Through the years, Z100 has been a pretty good example that Clear Channel top 40s, despite consumer press grumbling to the contrary, were still able to program to their own markets. Miley Cyrus owes her music career to Z100’s decision to champion “See You Again” when the rest of the format was content to leave her to Radio Disney. “See You Again” went on to become Z100’s No. 15 song of 2008, more than twice as successful as its No. 31 showing on Billboard’s top 100 of the year.
Not all the songs that set Z100 apart from the national mean were rhythmic, but it was often those songs that showed the power of dance music and indie labels in New York, from Crush’s “Jellyhead” (No. 23 of 1997) to Vengaboys’ “We Like to Party” (No. 19 in 1999) to Cascada’s “Evacuate the Dancefloor” (No. 9 in 2008) to Kim Sozzi’s “Feel Your Love” (No. 49 of 2009). It was also common for the consumer press of that era to accuse Clear Channel of ignoring independent labels. Z100 was often evidence to the contrary.
Those weren’t obscure differences to anybody involved with a song. In the late ’90s, I made the unlikely suggestion to a label friend that Dan Hill’s “Can’t We Try” might work as a dance record. The Rockell & Collage version faced considerable PD resistance nationally, but there was still validation in seeing it finish at No. 80 for the year on Z100 (and considerably higher on crosstown WKTU). I don’t claim that “Can’t We Try” occupies the same place in the firmament as Manu Dibango’s “Soul Makossa” or the Blackout All Stars’ “I Like It,” but having a dance record that New Yorkers will remember as a hit, no matter what smaller markets might have thought, was still a point of pride.
It’s not that Z100 started to sound like any other top 40 station in 2012. In EDM’s breakthrough year, the dance feel is, if anything, more pronounced than ever. But if market-to-market differences were anything that Clear Channel ever thought to actively emphasize, this year the priority is clearly the continued building of iHeart Radio as a dashboard-ready national brand.
this is important (although a very strange occurrence was hearing “Closer” — which is mentioned later on — on said countdown in a cab.)
“The saddest fact I’ve learned is nobody matters less to our society than young black women. Nobody. They have any complaint about the way they are treated: they are “bitches, hos and gold diggers,” plain and simple. Kelly never misbehaved with a single white girl who sued him or that we know of. Mark Anthony Neal, the African American scholar, makes this point : one white girl in Winnetka and the story would have been different. No, it was young black girls and all of them settled. They settled because they felt they could get no justice whatsoever. They didn’t have a chance.”
“I was the first musician to bring this music to a big, global stage like Paris’s Olympia Hall. It was in 1970 before a completely white, European audience who understood not a single word of my language. So I had to put on a show, and in order to put on a show, the rhythm had to be animated. The rumba was really rather tepid, rather slow. I had to accelerate it. And in French, we say secouer to mean “to shake,” so secousse, which I Africanized and I called “soukous”.”
“We didn’t realize it at the time, but there would be no coming back from this. Axl has spent the last 20 years being shorter than Stephanie Seymour. You and I may not care about that, but you can tell he did, which gives this whole production an air of weird vulnerability and instantly regretted artistic sacrifice. And yeah, this was also the video that collapsed irony utterly and forever and in all the obvious ways, because it was so ludicrous and rocked so hard that it made you see aesthetic grace as a kind of ouroboros wherein stupidity and genius are occasionally the same quality. When fears subside, shadows still remain.”
“Street Hassle's centerpiece, now considered one of Reed's greatest accomplishments, taught me that getting just what I wanted from a song (uplift, for example, or sloppy catharsis) wasn't always the best thing. “Street Hassle” includes bluntly sexual lines that turned me on, but also made me feel the edge of my own prudery. It explores how one person dehumanizes another and, just a few minutes later, how losing one person can make a person feel real and whole for the first time. It's a song suite that doesn't sound at all like punk; it features strings, female back-up singers and Reed definitely crooning. There's also an uncredited spoken-word passage by the then-rising Springsteen that adds in some of that future superstar's trademark grandiosity, serving as a telling contrast to Reed's own cooler storytelling. The song's triptych of scenarios is very Velvets: A probable transvestite picks up a male hooker at a bar; a drug dealer worries about how to get rid of an overdose victim's body; and, in the last verse, a more anonymous lover laments his man's departure in naked, needful agony. A lot happens musically around these stories, but every violin stroke, guitar bend and percussive push intensifies the focus on Reed's core message: that opening up your being — to sex or drugs or just to feeling — is inevitable, dangerous and the main purpose of life.”
Cyrus acts out her faux bisexual performance for the white male gaze against a backdrop of dark, fat black female bodies and not slightly more normative cafe au lait slim bodies because the juxtaposition of her sexuality with theirs is meant to highlight Cyrus, not challenge her supremacy. Consider it the racialized pop culture version of a bride insisting that all of her bridesmaids be hideously clothed as to enhance the bride’s supremacy on her wedding day.
Only, rather than an ugly dress, fat black female bodies are wedded to their flesh. We cannot take it off when we desire the spotlight for ourselves or when we’d rather not be in the spotlight at all.
“At the other end of the book, Charles Hughes, a fellow at Rhodes College in Memphis, writes compellingly about the ways blacks and whites worked together and exchanged ideas in the modern south. He illustrates how soul music and then disco were refined by an influential set of southern musicians of both races who played on soul sessions for artists like Arthur Alexander and Joe Tex. The white musicians went on to reinvigorate country music in the ’80s and ’90s, Hughes painstakingly illustrates, while the black musicians were often left behind. Hughes’ tale is one of unbalanced input, uncredited appropriation and unequal reward. And yet, “at its truest and most substantive moments,” Hughes writes, the music that is his subject “reasserts the continuing presence of African American music within seemingly white spheres, even during the very moment when country became so closely associated with reactionary racial politics and even racial bigotry.” It’s never a simple story of theft or harmony, and in its nuances it feels right.”