts in music, who told us what was important and what was good. And the thing about emotional bonds? They're like cooties: if you have an emotional bond with something, chances are you'll develop an emotional bond with everything associated with that something. As in the stations/museums and the tour guides.
The Kinks' 1981 song “Around the Dial” best describes the feeling of suddenly not hearing a favorite radio DJ who had acted as a gatekeeper for contemporary music, a musical tour guide, an educator. The closer reality for most of us is that all the stations and jocks we listened to taken together was our music education. It was like a cryptic college, we were able to piece together music history from what we heard. Even though it was all just reels, the automated FM oldies outlets of the 1970s served a purpose for even the most passive listener. That was from 1962? That was Bobby Darin singing “If I Were a Carpenter”? Who knew? When I was 17 and began to spend days in the city library doing chart research for the years before 1964, I was amazed at how much I already knew. Thanks radio.
Let's not forget how things we took for granted, like the weekly local countdown, taught us about music. Even before Casey Kasem figured out how to do it better, the countdown was already a weekly education, a crash course in pop music right now. In August of 1964, during a period when I didn't have a radio in my bedroom, I recall finding a transistor radio just in time for WBZ's Sunday countdown and then spending the next 3½ hours turning the radio on and off between songs so as not to use up the battery. I was a better kid, because now I was up to date on music again. But even when the countdowns weren't on, the best Top 40 DJs could still tell you more about every song – and every oldie/flashback/gold – than just title and artist.
Alright, enough about radio. (I know what you're saying, you can never have enough about radio.) There were also these things called record stores, and they employed people who – get this – knew about music. Yes, a human being could actually educate another human being, live and in person, about music he/she might want to buy. What a concept.
In all fairness, record stores with savvy help still do exist, but they are – like on-air 'educators' - an endangered species.
All this suggests that the “new radio” - mostly jockless Internet streamers, or people-powered passives like Pandora – and “new record stores” (iTunes, Amazon) aren't concerned with being teachers, historians or archivists, and that this and future generations are destined to be lost in the wilderness without any sort of definitive time capsule or current music guru. Even if that's true, here's a scary thought: this and future generations might not care about learning the history of music or having an online go-to person telling them what's new, important and/or good. But, Rich, you may ask, what about all that 'emotional bond' stuff? Well, um, I'm not sure how to say this, but, I'm not sure kids feel as strongly about music as you and I did, and still do. Two, maybe three, reasons for this:
1. Kids are too busy, especially online. When we listened to music radio, it wasn't competing with anything else. At 17, the only thing we wanted from radio was music, and as much music as it could give us. So for us, the radio did one thing. For kids today, the major source of music, the computer, does a lot more than one thing, and the other things are pretty demanding and maybe even more fun (Facebook, games).
2. Most real bonds aren't as emotional, either. The way we liked songs was the way we liked our friends: good. Then again, we didn't have instant access to 10,000 songs, or to any living person we ever knew. It's been said that the aforementioned Facebook has redefined “friend” in such a way that friendships are, in general, more tenuous, and therefore having a close-knit group of friends is less important. Likewise, when it's easier to jump from song to song online (I see my kids doing it, so I know) or on an iPod, it's also easier to 'have' more songs but less heart-tugging favorites.
3. Music itself 'may be' regarded as more disposable and replaceable. I say “maybe” because I have nothing to back that up. It just feels that way. Once upon a time, if you didn't have friends, you didn't have music for a party: only if everyone brought what they had would you have every key hit of the day represented, because no one person could afford to buy every song. Arguably, that added value to every record you did own. Today, not an issue: kids expect to have every key song, whether or not they really like them. It's more about tonnage, having as much as you can, where either the good and bad will get sorted out over time, or nothing will rise to the top. And another thing: we had to take care of our music, keep the sleeves, keep the vinyl from scratching or warping. Music aside, the covers were great to look at, there were booklets to read, printed lyrics to peruse, posters to put up. Today they're just files, and they're – gulp – erasable. I know, so were cassettes and reels, but who dared?
When it's said and done, the reality probably isn't as extreme as the above. A lot of people will continue to love music and want to know (and hear) as much of its history as possible. But I ask again, who's going to bring it to them? Some colleges already have 'history of pop/rock' courses (and I hope more do, because I'd love to teach one), but how many semesters worth do you have to take before you've mastered every decade, era and sub-genre? And is the classroom the most appropriate place to learn about music? Can we move class to a seedy bar with a humongous jukebox? Can we make kids buy radios instead of textbooks?
Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle, as in a 'history of popular music' that streams, so you can wake Bill Drake when you're ready for another installment (understand that I'm referring to the at-one-time-Drake-hosted History of Rock & Roll 50+-hour radio rockumentary, not to Bill himself, who has of course passed on). Or a move to make Tuesday 'new music day' on sites beyond iTunes and beyond just tagging the new releases, maybe by offering a free webcast of the week's new songs, so everyone knows what's out there.
While any of the above are likely to be future educators, let me stress that I'm not a fan of that middle. There's still nothing better than a live personality telling it like it is – or telling you what he or she thinks - about the music that was, is or will be.
The Other NFL
Doris Day would win...bikini down. Doris Kappelhoff from Cincy was known as a virginal type. Some of us knew better.
Your diva rundown is outstanding.
I wish, REALLY I wish that when they have a rock or pop star sing the national anthem that they wouldn't beat it to death. Granted, it's a bitch to sing and BORING, but why do they have to say, "Listen to all the notes I can put into it." It's like Mariah Carey singing... well...ANYTHING. Best anthems ever were Whitney Houston, whose arrangement was all in 4/4 time, in 1992, and Leann Rimes, singing a capella, about 1999. Everyone else SUCKS.
Frank Kingston Smith
Amazing, too, Frank, how Whitney's has become the modern standard, having sold a few million on its own. Back when I worked at the station that signed off, I closed with Whitney's 'SSB' several times.
And the hits!
MORE I.R.S. A few of you have sent actual songs, quite cool but of course not necessary. And some have sent lists of songs in chronological, chart peak or title-or-artist alpha, as opposed to ranking them. While it's fine to not send a ranked list, understand that in those cases, all songs listed will then be worth the same amount of points.
But the most important thing to remember about the I.R.S. top 104 filing is, don't think you can't send a list if you don't know what songs were or weren't Top 10 hits. Just send 'em all and we'll sort that out. Like that other I.R.S., it's that you file which is most important to us.
And if you'd like to look at the first 3 I.R.S. top 104s, each is here:
FAKE I.D. You know what drives me crazy, especially in this day and age? Jingles that identify the air personality, followed by a song with no talk-up. I imagine stations do this to let us know that they're indeed live, or to give listeners a reason to stay tuned and hear what their perhaps-favorite DJ has to say, whenever he or she gets to talk.
Seems to me having the jock talk right after the jingle telling us who he/she is is the logical thing to do. Especially when you might want to fight no-talk with talk in an our-app-or-theirs competitive environment. Then again, I'm a big believer in having talent talk up every song after every jingle coming out of every break. Look, I just sat through 5 commercials, the least you can do is say something witty over the intro of a song I've already heard 60 times.
ROCKY FELLER SKANK Correct me if I'm wrong, but does the Broadway-bound musical Baby It's You - about Scepter Records' Florence Greenberg and the label's early '60s hitmakers The Shirelles, Chuck Jackson, Dionne Warwick, The Kingsmen, Maxine Brown and the Isley Brothers – leave out Filipino family act The Rocky Fellers, who scored a hit on Scepter in 1963 with “Killer Joe” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kFtLthQfrs)? Alright, they were a 2-hit wonder, nor did they fit the R&B profile of most of Scepter's successful acts, but I gotta show some love for my favorite single ever on the label. I'll bet their story might by itself make a neat musical. You can see the boys in action on The Jack Benny Show six months before “Killer” here(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvixxs_wEpU).
420 MINUTES Or 7 hours, or 29% of the day. Or, The Rest of the Week, if you will. Saturdays 6am-1pm ET, coming into your home in God-intended mono via http://www.wrnjradio.com/streaming.php. Do yourself (and mostly me) a favor and...