Monday, January 15, 2007

And Now, On With The Countdown

For Christmas this year, my lovely wife gave me an XM Satellite Radio, which may be the coolest gift I've ever received. Frankly, I never thought she'd get it for me, since it's long been a foregone conclusion in our home that my musical tastes, formed in the early 1980's by acts like Def Leppard, Prince, and the Rolling Stones, will ultimately propel my children into hopeless degeneracy. But XM also has the Major League Baseball broadcasts on it, and we're all pretty cool with that. I think ultimately she was willing to place the possible father-son bonding that can take place this summer listening to Mike Shannon call Cardinals games above the possible side-effects from the kids accidentally overhearing me singing along with "99 Luftballoons" on the 80's channel.

Anyway, one of the really, really cool things for me about the XM radio is that on 70's and 80's channels on the weekends, they rerun old episodes of Casey Kasem's "American Top 40" from those decades. I can't tell you what a great thing this is. The top five or ten songs from any given period are usually still widely played even today, so those are all too familiar. But when you get down to the 20's and the 30's on the charts, you find some real forgotten gems which are always fun to hear.

It also gives you the occasional opportunity to hear some of the absolute worst pop music ever foisted upon mankind. Such was the case with a rancid little number I heard for the first time this weekend, moving into #23 on the pop chart in 1972. It's absolutely the worst song I've ever personally heard, which means it has to be among at least the top ten worst songs in pop history. Don't get me wrong; it's highly entertaining, in the way Shatner singing "Rocket Man" is entertaining. It's mawkish, self-important, simple-minded, didactic, naive, and supremely idiotic. Just an utter trainwreck. It's something called "Things Get a Little Easier (Once You Understand)" by Think. You can listen to it here, if you dare. And as you do, keep in mind--the kind of people who thought songs like this would transform society are basically the kind people who run today's Democratic Party.

Also, make sure you don't bail out early and miss the hilariously ham-handed "surprise ending." It will amply reward your persistence. I've heard better acting in local used-furniture store commercials. Perhaps the only thing funnier than the song itself was Casey Kasem's super-somber outro (which I can only wish were also on the Web) at the end. "Moving up to number 23 [pause] that's 'Things Get a Little Easier' by [pause] Think." I think by using dramatic pauses, Casey was trying to give us the opportunity to Think about what we had just learned. And I did.

So as far as I'm concerned, that's worth the XM Satellite subscription fee right there.

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