Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The "fizz" of a great segue

Part of me wants Jack FM to go to hell, because they threw WCBS-FM off the air.

On the other hand, their iPod-on-shuffle playlist often leads to (in my opinion, of course, your mileage may vary) dazzling segues.

For instance, last Saturday, the station went from Nick Gilder's late '70s guilty pleasure "Hot Child in the City" into Nirvana's "All Apologies".

That's the kind of absurdist segue that I frickin' LOVE. You don't expect it. A deejay with "taste" wouldn't think of putting the two songs together. How dare taint poor ol' Kurt's '90s angst with pure & silly pop cheese?

Yet, when I heard that, I swear, it created a kind-of "fizz" in my brain. I love hearing unexpected songs slamming into each other, especially when differing genres get thrown into the mix, 'cause my brain craves such a surprise: it creates new synapses (or something like that).

Imagine a world where Nick G. and Kurt C. were treated as equals - in the sense they both created great sounding American pop soundscapes... imagine a world where rock hipsters and un-selfconcious pop fans rocked, side by side. Imagine a world where "cheesy pop" songs (like, say, the teen epic "More Than a Feeling", or "Behind Closed Doors") get the credit they often deserve - as works of art that often get to the heart of human emotion more perfectly than many other better-acclaimed artworks. Imagine a world that... OK, I'll shut up.

Speaking of Nirvana and '70s pop cheese, there's wonderful video of Kurt and the boys running through - quite non-ironically - a version of Terry Jacks' "Seasons in the Sun". Slate's James Sullivan writes:

Having switched roles—Kurt Cobain on drums, Dave Grohl on bass, Krist Novoselic on guitar—they exhibit a funereal seriousness that might reflect their lack of skills on unfamiliar instruments. It's more tempting, though, to believe that impossibly maudlin tune is hitting them right in the gut...

However we hear the song—as a heartbreaking suicide note or an unforgivably mawkish tug on our emotions—it remains lodged in the collective cranium. "Strange how potent cheap music is," Noel Coward once remarked. The secret of the enduring appeal of "Seasons in the Sun" is just that simple. How will we face our own final days—with grace, humility, a defensive sneer, or a loud guffaw? It's a sad song about death, and death gets us every time.


joel said...

I appreciate someone who talks about how radio should be. Still, JackFM and The Peak(107.1)don't do it well enough. If I had the catalouge they have to choose from(really unlimited) it'd be the best radio station ever

Anonymous said...

Bring back CBS-101!!-- Here's how I see it-- Nirvana is only different from 70s pop cheese by the fact that it is 90s pop cheese. Nirvana is just from a different era, different flavor. But otherwise I agree that most contemporary FM stations are so formatted and without creativity that they would never come up with an interesting segue. The pathetic thing is that the Hot Child/Nirvana segueway should be considered radical when 99% of recorded music will never even hit the airwaves... and one last thing-- we'll also never hear the original version of Seasons in the Sun on the radio-- the one by the Kingston Trio.

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