HITS Daily Double
By Karen Glauber I had the great fortune to spend time this week with some excep­tionally talented radio programmers: Christine Malovetz, Jeff Regan, Alex Tear and Brad Steiner. These programmers are deeply passionate about radio and, to their absolute cred­it, brought up the importance of responding to culture as a critical factor in their program­ming decisions. Alex, the mastermind programming SiriusXM’s Hits 1, said he decided to put in The 1975’s “I’m in Love With You,” after seeing that Taylor Swift—who doesn’t do anything that isn’t completely intentional (bravo to her)—chose to perform “Anti-Hero” for the first time at The 1975’s show in London. If radio is a medium that responds to culture—or ideally creates culture—then it’s imperative for programmers to ignore the misinforma­tion that a 10-second call-out hook provides and focus instead on what is actually capturing their audience’s attention. When I’m ultimately sent off on the ice floe, I’ll still believe that The 1975’s “I’m in Love With You” should’ve been a #1 song. Ted Volk has been talking about “real-time call-out,” which is based on audience reaction during a show. Want to know if your audience cares about an artist/song? Go to their concert and see for yourself. Take Måneskin, for example. Everybody is talking about this band, from my kid to Mick Jagger. If I were programming a culture-driven radio station, I’d be playing these Best New Artist nominees, especially with Grammy week upon us. Speaking of the Grammys, even if you’re not in L.A., there is no better time to revisit Wet Leg, who are nominated for FIVE Grammys. The new single, “An­gelica,” is an easy add—this band, too, is the subject of massive chatter, and they’ll certainly be hyper-visible for the next few weeks, especially with the BRIT Awards immediately following on 2/11. The Grammys are a big deal. From now until forever, Spoon will have the distinction of being “Grammy-nominated,” as they are up for Best Rock Album for Lucifer on the Sofa. Regardless of your feelings about Arcade Fire (still one of my favorite bands of all time), WE is nominated for Best Alternative Music Album, along with Wet Leg’s eponymous debut, and releases from Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Big Thief and Bjork. All five albums prominently fea­ture female vocalists. That’s a big deal. Women also dominate the Best Alternative Music Performance category: Yeah Yeah Yeahs f/Perfume Genius, Wet Leg, Big Thief, Florence + the Machine and the sole exception, Arctic Monkeys, whose nominated song, “There’d Better Be a Mirrorball,” is extraordinary. Are you featuring any of these artists next week? Why not? One of our favorites, Beabadoobee, is back with “The Perfect Pair,” which is av­eraging 1.5 million weekly streams in the U.S. (3m weekly globally). She’s been invited by the aforementioned Taylor Swift to open some of her U.S. stadium shows. Bea will do another headline tour around the Taylor dates—which are already sold out. Last year, Jeff Regan discovered Windser’s “Memory,” which Alt Nation has played with great success. Windser has now been signed by our friend Braden Merrick at Bright Antenna, and “Memory” will have another deeply deserved shot at radio. Condolences to the friends, fans and family of WXRT’s Lin Brehmer, who died this week after a hard-fought battle with prostate cancer. He was everybody’s best friend—a Lin sighting was always met with a hug and an in-depth conversation about music. He was one of the DJs who made WXRT so beloved. Listening to him always reinforced my passion for radio and underlined the importance of local air talent. Being out with Lin was to be in the presence of a true celebrity—his listeners LOVED him. And so did I. SONG TO HEAR: Nikki Lane’s “First High” on New West. She’s phenomenal.
By Karen Glauber Prior to the break, I didn’t have time to focus on much besides finishing the year with The 1975 solidly in the Top 10, while attending to my kid’s seemingly endless flu. After bingeing the new season of Emily in Paris, my brain was malleable enough to assemble my list of favorite albums/songs of the year. So, with all the fanfare I can muster, my five favorite albums of 2022 were: 1) Spoon’s Lucifer on the Sofa, 2) The 1975’s Being Funny in a Foreign Language, 3) Arcade Fire’s WE, 4) Wet Leg’s Wet Leg, 5) Phoenix’s Alpha Zulu and The LumineersBrightside (tied). My favorite songs were the ones I heard on SiriusXM’s XMU and Alt Nation during my commute to and from the kid’s school, including The 1975’s “Part of the Band” (any song that references Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud is a guaranteed favorite), Spoon’s “My Babe” (stop everything you’re doing and listen to this now), Wet Leg’s “Chaise Song” (which was also my favorite song of 2021), The Head and the Heart’s “Virginia (Wind in the Night),” Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Spitting Off the Edge of the World” f/Perfume Genius, Mitski’s “The Only Heartbreaker,” Windser’s “Memory,” Arlo Parks’ “Softly,” beabadoobee’s “The Perfect Pair,” Arcade Fire’s “Unconditional 1 (Lookout Kid)” and ” Florence + the Machine’s “My Love.” Without question, my favorite book of 2022 was Beggars honcho Nabil Ayers’ memoir, My Life in the Sunshine (I’ve read it twice). 2022 was the year I recommitted my love for Justin Hawkins of The Darkness, whose YouTube series, Justin Hawkins Rides Again, is must-see viewing. Brilliant. Sure, I got COVID at a Beach House show, but their latest Sub Pop album, Once Twice Melody, is one of their best. There was no bigger musical highlight of 2022 than my kid’s b’nai mitzvah, which was held after soundcheck at an AJR show (every kid’s rite of passage should include a private performance of “Dear Winter,” followed by a game of dodgeball with the band). The kid and I also flew to Chicago to see their favorite artist, Addison Grace, play a sold-out show. How do we make 2023 even more compelling? The focus should be on the artist. Radio should just play the best music and STOP LOOKING AT CALL-OUT. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it. The Internet is ON FIRE with footage from Thursday night’s The 1975 show at the O2 in London, during which Taylor Swift performed “Anti-Hero” for the first time, as well as a rendition of The 1975’s “The City.” I read about it in Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Stereogum, etc., and saw the footage on every social-media platform. There is no bigger rock band than The 1975 right now. The band’s KROQ performance from November has over 150k YouTube views. Talk about branding! I’m only ever this obsessed when Ted and I know that we’re right. “I’m in Love With You” is the perfect Valentine’s Day song. How can something so obvious be so difficult? I’m seriously getting a migraine. God bless Wet Leg and the band’s five Grammy nominations! When they’re in L.A. for the Grammys, the band will be opening for Harry Styles for his three make-up shows at the Forum, just as Domino launches the new single, “Angelica.” Please shove your call-out and file Wet Leg in the category of NEW BANDS THAT MATTER. Also, while I can’t see the screen (the aforementioned migraine), let 2023 be the end of the insanity where a spin on a station with a 0.1 in the ratings counts the same as a spin in L.A. Can we finally make an audience chart the standard? Give the indie labels a more level playing field on which to compete! Finally! SONG TO HEAR: IDLES’ “Crawl!” The band is nominated for TWO Grammys—Crawler for Best Rock Album and “Crawl!” for Best Rock Performance. Brought to you by your friends at Partisan Records.
By Karen Glauber Since last week’s Grammy announcement of the nominations coincides with our U.K. issue, I’d like to bring attention to some of my favorite Brits: One nomination for Wet Leg’s genius self-titled debut would’ve been a victory. I figured they were a lock for Best Alternative Music Performance for “Chaise Longue,” one of the most exciting debut singles of the past decade. Then the other nominations for the Isle of Wight duo started rolling in, five in all, including Best New Artist (!!!), Best Alternative Music Album, Best Engineered Album (Non-Classical) and Best Remixed Recording (“Too Late Now,” Soulwax Remix). Congrats to Domino Recording Company, manager Martin Hall and Team Wet Leg on these well-earned nominations. Martin was also presented with a lifetime-achievement award as the “Managers’ Manager” at the Artist and Managers Awards in London for his work with Wet Leg, Manic Street Preachers and The Script. Also at that ceremony, Dirty Hit artist beabadoobee won for Breakthrough Artist. Her viral smash “The Perfect Pair” should’ve been nominated for a Grammy, but I digress Domino, led by Laurence Bell in the U.K. and Kris Gillespie in Brooklyn, have a second nomination for Best Alternative Music Performance, with Arctic Monkeys’ “There’d Better Be a Mirrorball” also in that category. The latest Arctic Monkeys’ album, The Car, is one of my favorite albums of 2022. Florence + the Machine, fronted by reigning Grande Dame of Alternative, Florence Welch, earned their first-ever Best Alternative Music Performance nod (and seventh overall) for “King.” The band’s “What Kind of Man” was nominated for Best Rock Performance in 2016. They have not yet won a Grammy. Although the band hails from Texas and not the U.K., I feel compelled to mention that Spoon, led by Britt Daniel, one of my favorite people in the world, scored a Best Rock Album nom—their first Grammy nod ever—for Lucifer on the Sofa (Matador). It’s quite the culmination, considering the band has for decades released some of the most consistently GREAT albums in the alt-rock genre. Bravo. Every musician’s favorite band, Idles, was also nominated for Best Rock Album for Crawler and Best Rock Song for “Crawl!” Watching Idles tear up the stage with that song is one “Grammy Moment” we could all use. From what I’ve been told, Best New Artist nominees Måneskin are massive Idles fans. That pairing would be quite something. Congrats to our friends at Partisan Records on these nominations, which come on the heels of Fontaines D.C. being nominated for Best Rock Album for their 2020 release, A Hero’s Death. Ozzy is likely to garner a number of wins in the Rock and Metal categories—he’s been nominated for four this year for his latest release, Patient Number 9. It should be noted that the majority of nominations in the Alternative categories are for female artists. The Grammys continue to get that part right. U.K. superstars The 1975 are currently on tour in the U.S., selling out arenas in every market. I had a blast at the Madison Square Garden show with Christine Malovetz, Brad Steiner, Marisa DiFrisco and friends from other formats/markets. “I’m in Love With You,” the band’s current Top 10 Alternative hit, is streaming over a million a week in the U.S., and this leg of the tour will wrap up in mid-December, so you certainly have time to see this extraordinary show. The Kia Forum show on 11/28, presented by Alt 98.7 and true believer Lisa Worden, has been sold out since the on-sale. There is no better front person than Matty Healy. There is no debating this fact. Once again, I’m going to remind you that the women pick the hits. Lisa Worden, Jenna Kesneck, Christine Malovetz, Amber Miller, Michelle Rutkowski, Hilary from 91X, Laura Lee, Christy Taylor and Shawn Lucero, among other women in our format, understand Alternative music on an almost cellular level. Pay attention to the records they champion. There is much to be grateful for this year, including you. Happy Thanksgiving.
By Karen Glauber As of this Thursday, Audacy’s WNYL will no longer exist as an Alternative outlet for NYC. Instead, 1010 WINS, the oldest continuously running news station in the States (first on-air in 1924) will now occupy the 92.3 FM frequency. Losing this station is a huge bummer but hardly the first time an Alternative station has had the plug pulled in NYC. “We can’t have nice things” could very well be our beloved format’s motto, as stations with a 0.0 share (the sound of one hand clapping) have their spins counted toward the Alternative Mediabase chart (a disgrace) while we lose a station that actually had an impact in the market, which happened to be market #1. Jesus. Audacy has swapped Las Vegas Alt KXTE to Beasley, who will take morning-show powerhouses Dave and Mahoney, with no announcement regarding the format of the station. WNYL PD Mike Kaplan will be leaving Audacy and taking time to explore his myriad options, while his programming team of Christine Malovetz (whose brilliance outshines all others) and Brad Steiner (aka my best friend) will continue to blossom at Audacy under the guidance of Kevin Weatherly. KXTE PD Ross Mahoney will continue his role as a Regional VP. I anticipate a shuffling of who is overseeing which markets in the months ahead, but for now we’re holding our collective breaths, hoping for no other surprises in the near future. A million huzzahs to Lisa Worden for her Alter Ego lineup, which is iHeart’s premiere Alt-radio festival. In January, we’ll be at the Kia Forum, grooving to Rosa Linn, Beach Weather, CHVRCHES, Phoenix (swoon), Fall Out Boy, Muse, Jack White and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Brava! This week, thanks to the generosity of Columbia’s Lisa Sonkin, I’ll be at the Forum with Merge Records goddess Christina Rentz to see Harry Styles. Had I gone to see Wolf Alice at the Wiltern a few nights ago, I could’ve had my photo op with Harry, who was hanging backstage with his onetime opening act. Lesley James, the new appointed APD and host at KXT Dallas, snagged a selfie with Harry while I was at home watching Bachelor in Paradise or some similar escapist fare, chosen to numb the pain of another Tuesday. Arista’s Nick Petropoulos, one of my favorite people on the planet, coasted into the weekend with Beach Weather’s “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” entrenched at #1 at Alternative, six years after its initial release (time flies in a pandemic). After Beach Weather, Gorillaz “Cracker Island” is a lock for #1, to be followed by blink-182’s “Edging.” News of the band’s reunion with Tom DeLonge, plus the on-sale of a massive tour, confirms their status as one of the biggest bands in the U.S. The timing of the single and tour announcement is a much-needed jolt for the Alternative format. The biggest band in the U.K. is The 1975. Their latest album, Being Funny in a Foreign Language, debuted at #1 across the pond, outselling the collective sales of the remaining albums in the Top 5. “I’m in Love With You” is a monster hit over there as well. Does 100 million global album streams get your attention? Does the cover story from Pitchfork catch your eye, perhaps? Maybe a sold-out arena tour of the States, which starts in two weeks, will impress you. Look for a significant chart debut in the States—extra-poignant because the band chose to release the album on their own label, Dirty Hit, also home to beabadoobee, blackstarkids, Rina Sawayama, Pale Waves and Harry’s buddies Wolf Alice (in the U.K.). One of my favorite bands of all time, Simple Minds, released an album of new material Friday titled Direction of the Heart. I know there are new records from Taylor Swift and Arctic Monkeys that would otherwise occupy every waking moment, but I’ve been listening to the Simple Minds album on repeat for weeks. Without question, working with this band during my tenure at A&M remains a top-five career highlight. I’d love to interview singer Jim Kerr about what it was like to be an Alternative artist 40 years ago.
By Karen Glauber It was announced last week that Mediabase will be bedfellows with Luminate, when they begin jointly reporting on radio’s music activity. Until this merger, BDS has been used to service Billboard’s radio charts and other charts incorporating radio data, including the Hot 100. At the helm of this big change is Mediabase’s EVP Global Music Marketing and Strategy Alissa Pollack, a respected and dear friend of all of us in the HITS career cul-de-sac. The transition from BDS to Mediabase will take effect by year’s end. The two radio formats most impacted by this switch are Triple A and Latin—both regard BDS as their radio chart of record. With regard to Triple A, the concern is that the BDS chart counts airplay from twice as many stations as the Mediabase chart, encompassing dozens of Non-Comm stations that have a considerable market impact but don’t meet the criteria for Mediabase reporting. As of now, there are 27 reporting Triple A stations and 19 “Activator” stations. Indie labels flourish at the Activator stations, which have “graduated” indie artists like Phoebe Bridgers, Sharon Van Etten, Spoon, The Lumineers, Japanese Breakfast, Father John Misty, beabadoobee, etc. to mainstream chart success. Brad Savage from WAPS was the first to express his concern that his station’s lack of Mediabase-reporting status will impact his ability to have access to artists, but his market impact is well known, and he will always have label support. Will Mediabase add some of these Non-Comms to the reporting panel, or will they separate the charts to a Commercial panel and a Non-Commercial panel? I expect there will be a solution that enables the format to survive, anchored by key heritage stations like KBCO, WXRT, WRLT, KCMP, WXPN and ratings juggernaut KINK. I choose to remain optimistic. The 1975’s genius new single, “I’m in Love With You,” was #1 Most Added at Alternative this week! I pointed out to Ted that exactly one year ago, the #1 Most Added song at the format was The Lumineers’ “BRIGHTSIDE,” which proves that Ted and I always forget to take any time off during the summer. Speaking of The Lumineers, we’re off and running with “A.M. RADIO,” the single Andy Hawk and Lenny Diana asked for by name, and I’m grateful that I was able to see the band last Friday night amid a swarm of 25,000 at Redondo Beach and managed to avoid a third bout of COVID (for now, at least). Back to The 1975: Did you know that their upcoming tour is completely sold out? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered for tickets (Marissa). Dan Connelly was very happy to receive the KROQ/Audacy Select add on Talk’s “Run Away to Mars.” This song is a monster. Capitol has signed Backseat Lovers, with WNYL adding their last song, “Kilby Girl,” this week. The pandemic has proven that linear time no longer matters. The urgency to be “first” on a record, which was the goal of most programmers in the past, has mostly gone by the wayside, as TikTok , TV shows like Stranger Things and other pop-culture flash points have reignited songs from years ago. The Cafune single, “Tek It (I Want the Moon),” is from 2019. Beach Weather’s smash, “sex, drugs, etc.,” is from 2016. Another fascinating example is the massive popularity of Cigarettes After Sex’s “Apocalypse” on Partisan Records, which is from 2017 (and which KROQ added in March, 2018), and is now streaming 7-10 MILLION a week and is on the Spotify Global Top 200 at #94. This is PIAS’ most-streamed track in the world, and the tour sold out immediately (I just helped my friend’s kid get tickets for the NYC show). Congrats to Michael Martin and his crew (some of whom still have my number blocked on their phones from last year) on the announcement of Audacy’s Beach Fest, Day One. The lineup includes Muse, Jack White, Jimmy Eat World, Phoenix (yay!!), Yungblood, The Maine, BoyWithUke, Half Alive, Beach Weather and more. Shana Tovah to those who celebrate. Happy 5783!
By Karen Glauber Like you, I spent most of last weekend watching the heart-wrenching performances from the Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert in London. The performances were nothing short of historic, especially when Taylor’s 16-year-old son Shane joined the Foo Fighters for “My Hero.” Nothing could possibly mitigate the tragedy of Taylor’s death—but the concert amplified how loved and respected he was by some of the greatest musicians in the world. The Los Angeles tribute concert is on 9/27, and I expect I’ll see many of you there. The biggest story of the summer was the return of two legends to the forefront of Alternative music: Kevin Weatherly returned to KROQ, and Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” became the SONG OF THE SUMMER, thanks to Emmy winner Nora Felder’s brilliant work as the music supervisor on Stranger Things. One year later, Wet Leg is still the coolest new band on the planet, with “Chaise Longue” in Power on KROQ and “Wet Dream” now Top 30. I would think this band is a lock for Grammy acknowledgement this year, similar to the noms Japanese Breakfast and Phoebe Bridgers received last year. Speaking of Phoebe, whose iconic status continues to grow, she has a cameo in “I’m in Love With You,” the new video from The 1975, which is at 2m views on YouTube and 6m streams in the past week. Dirty Hit will service the song to Alternative on 9/12, while Triple A continues to have massive success with “Part of the Band” (currently #2 on the chart). I don’t often envy other’s concert experiences, but seeing Michelle Rutkowski’s photos from last weekend’s Lumineers concert at Wrigley Field made me feel like I’d missed a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For an indie-rock band to sell 40k tickets is an extraordinary achievement. The Lumineers also sold that many tickets in Denver, and their summer tour winds down with next week’s BeachLife Festival in Redondo Beach, where they’ll be playing with Hall & Oates (side note: Daryl Hall’s first solo album, Sacred Songs, is one of the greatest albums of all time) and Pete Yorn, among others. After two Top 5 songs with “Brightside” and “Where We Are,” Dualtone (aka me and Ted) will be launching, BY POPULAR DEMAND, a radio mix for the programmer fave “A.M. Radio.” Lots of love for this song, and it’s been streaming 600k weekly in the States, with 21.3m total U.S. streams. The streaming juggernaut commanding your attention is Beach Weather’s “Sex, Drugs, Whatever,” which is the vibe song of the summer. Nick Petropoulos has the hits… Our old friend Nick Bedding, who, believe it or not, briefly toiled as a HITS employee, has landed at Nettwerk, where his first project is Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness’ amazing new single “Stars.” Nick can be reached at [email protected]. Say hi Everybody is talking about Rosa Linn’s “Snap,” which is a massive streaming hit. My boss thinks she sounds like Natalie Merchant. I disagree—but we totally agree that “Snap” is a smash. Dan Connelly has yet another hit to add to his repertoire with TALK’s “Run Away to Mars,” which my kid has known about for a month. This one will fly up the charts… Another super-buzzy song is “Insomnia” by The Moss. Amy Kaplan is at the helm, and this is definitely a song you will love. My newest favorite song is “Tonight” by Phoenix, featuring Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend, whose “This Life” is one of the greatest songs in recent years and should’ve been an infinitely bigger hit, but you guys fucked it up. Phoenix is a global treasure, and “Tonight” is a classic. SONG TO HEAR: BLACKSTARKIDS w/Beabadoobee “CYBERKISS 2 U,” which reminds me of De La Soul. BLACKSTARKIDS are from Kansas City and they love Lazlo.
It was a good day: I woke up to the news (I already knew) that Jim McGuinn has been named APD at WXPN in Philly. Jim (seen above with Jacqueline Saturn and yours truly back in the day) worked at WXPN prior to his tenure at KCMP, and also programmed Alternative station Y100 in Philly, as well as KPNT St. Louis, WEQX Albany, WPGU Champaign and, of course, his high school station, WDGC in Downers Grove, Ill., which is when he and I first met. Jim is a beloved programmer, and we’re all thrilled that he’s landed where his myriad talents will be appreciated. Also on the agenda was celebrating the 47th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, which is one of the greatest albums of all time. Because I’m a nerd (and because most men don’t want to talk about their feelings), a topic of recent social gatherings with the fellas has been, “If you had to skip one song on Born to Run for all of eternity, which one would it be?” The consensus answer is “Night” (still a great song), with daggers thrown toward anyone who dares to answer with “Meeting Across the River.” Also, I will never accept that the lyric in “Thunder Road” is anything other than “Mary’s dress waves.” I keep telling my music loving kid that they’ll always be able to bond with other kids over music. We went to Chicago last weekend to see Addison Grace at Beat Kitchen—the show was sold out, and both Addison and opener Sydney Rose spoke onstage about their love for Phoebe Bridgers. I told my kid that I worked “Kyoto,” which impressed them not in the least. I remain deeply uncool and embarrassing. The friends I saw in Chicago, Greg Latterman, Joe Shanahan and Jimmy Steal, are people I met through music. Joe gave Julian a tour of the Metro, which is where Joe and I met in 1982, when I was trying to get Bauhaus to do their scheduled interview with a local college radio station (and Peter Murphy yelled at me). Speaking of Phoebe, I’m excited to see her this weekend at the Ain’t No Picnic festival, along with Wet Leg, Shame, IDLES, Sparks and Beach House, among other favorites. As I congratulated Glassnote’s Michael Starr on his 11th anniversary at the label and his first Top 10 with Phoenix’s “Alpha Zulu,” we agreed that life would be infinitely better if Phoenix played on every show we see. Michael is also gaining traction with RIPE’s “Settling” (a certain call-out favorite) and the genius Two Door Cinema Club single “Lucky,” which SHOULD be as omnipresent as Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” Hooray for Scott Burton on delivering another chart-topper for Jack White and for reminding radio why Lovelytheband’s “Sail Away” deserves a slot on everybody’s playlists. It looks like Capone will have another #1 Alt song this week with Giovannie and the Hired Guns’ “Ramon Ayala,” which will be followed by Ayelet’s KillersThe Killers’ “Boy” in the top spot, likely immediately after the holiday. My favorite new song is “Maniac” by Macklemore, featuring Windser. Yes, the same Windser whose “Memory” is a bona fide hit at SiriusXM’s AltNation, as is his latest, “Friends I Barely Know.” Speaking of AltNation and Jeff Regan, check out a song he’s championing called “Insomnia” by The Moss, which you’ll be hearing more about from Buddy Deal, Amy Kaplan and me! Thrilled to see the new AJR single, “I Won’t,” vault towards the Top 10. Bravo to Amanda and Drew! Keep your eyes peeled for more new music from The 1975, although it would be spectacular to see “Part of the Band” reached its deserved spot in the Top 10. Jagwar Twin’s “Happy Face” is the sleeper hit of the summer. Stay the course, people! I’m excited to launch The Lumineers’ “A.M. Radio” in a few weeks, driven by the streaming story and the insane tour numbers (over 30,000 tickets sold for the band’s upcoming show at Wrigley Field). This is the song that Lenny Diana and Andy Hawk have been saying is the big hit from the band’s current album. I never question those two. SONG TO HEAR: Mod Sun’s brilliant “Battle Scars.”
It’s been a weird, isolated summer—two work trips to NYC but otherwise sequestered at home, liking other people’s vacation posts. There have been moments of comfort—the returns of Kevin Weatherly, Mark Hamilton, John Allers and Christy Taylor to the Alternative fold—all smart people who care about the format. Those work trips afforded time with Mike Kaplan, Christine Malovetz and Brad Steiner at WNYL—I adore them all. A trip to NYC isn’t complete without breakfast at Balthazar with Arista’s Nick Petropoulos, where we celebrated his second Måneskin #1 with “Supermodel,” and plotted the course for his next #1, Beach Weather’s viral smash “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” Sure, the song is a few years old, but who even knows what day it is? KROQ’s ratings have gone up in the past months, which I would attribute to embracing Wet Leg’s “Chaise Longue,” which sounds as vibrant now as it did a year ago—AND to playing Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,” a masterpiece that transcends decades. The correlation between the uptick in ratings in other Alternative markets and the increased exposure of new music is immediate and direct. While the temptation to shift the format toward “Classic Alternative” remains, exposing the best new music should continue to be a priority—and the ratings prove it. Within moments, Phoenix’s “Alpha Zulu” will be Michael Starr’s first Alternative Top 10 since taking the promo helm at Glassnote. Phoenix’s sound paved the way for Glass Animals’ righteous perch at the top of the leaderboard, which, in turn, has helped “Alpha Zulu” become a call-out hit. Take note: Your audience loves this type of Alternative music. I understand the appeal of Classic Alternative—Gary Gorman and I (that’s us in the photo) went to see Superchunk’s sold-out show last Thursday night! I worked “Hyper Enough” in 1995, and have had the greatest honor of working with Merge Records ever since. Gary loved the band when he was in college, just as I loved R.E.M., Husker Dü and The Replacements at that age. As scary as it is to go to shows, it’s the thing that makes me feel almost normal. The kid and I are flying to Chicago next week to see Addison Grace. Like mom, like kid. Addison Grace, Cavetown and AJR are the artists we share. I also feel most normal when there’s a new AJR single to work. “I Won’t” is on the cusp of Top 20, and it feels like it could be one of the band’s biggest hits. Their June show/my kid’s b’nai mitzvah in Irvine was the greatest day of the summer. Tickets went onsale on 8/12 for The 1975 tour, with some shows already sold out during the presale. “Part of the Band” is solidly Top 20 at Alternative, and the goal is Top 10! Due to illness, Rage Against the Machine have had to drop out of Reading and Leeds festivals, so The 1975 have stepped in as headliners. Venues on the U.S. tour include Madison Square Garden in NYC and the Kia Forum in L,A,, as well as The Rave in Milwaukee for WLUM’s “Big Snow Show” and Kansas City for “The Church of Lazlo’s 20th Anniversary.” Glass Animals and The 1975 show up for Lazlo. He’s that important. Congrats to Team Island on the launch of the new Killers’ song “Boy,” which is definitely the band’s best song in years. It’s been stuck in my head since Ayelet played it for me and, if there is any certainty in life, you can bet on “Boy” being a #1 Alternative song. The Best Album of the Summer is Spoon’s Lucifer on the Sofa, especially “Wild” and “My Babe.” The Must-Read Book of the Summer is My Life in the Sunshine by Nabil AyersSONG TO HEAR: Windser’s new one, “Friends I Barely Know.”… Where should I eat in Chicago? Email: [email protected].
By Karen Glauber In the mid-’80s, there was no bigger TV show than Dallas. Every magazine ran a cover story with the question for the ages, “Who Shot J.R?” After the eighth season, Patrick Duffy, who played J.R.’s younger brother Bobby, opted to leave the show for greener pastures (a template for David Caruso a few years later). Both the show and Patrick Duffy’s career suffered, but his character had been killed in a car crash, and resurrections were not an easy sell in prime time. Cue to the final scene in the season finale: His wife Pam wakes up and hears the shower running. She opens the shower door and VOILÁ, there’s her husband, smiling. Turns out, the entire season was a dream. This time, the proverbial shower door opened and there is Kevin Weatherly back at the helm at KROQ, as though the past two years have been a pandemic fever dream. On Tuesday, I was the recipient of the greatest call there is—the call from Kevin and Miles, letting me know I had gotten an add on The 1975’s “Part of the Band.” It occurred to me this week that I’ve been doing Alternative-radio promotion for 40 years (!!!), starting as an intern at I.R.S. Records and then as a college rep at A&M. It’s the highest of highs and lowest of lows. This was an especially good week, with #1 Most Added on The 1975’s first outing on their own label, but there are plenty of weeks where Ted Volk and I are inconsolable, and I end the day in a fetal position, wondering if it’s too late to go to law school. Ted calls it a “vision quest,” whether it’s The 1975, The Lumineers, Girlfriends—whose “High Again” continues to perform like a smash for Andy Hawk at KKDO—or the priorities of our peers, which we support, however we are needed. It’s not for the faint of heart, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I couldn’t be happier that Kate Bush is about to have a Top 5 song at Alternative radio. The first time I heard “Running Up That Hill” was on an import that I bought from Pier Platters in Hoboken the week it was released. Of course, WLIR was playing it, as well as WHTG. For me, Kate’s performance on SNL in 1978 was the first time I’d heard of her, and I’ve been a huge fan since The Kick Inside. During one of my rare weekends with my father in the late ’70s, he tossed my copy of Lionheart into the incinerator in his building because I’d been playing “Wow” on repeat for an hour. Being a Kate fan during that era was also not for the faint of heart. There are some truly Alternative songs that will NEVER burn, no matter how popular they become; classics, if you will: “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals, “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers, “Electric Feel” by MGMT, “First” by Cold War Kids, “Feel It Still” by Portugal the Man—and now Kate Bush, the artist who influenced so many others, is owning the world. I’m confused by those who have decided to play the Meg Myers cover of “Running Up That Hill,” instead of the original, but you do you. A new Weezer song, “Records,” will be out on Monday (7/18). It will go to #1. AJR (now on Mercury) will soon release their genius new song, “I Won’t.” Yes, Ted and I are still involved with AJR (he as the unofficial fourth member). In fact, I just held my kid’s bar mitzvah (photo above) before the band’s show in Irvine—we did the ceremony onstage before doors, Jack played “Dear Winter” and then the kids played dodge ball with the band. L’chaim! Nick Petropoulos is moments away from another #1 Måneskin hit with “Supermodel.” The band is playing a special show for SiriusXM in a few weeks, and I suggested that Nick recreate the famous Nirvana show at Roseland when Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and the other “supes” were in attendance. Awesome new music from The Killers will be out on 8/5 (my birthday), and Michael Starr has set an impact date for the genius Two Door Cinema Club single “Wonderful Life” on 8/ 9, by which time Phoenix’s “Alpha Zulu” will be entrenched in the Top 10. FAVORITE SONG: Spoon’s “My Babe.”
By Karen Glauber Greetings from Day 437 of COVIDchella—it feels like forever. I tested positive on 4/13, four days after going to an indoor show, and now, after two weeks spent on my bed in a fetal position, I’m finally feeling much better. The one-year anniversary of my COVID/vaccination-related stroke is this Saturday, so I have a lot to celebrate, all things considered. Last weekend, in lieu of being there, I watched many of the Coachella performances on my laptop. I wish I could’ve been there, but it was thrilling to watch the performances by beabdoobee, Rina Sawayama, Idles, Phoebe Bridgers, Japanese Breakfast, Arlo Parks, Bishop Briggs and, of course, Arcade Fire, whose brilliant set was yet ANOTHER reminder that they’re the MOST IMPORTANT and BEST band in Alternative music. I have to make special mention of KROQ’s social-media coverage of Coachella, because Miles Anzaldo, Nicole Alvarez, Megan Holiday and the rest of the team captured the joy of being there with their photos, stories and interviews, all of which felt like KROQ in its prime. Phoebe Bridgers showed up to do an interview in the KROQ trailer close to midnight, following her career-defining mainstage set. That’s huge. I felt like I was being shown the highlights of Coachella by three friends who had absolute access. Their enthusiasm was infectious (and not in a COVID kind of way), and Miles and Co. should be hailed for their coverage. A lot happened in the radio world while I was praying for the bed spins to stop: WKQX’s Jon Manley exited the station, which was a shock to many. Also, it feels like we’re moments away from finding out the who’s been selected as the new PD at KROQ. I hate to admit it, but I legit have no idea who it’s going to be. I remember vividly when Kevin Weatherly was hired for the job—we were AGHAST that someone who had never programmed an Alternative station was now PD at KROQ. Adorable, right? The biggest stunner of the week was reading that Jim McGuinn, your friend and mine, was no longer the PD at KCMP Minneapolis, on the heels of the station being #1 18-34 in Minneapolis and having a 5.0 share in their most recent month. I refuse to speculate on what happened, and when I know, I won’t tell you. I’ve loved Jim since his days in high-school radio in the mid-’80s. He is a person of integrity, and he’s a huge reason why The Current is as impactful globally today as it has been for the past decade-plus. If you can break away from Love Is Blind 2, Bridgerton 2 or The Ultimatum on Netflix (welcome to my watchlist), check out the latest Florence + the Machine video for “Free,” once again brilliantly directed by Autumn de Wilde, which features Bill Nighy as the embodiment of Florence’s anxiety. Every song I’ve heard from this record is spectacular. The embodiment of my anxiety is played by Ted Volk. beabadoobee’s “Talk,” her best song yet, is currently streaming like an Alternative smash, while she is poised for another crowd-overflow performance at Coachella this weekend. Wilderado’s “Head Right” is now entrenched in the Top 10, while The Lumineers’ “Where We Are” is days away from sharing that designation. Not to jinx it, but this will be The Lumineers ninth consecutive Top 10 single, on the heels of the 10th anniversary of the band’s first record. I love celebrating milestones, even the ones that remind me of, well, where we were (like my stroke, for example). Marisa DiFrisco, whom I want to be just like when I grow up, is slaying with The Maine’s “Loved You a Little” and is now charting with Surfaces’ “I Can’t Help but Feel,” which is my kid’s favorite song. We’re so used to seeing Rob Goldklang dominating the chart that we won’t be the least bit surprised when Red Hot Chili Peppers is replaced by The Black Keys in the top spot. Rob and Ravikoff currently have three songs in the Top 10, but pay close attention to The Head and the Heart’s “Virginia (Wind in the Night)” because that’s also going to be a Top 10 song for them.
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