Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Show #50 February 5, 2011

Our 50th Show is dedicated to (who else?) SHARONA!!

My Sharona- The Knack Get The Knack [#1 6/23/79]
867-5309/Jenny- Tommy Tutone Tommy Tutone-2 [#4 1/23/82]
Go All The Way- Raspberries Raspberries [#5 7/1/72]
Your Love- The Outfield Play Deep [#6 2/15/86]
No Matter What- Badfinger No Dice [#8 10/31/70]
Just The Girl- The Click Five Greetings From Imrie House [#11 8/16/05]
Brass In Pocket- The Pretenders Pretenders [#14 2/16/80]
The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)- Greg Kihn Band Rockihnroll [#15 5/23/81]
I'm On Fire- Dwight Twilley Band Sincerely [#16 4/26/75]
Veronica- Elvis Costello Spike [#19 4/22/89]
Is She Really Going Out with Him?- Joe Jackson Look Sharp! [#21 6/9/79]
Our Lips Are Sealed- The Go-Go's Beauty and the Beat [#20 8/29/81]
And We Danced- The Hooters Nervous Night [#21 8/10/85]
Precious To Me- Phil Seymour Phil Seymour [#22 1/24/81]
Found Out About You- Gin Blossoms New Miserable Experience [#25 1/15/94]
Dreaming- Blondie The Complete Picture [#27 9/29/79]
Cherry Baby- Starz Violation [#33 3/19/77]
Turning Japanese- The Vapors Anthology [#36 9/27/80]
Someday, Someway- Marshall Crenshaw Marshall Crenshaw [#36 7/10/82]
Girl of My Dreams- Bram Tchaikovsky Strange Man/Changed Man [#37 7/7/79]
Sugar Baby Love- The Rubettes Very Best of The Rubettes #37 7/20/74]
Here It Goes Again- Ok Go Oh No [#38 9/25/06]
I Think We're Alone Now- The Rubinoos Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About [#45 3/5/77]
Who Listens To The Radio- The Sports Don't Throw Stones [#45 10/13/79]
What I Like About You- The Romantics The Romantics [#49 2/16/80]
Stay In Time- Off Broadway On [#51 3/22/80]
Starry Eyes- The Records The Records [#56 9/29/79]
Teacher Teacher- Rockpile Seconds Of Pleasure [#51 11/22/80]
Surrender- Cheap Trick Heaven Tonight [#62 7/22/78]

[Billboard Hot 100 peak position and peak date]

I've always loved radio show features, what the industry calls "benchmarks." Before he made it big on WBCN, Boston radio legend Oedipus had the "Suck Hit" on his WMBR show THE DEMIMONDE ("We love it, but it sucks"). Years later I paid homage with "The Screw Hit" on my WMBR show THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW ("It's screwed up, but it's a hit"). After my first few weeks on ALL KINDSA GIRLS I decided I needed to try to get some known hit records on the show. In Show #4 (3/7/09) I did a "Theme Set" (I hadn't come up with the name "SacroSet" yet) celebrating 1979- Power Pop's banner year featuring "The Shape Of Things To Come," "Starry Eyes," "Girl Of My Dreams" and The Knack's "Good Girls Don't." I realized that I needed to ration the hits better or I'd run out. So, I came up with "The Power Pop Peak," with the hope that each show will feature at least one song my listeners will know.

Working in radio for 25 years, the last 17 on the research side, has shown me how important familiarity is to listeners. In most adult formats (AC, Classic Rock, etc.) familiarity is as important as appeal. In fact, if people don't know the song being tested, they usually aren't asked how much they like it. At WMJX in Boston, my first real job out of college, one of my duties was creating the music hooks for our twice yearly auditorium tests. Think of all those TV commercials for albums you've seen over the years- where the titles and artists scroll down, while snippets of every third or fourth song play in the background. That was my job- making 700 of those song snippets we call hooks to be played for 80-100 people in a ballroom at the Embassy Suites in Allston or Holiday Inn across the river in Cambridge.

Making the hooks was a fun job and I got very good at it- always trying to get them as short as possible. One year I got a little overzealous: rather than "Yesterday...all my troubles seemed so far away" and "Operator, well, could you help me place this call" I just went with "Yesterday" and "Operator." My friend Paul was the production guy and he would put numbers between each hook so people could follow along on their music test sheets without getting lost. I proudly told him that I had cut the full 700 hooks from 45 minutes down to 30. After spending some time with the tape, Paul called me back into the studio and politely pointed out that not only had I destroyed any melodic continuity but in many cases I'd reduced some of the most popular songs of all time to nearly subliminal echoes. Needless to say, I had to re-do the job and every time after that I was very careful to capture the entire musical phrase in each hook.

On music test night I would get to see the room full of people respond to the hooks I'd made. They would smile and tap their #2 pencil in time or grimace and look like they smelled something bad. Every now and then they'd laugh- it was great to see. Then afterwards my Program Director Phil would take me, Nancy (the Assistant Program Director/Music Director) and the research person out to dinner. If it was at the Holiday Inn we'd go to the Benihana in the hotel and that was always fun. I really loved working at that station and I got a wife out of the deal, so bonus.

It's funny but when I hear those WMJX songs I still mentally pick out the part I'd capture for the hook. A lot of the time it was the first chorus, but in others I had to take the second or third chorus, or perhaps the first line of the first verse. With Wham's "Careless Whisper" I didn't even take a vocal part, but hooked the saxophone break. And even today, when I hear the rare CD commercial with the hooks and scroll, I think of my days back in the music library at WMJX.

Anyway, with the 50th ALL KINDSA GIRLS I reward your patience with the obscure music I usually play and present a show of all hit music- all Power Pop Peaks- starting with My Sharona, the biggest Power Pop hit of all time. Thanks again for listening!

You can download Hour 1 of this week's show here.
And Hour 2 is here.

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