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IT FEELS LIKE WE ONLY GO BACKWARDS

By Karen Glauber

This is supposed to be our “Hot Alt Summer,” dammit, but masks are mandatory again in L.A. (fine by me), and the Foo Fighters’ 7/17 show at the Forum was postponed because of COVID. Also, there was a show at the Whisky a few weeks ago that resulted in dozens of cases, regardless of vaccination status.

After limiting myself to having meetings on my back patio, Ted and I returned to KROQ for MOD SUN’s on-air hang with talent extraordinaire Kevan Kenney. Ted’s daughter Marley joined us, plus MD Miles Anzaldo, Mod’s sister Danielle and MOD’s girlfriend Avril (yep, that Avril), and it was like being at Nobu Malibu on a Saturday night, except I was allowed to be there. MOD and Kevan chatted about their favorite emo records (yeah, I’d worked all of them), MOD’s upcoming sold-out tour, and his new single, “Karma,” which is already at 14m streams. Avril even joined the conversation, and Kevan’s IG story of her five minutes on the Audacy Alt stations racked up over 100k views in 24 hours!

These pop-culture moments, utilizing both on-air exposure and social media, are what will keep our format moving forward. Look at what a force Woody is on Alt 98.7—he rules the L.A. market.

If we’re facing another shutdown, pop culture will be more important than ever… Thankfully, we aren’t where we were last summer, when the horror of Trump and the pending election was the overwhelming focus. While the Alt audience might not be as interested in the vintage Chanel skirt and jacket that Olivia Rodrigo wore to the White House this week, everybody in the demo watched Italy’s victory over England in Euro 2020, and have also heard of Italian rock band Måneskin’s triumphant win in the Eurovision Song Competition with “Zitte e Buoni.” Måneskin is now signed to Arista, and the band’s first Alt single is “I Wanna Be Your Slave” (a clear homage to The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog”), with streams exceeding 200m—this is a global smash! Look for Nick Petropoulos and the Arista team to make Måneskin a huge summer hit at Alt…

Speaking of summer hits, my fearless leader Lenny has already declared SEB’s “seaside_demo” the HIT OF THE SUMMER. This viral hit—which has been picked up by Mom+Pop—is the summer vibe you’ve been seeking.

Speaking of viral/pop culture, Willow’s “transparentsoul” is yet another Travis Barker-featured Alt record that the kids adore. Not a day goes by when a label person doesn’t tell me of an upcoming record they’ll be working that features Barker. Respect to the elders, of which I am one… Never Have I Ever, the Netflix show that first launched Cannons’ “Fire for You,” returned for a second season on 7/16 and featured “Fire for You” again. Tiesto is such a massive fan of that song that he did a newly released remix, and “Bad Dream,” the latest single, is nearing Top 20 at Alt. Time to be all in on this band, people! Also, let’s congratulate Columbia’s Darice Lee on her promotion to VP! You may now refer to her as Madam Vice President…

AURORA is the embodiment of pop culture right now—her song “Runaway” is now gold, and her new single, “Cure for Me,” is her best song so far, with that perfect summer “lilt” that makes your one-minute commute from your bedroom to your office an absolute pleasure. Wait, you’re back in a real office? You’re wearing pants with a zipper? What is that like?

 Weezer’s “All My Favorite Songs” exploded once AJR was added to the song. Isn’t it ironic that AJR’s “Way Less Sad” will peak at #2 because Weezer (featuring AJR) jumped it to #1?

 Dennis Blair and Artie Gentile are off to the most-added races with Walk the Moon’s “Can You Handle My Love?” I really like this song, don’t you?

 My favorite song right now is beabadoobee’s “Cologne.” She is the epitome of pop culture, with millions of IG followers, not to mention she’s the “face” of Ray-Bans and Crocs in the U.K. and should be the true face of Alternative in the U.S.! Her sold-out tour here starts in November. Let’s hope we’ll feel safe to go to shows by then.

 SONG TO HEAR: Girlfriends’ “Tattoo.” Love, love, love!


 
 
HOW NOT TO DROWN

By Karen Glauber

Mercury is in Retrograde, and my head hurts. My internal alarm clock has settled on 3am as my new wake-up time, no matter when I go to sleep.

After 15 months of isolation, it was a little scary to stand outside the KROQ/DTS Sound Space while awaiting the results of a COVID test, so that Ted and I could join Mike Kaplan, Miles Anzaldo and Megan Holiday for an AJR session. Had it been that long since I’d seen the crew? The last time I was in the same room as AJR, we were together at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for The Lumineers’ show on 2/13/20, one day after “Bang!” had been released into the world. “Bang!” was followed by “Bummerland,” which peaked at #17, and then “Way Less Sad,” which has been parked at #3 for eons. During the pandemic, AJR has ascended as a core band for the format.

In the Sound Space, the staffers in attendance (plus one contest winner and guest) were treated to five songs, and, even without a bigger audience, it felt weirdly normal again. Miles’ choice of an Arcade Fire T-shirt that day was definitely appreciated! If all goes well, I’ll see AJR again in Columbus with my CD92.9 friends on 8/28 for the WonderBus Festival. I haven’t been to a restaurant in 15 months. One step at a time…

One of the best albums of 2021 was released today—Wolf Alice’s Blue Weekend on RCA. Check out the song “Smile,” especially. Speaking of RCA, Dennis Blair is already Top 20 with Bleachers’ “Stop Making this Hurt,” which feels like a contender for Song of the Summer. If I were programming an Alt station, would I be playing Olivia Rodrigo’s “Brutal?” Of course I would. I’d also be super-psyched about adding Tai Verdes’ “A-O-K,” which Nick Petropoulos just launched, along with KennyHoopla’s new one, “Hollywood Sucks.”

Weezer’s “All My Favorite Songs” is surging with the addition of AJR on the track, as Capone has “high hopes” for his ultimate Hot Alt Summer ahead.

Congrats to Dave Lombardi and the AWAL gang for girl in red’s “Serotonin” vaulting to #7. He’ll have a new Cold War Kids single next Friday, which inspired me to go back and listen to my favorite CWK song, “We Used to Vacation,” on repeat this morning.

Rob and Dave at Warners just hit the Top 10 with Mike Shinoda’s “Happy Endings,” while taking Royal Blood’s “Typhoons” Top 20. On the Triple A side, they’re building Belle Mt.’s “Famous Son,” which is a perfect song for your Father’s Day playlists.

Congrats to Christine Chiappetta at Epic for nearing Top 10 with Modest Mouse’s “We Are Between” after only a few weeks at her new gig!

Charting this week is Cannons’ “Bad Dream,” bolstered by new adds at WKQX and WLUM, not to mention continued support from the band’s earliest cheerleaders at WEQX, KKDO (where it all began) and Alt Nation.

Out today is “How Not to Drown,” a new track from CHVRCHES featuring Robert Smith of The Cure! What a phenomenal pairing. In the meantime, Michael Starr is Top 25 with “He Said She Said,” which remains the focus single.

By the time you read this, Marisa DiFrisco will be Top 20 with The Maine’s “Sticky,” which, if I’m reading the tea leaves correctly, has all the markings of a SMASH.

Amanda and Drew have a great summer song with Claire Rosinkranz’s “Frankenstein,” plus they’ll have new Bastille out momentarily.

Dirty Hit will be releasing a new beabadoobee EP this month, and I’d be shocked if the next single (which you will love) isn’t your summer anthem!

The Neighbourhood’s “Stargazing” is a definitive Alt hit—Lisa and Darice will deliver this one, just as they have every other song they’ve worked together (congrats to them for Powfu’s iHeartMusic Awards win for Best New Rock/Alternative Rock Artist!).

Congrats to David Jacobs on his 10-year anniversary of doing radio promotion. Now, play his Beach Bunny and Alice Merton records!


 
 
HOT ALT SUMMER

By Karen Glauber

I had an unexpected and definitely unwelcome medical scare last week (because COVID is the gift that keeps giving), during which I thought about what the next few months should look like, especially since our post-vaccination “new normal” has most of us feeling, as the song goes, “way less sad.” Format-wise, this is the time to re-embrace the core of who we really are, so welcome to Hot Alt Summer!

I credit the format’s enthusiasm for the new Modest Mouse single “We Are Between” as a catalyst for what I hope will be radio’s soundtrack for the summer. Epic’s Christine Chiappetta, who is an expert at delivering Alt smashes, had a 99.99% approval rating on this single during set-up (every promotion person’s dream), and Monday’s add-date will be an unequivocal blow-out. It’s interesting to see how well Modest Mouse does in the streaming world, as the next generation(s) of Alt listeners have discovered their music.

Speaking of streaming, The Neighbourhood has expanded its audience exponentially since the band’s last release. I always use Weezer and blink-182 as the key examples of bands that have been able exponentially grow their audiences with the arrival of every new generation of Alt fans. Without any touring opportunities, The Neighbourhood has done just that during lockdown. Look for “Stargazing” to emerge as one of the biggest songs of the next few months. Also on Columbia’s Lisa Sonkin and Darice Lee’s summer playlist is the genius new Cannons’ single “Bad Dream,” the follow-up to their #1 Alt song “Fire for You.” The band will be on tour with lovelytheband and Sir Sly in the not-too-far future. Meanwhile, Lisa and Darice are nearing Top 5 with The Kid LAROI as well!

girl in red and CHVRCHES will be permanent fixtures in HOT ALT SUMMER. “Serotonin” is already one of 2021’s fastest tracks to hit the Top 10, which is especially remarkable for a format that rarely reaches a consensus when it comes to newer artists. AWAL’s Dave Lombardi has always worked some of the best (truly) Alt songs, and he’ll have an abundance of great music this summer, including new Dayglow.

Glassnote’s Michael Starr landed Aurora as this week’s Audacy “Pick of the Week,” as streaming and Shazam continue to explode on “Runaway.” CHVRCHES “He Said She Said” is off to a rousing start, already Top 25 after two weeks! Exciting

Isn’t Beach Bunny’s “Cloud 9” the epitome of Hot Alt Summer? David Jacobs is on pace to break this one wide open—musically and metrics-wise, this song is a perfect summer smash! Also, Alice Merton’s “Vertigo” is on course to be as big as “No Roots,” adding another hit to David’s summer portfolio.

Our beloved MOD SUN is making his TV debut on 5/12, when he and Avril Lavigne appear on Kimmel to perform “Flames.” The Big Noise team gave MOD a #17 song for his first shot at Alt, and, having heard the songs that are about to follow, I know he’ll soon be a permanent fixture at the format.

KennyHoopla is definitely one of the faces of Hot Alt Summer, with “Estella” entrenched in the Top 10 and a new song, “Hollywood Sucks,” (featuring the indefatigable Travis Barker) just released.

The song that I decree WILL be an Alt hit this summer is beabadoobee’s “The Last Day on Earth.” She is the face of Alt music, and what an expressive, glorious face it is.

AJR’s “Way Less Sad” is the band’s fifth Top 3 Alt single and their seventh consecutive charted Alt song. Congrats to the band on being nominated for three iHeart Awards!

 What songs do you envision being hits for you this summer? I know that X-96’s Todd Nukem is quite keen on Joywave’s “Every Window Is a Mirror,” which Buddy Deal will be launching on 5/18. Other programmers are expecting The Maine’s “Sticky” to be a huge record for them—a rotation bump (or 50) would be a perfect wedding gift to give to Virgin’s Marisa DiFrisco!

 SONG TO HEAR: Belle Mt.’s “Famous Son” (ask Rob Goldklang for a link!)


 
 
HE SAID SHE SAID

By Karen Glauber

I just read what Lauren Mayberry wrote about the new CHVRCHES single, which might resonate with you as well: “‘He Said She Said’ is my way of reckoning with things I’ve accepted that I know I shouldn’t have. Things I pretended weren’t damaging to me. It was the first song we wrote when we started back up, and the opening line—‘He said, “You bore me to death”’—was the first lyric that came out. All the verse lines are tongue-in-cheek or paraphrased versions of things that have actually been said to me by men in my life. Being a woman is fucking exhausting, and it felt better to scream it into a pop song than scream it into the void. After the past year, I think we can all relate to feeling like we’re losing our minds.” Thank you, Lauren. Glassnote’s Michael Starr is going for adds this week on CHVRCHES, and this single is absolutely perfect. Early adds included Alt Nation, XMU, WNYL, WSUN, X-96 and KROX.

This headline appeared in The New York Times on Wednesday: “There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing.” The diagnosis means we’re all occupying the middle ground between depression and what the article refers to as “flourishing.” For me, it’s lack of control in all aspects of my life that has me spending 23 hours a day in my room when my kid is with his dad (this is also the only room in the house with decent Internet). For my label peers who, pre-pandemic, longed for the opportunity to work records WITHOUT the added layer of radio shows, the reality has been more challenging than you ever envisioned.

Unlike at other formats, there’s no consensus that a Top 10 song should be a hit for every station in the format. In markets with two Alt stations, the overlap of songs can be less than 50%. Only a handful of records each year can be considered “real” hits at Alt, meaning they become library songs and/or cross to other formats.

Any song that crosses from Alt to Pop should be viewed as a victory for our format; any Pop song that can share an audience with Alt should be viewed as a blessing, despite the vocal opinions of those who prefer to program in a vacuum. “To thine own self be true”—gossipers need to cease the chatter about those in charge of programming the format; let them program as they see fit, without armchair quarterbacking from those on the sidelines. Does your job description include programming? No? Then shut the fuck up.

Not every song has to go to #1 to make an impact; my strategy for breaking artists is to keep rolling singles until something hits. Thankfully, with The Lumineers and AJR, every single has had chart success; with Arcade Fire, we were three records in before “Ready to Start” went Top 10. I still think about the myriad of Interpol and Spoon singles we’ve worked!

Great art always finds its audience, as evidenced by the explosion of Aurora’s 2015 single “Runaway,” which is currently #39 on the Spotify Top 200 in the U.S. and #6 on the Global Spotify Viral chart, propelled by the song’s phenomenal TikTok success and acknowledgement of Aurora’s influence by everyone from Billie Eilish to Lizzo. If there were ever a song worthy of your immediate attention, “Runaway” is it. It’s already #5 U.S. Shazam—can you imagine how well it will do in your market with your airplay?

girl in red’s “Serotonin” has been added to iHeart’s “Custom” very quickly after its release. Lisa Worden is unique in her talent for earmarking the records that matter, especially when it comes to female artists. Her weekly show, She Is the Voice, on Alt 98.7 is a coveted launchpad for female artists.

Look for Beach Bunny’s “Cloud 9” and The Maine’s “Sticky” to be two of the biggest songs of the summer. I know this to be true.

 


 
 
Post Toasted Index
posted 6/8/21
posted 5/10/21
posted 4/26/21
posted 4/12/21
posted 2/27/21
posted 11/13/20