Monday, April 14, 2008

Hot summer nights

I believe I've blogged before about my favorite radio station here in central Arkansas, a fly-by-night operation connected to a broadcasting corporation that owns a motley collection of basic cable TV affiliates. The DJ-less radio station plays second-tier pop from the seventies and eighties, occasionally interrupted by a five-second promo for one of the TV networks.

The music heard on this channel is the stuff that didn't make it onto classic rock radio because it was too genre-bound (disco, mostly), too MOR (Olivia Newton-John), or just too weird. Normally I love hearing this underexposed side of my musical upbringing, presented in such an unadorned, context-free setting. But driving home from the airport last night, I heard the dark side. A bar-band riff. Cubic-zirconia vocal polish. Lyrics that didn't make a lick of sense until I realized they were composed by someone who didn't speak English as his first language.

It was tantalizingly familiar, but I certainly couldn't sing along with it. It was like a song that I had heard three times in my whole life, a song that just didn't stick. But only now could I realize that it was the worst song ever committed to vinyl.

It was "Sausalito Summernights" by the Dutch one-hit-wonder Diesel. Click here to listen (if you dare).

Why is this the worst song ever recorded? It takes elements that I am inclined to defend in the music of my life and proves the point of the people who cringe at them. Let me count the ways:
  1. You may think you know what "over-produced" sounds like, but this song has been marinated in Turtlewax until the shiny surface could hold its shape without any music underneath.
  2. The supposed story of a California road trip has clearly been written by someone who's never been to California. It reminds me of number 17 on the Willesden Herald's trenchant "Common faults in short stories submitted" for their literary prize.
  3. Interminable.
  4. The early eighties Steve Miller Band sound was marginal even when performed by talented musicians. Why would anyone want to adopt it as their inspiration?
  5. Inaudible, sibilant, synthesizer-processed backing vocals on the chorus had me straining to understand them on every (interminable) repetition. "All aboard .... ssss-th-sss-ess ..." ??
  6. Just when you think it's ground to a halt -- a reprise of that opening riff. It's starting over! (See #4.) The version I linked to is not the five-minute version. Be grateful.
Let me know if you live through it.


the secret knitter said...

I'll have a burger and a root beer.

That is the first and last time I've ever heard that, so I stuck through until the bitter end. What a train wreck. A radio station is playing this now?!

Victor said...

Remember Dan Aykroyd as Leonard Pith-Garnell ...

Really bit the big one!

My favorite part was the stretching for the high notes on the chorus ... Turtle Wax never sounded better ... even with a supply of Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat...

Segues to a thing I think will interest Donna ... somebody came up with the idea of selling those American Top 40 broadcasts to the 80s Oldies Stations for reruns. I've wasted many a Sunday night, and as a fellow cheese conoisseur ... I don't know whether it plays in any of the radio stations in Arkansas, but if you can't listen to it locally, the Baltimore station WQSR live-streams it from 8pm to midnight Eastern.