Monday, January 26

Scientists Just Discovered Why All Pop Music Sounds Exactly the Same

Tom Barnes wrote at mic.com:
"Anyone who listens to pop radio regularly has probably been hit with this realization at one point or another – a ton of pop music sounds very similar. It seems like grandpa logic, but a growing body of research confirms what we all suspect: Pop music is actually getting more and more homogeneous. And now, thanks to a new study, they know why.
new study, surveying more than 500,000 albums, shows simplicity sells best across all music genres. As something becomes popular, it necessarily dumbs down and becomes more formulaic. So if you're wondering why the top 10 features two Meghan Trainor songs that sound exactly the same and two Taylor Swift songs that sound exactly the same, scientists think they finally have the answer.
The study: In a recent study, researchers from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria studied 15 genres and 374 subgenres. They rated the genre's complexity over time — measured by researchers in purely quantitative aspects, such as timbre and acoustical variations — and compared that to the genre's sales. They found that in nearly every case, as genres increase in popularity, they also become more generic.
"This can be interpreted," the researchers write, "as music becoming increasingly formulaic in terms of instrumentation under increasing sales numbers due to a tendency to popularize music styles with low variety and musicians with similar skills." 
So music all starts simplifying and sounding similar. Not only that, but complexity actually starts turning people off of musical styles. Alternative rock, experimental and hip-hop music are all more complex now than when they began, and each has seen their sales plummet. Startlingly few genres have retained high levels of musical complexity over their histories, according to the researchers. And ones that have — folk, folk rock and experimental music — aren't exactly big earners. Unless, of course, they fit into the Mumford & Sons/Lumineers pop-folk mold.
The findings are somewhat intuitive. Of course a genre will sell more once it forms an established sound that listeners can identify with. But the science is only proving the now-dominant truth of pop music: Record companies are only comfortable promoting things they already know will sell. And they know that now better than ever.
Record labels are pouring resources into data analysis tools, using them to predict which songs will be the next breakout hit. According to Derek Thompson at the Atlantic, executives can use services like Shazam and HitPredictor to see which songs will break out next with surprising accuracy.
Once a worthy song or artist emerges from the data, radio conglomerates have mechanisms in place to ensure that music will connect with an audience. Clear Channel's "On the Verge" program is one of the most talked about. When a song is dubbed "On the Verge," every station in the Clear Channel network has to play it at least 150 times — blasting it to a potential network of about 245 million listeners. This undoubtedly helped launch Iggy Azalea to incredible new heights of success, which she may not have otherwise earned with her talent alone. And her success, in turn, is spawning legions of hip-hop pop imitators whom labels will choose to blast out because their chance at success has been proven. It's a cycle.
The study is right — and it's more of a problem now than ever. Iggy Azalea may be the harbinger of hip-hop's eventual homogenization, but she is only a pawn of the larger media circuit. As reported by the Atlantic, "Top 40 stations last year played the 10 biggest songs almost twice as much as they did a decade ago."
Human beings crave familiarity. Numerous psychological studies show that people choose songs they're familiar with over songs that more closely match their reported music tastes. Our somewhat manipulative music industry, which chooses familiar-sounding music and pushes it to listeners in massive quantities, knows well how to capitalize on those cravings. Genres standardize over time as a way to plug into this psychology. And then we hear the same songs, over and over again.
But there's a point at which that becomes tired, and the space opens for something revolutionary — something that totally shifts the way we think about music. If we're aware of these sort of trends and practices, we can better resist what they do to our music. We can champion the genuinely original and leave aside the derivative. We can make a better musical culture."
Champion the genuinely original with KJRW! 

Saturday, January 17

WHAT'S GOING ON (in the middle of January)

January has been a good month for KJRW so far. Our rank on Live365.com is climbing, and our rank among the rock stations on the site are the highest they have ever been. Listeners have made us a favorite station over 630 times as of this week.

The Top Ten Tracks on KJRW are:

  1. Natural One - Folk Implosion
  2. If You Could Only See - Tonic
  3. Love In Plaster - Hives
  4. Skin and Bones - Foo Fighters
  5. Kick Out the Jams - Bad Brains with Henry Rollins
  6. Backwater - Meat Puppets
  7. Blood Sugar Sex Magik - Red Hot Chili Peppers
  8. Bittersweet Symphony - Verve
  9. Corona - Minutemen
  10. Empty Promise - Girl In A Coma

Thursday, January 1

WHAT'S GOING ON (at the beginning of the new year)

Hello and welcome to 2015!  KJRW's 5th year online is underway.  Most of 2014 was good for the station.  The play button was clicked about a thousand times a month.  We were riding especially high in April, when KJRW held its highest rank ever among all the stations on Live365.com.  We got Under the Covers, listened to love songs, had a New Wave Summer, went back to College in the fall and had a Punk Rock Christmas.  We'll do it all again in 2015, from Punk to Grunge and beyond!

People spent the most time listening to KJRW in the U.S., Switzerland, Spain, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, Italy, Russia, Peru and the Czech Republic in the month of December.  Inside the U.S., listeners were found in our home base of Seattle, WA; Chicago, IL; Louisville,KY; Philadelphia, PA; New York, NY; Kansas City, MO; Los Angeles, CA; Phoenix, AZ; Cincinnati, OH and Dallas, TX.

The current top ten tracks on KJRW are:

  1. Rise - Public Image Ltd.
  2. Spoonman - Soundgarden
  3. Bonzo Goes To Bitburg - Ramones
  4. Woman - Wolfmother
  5. Bittersweet Symphony - Verve
  6. Corona - Minutemen
  7. Welcome To Paradise - Green Day
  8. Cannonball - Breeders
  9. Blood Sugar Sex Magik - Red Hot Chili Peppers
  10. Closer - Nine Inch Nails

Get Under the Covers with KJRW now.  Your favorite cover songs play all winter long.

Wednesday, December 24

THE TOP 114 OF 2014

Merry Christmas!  Here it is:  the big list of your favorite songs you heard on KJRW this year.  The band with the most songs was Nirvana.  The White Stripes had the number one song, but it was the only song they had in the countdown. Just under 20% of the list were tunes from our College Rock and New Wave Summer features. A dozen songs were covers.  Get Under the Covers again with us in January!

  1. The Hardest Button To Button - White Stripes
  2. The Busdrivers - Josh's Shirt
  3. Perfect Storm - Strypes
  4. So Alive - Love and Rockets
  5. Feel the Pain - Dinosaur Jr.
  6. Lexicon Devil - Germs
  7. Wendy - Descendents
  8. Incinerate - Sonic Youth
  9. Get With Me - PINS
  10. Oh My God - Kaiser Chiefs
  11. Kundalini Express - Love and Rockets
  12. I Fought the Law - Clash
  13. No Fun - Sex Pistols
  14. One Way Or Another - Blondie
  15. T.M.I. - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
  16. Strange Love - Cramps
  17. Kiss Them For Me - Siouxsie and the Banshees
  18. Rise Above - Black Flag
  19. Till I Get My Way - Black Keys
  20. People Who Died - Jim Carroll Band
  21. Goodnight Tonight - Dollyrots
  22. Pirate Song - Go Betty Go
  23. Between the Eyes - Love Battery
  24. The Guns of Brixton - Clash
  25. We Want the Airwaves - Ramones
  26. Bad Mouth - Fugazi
  27. The Passenger - Iggy Pop
  28. One of My Lies - Green Day
  29. School Days - Runaways
  30. Dancing With Myself - Generation X
  31. Sappy - Nirvana
  32. Here's To Your Fuck - Gits
  33. These Boots Are Made For Walkin' - 7 Seconds
  34. Drama - L7
  35. State of Love and Trust - Pearl Jam
  36. Phenomena - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  37. Grind - Alice In Chains
  38. Pablo Picasso - Modern Lovers
  39. Dresden Dolls - Fall
  40. Destination Anywhere - Sugarcult
  41. Electric Band - Wild Flag
  42. No Time Left - Crawls
  43. You Sound Like You're Sick - Ramones
  44. Season of the Witch - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
  45. Wild Thing - X
  46. Infected - Bad Religion
  47. What Love Is - Dead Boys
  48. Good Guys (Don't Wear White) - Minor Threat
  49. Ring of Fire - Social Distortion
  50. I Wanna Be Sedated - Offspring
  51. Wave of Mutilation - Pixies
  52. Damaged Goods - Gang of Four
  53. The Wait - Pretenders
  54. Love Buzz - Nirvana
  55. I Want It All - Battered Wives
  56. Pull A U - Kills
  57. Bela Lugosi's Dead - Bauhaus
  58. Stray - Heatmiser
  59. Rock and Roll Queen - Subways
  60. Who Was In My Room Last Night? - Butthole Surfers
  61. The Hand That Feeds - Nine Inch Nails
  62. The Wait - Killing Joke
  63. Destroy - Eyeliners
  64. Goo Goo Muck - Cramps
  65. Everybody's Out - Dum Dum Girls
  66. Somebody Else's Baby - Murder City Devils
  67. Take Me To Your, Leader - Pudz
  68. The Impression That I Get - Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  69. I Don't Like Mondays - Boomtown Rats
  70. Over Seasons - Authority Zero
  71. Kiss Kiss - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  72. Dog Style - Viletones
  73. Money - Flying Lizards
  74. Prison Bound - Social Distortion
  75. Hellhole - Detroit Diesel Power
  76. (I'm Gonna) Run Away - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
  77. All This and More - Dead Boys
  78. Sliver - Nirvana
  79. Good Thing - Fine Young Cannibals
  80. Suicide - Battered Wives
  81. The KKK Took My Baby Away - Ramones
  82. New College - Dollyrots
  83. Waiting Room - Fugazi
  84. Soup Is Good Food - Dead Kennedys
  85. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - Devo
  86. Should I Stay Or Should I Go? - Clash
  87. Higher Ground - Red Hot Chili Peppers
  88. Abra Cadaver - Hives
  89. Wrong Way - Sublime
  90. Friction - Television
  91. New Radio - Bikini Kill
  92. Radio Free Europe
  93. Supermassive Black Hole - Muse
  94. Gouge Away - Pixies
  95. Andres - L7
  96. Bang On - Breeders
  97. Lies - Greenhornes
  98. Ever Fallen In Love? - Buzzcocks
  99. Misunderstood - 7 Year Bitch
  100. Girlsized - Glitter Mini 9
  101. In Bloom - Nirvana
  102. Bored of You - Agent Orange
  103. Cocaine - FIDLAR
  104. Radio Revolution - Vacancies
  105. How Soon Is Now? - Smiths
  106. Story of My Life - Social Distortion
  107. Seriously - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
  108. Whip It - Devo
  109. First World Anarchist - Dollyrots
  110. Ball of Confusion - Love and Rockets
  111. Sundance - Public Works
  112. Not My Idea - Garbage
  113. So What - Anti-Nowhere League
  114. You Know You're Right - Nirvana 

Tuesday, December 16

WHAT'S GOING ON (in the middle of December)

We're halfway through December and have had almost as many visits to the station page as in the whole month of November.  Our rank among all the stations on Live365 has been climbing this past week.  Your current favorite songs on KJRW are:

  1. Spoonman - Soundgarden
  2. Closer - Nine Inch Nails
  3. Cannonball - Breeders
  4. Rise - Public Image Ltd.
  5. Rise Above - Black Flag
  6. Bonzo Goes To Bitburg - Ramones
  7. Bela Lugosi's Dead - Bauhaus
  8. Corona - Minutemen
  9. Lies - Greenhornes
  10. Santa Monica - Everclear
The Top 114 Songs of 2014 will be posted soon.  Happy Chanukah!

West Seattle Herald