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.
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.