I've hammered on Seattle-area radio for being lame before, but listening on a dull Saturday night at work this past weekend made me wonder if it isn't time to renew the attack.
You'd think in a market with three million potential listeners there'd be something for everyone, but....
During two hours of listening Saturday evening (when you'd think local stations would be playing their A-list stuff) and another hour on Sunday, half a dozen non-scientifically selected Seattle stations played an appalling list of hackwork, some of which -- if I ever become Donald Trump -- will Never Be Played On Radio Again, by Executive Order.
There WAS some good stuff, which will be marked by a * below. But even the good songs were selections you've heard 10 million times before. What does this say about most of the public, if the music they apparently want to hear is such thin garbage?
The entire sorry list follows. Join with me in gasps of horror.
Michael Jackson -- *Beat It (twice), Billie Jean (twice), Man in the Mirror, The Way You Make Me Feel (twice), Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough, Bad, Smooth Criminal. MJ gets more air-time now than he did when he was alive.
Wham! -- Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. (Can't wait for the George Michael Nostalgia Revival....)
Madonna -- Material Girl (twice), Into the Groove, Like a Prayer (last couple minutes are pretty great).
Dire Straits -- Sultans of Swing, Money for Nothing.
Journey -- Separate Ways, *Lights, Don't Stop Believin', Open Arms, Patiently.
AC/DC -- You Shook Me All Night Long, *Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.
Van Halen -- You Really Got Me, Jamie's Cryin', Jump (I used to almost like this, once).
Guns 'N' Roses -- Welcome to the Jungle.
Frankie Goes to Hollywood -- Relax.
Rod Stewart -- Forever Young.
Eric Clapton -- *Bell Bottom Blues.
Billy Idol -- Rebel Yell, Dancing With Myself (twice).
Jimi Hendrix -- *All Along the Watchtower.
Pink Floyd -- Money, Another Brick in the Wall Part 2.
Goo Goo Dolls -- *Iris.
Toni Basil -- Mickey.
John Cougar Mellencamp -- Jack and Diane (twice).
Led Zeppelin -- Whole Lotta Love (great comedy), *Stairway to Heaven. (Still love the guitar meltdown at the end.)
No Doubt -- It's My Life.
Tom Petty -- I Won't Back Down.
Metallica -- *Nothing Else Matters (twice).
Eddie Money -- Take Me Home Tonight. Ronnie Spector's great, but....
Chicago -- You're the Inspiration.
Prince -- *1999 (twice).
Bangles -- *Manic Monday.
Stevie Nicks -- Leather and Lace.
Steve Miller -- Rock 'n' Me, Take the Money and Run.
Billy Joel -- Uptown Girl, It's Still Rock and Roll to Me.
Talking Heads -- Once in a Lifetime.
Queen with David Bowie -- *Under Pressure (twice).
Grateful Dead -- Touch of Gray. Still not sure how much I like this one....
Modern English -- *I Melt With You. This is a bigger hit now than it was in 1983....
Police -- Every Breath You Take (twice).
Aerosmith -- *Dude Looks Like a Lady (twice).
Loverboy -- Working for the Weekend.
Queen -- Another One Bites the Dust, Bohemian Rhapsody (for me, this was pretty much dead by 1977).
Kenny Loggins -- Danger Zone, Footloose.
War -- Why Can't We be Friends? (I admit this is more charming now than it was back in the day....)
Toto -- *Africa.
Soundgarden -- Black Hole Sun (twice within 15 minutes).
Phil Collins -- In the Air Tonight (this is a bigger hit now than it was in 1981).
Madness -- *Our House.
The Who -- *Won't Get Fooled Again, *Bargain, *Love Reign O'er Me, *Baba O'Riley.
Mr. Mister -- Broken Wings.
Steve Winwood -- Higher Love.
Pat Benatar -- Hit Me With Your Best Shot (twice).
Rush -- The Spirit of Radio, *Freewill.
Whitney Houston -- I Want to Dance With Somebody. (For me, the best thing she ever did.)
Sheryl Crow -- *Every Day is a Winding Road.
David Bowie -- Let's Dance, *Space Oddity.
Tracy Chapman -- Fast Car (twice).
Foreigner -- I Want to Know What Love Is.
REO -- Can't Fight This Feeling (twice).
A-Ha -- Take on Me (three times).
Adele -- Rolling in the Deep.
Hall and Oates -- Maneater, Sara Smile.
Soft Cell -- Tainted Love.
ZZ Top -- Sharp Dressed Man.
REM -- Losing My Religion.
Rick Springfield -- Jessie's Girl.
Should note that this wasn't a "scientific" study. I tuned-in one station aimed at 13-to-30-year-olds, one alleged "oldies" station (KJR FM, who were great when I was 12 years old and whose limited, repetitive playlist REALLY sucks now), "Seattle's only classic-rock station," two others aimed at adults, and one of those "We play what we want" stations. And the playlists weren't that different. Clearly.
Even counting the good stuff, I think what this list shows is that we as listeners are suckers for gloppy love songs, gimmicky/catchy/stupid stuff, and loud guitars that mean nothing. Oh, and repetition.
It could have been worse. There's no Eagles here, no "Smoke on the Water," no "Sweet Home Alabama," no "Hotel California." But "Stairway" still snuck in there. It wouldn't have been the weekend without "Stairway."
If this is what radio stations and advertisers think we want to hear so we won't change channels, we should demand better. It's sad that we settle for so little variety.
If radio stations could play one NEW song not on their playlist -- or one overlooked classic -- EACH DAY, radio would be so much better. And we as listeners would be happier. We might even hear something new that we liked....