Friday 08 November 2002
Muzak Is Getting Worse
Where the hell do they find the music that’s pumped into nearly every public place these days? Piped-in music is nothing new, of course; Muzak has been in business since the 1920s. But within the last ten years or so, piped-in music has changed from consisting mainly of easy-listening covers of Beatles tunes to consisting mainly of obscure and bad pop music.
This has come to my attention in the last week or so as the more gun-jumping of the piped-in-music channels have begun to work Christmas music into the mix. Where this used to mean easy-listening versions of Christmas classics and maybe “Mele Kalikimaka” on the hipper programs, now it means incredibly bad versions of Christmas classics by contemporary “stars”, all of whom feel the need to put their personal stamp on the works by making them worse (they same people do the same thing when singing the national anthem). Or, if they’re not playing Christina Aguilera’s rendition of The Little Drummer Boy (‘come, I told him, bumpa dumpa ooo’), it’s some original pop-music Christmas song — but never, ever one of the 0.0001% of these that are actually worth hearing.
I suppose I should count myself lucky, though, because outside of Christmas season, the piped-in music in most places is now almost exclusively B- and C-list artists of the 1970s and 1980s, performing their songs that never got on the radio because they never appealed to anyone.
These things must be programmed entirely by computers these days. I find it hard to believe that a human being would decide that, at any point, people would rather hear Olivia Newton-John’s Magic, or yet another track from Muzak’s favorite album, The Very Worst of Rod Stewart, than any other piece of music ever recorded.
Commercial radio, in the 1990s, ceased to be anything like a representation of what listeners might want to hear. Piped-in music was never about what people wanted to hear, but it now seems to be about what people don’t want to hear. A song of yours showing up in easy-listening form on Muzak used to be a sign that you’d really, really made it — much more so than merely appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone. The reverse seems to be true today. If this trend continues, perhaps Billboard could change their hit ranking system to consider how infrequently a song is played on piped-in music systems and boost its chart position accordingly.Posted by tino at 17:36 8.11.02
Posted by: Tired of piped in music at April 15, 2004 04:36 AM
Posted by: claudia at July 23, 2005 09:37 AM