Houston Calling

A pirate looks at the (Top) 40

August 12th, 2006 · No Comments

I read a humorous article from the Assocated Press’ David Bauder on CNN.com, in which the 40-something listens and dissects songs in the Top 40.

Here’s a snippet:

Culture’s splintering has made the Top 40 less influential. Hundreds of radio stations cater to individual tastes. If that’s not good enough, you can program your iPod. If you want to ignore the Top 40, it’s quite easy.

To gauge the effect of aging on a musical attention span, here’s a good rule of thumb: At age 16, most fans know everything in the Top 40. Subtract one song for each year past that, and the number will be about what the average fan will know.

That calculation would put me at nine, which turned out to be about right. You may find, like me, that you know more than you thought: This song was on at the gym, that one in the background on a TV show, another throbbed from the speakers of a car inching down the block…

In rock ‘n’ roll, it’s frightening that this may be remembered as the Nickelback era. Is there a more grating lead singer on the charts than Chad Kroeger? He’s like that guy in Crash Test Dummies, if he gargled with gravel. Emo has little to offer, either. If Panic! At the Disco’s Brendon Urie sings that phrase “a sense of poise and rationality” in the wrong place, he’s going to get worked over.

Fray and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have their moments, but the Top 40 doesn’t have a single song to make a rocker punch his fist in glee.

Everyone knows country isn’t really country anymore, but play these two fine pop-rock songs back-to-back — KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse & The Cherry Tree” and Tim McGraw’s “When the Stars Go Blue” — and explain why one is on the country charts and the other isn’t.

Is it just the hat?

Country is where mainstream rock went to hide.

Read the rest of it here.

Tags: Music

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