Thursday, December 22, 2016

Song #184: "Radio Ga Ga"--Queen (1984)

I cannot begin to tell you how many songs were under consideration for this Top 500 countdown from Queen. They were such an influential part of my childhood soundtrack, especially two releases, "A Night At The Opera" and "The Game".

"Another One Bites The Dust" and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", from "The Game", I absolutely adored when they both exploded onto radio. I got the LP, and went nuts for other tunes after discovering some of them on Side B of the above singles.

"Don't Try Suicide" came so, so close to making it, just edged out by "Dragon Attack". Then add "Need Your Loving Tonight", then go back to "A Night At The Opera", and it's hard to believe "Death On Two Legs" didn't make it.

But today, what is considered the final successful radio single for Freddie Mercury and company hits the countdown, my second favorite song from Queen. Part of the song's appeal is their unique, funky twist on how music's direction had gone by early 1984. The other part came over time, as this song absolutely nails the power that radio once had, still had when the song was released, and for a decade or so once and after I had started my own career.

Then came the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the ability to start owning large numbers of radio stations, the Clear Channels, and thus, the beginning of the end of radio. And, sadly, we hastened our own demise, firing disc jockeys left and right in order to satisfy the creditors who held the debt, hour by hour turning stations with flavor, with personality that suited and fit their community, into mindless jukeboxes that we couldn't control.

Add in the advent of the iPod, satellite radio (invested in by Clear Channel and other radio companies even though it was "competition"), and later YouTube, Pandora, and Spotify, and you end up with where radio is today.

Radio is forgotten by my kids' generation. They never listened to it in their rooms, didn't care about it in the car. Press CD or now in Robbie's case, hook up the phone and listen via the smart dashboard.

Radio doesn't, with some exception, listen to the cities and towns they serve. A "national" or "regional" programmer creates the playlist, and off it goes from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine, blind to what the people want. Whole formats get sanitized names. A CHR station, call it "KISS-FM"! Unless, of course, someone else has that in a market, ironically as is the case here in RVA.

Don't even get me started on AM Radio, which is in hospice. The final decent AM format, sports, has been destroyed by "hot takes" talk which is also making ESPN, et al, unwatchable. Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith and company should all be writing for pennies at whatever newspapers are left. They deserve zero of the dollars they're making spouting off nonsense that, for whatever reason, a group of people decide to hang on their every opinion. Yecch.

Yes, radio, someone still loves you, as today's song says. But you fired him/her while failing to satisfy a $20 billion debt, so we all, who really love, know and understand how to be successful at radio, sit here without the buying power to go and do the only thing left to do for radio before you finish strangling it to death.

Buy it back, and give the people what they want.

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