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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.