Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Change of Pace

I’ve started the commute to work again and that means listening to the radio. I have a CD player but I tend to listen to the radio because they also have traffic reports. And I’m reminded in my travels of a rant that I’ve shared with the seagulls and the lake on occasion. That is, why do they have to play the same songs over and over and over? Many of them bad songs, of course. To explain, I only get three radio channels, and a fourth one when I’m in range in the evening going home, that I’ll listen to. One is classic rock, one new rock, and the other oldies. I’ll listen to the oldies when the other two channels have nothing but talk talk talk on, which is far too often. But even when the rock stations are playing music they tend to play only the standards.

Now, I like a lot of the standards. Love “Stairway to Heaven,” “Radar Love,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” and many more. But there are plenty of other good songs that never get played: "Space Lord" by Monster Magnet. "Suicide Messiah" by Black Label Society. Etc. And, lets face it, there are some commonly played rock tunes that just frankly suck. They sucked the first time I heard them, and they certainly haven’t aged like fine mead. So, without further ado, here is my top twelve list of “rock” songs that I wish every radio station would lose from their catalogue.

12. “Home Sweet Home” by Motley Crue. I really like a lot of Motley’s songs. Their second album is especially good. But this song nearly made me stop buying Crue CDs forever. I eventually recovered and continued to pick up new Crue releases. But this tune is a wound I’ll never get completely over.

11. “Pour some Sugar on Me” by Def Lepperd. The Lepp had some good music back in the day, but this is simply godawful. It should be titled pour some “saccharine” on me, then shoot me in the head with a large caliber handgun before the bees sting the hell out of me because they feel gypped.

10. “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas. Kansas could play some pretty decent mellow songs, like “Cheyenne Anthem.” This isn’t one of them. And although it was OK the first couple of times I heard it, it really wears on one, sort of like how dust in the wind erodes the hardest rock. I’m worn down already.

9. “Mr. Roboto” by Styx. You know how I said I almost stopped buying Motley Crue albums after “Home Sweet Home?” Well, I did stop buying Styx albums after “Mr. Roboto.”

8. “The Other Side,” by Aerosmith. From it’s limp wristed opening to the insane babbling at the end, this one sucks all the way through. I’d rather listen to white noise. In fact, I have listened to white noise when this was all that was on.

7. “November Rain” by Guns & Roses. I’ve never made it all the way through this song. Not once. Maybe it gets really, really good at the end. But I doubt it. I’m not willing to suffer through the first part to find out.

6. “Nevermind” by Nirvana. Sorry grunge fans, but Nirvana hadn’t the faintest idea how to rock. Except for “Smells like Teen Spirit.” “Nevermind” is a freaking lullaby. I could sleep to it probably, if it didn’t make me feel faintly nauseated. You know, kind of like somebody soaked my pacifier in Scotch.

5. “The Lemon Song” by Led Zepplin. Is it really necessary to hear about the “juice” running down Robert Plant’s leg four times a day? I cry enuff’s enuff.

4. “We are the Champions” by Queen. How can you follow one of the hardest rocking pieces in rock and roll, and by that I mean “We Will Rock You,” with one of the all time lamest pieces of drivel? It’s blasphemous is what it is. And there isn’t even a decent break between the two. I try to catch the exact moment of the change so I can press a button to flee the station, but I sometimes fail and the first fragment of “Champions” bleeds through and nearly convulses me. Please, radio stations, stop while you’re “rocking me.”

3. Anything by Poison, but especially, please, I’m begging you, never, ever play “Every F*$@#*& Rose has its Thorn” again. I mean, I’m gagging on my own bile here. And that’s because I’ve already emptied everything else in my stomach.

2. “Beth” by Kiss. I was never a big fan of Kiss. I remember that it was not long after I’d discovered rock music that I was gleefully listening to the radio when “Beth” came on. What’s this, I thought? Isn’t this pretty weak? But, knowing that some rock songs start out slow and then burst into explosive acoustics, I listened to the song all the way through. I still shudder to think of that experience. Makes me wish I was better at repressing memories. I believe this is where I first used the term “wimp shit.” I have reused that term a lot, though, so the incidents kind of run together.

1. “Black Hole Sun,” by Soundgarden. Not only is this one of the lamest songs ever, but they play it on both the classic rock station and the new rock station. A double dose of agony, although as soon as I hear the first strains of this--I hesitate to call it music--I’m punching radio buttons. ANY radio button.

So there you have it, my 12 songs of shame. I can’t imagine anyone would disagree. ;) But if you want to argue, have at it.



Paul R. McNamee said...

I won't argue, but I like "Black Hole Sun". They don't play it to death around here.

Then again, maybe they do. I barely listen to radio.

"Dust in the Wind" surprisingly doesn't get played to death around here, though the others you mentioned certainly do.

I always thought "Pour Some Sugar on Me" was insipid.

"The Other Side". Yeah, I stopped buying Aerosmith albums after 'Permanent Vacation' (and even that had some stinkers.) I can't believe how Tyler raves about having help from outside songwriters. Yeah, they made hits and money, but the lyrics were crap. "Angel" - "You're the reason I live, you're the reason I die" - are you kidding me?

When they finally got their heads screwed on, I bought 'Honkin' on Bobo.'

And btw: Steven Tyler, I don't wanna hear about your lemon anymore, either!

Travis Erwin said...

I have two words for you. Satellite radio. I have Sirius and it is worth every penny.

Heff said...

I agree with you on almost ALL of those choices, but "Dust In The Wind" is a classic. It's obviously just been crammed down your throat too many times. Damn radio station formatting !!

Shauna Roberts said...

I'll stand up for the Lemon Song. Robert Johnson was a blues genius. It's not the Lemon Song's fault that Robert Plant got hold of it and twisted it almost out of recognition.

Sidney said...

I kind of like he Kansas Tune and Black Hole Sun, but yeah, I could live without the others being in regular rotation anywhere.

You know, your mention of back to school reminds me that, bad as my first job was, when fall rolled around and I didn't have to go through registration or anything it felt pretty good.

Heather said...

Having graduated high school in the 90s I have to stick up for Black Hole Sun.

November rain is only popular because of the video which makes me wonder why they play it so often on the radio???

I agree though, there are many songs that get too much air time!

Lisa said...

I'm with you on most of them but I defend the Nirvana and the Soundgarden. Yep, I liked 'em. Still do. Fortunately, there's a great radio station out of Boulder that plays a great mix of new and classic rock (for what little time I actually blink my troll-like eyes and venture outside).

BernardL said...

I like Sarah Brightman singing 'Dust in the Wind'. 'We Are The Champions' is a very weird mix of stirring rock, and 'huh?'. :)

ivan said...

Agree with Lisa.

No Nirvana song sucks unless, by a strange twist of oxymoron, it is meant to.
Gotta sleep under a bridge with an old transistor radio to get the full importof
"All we are are is all we are".

And I swear on some days Soundgarden, though early grunge, was an influence for Hootie and The Blowfish and others.

It's too bad you can't get "Rock l08" out of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; you might get it on the web. They can maintain a mood, and almost anticipate yours by playing a mix of great "oldies" and the new stuff.
They introduced me to White Stripes (my leaning towards nihilism :);
And by the time "All Apologies" comes on, I really want to do something groovy, like suicide.

What did old Ari the Greek say about art? Catharsis?

Charles Gramlich said...

Paul, I heard Black Hole Sun twice today, once going to work, once coming home, and heard an interview with Chris Cornell where they played it in the background and raved about it as the best song ever. I could stand to never hear it again, my friend.

Travis Erwin, my son had that for a while and liked it, but do they have updated local traffic reports?

Heff, I heard it twice today, just not quite as many times as Black Hole Sun. That and "Carry on my Wayward Son," which I like a lot, are the only two songs by Kansas the stations here ever play.

Shauna, I would welcome the original version. Plant's whine is really starting to get on my nerves in that song. My comments are directed only at the Zepp's version.

Sidney, I don't even know what that's like not to have to go through registration. I guess when I retire.

H.E, oh goodness, you're a fan of *shudder* "Black Hole Sun"! Well it doesn't seem to have caused any permanent brain damage. ;)

Lisa, I'll never forgive Nirvana for killing off 80s rock. Course, some of it was very bad, like Poison, but at least the bands in the 80s were loud. As for Soundgarden, I loved, loved loved their first couple of albums, and they ROCKED! So when I eagerly listened to their new disk and found this slow and labored thing I just nearly died of a heart attack. I think it was that disappointment more than anything that killed it for me.

Bernardl, I don't think I've heard her version. Might be good to hear it changed up a bit. I wish they'd play Cheyenne autumn sometimes from Kansas, though.

Ivan, I'm just a simple sort of fellow. If a song sucks, whether intentional or not, I still just say it sucks. I know a lot of folks like Nirvana but I'm just not built that way. Except for Smells like Teen spirit, it just all puts me to sleep. I've slept in some bad places, but never with a transistor radio.

Erik Donald France said...

I'm 100% with you on this, dude.

Finally got an iPod to inspire workouts and am just getting into it -- some unusual finds, especially killer live versions I've never ever heard before, There are gaps in what's available still, but it definitely beats any of the the ten suck tracks you list here.

Steve Malley said...

Terrible reason for all that repetition: demographics.

People like to hear familiar music. For music to feel familiar, they need to hear it every second or third time they turn on the radio.

People (most people) listen to an average of something like thirty or forty minutes of radio a day.

When the pinheads do the math, it comes out to forty songs. You keep rotating those 40 songs, and they will be pleasantly familiar to *most* listeners. Until, of course, said listeners become sick to death. Then the playlist is updated. There's math for that crap too.

Sadly, if you listen longer than most (say, an hour commute each way), you get sick of the repetition that much quicker.

Top 40 is the balls-out worst for this, but country, rock and indie stations all do it too.

When I do drive, I have a gizmo lets the car play my iPod...

X. Dell said...

What you're hearing is the oligopolistic tendencies of the radio industries. Often, there's a lot of focus group research that goes into making shorter and shorter playlists (thus, you hear the same songs all the time).

We have some agreements and some disagreements as to what would go into our respective Halls of Shame. But "Mr. Robato" is one we can agree on.

L.A. Mitchell said...

I agree with much of this. I'm convinced DJs put on November Rain when they need some serious time in the can or want a coffee break :)

Anonymous said...

I'll pretty much go with all of those and raise you a "Money" by Pink Floyd.

The Trailer Of Love

Travis Cody said...

I'm with you. So much good stuff out there, and they just play the same stuff. That's why I refuse to listen to the radio anymore.

I just stick with my Ipod.

Charles Gramlich said...

Erik, I'm going to have to look into that. I'd like it if some of the regular songs were shaken up with some live versions.

Steve Malley, for whatever bad luck reason I also seem to catch these things exactly on the repetitive cycle. I heard Blinded by the light as I was arriving home last night, and again today as I arrived home.

X-Dell, oh man "Mr. Roboto" is the dregs.

L.A., that thought crossed my mind. I think you may be right.

Wil, there was a time here when they overplayed Money and I got pretty sick of it, but I actually have only heard it once in the past six months so I wouldn't mind hearing it again.

Travis, eventually I'll post on some songs that I'd like them to play once in a while.

the walking man said...

Personally Charles there is one good, very good, reason to be thankful for living in a border state. Canadian Radio. By law 75% of their programming has to be Canadian so much of what I hear in the car is not familiar to me.

Middle Ditch said...

I'm not arguing either.

We get radio Caroline here on the net as well as on tv and they play some real good golden oldies. It's great to just hang around or be busy with thinking up the next story line for MD and listening to songs you haven't heard for ages.


Bernita said...

There's nothing like a good impersonal hate.

writtenwyrdd said...

I actually like all of these songs, but only in moderation--say, once a week. Because of the mindless repetitiveness of radio I prefer listening to Bob & Sheri in the mornings simply because they don't repeat the same damn song I've been hearing since the 70s or 80s. And at home I do listen to the satellite 80s and classic rock stations. Those have a wide variety. (And then there's VH1.)

We only get 4 stations here, and my choice is Country, Canadian top 40, canned top 40 since the local station is no longer live, and one top 40 station that plays that crappy rap/r&b stuff that I refuse to call music. The one thing that is good is there's an 80s music night (Fridays and sometimes Saturdays on the local station. Also, on Thursdays they play local band submissions, which is cool.

As an anecdote, my mother used to own a music store before she retired a couple of years ago. You know that Wayne's World joke where it has a sign in the store saying "No Stairway to Heaven"? Well, it's true. Every kid who knows three chords will sit down and try to pick out that riff from STH.

Charles Gramlich said...

Mark, I like a lot of Canadian bands. Lana got me into them. Particularly The Tragically Hip.

Middle ditch, yes, that's one reason I'll listen to the oldies channel. Brings back memories.

Bernita, feels good indeed. Brought a smile to my face.

Writtenwyrd, I listen to modern country sometimes because so many of the older rockers graduated in that direction after the death of rock in the 90s.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Charles,

I died laughing on this one. Pour Some Sugar On Me seemed to be on constant rotation when I was a lifeguard. I hear it and want to throw on some sunscreen and yell at kids. Ha! Seriously, everything you mentioned is awful. And I LOVE Queeen, but yes, We Are The Champions is really bad. Freddy Mercury was not thinking on that day. He more than makes up for it with Big Bottomed Girls and Under Pressure. But still!

laughingwolf said...

agreed, they're all mincemeat...

Lana Gramlich said...

What...no mention of Zebra, the New Orleans band that had 2 hits in the early 80s that get played every 15 minutes in New Orleans even to this day? *projectile vomit*
Ironically I must agree that Floyd's "Money" is overplayed. Too much of their other, awesome stuff is vastly underplayed as a result. <:(

Charles Gramlich said...

Michelle, yes, I'm a big fan of almost everything by Queen. But their stinkers 'really' stink.

Lana, I must have repressed Zebra. But you're right, I'm so sick of "whose behind the door." UGH.

Laughingwolf, *high fives*

Rick said...

Hey, Charles, it was the constant repetition of the same songs over and again that got me to quit listeing to music ever. On any drive. Now I listen to audio books.

Of course, I've wound up in Montreal while driving to Toronto because I was only halfway through the book and didn't want to quit till the story was finished.

With a short commute, I listen to short stories.

The idea of listening to music while driving, unable to dance, seems such a short step up from air conditioning on a Harley.

Miladysa said...

I'd have to save November Rain... I know it's naff but I kinda like it.

Greg said...

nice post! it had me laughing the whole way through! (though i have to admit, i do like some of those songs!)

Randy Johnson said...

Not much argument here, Charles.
The Crue got lame for me after Shout At The Devil.
Def Lepperd(saw them three times live early on) have been downhill after a couple of albums.
Never was much of a Kansas fan.
Yea, I quit buying Styx after Mr Roboto(what were they thinking)also.
I stopped buying Aerosmith albums after seeing them live. Mahogany Rush, the opening act, put them to shame.
Appetite For Destruction was the only good thing done by Guns & Roses.
Nirvana wasn't much good either.
One would think Led Zeppelin could do no wrong. Right! You should listen to Robert Johnson if you never have.
We Are The Champions has become a stadium anthem for a lot of pro sports teams. Enough said.
I don't think I've ever listened to a Poison song all the way through. "Hair" bands left me cold.
Early Kiss was good. Then they sold out to the commercial sound.
I used to listen to Soundgarden before the Seattle grunge sound exploded. Call me snobbish, but I never cared for them after everyone else started listening.

It's not just rock stations that do it. I have to visit a doctor once a month that's an hour drive each way. A relative that loves country music drives me. After a half dozen trips I was ready to take a tire iron to his radio. There was one song, Shift Worker, you were guaranteed to hear at least twice, if not three times, every trip.

Stewart Sternberg (half of L.P. Styles) said...

Well Charles, this post officially marks you as a curmudgeon. Welcome to the fraternity. I'll teach you the handshake next week.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I'd remove Nirvana from your list if it weren't for them mimicking the grunge style of the Meat Puppets.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Didn't Zebra do cover tunes? I'm thinking songs of the Beatles.

Charles Gramlich said...

Vwriter, I haven't tried audio books yet though I have a friend who swears by them. I've actually got one I've been thinking of trying but haven't yet.

Miladysa, I'll forgive you. ;)

Greg Schwartz, well, you're still young yet. Wait till you hear them a few thousand times more. LOL.

Randy Johnson, I can often find one or two songs on some of the later Crue albums that I like, but there's definitely a lot of filler. Mahogany Rush. Now there's a name I haven't heard in forever. I've got a couple of their albmus but it's been years since I've listened to 'em. I'm going to see if I can find 'em on You tube.

Stewart, I'll look forward to that. I've been practicing my curmudgeony quite a lot lately.

JR, I swear they put me to sleep man. I don't know if Zebra played a lot of cover songs. They were like the only New Orleans band to ever hit the top 40. Or close to it. They are local heroes, though I never listened to 'em much. There's one song by them that they play down here allllllllllll the time. I didn't mind it at first but it really has gotten to the point of causing pain to my eardrums. Even a decent song can be ruined by overplaying.

cs harris said...

Well, I like Dust in the Wind. It always reminds me of the days after Mt. St. Helens blew, when our local radio station played it constantly while the ash blew around in the wind....I guess you had to be there.

Merisi said...

Once upon a time, in the Washington DC area, we had quite a variety of radio stations that were worthwhile listening to. To only name the classical morning shows, WGMS with Jerry Lyman at the helm and Dennis Owens doing the morning show (where art thou, Dennis?) and WETA FM 91, with the late Bill Cerri, ingenious hosts both. Cerri and Owens had voices which you would have listened to even if they read the phone book, an exquisite sense of humor and, most importantly, a profound knowledge of their music genre.

Once upon a time there was even a superb jazz station in the DC area!
Better stop, otherwise I start listing all those other stations too .... ;-)

While it is easy to make your own playlist and connect your iPod to the car loudspeakers, listening to good radio stations can widen your horizon. I learned to appreciate music I'd never found out about on my own. I still love this educational element of radio.

I must confess that I love the Diane Rehm show, and continue to listen to their webradio.

Anonymous said...

He he - You should try listening to radio in the UK. No dedicated rock stations - only insipid local radio competing for the lowest common denominator. There's no room for Zeppelin or Floyd between the Britney and Boy Zone tracks.

"Dust in the Wind" always makes me smile because it reminds me of the scene in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" where Ted uses the lyrics to impress Socrates ;-)

J. L. Krueger said...


I concur with Travis...satellite radio. We have XM, which is merging with Sirius so eventually they will be the same.

Well, you can have the traffic reports, or you can have a better variety of music. They do serve up National Socialist Radio (NPR).

"Pour Some Sugar On Me" is best served live in concert. Just listening to it isn't quite right, but it's fun to watch Def Leppard perform it even with the silly lyrics.

laughingwolf said...

'skin me five' ;) lol

Charles Gramlich said...

Candy, kind of like how down here they played "When the Levees break" all the time after Katrina.

Merisi, I do find that I like some variety. If I'm playing a CD, I might like it, but it's all the same band. An Ipod would let me have different songs and I do have some compilation CDS, but I also need to listen to traffic reports in the morning for my commute. No simple solution.

Jon, I'd forgotten about that scene in "BIll and Ted's excellent adventure." Yeah, that was pretty good. Man, no dedicated stations. That sounds pretty unusual to me.

J.L, I've not seen the Lepp live so I'll take your word for it. I liked a fair amount of their early stuff, which was harder and less poppy.

Laughingwolf, lol.

Merisi said...

have you looked into the possibility of the radio signal overriding any CD player or whatever with traffic reports? In Austria, you can programm your car radio in such a way, even to come on when the radio's off (the last one can be annoying, because it may startle you)?

Rachel V. Olivier said...

I have a hard time finding a good radio station, in Los Angeles of all places. It's all shockjocks and I hate it. The classical radio stations have gone off the air to internet only, and that leaves me with NPR, which is okay, but can be depressing. Though, it does at least try to introduce listeners to new music. My favorite radio station in the world is KFOG in San Francisco. I listen to them via the internet now. They play standards, but they also introduce new sounds as well, and support new music. PLUS they sound like nice people and they don't have diatribes full of put downs or nastiness.

Anonymous said...

Awesome list. Thanks for the iPod fuel!

SzélsőFa said...

Just the other day I was listening to November Rain...like 8 times in a row. Hee ;)

There's an internet radio where you can have your station you set the kind of bands you want to hear.
Sometimes it plays sh*t but you just click on the "Dont play this song again" and voilá.