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TAKING ME BACK

By Karen Glauber

This is our quarterly New & Developing Artists issue, featuring some of the best and the brightest new artists in every genre. If you remember, way back when, the Alternative format prioritized “music discovery,” and became the arbiters of which new artists the audience needed to hear. At BEST, the format is now 20% current, and the constant complaint we hear from programmers is that the new music they’re playing isn’t testing.

On what planet would a 10-second hook by an unidentified artist do well? Maybe it would, if the song was by an artist whose vocals are instantly recognizable, like Imagine Dragons or Weezer, or other bands with dozens of songs in rotation, but what about artists who are streaming over 300k/week (very healthy for an Alternative artist), but the song is still unfamiliar? Is the format bailing on potentially game-changing songs because there are fewer slots, and is the commitment to music discovery just a fantasy that those of us working new artists need to believe in for our own sanity?

I’ve always been obsessed with influence, which is one of the reasons I was thrilled that Todd Rundgren was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this past weekend. Todd, as I’m sure you’ve read, wasn’t nearly as thrilled to have this honor bestowed upon him, but the number of artists he’s influenced is extraordinary, including Tame Impala, Trent Reznor and Weezer.

Will the music that Alternative radio has chosen to play in hyper-rotation be remembered as influential? Yes, if that music is by Jack White. A new song from him is an event, and while “Taking Me Back” leans heavily on his influences, it does so in a way that feels completely modern. Scott Burton is already Top 15 with this “event” record, and it’s one of dozens of songs that will likely be acknowledged by the Rock Hall whenever Jack is eligible.

Two big-time radio influencers have joined the Audacy team: John Allers has been named Regional VP of Alternative, overseeing KVIL, KNRK, KKDO (all with the brilliant Andy Hawk), KBZT (also with Andy) and KNDD. Christy Taylor, whom you also know and love, has been appointed Regional Brand Manager of KRBZ, KXTE, WQMP (all three with our friend Matt Malone) and KNDD (with John). I’m very excited to work with John and Christy again—both have a real passion for music and have been rightly credited with breaking many artists during their prior radio incarnations.

My favorite new artist from 2020, beabadoobee, just arrived on our shores for her first tour in two years. As expected, her shows are selling out everywhere, including two upcoming L.A shows at the Fonda. Very excited for this tour!

It takes every bit of restraint not to text Chris Muckley every time he plays something I like on XMU, including Spoon’s new single, “The Hardest Cut,” which I heard while taking my kid to school. This morning, I turned up the volume on Wet Leg’s “Chaise Longue,” drowning out the TikTok videos coming from the phone of my passenger. Speaking of influence, I emphatically believe that “Chaise Longue” will be remembered as a CLASSIC, and Wet Leg will inspire countless girls (and boys) to start their own bands.

Besides the worldwide phenomenon that is Måneskin, Daisy the Great is the highest-charting new artist at Alternative. “Record Player” (with AJR) is being moved up in rotation by some of the format’s most gifted programmers (Amber, for example) based on “gut,” which is the best research, isn’t it?

“Icarus” by Fana Hues is a song I’ve been obsessed with since Braden Merrick first sent it to me. After a sync on last Sunday’s Insecure, “Icarus” is now #1 Shazam in Washington DC, #2 in Atlanta, #9 in L.A. and #24 in NYC, and #78 overall in the US. The song samples the theme from Midnight Cowboy, in case you were wondering. This song is magic.

 


 
 
WHERE WE ARE

By Karen Glauber

The opening line from a song on the next Lumineers album has been my mantra since I first heard it months ago: “Where we are, I don’t know where we are, but it will be okay.” As of last Thursday, I have a 13-year-old child, which still seems unfathomable to me. I’ve now ventured out of the house to see three shows—Hall & Oates/Squeeze last week, Spoon/St. Vincent the week prior and Glass Animals the week before that. I can’t say it felt normal, because nothing feels normal these days, but it certainly amplified how important live music is to my well-being. With luck, Moses Sumney and Phoebe Bridgers will be the next concerts I attend.

Speaking of the Lumineers (as I often do), “BRIGHTSIDE” has been #1 Greatest Gainer for the past two weeks, and the song will be trending Top 10 by the time you read this. I definitely feel at my professional best when The Lumineers and AJR are in cycle. It’s a bounty right now, with the Daisy the Great/AJR single solidly in the Top 25, while also entrenched on the Spotify Viral Chart. All I need is a new Spoon single to make my work life complete.

Congrats to Nick Petropoulos at Arista for achieving two milestones with Måneskin’s “Beggin’”: They’re the first Italian band to have a #1 song at Alternative radio, and “Beggin’” is the fastest to #1 at Alternative radio by a debut artist/debut single! We should also acknowledge that this is the first time a Frankie Valli cover has gone to #1 at Alternative, for the three people in the format who know who Frankie Valli is. Ted and I are taking bets about how many weeks “Beggin’” will be at #1.  Will Dennis Blair and Artie Gentile have a shot at #1 with Foo Fighters’ “Making a Fire”? Will “Beggin’” be #1 at both Alternative and Top 40, which will fuel an even longer run at Alt? This is a fun one to watch!

Records that should be commanding your fiercest attention include MUNA’s “Silk Chiffon” (featuring Phoebe Bridgers); Wet Leg’s “Chaise Longue”; which is thisclose to bursting wide open; Wolf Alice’s “Smile,” which is an absolute smash; and Wilderado’s “Head Right” on Bright Antenna, which everybody agrees is a wonderful song with massive potential.

Lenny Diana, our old friend who insists on perpetuating the myth that “Rocktober” is a thing, has been anointed PD at WTTS in Indianapolis and WGBJ in Ft. Wayne, where he’ll be working closely with programming assistant/my new best friend Zack Skyler. Former PD Laura Duncan has moved to Chicago to be PD at WXRT, an extraordinary job that went to the most extraordinary candidate.

On Monday, Lisa Worden will be announcing next year’s Alter Ego. From what we’ve heard, it’s an A-plus-plus-list lineup.

Based on metrics, Cannons’ “Bad Dream” is showing all of the signs one would look for when determining if a song is an Alternative hit. Lisa Sonkin and Darice Lee WILL get this record, and then you, my dear radio friend, will tell everyone that YOU broke the band. Andy Hawk gets the collar on that one, for sure.

Pay attention to the new Papa Roach single “Kill the Noise,” which is already Top 10 at Active after a few weeks. If “Last Resort” were a Current, it would still be Top 50 on the Alternative chart! As you know, there’s an enormous affection for this sound and this band, and I urge you to join Tommy Mattern and Elliot Wood in giving the new single (which is trending Top 45 at Alternative) a serious shot.

The ratings for Saturday Night Live should be massive, since Kim Kardashian hosted and Halsey was the musical guest. “You asked for this” feels like a sleeper smash for the format.

SONG TO HEAR: Del Water Gap’s “Perfume.”

 


 
 
I DON’T WANNA TALK (I JUST WANNA DANCE)

By Karen Glauber

Late last week, Glass Animals’ “Heat Waves” reached ONE BILLION STREAMS—that’s absolutely phenomenal for an Alt band! I was thinking about the other bands I’ve worked with over the years, and I’m not sure any of them have hit that milestone, except for maybe The Lumineers with “Ho Hey” and “Ophelia.” Glass Animals’ show at the Troubadour in March 2020 was one of the last shows in Los Angeles before everything shut down. Days after releasing their brilliant new single, “I Don’t Wanna Talk (I Just Wanna Dance)”—which, of course, was #1 Most Added this week—the band will be headlining two sold-out shows this weekend at a local cemetery/concert venue.

My negative COVID test results just came back a few minutes ago, and this will be my first concert in 562 days! The last show I saw was Patti Smith (my hero) at Disney Concert Hall, and I’ve been too skittish to see a show since I had COVID and the myriad complications that followed after the first shot. (No, my balls weren’t swollen, but thanks for asking.) Glass Animals is one of the few bands that have been playing on repeat in my house for the past few years, though my son says he knows about them from Sims 4.

Their social-media engagement since lockdown has been the most inviting and embracing of all the bands I follow—I hail singer Dave Bayley and manager Amy Morgan for creating this truly creative community for Glass Animals fans that provided a “peek behind the curtain” in an exceptionally ingenious way. Glass Animals have earned every bit of the success they now enjoy. I’ve been told that a rapid test at Hollywood Forever tomorrow will precede a chance to say hello to the band. Who doesn’t like having their brain tickled on a Saturday night? It’s unlikely I’ll be in the throng during the band’s set, so I’ll hang back with Chris Cornell and Johnny Ramone, buried next to each other about 50 yards from the stage.

I miss going to shows. I miss a lot of things. I even miss seeing my coworkers on a daily basis. If I feel comfortable after Saturday’s show, I’ll venture to the Hollywood Bowl next Friday night to see my #1-most-favorite band, Spoon (opening for St. Vincent). I remember seeing them at the Bowl the weekend before I had Julian, almost 13 years ago. Yep, Julian is about to turn 13 (eek!), so the race is on to get him prepped for his bar mitzvah, which will be held during an AJR soundcheck next June. Yes, we are Reform. And yes, AJR has signed off on this.

Great news from 91X after a few weeks’ airplay on Wet Leg’s “Chaise Longue.” I can’t give you the micro details, but let’s just say early research warranted a rotation bump this week. The song Shazammed like crazy when it was Audacy’s Pick of the Week, and every day we hear from programmers who’ve adopted it as their new anthem.

Speaking of anthems, MUNA’s new single, “Silk Chiffon,” which features Phoebe Bridgers, is nearing 2 million streams since its 9/7 release. I know you’re already a fan of MUNA, and this is the song that will break them at radio! Now that I’m attending shows, I look forward to seeing them open for Phoebe.

A new single from The Lumineers arrived Sunday at midnight, timed with their appearance on Kimmel Monday. Called “Brightside,” this is an American love song, heavy on guitar and light on stomps. You will absolutely love it.

My favorite exchange from the interview with Sir Lucian Grainge in this week’s HITS is this: “How do you wind down amid all this pressure?” “I go into my home office, put on some classic punk—The Sex PistolsThe Damned—and blast it!” In the spirit of Sir Lucian, I’m going to blast some Only Ones, Clash, Buzzcocks and Idles and feel inspired.


 
 
IF I CAN’T HAVE LOVE, I WANT POWER

By Karen Glauber

It was National Radio Day last week, so I posted a photo of me hosting Mike Mills and Peter Buck from R.E.M. at my college radio station in 1982, a few months after the release of the Chronic Town EP. I’d first met the band after they released their single, “Radio Free Europe,” on Hib-Tone, and their first trip to Oberlin coincided with their first gig in Cleveland, opening for Steve Forbert (!) at the Agora. A year later, I booked them to open for The English Beat at my college, after which I started an internship at their label, I.R.S., which was soon followed by a part-time job at A&M in Cleveland, and then a full-time job in January 1984 at A&M’s NYC office. You’ve heard this before. You’ve seen the photo.

In relative isolation, the temptation toward nostalgia is something I fight, although (and if you were around, you know this) R.E.M. changed the course of College and Alternative radio, just as Nirvana did nearly 10 years later.

If you look at streaming for Alternative acts compared to other genres, the current school of thought is that Alternative DOESN’T MATTER. Why, then, is Alternative radio so important to artists like Halsey, Machine Gun Kelly, Måneskin, Willow, Post Malone, etc.?

From a touring perspective, Alternative artists still comprise the majority of slots at most of the major festivals. From a career perspective, Alternative radio leans heavily on its gold and recurrent songs, and airplay definitely translates to ticket sales. Streaming also breathes new life into gold Alternative hits. Did you know that The Neighbourhood’s “Sweater Weather” is at over 1 BILLION Spotify streams? The Hella Mega Tour with Green Day, Weezer and Fall Out Boy is a multi-generational success because the first-gen fans of those bands now have kids of their own, or at least younger brothers and sisters who now love the music. Cut the head off of Alternative music and it will always regenerate itself.

As my non-starter “Hot Alt Summer” ends with a whimper, I’m happy to say that my “Song of the Summer,” Wet Leg’s “Chaise Longue,” is new this week at KROX and WWCD. As with most groundbreaking records, it’s been the women Alt programmers who “get” these songs at first listen: Christine Malovetz, Shawn Locero, Hilary Doneux, Michelle Rutkowski, Amber Miller, Leslie Scott, Laura Lee and honorary influencer Lynn Barstow are among the song’s early fans. Wet Leg hails from the Isle of Wight, and “Chaise Longue” is (in my mind) the indie-rock version of “WAP.” Is the song a radio hit? Of course it is!

Ted’s favorite song of the past few months is MOD SUN’s “Karma,” which is beginning to gain traction at radio in the weeks before his sold-out tour commences. Ted’s daughter Marley’s summer pick is single “Tattoo” from MOD’s opening act, girlfriends. Marley celebrated her new favorite band by getting a girlfriends tattoo on her arm. I do not have any R.E.M. tattoos.

AJR’s “Way Less Sad,” released on 2/17, has settled in as the fifth-most-played song of 2021, and a new song will be out this Tuesday—a collaboration with NYC band Daisy the Great, whose “The Record Player Song” was a viral hit. Jack from AJR discovered the song on TikTok and brought it to the attention of his manager, S-Curve kingpin Steve Greenberg, who was already in the process of signing Daisy the Great. Both bands reimagined the song, with AJR producing, and the new song, now called “The Record Player,” will be released on 8/31 via S-Curve/Hollywood. Daisy the Great are two women who met at art school, and, as struggling college grads do, they’ll be opening the AJR tour, commencing 9/5. I can’t wait for you to hear this record!

Congrats to Lisa Sonkin and Darice Lee as the new Cannons single, “Bad Dream,” nears the Top 20. The research is there.

David Jacobs is now firmly Top 25 with Seb’s “seaside_demo,” which is Lenny Beer’s favorite song of the summer. What song helped you get through the past three months? E-mail me: [email protected]