Coming out of a discussion that just happened in the room behind me (that I joined in with). There’s something about not having control over the music you’re listening to.
There have been several places I’ve worked where the radio has been on for the enjoyment (or otherwise) of the employees.
One was a relatively small store, where we had a little boom box on out back, in the warehouse area of the store. Sometimes we’d bring in CDs, but most of the time we’d hear the radio. A lot of the time we weren’t back there, being on the shop floor, but even then it was clear that some stations were more repetitive than others. Virgin’s “No Repeat 9-5″ offered some reprieve to this sameness… until you clued in to the fact that the playlist was pretty much the same every day. You could just about set your clock by the appearance of some of the songs – if I remember correctly (it was ten years ago), there was a period where the great November Rain by Guns ‘n’ Roses without fail would come on right before the 11 o’clock news. Made it easy to find out what the song was called.
Out on the road, by that point, I had started reverting to the rather more talky Radio 2.
A few years later, I was working in a rather large distribution centre on a night shift. The shift lengths varied a bit over the years I was there – it was between 8 and 10 hours a night. They played radio there, too: I think the station got picked by one of the office workers, I know it changed sometimes.
The speakers in the area I worked in were relatively small for the area they had to cover. Other parts of the complex, you could hear more clearly. Where I spent the most time, you could hear the higher frequencies kinda ok, and the lower frequencies not at all. The upshot being, if there was an annoying part to a song, you would get that scratched into your brain.
For example, Beyonce’s “All The Single Ladies” was popular at the time, and you couldn’t hear the grungey electro-industrial weirdness that runs under the song. You could hear the singer, but not particularly clearly. The part where she repeats “All the single ladies” over and over – it sounded very much like “I want cigarettes”.
Another song that became particularly obnoxious very quickly was Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars”. There was one song, and I think it was this one, that I counted five times in one shift. Seriously? A century of recorded music and you have to play that whiny junk over and over again? (incidentally, this also was the only song that carried through our floor from the shop below, while I was trying to get to sleep. Un-fun…)
Actually, most of the songs I tired of easily (Single Ladies, too) just sounded so whiny. The tinny speakers didn’t help, of course.
But even pre-tinny speakers. “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt. Just as whiny. (May I recommend the Dead Ringers parody version.)
As music radio became more tedious to listen to, I started listening to other things. Especially in that distribution centre job. Final Fantasy MIDIs on my phone soon became mp3s of my CDs, soon became podcasts and podiobooks. I’d venture to say that podcasts have changed my life. This may not have been possible without the utter tediosity that radio has become, so I can’t be entirely ungrateful.
I’m not quite in the same boat as Queen, though. “Radio, someone still loves you!” That wouldn’t be me. Radio, I’d be happy to love you again, but most of the time you’re just not really worth listening to.
Reading Program update: Oldest hit 9 hours altogether, Middlest hit two. I reached one hour total from reading to kids (today’s half-hour reading to Middlest, most of that was a chapter of The House At Pooh Corner) and five minutes on my stopwatch from reading to myself, in a little break, and I didn’t count thumbing through a newspaper from 1975.