HITS Daily Double

By Karen Glauber

So many milestones since we last spoke: My 33rd anniversary in the “career cul-de-sac” known as HITS; my 31st sober birthday; the 40th anniversary of the English Beat/R.E.M. show I booked at Oberlin College in 1983, followed a few days later by the 40th anniversary of R.E.M.’s epic debut album, Murmur, which is as important to the indie kids from the ’80s as Nevermind is to those who came of age in the ’90s. My social media has been filled with my peers recounting how Murmur changed their lives.

April 13 was the 40th anniversary of The Violent Femmes’ self-titled debut—another record that changed the landscape of Alternative music. My history with the Femmes dates back to seeing them open for Richard Hell at the Bottom Line on my 21st birthday. Played their demo on my college-radio station; booked their first Cleveland show; sat in the front row for their Carnegie Hall show the week I moved to NYC, and 40 years later, we’re still friends.

Now, in 2023, what does Alternative music look like? I think I found the answer a few weeks ago at the Arlo Parks show. Nominated for two Grammy Awards in 2022 for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album, Arlo had one of the coolest and most diverse audiences I’ve seen in ages at her sold-out show. Here’s the thing about Arlo’s music: Every song sounds like an immediate classic, especially her new single, “Weightless.” Of course it won’t test—I’m seriously tired of “bad call-out” as an excuse.

Of course you’re familiar with country superstar Luke Combs, right? He recorded a cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” that is about to be everywhere. What does that have to do with Arlo, you might ask? Like “Fast Car,” which is truly a song for the ages, Arlo’s songs have the same timeless, deeply emotional appeal. “Fast Car” is having a renaissance right now—even my kid knows it.

Unless there is artist identification with your call-out, nothing new will ever work. It’s impossible to form an opinion about an unfamiliar 10-second hook without artist identification, especially when it now can take a year for a song to become familiar. Glass Animals’ “Heat Wave” would have never been a hit based on initial call-out. beabadoobee’s “The Perfect Pair” sounds like a hit. The song is streaming 1.5 mil/week, and she’s on tour with Taylor Swift. Whatever your call-out is telling you is wrong. Ted brought up an interesting point today: Since new music only comprises 10% of your playlist, wouldn’t this be the part of your programming where you actually take risks? “The Perfect Pair” was added into iHeart “Custom” this week. If all goes well, beabadoobee will be the first female indie artist to have a Top 10 hit at Alternative since girl in red’s “Serotonin”.

I’m not going to Coachella this year because I’m trying to avoid getting COVID for the fourth time in a calendar year, but I would love to be there to see artists who embody Alternative music including blink-182, Gorillaz, Yves Tumor, Wet Leg, boygenius, Lava La Rue, Christine and the Queens, Bakar, Horsegirl, The Breeders, Blondie, Snail Mail, Bjork, Alex G, Sleaford Mods, Weyes Blood and, of course, Cannons.

Thank you, Amanda, for playing me the new Post Malone single, “Chemical.” If there was ever an in-the-pocket/out-of-the-box Alt hit, this is it. Did you catch the “Seven Nation Army” reference in the lyrics to the chorus? Also on deck for Amanda and Drew is a new AJR single. Love, love, love.

My kid and I are going “on tour” this summer to see their favorite bands. First on the list is Lovejoy, whose “Call Me What You Like” should be a priority for programmers everywhere. We also bought tickets to see Noahfinnce’s upcoming sold-out show, as well as tickets to see Cave Town in July. Weezer/Spoon is high on their list, as is Lollapalooza (Lovejoy for them and The 1975 and beabadoobee for me), Guster, Addison Grace, Tears for Fears and AJR. I can’t wait.

SONG TO HEAR: Wallice’s “Best Friend.”

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