My favorite radio station is XM Ethel, a satellite station that purports to play current alternative music. And about half the time they do. The other half of the time, they play Nirvana. It puzzles me, because Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1993, effectively ending the band fifteen years ago. And personally, I was already Nirvana’d out in 1991, when the radio station I listened to then alternated between playing Nirvana and bands that sounded exactly like Nirvana–but hey, at least at that time, it was contemporary. Yet, last time I listedn to that station, it seemed to be playing exactly the same playlist it had in 1991. Nirvana was pathetic teen angst music then, but you’d think somewhere in the course of fifteen years, the people who choose songs to play on radio might get hip to today‘s teen angst music, which IMHO is a whole lot better, or at the very least, enunciated better.
And I can’t escape Nirvana by switching to another station. One satellite station plays “deep alternative” meaning indie songs from the 80s to the current day. Nirvana is a staple on that station, too. I can turn to the “classic alternative” station, and guess what, they play Nirvana a lot, too! I fear that one day, I will tune in to the classical pops station and hear the London Symphony Orchestra doing an instrumental cover of “Rape Me,” and the channel programmer, just like the channel programmers on every other radio station, will find it so engrossing that it will have to be played every fifteen minutes. For all I know, Nirvana is also in heavy rotation on heavy metal, easy listening, top 40, and the Coldplay-all-the-time channel, too.
Normally, the death of the lead singer and the subsequent break up of the band means they’re over, but clearly, and especially in this day of band resurrections (i.e. INXS, Queen, multiple duelling versions of 60s bands), it takes stronger stuff to get rid of pernicious music. But I have a few ideas that might do it. If Barack Obama and/or John McCain chose “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for their campaign song (or better yet, if both chose it and then argued about which candidate is the more sincere Cobain fan), I might enjoy a less-Nirvana filled life. What if Madonna did a trance disco version of “Polly Wants a Cracker” with a video for it showing her as the pied piper of naked African toddlers, or “Come As You Are” played for a widely-aired Viagra commercial, preferably starring, say, Nick Nolte? Do you think that might work?
OK, it won’t keep the London Symphony Orchestra from covering “All Apologies,” but maybe, just maybe, it might ruin the song enough so that Nirvana will only pop up once an hour on any station I listen to, instead of every ten minutes. Of course, I could just listen to my iPod with songs I like, but that limits my opportunity to hear songs I haven’t heard before (which supposedly would play on XM Ethel). What I’m really looking forward to is when I have a device, like Peter’s iphone, that can play Pandora (an internet radio station where you can skip over songs you don’t like) in my car.
Until then, excuse me: I need to send a suggestion to the campaigns of the major presidental candidates….