Last night I was cleaning my room and I came across a pile of Spin magazines. I compulsively save music magazines with the thought that I am going to read them two to three years down the road to see if the music prognosticators were right about who is the next big thing (they are usually wrong). What actually happens is that I get annoyed by all of this paper clogging my tiny apartment and toss the entire stack into the recycling bin. I pulled out the issue on the very bottom of the pile, January 2006, featuring The Killers on the cover. As I paged through the section "The Year in Music 2005," I realized something very striking. 2005 was the last year I listened to local alternative radio. And this is mostly because 2005 was the last year I had a car. My 1993 Mercury Tracer (aka "Speed Tracer") died and was laid to rest near Renfrew, Ontario, during an ill-fated road trip to Bryson, Quebec. This gem of American auto engineering did not have a CD player, and I was way too lazy to dig out tapes, so I nearly always listened to the local alternative rock station, 102.1 The Edge (we can debate later as to whether this station is really "alternative").
According to Spin, these were the top singles of 2005:
1. "Feel Good Inc.," The Gorillaz
2. "Sugar, We're Goin Down," Fall Out Boy
3. "1 Thing," Amerie
4. "Still Tippin," Mike Jones feat. Slim Thug and Paul Wall
5. "Gold Digger," Kayne West
6. "George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People," The Legendary KO (uh, this didn't make it north of the border, much less on mainstream Canadian radio)
7. "Since U Been Gone," Kelly Clarkson
8. "Welcome to the Jamrock," Damien Marley
9. "Do You Want To," Franz Ferdinand
10. "Hollaback Girl," Gwen Stefani
11. "Mr. Brightside," The Killers
12. "Gasolina," Daddy Yankee
13. "Lose Control," Missy Elliott feat. Ciara and Fat Man Scoop
14. "Helena," My Chemical Romance
15. "Formed a Band," Art Brut
16. "There it Go! (The Whistle Song)," Juelz Santana
17. "The Importance of Being Idle," Oasis
18. "Random," Lady Sovereign
19. "Banquet," Bloc Party
20. "Wake Me Up When September Ends," Green Day
I will admit to having all of these tracks except 3, 4, 6, 8, 13, 16 & 18 in my MP3 collection, and I enjoyed myself while dancing to most of these songs. At one point I did try to listen to Amerie and Lady Sovereign, but I'm not a big hip-hop fan and couldn't get into them.
After doing a quick and probably very inaccurate internet search on the top Alternative or "Modern Rock" singles of 2006 and 2007, I realize I have no clue who many these bands are, much less being able to hum along to one of their singles. AFI? Bedouin Soundclash? Yellowcard? Stabilo? Of course I recognize the Coldplays and Pearl Jams and the Red Hot Chili Peppers of the group, but seriously, who the fuck is Muse? Plain White T's? Sick Puppies? I am sure that some of these bands put out great poppy alternative tracks in 2006-7, but I really have no clue what they sound like.
Possibly not coincidentally, shortly after my car died I ended my relationship with Spin. In early 2006 Spin was sold to a new publisher, their editor-in-chief of five years was fired, and Chuck Klosterman stopped reporting and writing essays for the magazine. The June 2006 issue featured freakin' Beyonce. And this is an alternative music magazine? Rolling Stone penis envy all the way. The worst is that I payed extra to have that crap shipped to Canada. My subscription did not run out until early 2008, and by that time I had actually stopped reading it altogether, although the late-2007/early-2008 issues are still in a pile on my bedroom floor. I next attempted to subscribe to Harp, which went out of business after I got my first issue (I never even got billed for it).
In the future when/if I get another car, it will undoubtedly have a CD player and/or an MP3 player outlet, so I can't imagine that I will go back to listening to alternative radio. Its a shame too. My first exposure to alternative rock was listening to bands such as The Replacements, The Cure, and The Dead Milkmen on college radio in central Wisconsin. I'm sure there a tons of great rock and pop songs on the radio right now. Unfortunately, I am not going to hear them.
Fall Out Boy - Sugar, We're Going Down.mp3
Buy: From Under the Cork Tree (2005)
The Killers - Mr. Brightside.mp3
Buy: Hot Fuss (2004)
My Chemical Romance - Helena.mp3
Buy: Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (2004)