October 10, 1999
When I listen to the radio I have a nasty habit of surfing through the stations. If I don't find a song or talk show that I like, CLICK!, onto something else. This can be very irritating to the passenger since it takes me two seconds or less to decide if I want stay with a particular station or try something else. With eight set presets on my radio, one of which is National Public Radio and another which hosts Dr. Laura (let's not get into that whole story) I am really limited to six stations to choose from. Of those, one is Top 40 which just hammers away at the same songs over and over until they fall from the pop chart, one is a rock station, though what they consider good rock is debatable at times, and a third favorite is classic rock, which, like the Top 40 station, plays the same songs from the same artists over and over. While I like many of the older rock groups there are only some many times I can listen to "You've Got Another Thing Comin" from Judas Priest or "Rock You Like A Hurricane" from the Scorpions.

The remaining stations are a combination of the first three with one being an easy listening station which plays the "nicer" pop songs of the past, and the other two doing a mixture of the oldies and modern. Now, with six stations to choose from and a fairly wide assortment of formats to listen to, one would think that it would be relatively easy to find at least one song during any ten minute period of the day that I could listen to without repeating every line from heart. Instead, what I get is the same drivel over and over, ad nauseum, and I eventually turn the radio off and drive in silence (no CD player but that's another story). What makes this situation so frustrating is that ever since the grunge movement (thank you Nirvana) hit us from the west coast nearly a decade ago, every group sounds like they have the same song writers.

What most of these groups lack is what I like to call "life". Maybe a better description would be lack of energy. It seems that the concept of having an enjoyable experience listening to a song has disappeared from most music written today. For example, the song from the German group Ramstein, "Du Hast", kicked butt. It had energy. It had life. If there was a way to physically inject a song into one's body, that would be on my list. Another would be Rob Zombie's "Dragula", another definite in the intravenous family. The most recent addition to my growing list would be Powerman 5000's "When World's Collide". What these three songs, and most others that I enjoy, have in common is a hard, driving beat coupled with stretches of offbeat runs providing a break from the monotony.

Lest you think I like only "hard rock" songs (though I am partial to that side of the musical spectrum), I do enjoy most of the songs from Green Day, Offspring, a few other related groups and selected other artists including Billy Joel, The Cars and Boston. Further, I do enjoy other, non-rock songs such as Natale Imbruglia's "Torn" and yes, even some of Shania Twain's songs. But there again, they have that certain something which exudes a feeling of energy. No dull, boring drones about this, that or the other thing. No tediouis repetition of the same chord over and over sung by someone who has a sore throat.

To make matters worse, the state of my genre, rock, has deteriorated rapidly during the same time that this monotonous claptrap has gained in popularity. For me, attempting to listen to what is considered rock is an excercise in root canal therapy. Korn, Kid Rock, LimpBizkit and the rest of the gang seem to think that the combination of screeching guitars, unintelligible words and rap highlights somehow make music. The only thing that makes me change a station faster after hearing two chords of any song from the above named groups and their cohorts in crime is anything from a hardcore rap group. And even then I sometimes listen to the homeys because their music at least has a beat.

Then there are what I like to call the "Wannabe" groups. They wannabe be musicians but are only in it for the money and girls (but who am I to disagree with that concept). They include such notables as 'N Sync, Backstreet Boys, Five, LFO and other related groups. They are just male versions of the Spice Girls and will also soon fade from history. In fact, there is an interesting story about 'N SYNC and a recent concert they had in my area this summer that more or less proves my point about the money and girls.

Maybe I'm being too harsh. Maybe I should listen to more of the newer groups and then make a judgment about their music. Tens of thousands of people can't be wrong can they? It probably is just me. After all, who am I to want an enjoyable experience listening to music? Let's have more of the same lackluster groups giving us lifeless noise. It's no worse than the same clothes they wear.