Recommended Music

Published on July 12th, 2019 | by Alan Cross

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This is the most controversial rock song of the year–but not for reasons you might think.

One night in 1982, I was finishing up some university homework while listening to Howard Mandshein on CITI-FM, Winnipeg’s balls-to-the-wall rock station.

“I’m going to play you a song,” he said, “but I’m not going to tell you who it is. Just open your ears and open your mind. Let the music do the talking.”

The song began. Good riff. A solid dose of aggro. Great guitar solo.

Once it ended, Howard gave us the punchline: “You just enjoyed a Michael Jackson song.”

Had he just punked his listeners? Or had he just pointed out our prejudices and biases when it came to music? It was a lesson I never forgot.

The same sort of thing happened just a couple of days ago when a new rock song appeared. No matter which way you slice it, it undeniably rocks. It tickets all the boxes. It’s got a good hook. It’s well-produced and performed. It’s got a little old-school hair metal-like gender-bending. The video seems to have been shot at The Viper Club on Sunset Boulevard.

But will rock fans accept it?

Let’s conduct a test. Click here and then close your eyes and just listen. I’ll wait.

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See what I mean? Not bad, right?

But here’s the surprise reveal: The music comes from Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, and country star Chris Stapleton. Ed wrote the song for his new album No. 6 Collaborations. The video is a McGuffin featuring some female models lip-syncing to the song.

Now that you know who’s responsible for the song, what do you think? If you were programming a rock radio station, would you play it? It’s a good song, but

Radio consultant Fred Jacobs goes deeper into the situation here. Let the debate begin.




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About the Author

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.


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