It’s Valentine’s Day, so naturally, I was going to write something about the emotion of love from the standpoint of my musical tastes. Most of the music I listen to doesn’t contain the standard ‘boy-meets-girl-falls-in-love’ type of lyrics. I’m more Joy Division than Olivia Newton John, or something to that effect. I’m cynical, curmudgeonly, and not prone to public displays of affection, and my musical tastes follow suit. I was trying to think of some honestly romantic songs in my collection – not sarcastically romantic, or caustically, or casualty romantic – but actual proclamations of love and devotion. Sadly, the best one to come to mind was “Love Song” by The Cure, from their Disintegration album, one of my favorite records of all time. Except for…that song. Which is horrible, trite, and shmaltzy. OK, so maybe I’m just not the type of person for whom a romantic song is going to resonate. That’s fine, I’m not expecting my tastes to change just to fit a made-up holiday.
What’s truly strange is what was going on with KEXP today. On my way home from the gym, I flipped on KEXP, and they were right in the middle of playing Rick Astley’s ultra-cheesy late-80’s goob-fest “Never Gonna Give You Up.” When’s the last time you heard this song? I guarantee you, it hasn’t been long enough. Now, KEXP is a public radio station and as such, can play anything they damn well like. But, they tend to play ‘alternative’ and ‘even more alternative than that’. They’re not trying to be top 40 or even Alternative Nation – they really try to mix it up; however, if I had to make an argument for what you might hear on KEXP during drive-time hours, it would be ‘popular alternative/hipster tunes of today and yesterday’. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact, it’s a large part of why I love them, and I love that they’re in my hometown as well. So, when they played a Rick Astley song on Valentine’s Day, it was…a little unusual for them, BUT, they’re allowed to go off-script, so, I didn’t think too much about it. They followed Rick up with a very serviceable Beck tune “Think I’m In Love”, and then “Gimme All Your Love” by Alabama Shakes. Then I got home, so I was out of the car and not listening to the radio anymore. The nice thing about KEXP is they keep their real-time playlists alive for a period of time. Once inside, I decided to check the list (because I’d forgotten the name of the Beck tune and wanted to listen to it again). Well, well, well…no mention of Rick Astley on their website playlist for today. It goes right from REM’s “The One I Love” at 9:54 AM to a mandated air break at 9:57 AM, and then into the Beck tune at 10:02 AM . Where’s Rick? Why was he scrubbed from the playlist? Were they too embarrassed to post that they’d played a Rick Astley tune? That’s what’s great about KEXP, they can say “screw you, we’re playing Rick Astley, suck it hard”. But no, Rick’s not there. Maybe KEXP is Rickrolling everyone who happened to catch that moment of the broadcast. We can’t prove to anyone that they played his (admittedly terrible) song, because it’s not on the playlist. Now I see what’s going on. KEXP, messing with me! Well played, KEXP…well played. However, isn’t that more an April Fool’s move than a Valentine’s Day move?