More Musical Analysis of Beats 1

With another big Apple event coming up Wednesday, pundits and tech nerds have been trying to predict what the company will unveil. Along with the iPhone 6S and a release date of iOS9, a new version of Apple TV is a slam dunk. There are also plenty of rumours that Apple Music will received a much-needed revamp.

I mean, I kinda like Apple Music, but the interface is hardly intuitive. It’s hard to imagine Steve Jobs allowing something this kludgey to be released. To be fair, Tim Cook and Co probably had some very good business reasons for rushing it out–and give them credit for admitting that it needs work.

I know, for example, that I’d listen to Beats 1 a whole lot more if the whole Apple Music experience was less off-putting. I do listen, though, because I’m fascinated with this idea of a global radio station that features actual DJs.

The Guardian is interested, too, and assigned a writer to listen for 24 hours. So what was heard during this intensive monitor?

06.00 Sunday mornings on Beats aren’t exactly chill: I wake up to the sound of someone scratching vinyl. It’s like a kitten clawing a new sofa. This is New York DJ A-Trak’s Day Off Radio show, and while his day off involves explaining how sampling works to his audience, mine involves a cider hangover. Beats 1 is a fully global station, but A-Trak finds the idea of broadcasting to the world confusing. Can’t they get him loads of clocks showing different time zones, like in US chain restaurants? “It’s your complete breakfast, except it’s your late-night snack,” he says after trying to flog tickets to his festival, which takes place in the States. He closes the show with, “Well, it’s almost time to go to sleep – in some parts of the world, anyway.” A-Trak seems to have given up and gone for the “It’s five o’clock somewhere” philosophy.

07.35 NYC rap duo Run The Jewels’ WRTJ show is on, this week recorded while they’re on tour. El-P’s girlfriend Emily Panic, whom he accidentally locked out of their hotel room, is the surprise guest. “Wait, this is on the radio?” she asks. Yes Emily – in 100 countries. Theirs is the kind of random presenting style you rarely hear elsewhere. “I’d love to see a kitten burrow into the head of a shark,” says Emily, as El-P plays Jimi Hendrix’s Hey Joe.

08.05 MSFTS FREQUENCY, the show anchored by cod philosophy-spouting Jaden, 17-year-old millionaire son of Will Smith, investigates the Dubai music scene, while also managing to say “For real”, “Booyah” or “100 per cent” every three seconds.

09.28 I forgive Jaden for hollering over his interviewees because, at the request of guest and Dubai MC Kris Fade, he plays Craig David’s Fill Me In. Fade tells him Born To Do It is one of the top 50 biggest-selling albums of the millennium in the UK. Unforgivably, Jaden doesn’t know who the worryingly buff fan of chilling on Sundays even is.

Read the rest the monitor here. Meanwhile, I really think Apple needs to hire me so I can turn The Ongoing History of New Music into a global thing. Tim? Zane? Trent? Call me.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.