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No static at all... and not much good music, either

I recently started a new job. For the past three weeks I have been making street and highway signs for a company in southeast Portland. The pay isn't great, but the work is simple, and the commute isn't bad, and the people are good. It's not an ideal situation, but it'll do for now.

And so, for the first time in a long time, I've been listening to entire days of FM radio. And it only took me a week to realize how much I really hate it.

Commercial FM radio has nothing to do with music. That's the basic problem. The music exists only as something to fill up space between advertisements, and to maybe help the record companies shift a few CDs. This is done by selecting one song off the CD that seems the "catchiest," and playing it and it alone as many times a day as possible. There is a name for this: it's called "heavy rotation." And I hate it with every fiber of my music-loving being. It makes no sense to me from an artistic standpoint; often the radio singles are the songs the band considers "throwaway" songs, the stuff they put on there to make the record company shut up. They're almost always the worst song on the album. But a lot of times, they're the only song you hear.

Ever. For all time. My new co-workers have made a game out of "twofer Tuesdays," when the classic rock station plays back-to-back songs by the same band. They try to guess what the second song will be when the first one is played. Obviously, all you're ever going to hear are former radio singles, so unless it's a Beatles song, or someone equally prolific, there are only at most ten or so possible songs for any given band, so it's really not that hard to guess and be right once in a while. Confine yourself to whatever is on that band's greatest hits album, and you'll be in the ballpark. (I always lose this game because I guess the song Iwant to hear next instead of the one they're most likely to play.)

The local alternative-rock station has tried to counter this with some of their features, namely "Track Seven," in which they pick one album per day and play all the songs off it over the course of the day, and "Perfect Playlist," when they have a listener come in and play the five songs they most want to hear. The problem is that the albums they pick for Track Seven are dreadfully obvious choices, and most people's Perfect Playlists are full of nothing but radio singles.

Now, apparently I'm the odd-man-out when it comes to music anyway, because even when I find something new I absolutely adore, I don't play it over and over again, because I know I'll get tired of it. So I ration it out. That way, when I do listen to it, my appreciation for it grows instead of diminishes. This is why there are some CDs by "one hit wonders" that I know backwards and forwards, and love every track, because I didn't just burn myself out on the single. From talking to people, I gather that no one else does this.

Oh well. I have now reloaded my iPod with full albums that I enjoy, and so I just listen to that. I'll rotate the albums out when I want to hear something else. Keep your Twofer Tuesdays.


Oh God I hate FM too...that's why I am thankful to the brilliant people at Apple for my 80gb iPod! It holds every song I'd ever even think of wanting :-)