Hopefully this will be a fairly short entry on the blog, I just feel like I need to say SOMETHING, if for no reason other than to relieve my mind / conscience a bit.
Back in May 2012 I began my “Ready To Rock (weekly playlist) posts”. The concept and the process have been explained – both in short and long versions – several times over the years, but it’s all pretty based around a simple framework: take the actual weekly Active Rock airplay chart, remove anything that’s not worthy of the spins its getting, replace it with stuff that’s more deserving / better / actually ROCKS.
Over the past couple months I think I’ve been behind schedule (typically posted on Wednesdays after I sorted through the data available to me) or outright missed an update more times than I had in the first 6+ years combined. “Real life” contributed to that to some extent, the annual holiday music stagnation also, but as much as anything it’s been related to … let’s call it The State of (What’s Left Of) Active Rock.
For most of 2019, there were as many songs in the official top 40 of the chart that I had dismissed — for lack of being even remotely rock, for being beaten beyond dead horse longevity, in a couple cases for personal reasons — than I was using. There’s always been an ebb & flow, good weeks/months or bad ones, but the state of even passable ROCK songs getting meaningful airplay last year was as bad as I’d seen since I started tracking it.
The past few months in particular things were simply abysmal. The current airwaves (and therefore chart) are littered with bands that are posterchildren for why I spent most of a decade not really listening to music outside of older catalog cuts AT ALL. I wouldn’t give you a plastic toy penny for the sum total of Tool, Green Day, Weezer, nor for the likes of Twenty One Pilots and Imagine fucking Dragons. Nor pretty much anything that’s ever been fairly described as “alternative”. This week’s big debut on the actual chart comes from Pearl Jam … who sound like they’re doing a bad imitation of the Talking Heads or some other worse than useless horseshit. Nor do I care for anything that sounds more befitting of an Adult Contemporary station than a (supposed) Rock station. And the country chart usually has 1-2 tracks every week that are more rock than at least 1/3rd of what’s being passed off as rock these days.
I don’t eat tofu instead of meat, I don’t want Alt instead of Rock either.
(I haven’t bought a burger from BK since they started that silly ass I Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat burger bullshit either. And you can imagine what I think of Chick-Fil-A and their @#$%@#$ kale crunchy side dish)
The less the chart is relevant to what I’m doing, the deeper I have to dig and dive to find what rightfully moves up into my own Top 40. The past several updates have turned into 12-18 hour marathons, and still produced only minimal change at times. Hell, for years my weekly “Back Forty” has been stronger musically than the Top 40 as it was — indeed it’s at least an equal part of what I listen to for enjoyment on my own time – but even that is starting to become tougher and tougher to fill with things that are above passable. A good bit of the additional time spent is because for every one decent (much less good) song I hear when sampling and searching, I’m enduring 10 others than I’d rather go deaf than hear again.
In short, I’m finding myself spending more and more time, with less and less return. I’m more bitter about the state of music than ever, more frustrated than ever, literally dreading even starting the process, with hardly any joy aside from the relief of being done for another week. It’s obvious that SOMETHING has to change.
So, with that in mind, my “weekly” Top 40 updates are going to become — officially — more irregular. It will still be updated, I’m just removing the self-induced pressure on myself to go through the process on some calendar-driven schedule that sometimes literally produces no change at all unless I force something up or down a spot or two. The Back Forty lists – which I’ve generally promoted most on Facebook to this point — are likely to see something closer to the normal weekly updates.
So … I’m not going away. I’ll still be rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic until the ship goes down or I fall overboard. I’m just going to let myself breathe a little bit between chairs.