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Summertime, and the music is crazy

One of the biggest benefits of XM Radio – besides constantly hearing NWA tunes in some bizarre circumstances – is that, for the first time in about 10 years, I feel like I’m in touch with popular music. Not completely up to speed mind you, but at least a little better off than most 34-year-old suburban dads.

As I’ve listened to XM, I’ve noticed a few trends. Take the glut of songs this summer that were on the radio that provided a new spin on an old sound. “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse is getting a lot of play this year, and it seems to be a direct take on the Motown sound, with maybe a little Nancy Sinatra “These Boots Are Made for Walking” thrown in. Then, I kept hearing Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girl,” which borrows the bass line from Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me.”

Normally, I’m not all that big on these sort of period homages, but I gotta respect their willingness to try something new with an old sound. Winehouse is talking about not going to rehab, not exactly a tune you’d hear in the 1960s. Kingston reminds his love that going out with her could make him suicidal (not funny ha ha, but intriguing). At least they took a different spin on the subject. Gwen Stefani took a timid stab at this trend with the doo-wop influenced “Sweet Escape,” but it’s mostly a cotton candy confection.

Beyond that trend, the one song I’ll always associate with this summer – as we all will, no doubt – is “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s. Could that song get any more air time? It’s playing on Top 40 and adult contemporary stations. I’d swear that country stations are sneaking it in there, and conservative talk show programming is using it as a bumper before and after commercial breaks.

Tell me that “Hey There Delilah” doesn’t have a one-hit wonder vibe to it. It’s a whiny version of “Come on Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners. It’s a wussy white guy’s “Disco Duck” by UNC alum Rick Dees. We’ll see if they can indeed pull out of their impending obscurity.

I’m sure there are other musical trends, but that’s all I can think of right now. I did enjoy listening to XM this afternoon when the family and I were driving back from South Carolina. The 80s channel was playing an American Top 40 from Kasey Kasem originally broadcast in Aug. 1985 (#1 song: “Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News). Beyond the crazy waves of nostalgia that enveloped me – in 1985, I was 12, so this was my last hoorah before girls started screwing up my head – the best part was the Long Distance Dedications.

I always joke about these, because they always seemed to end with the dedication of “Somewhere Out There” or “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Just as I’m joking that the dedication to a girl’s diabetic brother should be “Funkytown,” Kasey cranks up “Break My Stride” by Matthew Wilder. Here are the lyrics to that campy piece of crap. That was priceless. That’s the historical equivalent of selecting a Bananarama lyric for your senior yearbook quote.

OK, I’m exhausted and out of info. Enjoy.

Categories: Music
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  1. September 3, 2007 at 9:07 am

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