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13th of April, 2024

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Bring Me the Head of the Antenne Bayern Program Director

People who’ve never been to Germany fail to realize just how bad the radio is over here. Germans are notorious cheapskates, and their penny-pinching habits extend to paying for their music. Even in well-established bars over here, you’ll see stacks of clumsily-labelled CDROMs sitting next to the stereo system, or a broken down old computer playing downloaded MP3s from a Winamp playlist. That’s something you hardly ever see anywhere else in Europe. In Amsterdam, for example, the bars all have a standardized, computer-based music system, displayed prouldy, that gives confidence that these are indeed Legally Purchased Tunes we’re listening to. Comforting, despite the fact that they only seem to have Phish and Cold Play.

But a tiger can’t change his stripes. Germans simply refuse to pony up the Euros for quality music, and nowhere is this more evident than on the radio. In contrast to the loose-cannon BitTorrent-using bar owners, the radio stations in Germany don’t have the stones to play pirated music. GEMA rules the airwaves with an iron fist over here, and would swiftly visit upon such transgressions great justice. In that light, it’s a perfect control group, since you can be sure that the music is legal and paid for. And when given the choice of expensive music performed by known artists or discount hootenanny doggerel fit only for a drunken choir of railway hobos, you can be sure that a German will choose the latter.

An example is in order. As I was exiting the shower this morning, I noticed a familiar melody playing from the transistor radio hanging next to the door. I stopped my vigorous towelling for a moment, and bent my ear towards the wafting notes. Something was familiar in them, yet I was convinced that it was wrong somehow. I presently recognized the tune, it being the unforgettable paean to European optimism, The Final Countdown, from the rock and roll band which, in a most rascally fit of cheekiness, decided to name itself Europe, despite the curse of naming your band after a continent . Having reminded myself of this, it suddenly occurred to me that, despite having a deceptively similar tonal and lyrical structure to that much-despised song of my youth, what I was hearing was merely a facsimile thereof. It was, in jazz parlance, a cover. At the risk of being vulgar, I feel it necessary to lay stress upon the fact that not only did some fucking band fucking cover the Final fucking Countdown, somebody fucking bought it and fucking played it on the fucking radio! Imagine, if you will, my discomfort.

I can only imagine that this decision was made in order to save money on the licensing fees. I can’t for the life me think of another reason to actually buy a cover of The Final Countdown. This is typical Big Picture stuff, as I see it: The song you want costs too much, but it sucks, so you buy a cover of that song, thinking that nobody will care, because it sucks anyway. This is the optimistic view of this transaction, I might add; the pessimistic view being that whoever decided to buy it figured that the listeners were too stupid to know the difference and probably like The Final Countdown on its merits, no matter who sings it. But accepting that is tantamount to accepting the end of civilization as we know it, so I’ll take the high road. So what we’re left with is that somebody decided that a woefully serious cover of The Final Countdown, which means one not in the vein of Dread Zeppelin or the Pressure Boys, was preferable to four minutes and thirty seconds of dead air. This is wrong.

Comments

Crankshaft

If you think that's bad, I worked in a factory that had morning exercises (apparently, a 5 minute jiggle is supposed to keep you awake for the entire day) every single day to the tune of The Final Countdown. Every single FUCKING day.

You have NO IDEA of the relief that washed over me when I finally handed in my resignation.

Rube

Whoa, worse than bad. That's like...<em>Guantanamo</em> bad.

Crankshaft

Oh yeah, it was pure unadulterated torture.

Funnily, I was in Europe exactly this time last year and one thing I noticed about the Europeans is that they love the trashy type stuff that everyone else doesn't take seriously.

While bumming in a cafe in Austria, the TV was on and some talk show host was fastidiously interviewing Sugarbabes or some other band in really broken English. On that particular day, that band in question had nothing significant to say, but the Europeans hung on to every word like it was the gospel.

I think they just have bad taste.

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