Hey old people out there, what kind of music do you listen to? Do you still listen to your music on the radio because you’re afraid to touch a computer?
Are you afraid of buying music online and burning it to a disc?
If you’re over the age of 29, have you moved beyond Lady Gaga’s cutting edge pop, rhythmic, and dance music and embraced “Cheek To Cheek”, her collaboration with 89-year-old Tony Bennett?
Actually, I’m just kidding with you to see if those comments ticked you off as much as radio music programmers in many genres, especially Top 40 and country, tick me off because of the way they treat people that are not teenagers or in their 20s.
They think only the young ones will carelessly throw away money and downloads songs freely. That may be true. However, we older people will buy music when good music comes our way.
It’s a proven fact that without radio airplay, only die hard fans will know about an artist’s new music. And, the other edge of that sword is that crappy music, if played thousands of times a week on the radio with the same 20 redundant songs, will sell millions of copies and hit #1. (Hello, Omi’s “Cheerleader”!)
This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about ageism. I’ve talked about how country music has basically shunned new music from every queen that’s dominated that genre’s chart — Loretta, Tammy, Dolly, Patty Loveless, Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan, Trisha Yearwood, and now Reba.
Last spring, Reba released her latest album, “Love Somebody” and it topped the country chart for two weeks. However, the first single, “Going Out Like That” barely cracked the Top 25 and the second single was pretty much DOA.
The same for Madonna. Her “Rebel Heart” album came out last spring, too, and only one single reached the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #84, although three singles topped the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.
Who wants to hear women in their late-50s sing amazing music, 30-plus years into their career, when Top 40 radio force-feeds us substandard music from Ariana Grande (“Focus”, I’m talking about you, since I love Ariana’s previous hits!)
So, what has ruffled my 51-year-old feathers today?
I just bought Adele “25” and Justin Bieber’s “Purpose” and both albums are amazing. And, both artists are in their 20s.
A couple of months ago, I bought Janet Jackson’s “Unbreakable” album, her first new album in seven years.
I saw her in concert in Omaha, Nebraska, in late October and the show was incredible and she was flawless.
The first single from the album, “No Sleeep”, peaked at #63 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #18 on the “Hot R&B/Hip Hop” chart.
However, it’s currently at #1 on Billboard’s Adult R&B chart, where it’s been for nine weeks — her longest running #1 song on that chart.
But, wait, her chart dominance doesn’t end there. The second single and the album track, “Unbreakable” is currently at #9 (after peaking at #8). So, that means that Janet has two songs currently in the Top Ten on the Urban R&B chart, but the 49-year-old has no place at mainstream Top 40 radio!
“Adult Contemporary” is a very bad term and no singer that has dominated the music world for decades should be relegated to that place on the radio.
It shouldn’t have to be a consolation prize for musicians and listeners of certain age.
Here’s a more complete definition, “AC radio may play mainstream music, but they will exclude hip hop, dance tracks, hard rock, and some forms of teen pop, as they are less popular amongst the target demographic of these radio stations, which is intended for an adult audience. The AC Radio stations will often target the 25–44 age group, the demographic that has received the most attention from advertisers since the 1960s.”
My philosophy is a song should get radio airplay if it’s good music, regardless of the artist’s age, gender, race, religion, or whatever label you want to add.
Case in point, listen to “Burnitup”, my favorite track from Janet’s new album featuring Missy Elliot, and tell me this couldn’t be popular on today’s radio if radio didn’t have closed ears, closed minds, and open wallets catering to a certain demo.
Also, Madonna’s “Ghosttown”, critically acclaimed as some of her best work ever, topped the Billboard Dance Club Song chart earlier this year and reached #18 on the Adult Contemporary chart, but it found no love at Top 40 radio.
And, at country radio, Reba’s music is as fresh today as it was back in the 1980s and 1990s when she dominated country music and those playing her songs cashed in on the millions.
I love all kinds of music — teen pop to dance to mainstream rap to jazz, whatever — if it’s good (or I think it’s good), I’ll give it a listen.
But, I think it’s sad that people of certain age don’t have a fair chance of having their latest songs heard by the masses because they aren’t youngsters.
Radio, open your heart and open your ears.
Remember, “Believe”, the song that hit #1 in 23 countries, including the United States. It was biggest song of 1999 here in America and became the biggest hit of Cher’s career.
She was 52-years-old, at the time, and holds the record for being the oldest female to top the Hot 100 chart.
It’s almost 2016 radio programmers, leave age out of it and play great music regardless of the singer’s age.