June 3, 2009

Patt Minefield in the Morning

That was going to be the name of the parody Matt Pinfield show I wanted to make while he was on hiatus. We all see how good I am at following through on my ideas though. Speaking of setting myself up for failure, my June Year's Day Resolution is to blog every single day all month. We're doing all right so far.

Let's get back to Matt Pinfield and WRXP and most importantly, how it affects ME! First, a little history. I discovered WRXP about a year ago via a giant billboard while driving through New York City. With my MP3 player not functioning, I was listening to a lot of radio on my commute to and from work, and I was pleased to have Matt Pinfield and Chris Booker entertain me. One day, KROCK turned into a Top 40 station and Matt swooped in like a C.H.U.D.. WRXP stood up and commanded the reigns of NYC rock. My mp3 player was working again, but who cared? Even though I'm not the biggest indie rock fan, it felt awesome to support Matt and the station every morning.

AND THEN.... Matt went to rehab. He was missing a lot of shifts so everyone knew something was up. He announced that May 1st would be his last day for a while. I listened to the station for another week, then I had to pack it in. I am not a fan of his co-host Leslie Fram. I'm sure she's a nice person, but as a radio personality, I can't handle it. Everything about her delivery is too professional and polished. Usually, those qualities would be seen as compliments, but I prefer rough around the edges. I never saw the chemistry between her and Matt Pinfield, whose rambling anecdotes exponentially digressed as he got more passionate about music and current events until Leslie killed everything with the time and temperature. Any time she says something that approaches personal, it seems like a rehearsed note written in the margin of her morning playlist. Like I said, I'm sure she's a nice person and a good program director, but I just could not listen to her every morning without Pinfield's relief.

On afternoon drives, I had a similar problem. WRXP picked up Nik Carter after KROCK changed formats and fired their staff. I wasn't crazy about him when he was over there, and I still didn't like him much at RXP. I catch him talking over the ends of songs all the time. I fucking hate that.

So I stopped listening to the station. The music just wasn't as good to me without Matt Pinfield telling me how much he liked it. If you think I sound like a douchebag for saying that, then wait until you read the next sentence. I started listening to Top 40. A lot of it. I found myself excited whenever I heard the first second of "Poker Face"* for the third time in a day while driving to home base (that was a Pulitzer Prize winning sentence, by the way). The days of looking at Top 40 charts and saying "Who? ft. Who???" were gone. Sure, most of the songs are garbage. Everything these days is a ProTools loop exercise set to a bass drum metronome competing for the catchiest lowest common denominator hook. I think Pitbull's "Calle Ocho" has achieved that honor. There are things I still refuse to sit through (All-American Rejects), but for the most part, when I'm not trying to come up with Weird Al parody versions of these songs,* I am morbidly fascinated by the prevailing trends in today's popular music. Autotune. Shameless lyrical sampling. Ridiculously basic keyboard lines. Interchangeable electropop. Generic love balladry. Birthday sex. I am passed the point of getting angry at this music. I can act like it's beneath me, but it's still bigger than me. When I listen to it, I think a lot. Not just about the production, or the lyrics, but about history, the future, humanity, the music industry, technology, the economy... I want to know who is buying this and why. Do they care about the music? The lyrics? Do they just want to dance? Do they know who created the music? Do they know what the references mean? Will they listen to it 6 months from now? Will they look back in ten years and think it was silly? Will their kids laugh at them? What will their kids listen to? What will they name their kids? Will.i.am? Who will survive and what will become of them? Why does it get my attention but not my money (OK, Kelly Clarkson* got my money).

I had been meaning to write this blog entry weeks ago, when Matt Pinfield's future was still unknown. I decided to finally put the words down because Matt came back to the station today. I listened to the show for a while. It was mostly Elvis Costello songs and clips from an interview with him taped last night. Matt Pinfield sounded a little out of it (dare I say slurry?), but was still asking his trademark leading questions. Elvis Costello was talking about his new album which was recorded in just 3 days, unusual for a rock record. "We listen to records for a half-hour, forty-five minutes... why shouldn't they be recorded in a half-hour, forty-five minutes?" I always complain that pop songs sound like they were written recorded in less time than song lasts and copy-pasted to fill up the rest of the track. I guess I'm mostly curious as to what it is that the divides timeless from disposable. Is it a guitar? An experience? A confession? I didn't come up with the answer, but I got tired of listening to Elvis Costello and put on Kelly Clarkson's "My Wife Would Fuck a Horseshoe" instead.

* Coming up in June: Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson, the end of Virgin Megastore, Top 40 Parodies, The Google Interrogation Game, Evil corporations, Speeding Tickets, Pink Floyd, and a lot more if I'm going to blog 30 times this month.


General Dowd said...

Good god - Nik Carter was the WBCN afternoon guy throughout the late 90s, and we hated him so much that we'd call the station just to swear at them and get cut off by the screening people. Is the Radio BIZ so small that they're forced to rehash anyone who once worked as a DJ?

General Dowd said...

BONUS COMMENT - thanks for letting me know the new Elvis Costello is out.

teh Beauty said...

It is a pleasure to serve with you sir, here in the Internet mines.

David said...

@Ro-Beast Rollie: Her voice sounds like that all the time, not just on the radio. Since she is not so much a nice person, duplicitous is more accurate, I suppose the posturing you hear in her voice, is - well, genuine insincerity.