Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Why Absolute Radio is bad

by Daniel Woolfson.

Having spent the last year and a half working as a chef, in the days not long past before I decided to swap the spatula for the pen, I’m no stranger to daytime radio. In fact, there have been times, slaving away over the stove, when the radio has been my one true ally – providing a much-needed soundtrack to the laborious process of cooking – that allows one to transcend the sweat and the grief. Whilst Absolute Radio is and has always been my station of choice (it is after all the only radio station that plays the Stone Roses more than once a year), I’ve developed several qualms with it recently.

Although I’ve many times been thankful for the odd burst of retro-rock beauty that eschews from it, Absolute Radio seems to take pride in an absolute misnomer: the ‘no repeat guarantee’. This ‘no repeat guarantee’ is hyped to the point of redundancy by Absolute’s defunct DJs, and entails this promise:  come rain or shine, they shall not play the same song twice in one day. Now, they do stick to this (and thank god for that, because if I had to listen to Mumford and Sons more than once a day I think I’d drop what I was doing and slit my own throat). However, if you listen to Absolute for more than one day in a row, you will almost definitely be struck with a powerful sense of déjà vu.

After three weeks of listening to Absolute, I became aware that I could predict their daily playlist in a savant-esque fashion. At some point in the morning before lunch I would hear It’s time by Imagine Dragons. At about three in the afternoon, when I would be drenched in food-sweats and anger, I would hear Bastille’s sickening tones, and in the evening when cleaning I would be uncomfortably subjected to Adele’s Rumour Has It – the lyrics of which I find morally ambiguous, to say the least.

Allow me to outline why I f***ing hated this:

Bastille are remarkably unremarkable. Their most recent single Things We Lost in the Fire is a ditty that conveys absolutely nothing of substance, and relies on a clichéd chord sequence and a sickeningly nostalgic sentiment. It’s essentially emo for emo kids who got older but still get teary when My Chemical Romance come on shuffle. Shame Bastille weren’t lost in the fire.

Imagine Dragon’s It’s Time is simultaneously over-sentimental and sterile. With a dull piano/drums combination ripped straight out of FUN’s songbook and a nagging, dreary chorus, this song might just be their lamest yet – and here was me thinking they wouldn’t be able to top Radioactive, a hideous dubstep/indie hybrid that should have been drowned at birth.

Next up we have Adele. Now, I wouldn’t hate on her without reason, and I’ll give her this: she does have a good voice. Yes, she has put out a few original, decent songs. However, over the last year and a half Adele seems to have turned from a sweet and slightly awkward Croydon gal we all loved, into just another one of those stars who had a decent first album and rode the wave of critical acclaim out into the vast, endless ocean of irrelevance and chat-show appearances. Listen to Rumour Has It – there’s no tune to speak of, and the lyrical message is erm... lacking, so to speak. ‘Rumour has it I’m the one you’re leaving her for’? Poor sod.  

I’m just using these three as an example (there were plenty of songs that offended me, and there’s plenty of songs I liked), but it was the mindless repetition of these dirges that made me see the light. I remember when Absolute was interesting (about a year or so ago), and made an attempt to play songs that people hadn’t heard in ages, or hadn’t heard at all – rather than sucker up to the faux-indie-pop darlings of the last few months. I’ve even found myself switching to the lacklustre XFM when I can’t bear Tom Odell’s dreadful Hold Me (although, his previous single Can’t Pretend was a stomper and a half). However, this may have been a dream – it occurs to me that perhaps the repetition was as mindless back then, but I just liked the songs more.

It’s still no excuse for subjecting me to Mumford and Sons.

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