Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why are there "invented oldies"?

While the majority of over-the-air radio music playlists continue to shrink or hold steady at a few hundred, this makes what I term "invented oldies" even more of a shame.

After all these years, and the onslaught of MP3 players and music by download, most music stations still maintain rather restricted playlists.

As a "classic rock" and earlier "album rock" listener, I have long found it a disappointment that hundreds of tracks that used to be played within this format (going back to when the albums originally came out) have long since vanished from playlists.

It gets even more frustrating when it is a station which has been around for more than 25 years playing pretty much the same music. Stations like KSHE in St. Louis, WLUP in Chicago, and KLOS in Los Angeles come to mind in this category.

Yet, a listener not around in the 70's to listen to these stations, and ones like them, probably thinks that Aerosmith only released about 10 songs. That's about the number we hear. Yet, when their LP's would be released each year, these stations (and their likes in all markets) would generally play at least 3 or 4 selected tracks from each new album. My contention is that if these songs were good enough to be played on the stations then, they should be good enough to be played now.

Same thing with oldies stations. With most "oldies" stations now regularly playing songs through the 70's, I find it upsetting that most oldies stations continue to play only a few hundred songs.

Stations such as KRTH-FM in Los Angeles, which have been oldies or classic hits for the better of the past 25 years, started out playing a lot more songs from the 50's and early 60's than they do now.

Sure, I understand their argument that the age of the audience has something to do with not going back as far as often.

But what makes this all more aggravating is what I call "invented oldies". On the album or classic rock side, one example is "Moving In Stereo" by The Cars. It is from their first album, and it's a good song. However, I don't recall it being played at all when the LP first came out and for years after that. It seems to have become a classic rock "staple" within the past 15 years. It's as though we are being told it has always been a popular track. It wasn't. Same with Red Rider and "Lunatic Fringe". Many a classic rock station didn't play it when it was first issued, but now it plays as often as if it were a major part of their rotation the entire time.

The biggest example of an artist with "invented oldies" has to be KISS. Come on, people. When "Rock & Roll All Night" and "Shout It Out Loud" and others came out in the mid and late '70s, the album rock stations wouldn't even touch KISS or their songs. No way. Those were "teen" songs heard only on the top 40 stations. Yet, they are heard on classic rock stations and channels today as if they were always held in the same esteem as BTO or Bad Company.

From an oldies standpoint, I can't figure how Louis Armstrong's "Wonderful World" gets so much airplay. I even looked this one up. The song didn't even crack the national "Top 100" in the United States when it was first released in 1968. Yet, for the past few years, it has been played hundreds of times more than "Hello Dolly", which was a 1964 Top 10 hit for Armstrong. But I double dare you to show me any oldies station or channel that plays more than the Top 100 hits of any month from the 60's and 70's.

Another "invented oldie" is "You Got It" by Roy Orbison. Sure, it's a decent song, but it doesn't fit. It was released in 1988.

Again, I like every song named here. It's not that I don't enjoy these songs. What I don't understand is how these are among the songs "manufactured" within the respective format, while literally hundreds of songs that used to be a part of these formats haven't been played in years.

If I had the time, I would go through my personal MP3 player and count a total of the songs that I never hear on the radio any more, even though that is where I first heard and liked them enough to own them.

Then again, I shouldn't have to do that. The music directors of these classic rock and oldies stations are the ones who should have done so. Years ago. Instead, they wonder why so many people like me are listening to MP3 players instead of their stations. At least they can't "manufacture" an audience.

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