The Trouble With UK Radio


I very very rarely, if ever, listen to the radio. The only situation I would ever listen to it is when I’m forced to- like when I forget my iPod for the gym, or if I’m in somebody’s car and they’re without an aux cable. I’ll even go as far as sitting in silence in my own car once my iPod’s run out of battery or again, if I’ve forgotten it, rather than listen to the drivel pumped over the airwaves. Now this you might find odd, as a music blogger you may think I rely on the radio in order to be on top of the latest releases, [no, you may have heard, there’s this neat new thing called the internet] nevertheless, this is why the radio is such a tired media product.

Let’s start with what’s wrong with mainstream radio. A while back, there was a time when I happened to go to the gym everyday for two weeks straight- iPodless, this meant I was forced to listen to the default radio station that was played there all day everyday- Kiss FM. What this meant was that I was subjected to Justin Timberlake’s Suit & Tie, I Knew You Were Trouble, One More Night by Maroon 5, Will.I.Am and Britney’s Scream & Shout and the absolute worst of them all- Don’t You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia. These songs were played every single day, in succession, in a mirrored sequence. How can people seriously be tuning into the same show every morning to hear the exact same songs? These songs are still entertaining the fourth/fifth day in a row at the exact same time? However, after hearing Adam Levine sing ooh-ooh-ooh for the millionth time, I realise that the lazy song selections aren’t even the beginning of the problem.

Rickie, Melvin & Charlie In The Morning was the ‘show’ I’d been subjected to, and they were the ‘DJs’ responsible for the lazy, unappealing drivel on Kiss FM. As a nineteen-year-old University student who likes to be on top of current affairs, be it music, style, sports or whatever, I am their target audience- I’m interested in music, I’m [supposedly] interested in the things they talk about, and most importantly I’m up, about and ready-to-listen at that hour of the morning, I fit into their target profile to a tee; myself and the rest of this bracket tuning in is quite literally what pays their salaries. Yet how is it I have literally no idea what any of them talk about? In their defence I am concentrating on my exercise and don’t nessacarily hang onto their every word like I would if I’d specifically tuned in, but I still should be able to grasp the topic, subject or general gist of their conversation. And there’s the rub; when they chat on air it is literally just that, it’s three friends having a conversation as you would with your friends- there is no debate, there is no ‘subject’ and most importantly, there is no significant point to their inane wittering. Does anybody seriously give a shit about Karen from Essex ‘getting ready for school and loving the show’ and who cares about Melvin’s antic of the day [that almost-definately didn’t happen] involving someone who we even further give less of a significant shit about.

Mainly because I’ve never bothered, I’ve also never looked into specialist stations or shows featuring dedicated DJs who focus on specific genres or topics. But as you may know as the dedicated West Review subscriber you are- I love Chance The Rapper, and he was set to appear on DJ Semtex‘s Radio 1Extra show which would mean not only an interview, but also some music that I liked being played (I still could have just pressed play on my iPod, but hey). But of course the radio still needed to get under my skin before I could listen to something with fibre and substance, we had to listen to a load of absolute horseshit before we got to Chance, yay! Four of five trap beats infested songs were played including a concoction of remixes of No Flex Zone- 1Extra you know Lil Wayne and Pusha T have beef right? And playing the two together just seems dated and weird? Surprisingly, the instrumental to Kanye West’s Monster started to play and I thought to myself ‘fair play, bit different, I wonder if he’ll play the entirety of the track, CyHi’s verse and-all’, he infact just played the instrumental with an old Kanye interview playing over the top, in which ‘Ye stated how much he loved Semtex, again, like I want to hear Kanye ass-kiss the DJ when I could listen to him say ‘my presence is a present, kiss my ass’.

DJ Semtex himself I’m still undecided on at this point, on-the-one-hand he sounds like a fat white guy with an insufferable speech impediment who is desperate to appeal to outside of his racial background [calling Buzz Lightyear ‘the space guy out of Toy Story’, we all known you know what his name is you clown] but on the other hand he seems to half-know what he’s talking about [citing Favourite Song as Purple Rain meets hip-hop, which really is a decent comparison]. However, much like the three clowns ‘in the morning’ over on Kiss, Semtex deemed it of significant importance that he let all the millions of listeners that there were people listening to the show who’d tweeted in, again, like we give a shit? Somewhat strangely he actually read my ‘shout-out’ on-air, in my tweet I said that ‘I was looking forward to Chance The Rapper’ and ‘could he [Semtex] ask him [Chance] wether a studio version of the Arthur theme tune was ever to be released’, needless to say he didn’t ask him, but he did read out the first bit, gee thanks.

Semtex rattled through the expected questions such as future plans, what it’s like here in England, the usual small-talk you’d ask if you bumped into an old school friend twenty years down the line. In the same way, he was fairly interesting but didn’t have me enthralled in the way it should, part of me had dismissed Semtex after comments like ‘Acid Rap is being compared to The College Dropout’, no, it simply isn’t. Further qualms came with the songs he’d played, he started by playing two of my favourites- Cocoa Butter Kisses and Good Ass Intro, but of course he couldn’t have just let me have that, no he decided to witter on over the ending of the latter as well as adding excerpts of the interview, which just pissed me off- that brass at the end is something special, finish the song, then let me hear Chance after. As well as this, there was no mention of 10 Day, despite being the mixtape that started his career, and as such no songs from it were played, instead Semtex decided to play Coast Is Clear and Confident. Seriously? You have one of the hottest forthcoming talents in rap in front of you and you play someone else’s songs who he simply had a hand in? Semtex even cited the Skrillex fronted Coast Is Clear as his favourite. The stick that broke the camel’s back was the fact that instead of talking about the exciting new collaborative EP with Childish Gambino, Semtex is desperate to know how the Bieber collab came about, at which point it was goodnight from me.

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