Monday, September 17, 2012

How "Lights"-Obsessed Top 40 Radio is Marketing "Anything Could Happen"

In case you're wondering how mainstream radio might deal with Ellie Goulding's seeming U-turn from the synthy pop of US hit single "Lights" to the alt-rock plodding of new single "Anything Could Happen," I have one answer for you. You may remember "Lights," the very 2010-sounding electropop song from UK singer's 2010 debut album that hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August and is currently #1 on the Radio Songs chart. You also may have heard that "Anything Could Happen" is of a bit different a breed (I believe I referred to "Pat Benatar '80s rock wailing"). And radio doesn't like things that are different. But they do like Ellie Goulding.

So...torn, right? 
Here is how the DJ on 97.1 AMP Radio in Los Angeles, which has played "Lights" eleven times since midnight this morning, introduced the song this afternoon.
I am going to play you a song that's going to make you feel cooler. Not, like, temperature-wise, but a cooler person. It's called "Anything Could Happen," by Ellie Goulding."
Then he played "Niggas in Paris." You know, just to amp up the "what the..." factor. 

What must the radio's programming meetings have been like? I can just imagine:
What do we doooooo with this song? These kids are going to think it's totally lame!  But we like artists we play non-stop, arrgh! Are you sure there are no more singles from Teenage Dream? They're sooooo not gonna get it. *Snaps* Wait, that's it! You there, guy in his late 30s we hire to sound like a cool 21 year old in the afternoons, you tell these kids what to think, so... make them feel like hipsters for knowing this song! You know, play off the "I don't understand it so it must be great" thing! Use the oldest trick in the book for manipulating teenagers - make them think it's "cool."
So after Kanye and Jay-Z finished with Paris, Ellie Goulding's voice came on and introduced the station and the song, and it played, almost all five minutes of it. It seemed awkward, endless, and definitely out of place.

And I felt immensely cool.

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