March 29, 2007
If you’re capable of tuning out KRS-One’s extraordinarily lame vocal contributions, you might notice that “Radio Song” is in fact a very good tune with some exceptionally pretty moments. Surprisingly, the presence of KRS-One is not even the most dated thing about the track — that would be the lyrics, which reiterate the basic premise of Elvis Costello’s “Radio Radio” (ie, radio DJs are manipulative jerks who repeatedly play the same sad, sentimental songs in order to, um, make us feel worse?) with slightly less paranoia.
I suppose that we can still hear the song and agree that tight playlisting totally sucks, but ever since the radio consolidation boom of the late ’90s it is incredibly rare to hear a non-oldies station play any music that is actually sad (seriously, what was the last totally depressing major hit, both musically and lyrically?) , much less employ DJs who actually program their own shifts, and so you can’t really pay attention to the words without noticing the anachronism. Maybe it is best to reinterpret “Radio Song” as a “be careful what you wish for” sort of thing, since it’s very hard to imagine that its protagonists would be much happier in the post-Clearchannel world, even if their children are most definitely not growing up “prisoners” as lifelong radio listeners.