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“When you’re a promotion guy, you learn to read a room to see what’s real and not real, and in this case the feedback was real.”
——RCA EVP/GM
Joe Riccitelli

CHEERING FOR BLEACHERS

Alternative Programmers Jump on New
RCA Band’s First Single

"I Wanna Get Better," the first taste of fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff’s new project Bleachers, is that rare beast of a record—a rollicking, hook-filled instant grabber that on close listen reveals surprising thematic depth, making it funny, relatable and dead-serious all at once.

"The songs are generally about loss and finding a way to pick up the pieces and move on without carrying too many of them with you," Antonoff said recently about the debut album as a whole, which RCA is readying for a late-spring release. "But even though they can be really dark, they always come around to something positive… like driving home at 2am and having a breakthrough about how you're going to survive."

The deft interplay of light and dark is what makes "I Wanna Get Better" so resonant, and it goes a long way toward explaining why sharp-eared programmers from key Alternative stations including KROQ, KYSR 98.7, KNDD, WRFF, Q101, 91X and SiriusXM Alt Nation were all over the single in front of its 3/10 impact date, making it #2 Most Added at Modern Rock last week.

"There are still programmers out there who are passionate about music," notes RCA EVP/GM Joe Riccitelli. "So when we did our setup, we went to those programmers, and the response we got was everything we’d hoped for."

Riccitelli knew the track was special the first time he heard it last fall in the office of SVP A&R David Wolter, who oversaw the project. "We were looking at another song as the first single when the rough of ‘I Wanna Get Better’ came in," Joe recalls. "After David played it for me, I said, ‘OK, now we need to have a conversation, because this might be our first single.’

The band and producer John Hill finished the album over the Christmas break, and in mid-January Antonoff introduced the songs to programmers at a Clear Channel presentation in New York.

"Jack and Peter Edge softened up the room with a one-on-one discussion, and we played the two songs that we were thinking were the singles," Riccitelli continues. "When we saw the whole room moving to ‘I Wanna Get Better,’ we immediately knew that was the one we had to go with. Then, the week of the Grammys, I brought Jack to KROQ, 98.7 and Beats Music, and the feedback we got from Julie Pilat and her programming team was just phenomenal. When you’re a promotion guy, you learn to read a room to see what’s real and not real, and in this case the feedback was real."

Antonoff has been on a radio promo tour, "doing the grip and grin," says Riccitelli. "and he’s winning people over. Jack’s a likable guy, and it’s human nature to want to see likable people win." This week, Bleachers is at SXSW, performing at the mtvU Woodie Awards and the VH1 Palladia showcase. Later this month, the band will play the Troubadour in L.A. and a show in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The video of the track will debut shortly after that.

Another factor came into play in terms of the timing of the single. "We decided to hold back the impact date until Dennis Blair, our new head of Rock promo, got to the label," Riccitelli explains, "and he’s doing an amazing job setting it up and delivering it on our first week of impact."

"I Wanna Get Better" has all the earmarks of a Modern Rock smash, but could it conceivably have a life beyond that? "What’s interesting," says Joe, "is that Alt Nation and Sirius Hits 1 have both started playing the record. Even though they know we’re going to PoMo radio first, they just wanted to get involved. I’m very confident this song will cross over."

HITS LIST: AMPERSANDS
Dynamic duos (12/3a)
TAYLOR'S TREMENDOUS YEAR
She'd make one helluva CEO. (12/3a)
THEY CALL THE WINDFALL MARIAH (HOLIDAY EDITION)
Ch-chingle bells (12/3a)
SONG REVENUE:
BOWS OF HOLLY
Adele is money. (12/3a)
UTA MUSIC EXPANDS IN NASHVILLE
Reshuffling the deck (12/3a)
CHESTNUTS
Roasting.
STOCKINGS
Stuffing.
PIPERS
Piping.
SANTA
Coming.
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