Although the blogs are being posted over at Jester One Music, I am seriously excited to be following through with another Jester One Top 20 Countdown. I got the idea from my great friend Pete (and hundreds other before him) but I never knew how much of a joy it would be. After the first two years, I went from picking up CDs at an average rate to trying to find at least a few per week worth hearing. On a whim I've discovered new favorite bands and albums I would have never even heard of listening to the radio or browsing music services.
The honest reality is that the radio is not a great place any more. I grew up listening to a few different FM stations. In Ohio, the king station is 97.9 which plays Top 40. Growing up that meant Matchbox Twenty, Counting Crows, Backstreet Boys, and the Spice Girls. Now-a-days it just means Lady Gaga, Drake, Ke$ha and whatever else is being chopped, autotuned, and beaten to death. I might peek over there on rare occasions but I truly have no time for that garbage. I also used to spend copious hours listening to 88.7 which is a Christian Rock station. I still try to check in there from time to time, but a lot of their playlist these days is screamo and wacky hip hop. I try to stay in touch with the Christian metal scene (see August Burns Red, Haste the Day, etc) but the middle ground CCM music I grew up on (Newsboys, dc Talk, Audio A, Jars of Clay) has been all but phased out. There were also two hard-rock stations when I was growing up (one now defunct) but the hard-rock scene has changed a lot in the past 10 years. 99.7 used to play a lot of new bands and newer rock but the amount of bands that can actually put out good hard-rock/metal these days has been seriously scalped. There are the old kings (bands like Seether, Foo Fighters, 3 Days Grace Shinedown, Disturbed and Staind) but then you have a new wave of bands that are popular yet seem to be critically atrocious (Asking Alexandria, My Darkest Days, Halestorm, Five Finger Death Punch, Bobaflex, ). Stations like this have turned to playing hourly Metallica, ACDC, Green Day and Nirvana to fill the holes of the new rock landscape. While I don't have anything against the old kings, the scene news new blood.
The scary thing about Columbus is that is has exactly 6 stations that play "new" music regularly, as opposed to 7 classic rock/classic hits stations (and not including country). I guess I should consider myself lucky as many places I've been don't even have that; but you have the aforementioned 3 and then a Hot AC station (heavy doses of Adele, Mumford and Sons, and Maroon 5 but mostly has older stuff "for your workday"), an alternative hits station (which is mostly mainstream "alternative", eg Imagine Dragons, Green Day, Kings of Leon) and a hip-hop station. That brings me to the station that I generally keep my radio on. For the most part I stay on 102.5, which is a pure and true alternative rock station. They play local artists, unsigned acts, as well as a lot of independent bands and the mainstream alt-rockers. A lot of these bands are quickly gaining steam and being signed since the "Top 40" genre has been drained of actual pop-rock bands. 12 of the songs on this years countdown were heard first (if not exclusively) on CD102.5, a number that has actually been growing since the first countdown, which featured just 4. I've found that alternative rock bands bring a lot more heart and soul than the cookie-cutter pop/dance bands and dull dubstep wave that has been attacking the charts the past few years. Plus, I like music that I can both dance and sing along to without having it be remixed and carbonated.
Of course, when I really feel like mixing it up, there's a fresh jazz station (which plays jazz from 3a-3p before switching to an alternating format that includes mostly talk but also some trance and industrial programming) and a 100% Latino station that I can groove with. But in reality, I find the majority of my music these days from A) bands I already knew about, B) browsing the net for metal, and C) CD102.5 and Radio U. Again, I should definitely be grateful that there are two stations that aren't owned by the big radio groups (Clear Channel, Radio 1) and can play whatever the hell they want. Regardless of who owns what, I believe that music is still going strong and I am once again super excited to be doing a top 20. Heck, I've already charted out a handful of 2014 released that I've got my eye on and look forward to building that last as well.
Peep on over to Jester One Music to follow the 2013 Jester One Top 20 Countdown.