Tyrades! By Danny Tyree
If you’re frustrated by the skimpiness of “fun-size” candy, wait until you hear some “fun-size” songs.
On August 1, Calgary Top 40 station AMP Radio became the first station in the world to switch to the new QuickHitz format. Developed by Vancouver-based SpakNet Communications, QuickHitz (without having to consult with composers, singers or musicians) whittles songs down to half their length, so twice as many can be crammed into an hour.
Forget solutions to world hunger, AIDS and genocide! What the world has really been needing is songs such as “Play Half That Funky Music, White Boy,” “Eight and One-Quarter 12-Packs of Beer On The Wall” and “Me” (sorry, Janis, no time for “and Bobby McGee”).
Let’s kick Thomas Edison and Jonas Salk off their pedestals and give the QuickHitz folks the prominence they deserve!
I’m delighted that there are experts out there who can tell us that stairways takes up too much of the listener’s precious time.
There’s really a burning need for Led Zeppelin to sing, “And she’s buying an express elevator to heaven.”
SparkNet supposedly did two years of exhaustive research before launching the format, and found that hip young people with shortened attention spans really crave such a revolution. Do we really need music watered down for ADHD sufferers? When the QuickHitz gimmick wears thin, will we hear DJs blaring, “All diverticulitis-based songs, all the time”?
Proponents ask us not to shoot the messenger over the attention-span message. Of course not, because the reverberations from the gunshot would probably drown out three whole albums.
Sure, let’s cater to microscopic attention spans among those who will be reading your nursing home charts someday. Hilarity ensues.
We are assured that editing is an art and that editors will adjust songs with a scalpel, but all I can picture is finding a surgical sponge sewn up in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I suspect that the editing process will become as aggravating as runaway spelling autocorrect programs. Look for every occurrence of “Oh, baby, baby” to wind up as “Oh, twins!”
The format magnanimously gives an artist twice as much of the intangible asset “exposure,” but of course it also gives twice as much exposure to the OTHER artists competing for consumers’ limited dollars. Those doggone “level playing fields” — they’ll make your head spin faster than a 78 r.p.m. record.
One industry figure brags, “A lot of listeners won’t even notice what they’re missing.” That may be true enough (my wife’s grandfather once felt neglected as church organist and bet himself he could slip a secular song into his repertoire, before launching into a slower arrangement of “Roll Out The Barrel” that never raised an eyebrow), but it’s an insult to the more discerning listeners.
And what caliber of sponsors will these “won’t even notice” stations attract? (“Don’t even think about shopping anywhere except Murphy Motors. And don’t think about the air bags, anti-lock brakes or alarm systems, either. You’ll sleep better.”)
We really are not set up to handle the inevitable social upheaval if the QuickHitz format succeeds. Romance will suffer (“Listen, honey, they’re playing our — never mind”), concert roadies will be replaced with split-second NASCAR pit crews and underemployed musicians will wander the streets with signs proclaiming, “Will perform self-indulgent guitar solos for food — as long as it’s food that doesn’t mess with my diverticulitis diet, dude.”
©2014 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”. Danny’s’ weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.