GLOBAL RELEASE DAY:
THE STATE OF THE ARGUMENT
Not everybody's saying TGIF. (2/27a)
REPORTS OFF-TARGET, SAYS TARGET
"Target has absolutely no plans to stop selling music." (2/27a)
THE "GLORY" STORY
A true marriage of song and picture. (2/27a)
I.B.’s HISTORY LESSON:
THE ’90s “SUPER LABEL”
"Daddy, what was PLG?" (2/27a)
YE JOLLY OLDE iTUNES U.K. CHARTS
The BRITs effect continues. (2/27a)
For the first time in recent memory, over 30% of the Modern Rock chart is comprised of songs by ex-U.S. artists, including U.K. acts Arctic Monkeys, Royal Blood (pictured at right), George Ezra, Alt-J, Glass Animals and Kooks.
Florence & the Machine’s brilliant new single, “What Kind of Man,” was #1 Most Added at the format by a landslide, far surpassing new singles from U.S. Alt mainstays Incubus, Foo Fighters and Offspring. This isn’t exactly a shock, since the #1 song at Modern Rock for 2014 was Arctic Monkeys’ “Do I Wanna Know?,” from their fifth album, AM (Domino). The band won big at the 2014 BRIT Awards, nabbing the trophies for Best British Group and British Album of the Year.
Another U.K. Modern Rock breakout, Royal Blood, took British Group of the Year at this week's BRITs--beating such formidable competition as Coldplay and One Direction.
I’ve never been to the BRIT Awards, but they’ve been described to me as “the Grammys with alcohol.” Since I stopped drinking many decades ago, the absolute lockdown of alcohol inside the Staples Center, 30 minutes prior to the Grammy telecast, has never been as traumatic to me as, say, the shuttering of Wetzel’s Pretzels, just outside of section 103, when I was next to order. It happened to me twice: In 2014, as the guest of Tame Impala’s manager, Jodie Regan, and the year before, as part of the Team Lumineers entourage.
So I imagine the BRIT Awards as a free-for-all of drinking, smoking, food and thousands of glamorous women wearing Erdem, Alexander, Victoria, Phoebe, Stella, Julien and Vivienne. I wore Erdem to the MusiCares dinner, but nobody noticed.
While on the subject of me, perhaps it is relevant (unlikely) to point out that I quarterbacked the first Arctic Monkeys record nearly 10 years ago and, at the time, “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor” was the highest-charting indie-label song of the Mediabase era.
I remember bribing security to let throngs of radio programmers into the band’s first SXSW showcase at La Zona Rosa, since all of them showed up late, ignoring my pleas to be there early. In 2006, the band hadn’t spent much time in the States, and radio promotion wasn’t exactly on top of their To-Do list.
I don’t think I’ve seen Alex Turner since the morning they had acquiesced to play “Dance Floor” on KROQ for Kevin & Bean, where Alex noted that I was “older than me mum” and, when asked by Bean how he felt about being at KROQ in the wee-ish hours responded something like, “That’s why I started a band, so I could do this.” I still love Arctic Monkeys, and have remained very close to the Domino team, even as they partnered with bigger labels for subsequent releases, until regaining sole custody of AM, which was distributed by ADA, and worked by their team.
I wanted to get the perspective of my dear friend Kris Gillespie, GM of Domino North America, who has worked with Arctic Monkeys since their debut, regarding why this distinctively British band has succeeded in becoming one of the biggest touring and radio bands in the U.S., surpassed by only Muse and Coldplay among their countrymen. Kris said there were three or four factors that came into play, including the band’s decision to move to L.A., plus their time spent with Josh Homme, who worked on their third album, and the extensive time spent on tour with The Black Keys.
Kris and I agreed that Arctic Monkeys are among the few bands whose fanbase trickled down from the early adopters and so-called “cool kids” to their younger brothers and sisters, before the mainstream audience caught on.
Another huge consideration was their growth as a live band, with Alex ramping it up as a frontperson, plus an appreciable addition of stage production as the venues expanded. The band’s willingness, post-debut, to play the “radio game” also definitely helped their cause.
Kris and I agreed that Arctic Monkeys are among the few bands whose fanbase trickled down from the early adopters and so-called “cool kids” to their younger brothers and sisters, before the mainstream audience caught on. It happened with the Violent Femmes and Vampire Weekend, Artic Monkeys and now, as we speak of the BRIT Awards, nominees Alt-J, who have captured the hearts and minds of the under-18 crowd, whether or not their songs are radio hits.
My prediction for the 2016 BRITs is that Domino’s The Bohicas will be among the new U.K. bands nominated. And maybe, fingers crossed, I’ll even be there.
In honor of Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent (according to our own Tim Carney), I'd like to commemorate the occasion with five songs:
1) Ash "Girl From Mars"
2) Wishbone Ash "Blowin' Free"
3) Daniel Ash/Tones on Tails "Go"
4) Ashford and Simpson "Solid as a Rock"
5) Ashlee Simpson "Pieces of Me"
Yes, folks, at heart I'm still a college Freshman, putting together "theme" sets for my college radio show. Go WOBC!
In retrospect, very few truly important artists/hits emerged from Modern Rock last year. Oh, for sure, KONGOS’ "Come With Me Now" cut a swath for the reemergence of "swagger" to the format, and Hozier's debut single, "Take Me to Church" was pure magic—new artists, along with Vance Joy and Banks, that are now moving through the next phase of promising careers. 2014 releases by core Modern Rock artists immediately climbed to #1, and stayed there, but it's unlikely that either the latest from The Black Keys or Foo Fighters, two bands I admire and whose music I love, will be remembered among their best work.
My favorite song of 2014 was “Inside Out” by Spoon, which, not remotely coincidentally, is the latest single from They Want My Soul.
A close second was Dan Wilson's "A Song Can Be About Anything," which I played on repeat for months.
These were two of the few songs that reminded me I wasn't completely dead inside.
On January 1, as I have done every New Year since 2008, I played my son a song that is (I believe) one of the best ever written, The Zombies' "This Will Be Our Year."
I love a pause into a key change, don't you? While reflecting on the year that had ended (finally!), it occurred to me that this April 2015 will mark my 25th anniversary at HITS, and my 30th year in the world of Modern Rock (commercial) radio. There have been moments in my career when I've been eye-rollingly "over it," but there's still no better feeling than the late afternoon Kevin, Gene and Lisa from KROQ call with an add. I even lived through rap-rock, and those were bleak times.
Mike DePippa, Gary Gorman and Joe Guzik were on the receiving end of the KROQ call this week: The adds were George Ezra, Death Cab for Cutie and AWOLNation (whose new single, “Hollow Moon” was #1 Most Added!)
So this year, the quest is to be inspired by the best of the best, and do my best, in return. The first moment of greatness I saw was Sleater-Kinney on Letterman this past week performing "A New Wave" from No Cities to Love, their first record in a decade, now out on Sub Pop. The add from WWCD on “A New Wave” this week is a fitting reminder of why life is grand. Sure, Mercury is in retrograde, and yes, our East Coast friends are buried in snow up to their necks (or in the case of NYC, up to their ankles), but station PD Lesley James is a constant ray of sunshine.
Glassnote’s Nick Petropoulos was in L.A. last week because, well, he worships me, and also for the Tor Miller showcase, plus the iHeart presentation. Prior to Tor’s fantastic performance, while I was eating food off of Nick’s plate (there are no boundaries between me and hunger), we discussed the last few Robert DeLong targets (KTCL and KXTE came in this week!) and I begged to hear the new Mumford and Sons. That time will be in the next few weeks, according to Nick… The record that is outselling every other record you’re not playing (and 90% of the ones you are) is Misterwives’ “Reflections,” which is on Photo Finish/Island. This song is a SMASH. Even Lazlo agrees.
On Thursday and Friday night, Patti Smith and her band will be playing two sold-out shows at the Theater at the Ace Hotel (I love this venue). I haven't missed one of her L.A. appearances in decades; this week is no exception. If you have a chance to see her (you can get in; you know people), do not miss this, or any, opportunity to do so.
SONG TO HEAR (and watch): In the Valley Below, "Peaches"
ALBUM TO HEAR: Belle and Sebastian, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
PEOPLE TO WATCH: Trey Morgan, Mike Tierney, Mike DePippa, David Jacobs, Christy Taylor, Mike Halloran and John DiMaio.
Email me: Karen.Glauber@hitsmagazine.com