The Most Loneliest Jack of My Life
You know who the most boring people in the world are? People who describe television commercials to those who haven't seen them.
And yet ...
So there’s this television commercial running here in Seattle for a radio station called "Jack FM." (Note: I only saw the ads once, so everything that follows is a Dramatic Recreation, and could be 100% misremembered / wrong.) It features a guy throwing his Nirvana and Pearl Jam CDs into a dustbin, while a voiceover says: "Tired of hearing to the same old music, Seattle? Jack FM is liberating listeners from the same-old same-old." And, to illustrate the point, Joan Jett’s "I Love Rock And Roll" kicks in at that moment.
Omigod, "I Love Rock And Roll" by Joan Jett! Boy, that sure takes me back. All the way back to the last time I heard that song, which, at any given point in my adult life, has never been longer than 72 hours.
I actually listened to Jack 96.5 once. I was tooling around the FM dial one afternoon and stumbled across this bizarro station that featured "the best of the 80’s, 90’s and today" and no DJs whatsoever. They played a series of hits so familiar that you could belt out any one of them at karaoke even after imbibing several gallons of sake, and occasionally, between songs, a prerecorded voice would come on and bellow some nonsensical phrase, usually a cliché with one random word replaced with "Jack" (e.g., "A fool and his Jack are soon parted!" or "A Jack and his money are soon parted!" or "A fool and his money Jack soon parted!")
In other words, Jack FM is just about the farthest thing from The Same-Old Same-Old Liberation Front imaginable. I’d speculate that the music was programmed in a nondescript building somewhere in the Midwest if I thought it was programmed at all; instead I’m guessing there’s an 500-song iPod somewhere hooked up to a radio antenna and set on perpetual shuffle-play. And yet here's this ad, promoting Jack FM as the Really Real For-Real Alternative Radio Station, bold enough to play those songs that have been heard at every single wedding reception since 1979. You could pretty much hear the same playlist (with none of the commercials) by locking yourself in the bathroom of your local grocery store.
If George Orwell were like George Lucas (and less dead), constantly going back and inserting new material into his masterpiece, he'd probably add "CONFORMITY IS REBELLION" to the list of Oceania's Party slogans. YES IM SO INCENSED I HAVE NO RECOURSE BUT TO MAKE A 1984 REFERENCE!!
(After writing the above I checked out the Wikiepedia entry on Jack FM, which reads "The stations are officially classified as the Variety Hits or Adult Hits format ... but listeners sometimes refer to the stations as random radio or an 'iPod shuffle.'" WTF -- I though I came up with that "iPod shuffle" line. Apparently you can't even talk about Jack FM without becoming banal. And here's an article from Business Week on the Jack FM business model, in case you're interested.)
As long as I'm in Cranky Old Man mode, here, have you heard "Lonely Day," this new song by System Of A Down? I'm not one of those people who reflexively badmouths Top 40 music -- I own both a Blink 182 and a Third Eye Blind CD, for crissakes, and have even defended Creed in my day -- but Great Grandmother of Cher is this song ever bad.
The music itself is forgettable, but the lyrics would probably sweep the Bulwer-Lytton contest. Here's how it starts:
Such a lonely dayYou heard the man, kids: "most loneliest." I have no objection to a songwriter sticking an extra word in here and there to make a line fit the meter, but we're talking about the motherloving chorus. And each line of the chorus contains eight beats, while the phrase "the most loneliest day of my life" contains nine. That's right, the signer shoehorns a superfluous "most" into a line that would otherwise have been both grammatically and metrically correct, and then rushes through the word "loneliest" to compensate. (You sort of have to listen to the song to appreciate this, but -- let me state this plainly -- I am not recommending you do.)
And its mine
The most loneliest day of my life
Such a lonely day
Should be banned
This day that I can't stand
The most loneliest day of my life
The most loneliest day of my life ...
I'm willing to overlook the fact that he begins by rhyming "mine" with "life" since it's well nigh impossible to find any words that rhymes with either. And I assume that the misuse of the word "its" in the second line above is the fault of whomever transcribed the song's lyrics onto the website I stole them from. But, honestly, this song is so awful I can almost hear the apostrophes's absence when it comes on the radio.
It's no "Brass Monkey" by the Beastie Boys, but it's a bad one for the ages, that's for certain. If you haven't heard it yet, don't you worry. I'm sure it will be in heavy rotation on Jack FM by 2015 or so.
Posted on May 25, 2006 to Observations, Seattle
In Portland, they call it "Charlie FM". Same stuff, no DJ's, all automated, no personality.
I'll see your "most loneliest" and raise you Neil Diamond's "Songs she brang to me" in "Play Me".
Steel fingernails on my aural blackboard.
The most loneliest day in my life
when the grammar mistakes were just rife
(oh, wasn't that the rhyme you were thinking of?)
When you're listening to system of a down, 'cut off my ears like Vincent van Gogh' rhymes best with both mine and life
To quote the wiki: "JACK was inspired by the success of CHUM Limited's 'Bob FM' brand on CFWM radio in Winnipeg, Manitoba."
As someone from Winnipeg, let me be the first to say that I am so, so sorry. And that Bob FM is one of the worst stations we have in my city - which is why my parents always listen to it when I happen to be in the car.
Um... speaking of cranky old man complaining about music, you do realize that it's Blink 182, right? I personally can't stand them, but c'mon.
I was wondering what was up with the new "Jack FM" vans the silently took over the old radio station by my home here in Edina, MN. To this day I've never bothered to tune it in, but I guess it's part of a new clear-channel styled, cookie cutter idea of radio domination. What a wonderful world we live in where I can leave Minneapolis for Seattle and still hear the same mundane crud.
And I think it was Newt Gingrich that coined the phrase, "conformity is rebellion", just for clarity's sake.
We have Jack FM here in San Diego. I think their marketing strategy is to be so incredibly bad that people talk about how bad it is and others end up listening to it to find out what all the fuss is about.
About "Lonely Day", It's the worst song on the album and I can't believe they are playing it on the radio but the rest of the album is actually very good... really.
Wow, we've already listed Jack, Bob, Charlie, and in Edmonton, there's Joe FM. I avoid it like the plague, so I don't know what they play, but likely the same stuff.
Also: Lonely Day stopped me from buying the latest SoaD album. I like them, but I just can't bring myself to actually pay money for that song.
At least 10 years ago, there was Alice@929 in Buffalo NY. I wonder if Alice was Jack's mom.... or maybe his older sister. I bet she was HOT.
In Corpus Christi Texas it's Jake FM. Same concept, same bad music, same complete lack of DJ's.
... and what's so bad about brass monkey?
braaaaaass monkey, that funky monkey....
It's so banal the banality's contagious -- I love it! Thank the Maker this cultural phenom hasn't attacked my city yet.
Don't be hatin' now, "Brass Monkey" is my ringtone.
We've got Mike FM in Boston. I assume it's related, though I confess I haven't ever listened so I can't say for sure. The tag line in their ads is 'we play everything!'
here in sonoma county (north of san francisco)CA, we have Bob, alice and mix, which are all basically that same idea
I guess the "Jack" Fm is the new General "so and so's" chicken
I have never met you, but I secretly love you.
Not really, but I un-secretly love your blog. Even if you don't have a new post when I read it, I can read older stuff and still laugh. And I have actually(brace yourself) learned from your blog as well. Keep up the amazing work.
Hey, this format was pioneered in NYC, so lay off the midwest!
The worst most subversive thing about "Jack FM" is that idiots^H^H^H^H^H^H people call "Jack's" voice mail system and compete to say something "witty" that will get played in a Jack FM promo spot. They are competing for the favor of a software robot! Please sheep-people, look up already!
Having said that, I have to admit to listening to Jack FM sometimes. There are times when I'm in my car and really really don't want to listen to whatever is on kexp (for instance, during "shake the shack") and a "shuffle" of inoffensive/decent/familiar songs from various sub-genres of American Pop Music works for me. Until they get to the promo spots and commercials, but since I only listen in the car, I can quickly jab the pre-set button of some other station.
And, for the record, there is a similar robot station in south-eastern Michigan that goes by "Doug FM".
I'm going to have to come out in favor of Jack FM, primarily because the lack of DJs translates directly into the lack of a "morning zoo" programming in the morning. And since the morning drive-time until 10AM turns the FM dial into a lifeless apocalypse for music-listeners, aside from being more or less the only time of day I'm consistently trying to listen to music, well, Jack's the One. And that's making when KUOW (public radio) is running particularly banal instances of its generally good local content.
Philadelphia has Ben FM, named after Ben Franklin. You know, cos he was such a big fan of Kenny Loggins and Nickelback.
It's Dave FM in Atlanta. It's still better than the "Screeching American Idol" station or the station that plays that one Pink Floyd song over and over...
speaking of Nickelback... the Canadian flavors of these radio stations actually suck more than the US versions. We have "cancon" rules (Canadian Content) for our radio, which means 35% of the music played must qualify as "Canadian content". Now... there are lots of great Canadian bands out there, but these Jack/Bob/Jean-Guy clones seem to always draw from the Nickeback. Makes you kinda want to find an icepick and ram it in your ear.
Well thanks for making me feel like a I have completely wasted the last two entries on my own blog talking about adverts.
Having experienced American radio having a radio station without DJ's is surely a step forward.
Keep up the amusingly good work anyway.
Yup, here in Austin it's Bob FM - and they have the exact same guy read the station ads. Weirded me out a bit when I was up in Seattle a couple months ago and I heard him - I thought, "Hey, I know that guy - and he's cheating on Bob!"
I also live in the Seattle area; I used to listen to Jack FM since it manages to avoid the genres I just can't take while driving, but agreed that it's actually fairly trite as programming goes. I am pathetically grateful for my iRiver AFT100 FM transmitter (uses a standard RCA jack, so works with any self-powered audio device). The sad part is that on the rare occasions when I am relegated to listening to FM radio, I find myself reaching for the Track Forward button a whole lot. I am so spoiled.
Whenever I hear that stupid song with the stupid lyric...."most loneliest"... My brain changes the words to..."post toastiest". Try it..
"The Post Toastiest day of my lii-iiii-ife"
Then I hit the button to change the channel. But, at least I got a good chuckle out of it first.
We have "MAX FM" here in Michigan. In one of their pre-recorded voice overs they actually say, "It's like the world's biggest iPod on Shuffle...MAX FM..We play it all".
and in Detroit, it's "Doug FM"...as a radio host myself, these stations traumatize me. But hey, I *like* Brass Monkey.
Okay, so yeah we have Mike FM here in Boston and yeah, that's what it is. But can I tell you what song lyric really bothers me?
I guess it's Better Than Ezra? and they're all like "Your love is Extra Ordinary" but, it's not extraordinary it's EXTRA ORDINARY eep.
Then, and this is where I go all wrong because I LOVE Justin Timberlake, but there's this one song and he actally sings these words "You're out of this world, but you're not green"
It's also Jack FM in California. Same exact ads, sounds like. Weirdness....
Yep, we got "Jacked" this spring in Southern Illinois. I had thought we were gonna avoid the "Corprate- mindless click and play" set-up down here in the boonies. It wasn't our "best" rock station, but it sure was #2. It used to have real people playing music in a lil booth, who actually knew local info and gave a rip.
(le sigh) No more.
(puts on his best pimpin' hat)
If yer at home, or at work, and near yer computer let yer ears try out www.Eggradio.com. I'm pretty sure you have never heard anything like it over the airwaves. Everyone gets to help pick the music by rating what gets played.
Give it 20 minuets, it will give ya some great music.
I was disturbed when I saw the title of your post, but discovering that you used two superlatives to mock a musical group made it more palatable. Musicians have been screwing up English worse than preschoolers for ages. Didn't Phantom Planet do a song of the same name a few years back? I guess artists are either completely unoriginal or completely lame... or both.
PS It's George Lucas with an A and "by" SoaD (you accidently put "my" and I'm sure you don't want to claim them after that crap!).
Yep, we have Jack FM here in the Twin Cities, too. Some people are comforted to hear only songs they've heard a million times before, I guess.
Some of the other corporate stations here are engaging in a bit of anti-Jack by advertising that they take requests.
im not sure if im the only one, but i thought this was going to be a story of a maudlin,drunk baldwin boy.
am i the only one dissapointed?
I actually kinda like Jack FM. Where I live, just north of San Diego, I can get the S.D. *and* L.A. Jack stations. Wowee! They play at least as much pretty-good music as other pop or classic-rock stations down here (which is about three songs out of 10, but still). And the lack of DJs is a huge plus, since most of 'em just blather on and on to hear the sound of their own voice. There are a couple of independent stations down here that I prefer, but Jack is often a decent option. (I originally wrote "alternative," but I thought that'd send the wrong message.)
I wonder if I'm alone at the intersection of the two circles in a Venn diagram. Baldwin, I really expected to see you get scorched by System of a Down partisans for your criticism of their lyrics. I've seen System fans lash out with recklessly typed ad hominem attacks at far less provocation. Instead, nothing.
So: I suspect that you've got the System of a Down circle over there and the Defective Yeti circle over here, and they just don't overlap all that much.
Here's the view from within the overlap: On the one hand, I am inclined to stand up for good grammar. On the other hand, I have a secret fetish for System of a Down and reckon that there's a purpose for the "most loneliest." Certainly, they didn't have to stick a "most loneliest" in there. Or, frankly, a "should be banned." But they did, and they're just cunning enough that it may be for good reason. I hope so, but even if not, what the hell, it's not such a great song anyway.
So, in summary, the demographics of "defective yeti" don't skew toward angry shaved-headed teenage Armenians with keyboards.
I'm gonna take a stand and say:
I LIKE OUR DJless VARIETY RADIO STATION.
whew, I said it. I'm from St. Louis and 'The Arch' is our only escape from songs such as the laffy taffy song or such musical wonder of "let me see your grill; my what?, your grill, ya ya your grill".
Also, and I'm assuming this is true for your station as well, they promise to never play a song twice in one day, which I think is pretty neat
I am sooooo glad that other people find that song as idiotic as I do. As a one-eyed fan of other bands, I can sympathise with Adam Peck's wanting to find a rationalisation for it but I can't for the life of me think what it could be. If the other tracks on the album are good, as someone said, that rules out the hypothesis that they are fed up with their record label and doing a sabotage job. Post-toastiest salutations to you all.
"Great Grandmother of Cher" there is a catch phrase that i like!
anyways... you might want to check out Pandora http://www.pandora.com/ an online programable radio station, you can tweak it your own way.
I control the radio at my office, and I had to make the switch to "Frank FM" (here in Cape Cod, MA), after I got to the point where I could tell what time it was by hearing what was on the other decent radio stations down here. If Frank is a 500-song iPod in shuffle mode, the other choices down here are 128MB Korean iRiver knock-offs with no shuffle capabilities - the same song, at the same time, every day.
Hmm. Frank, Bob, Mike, Jake, Jack... What do you think their last name is? I say Banal. Frank Banal, meet your cousin, Jack Banal.
In Albuquerque it is Ed. I had heard Jack in Dallas but I had no idea it was Charlie, Mike, Jake, and all.
Actually, I wish we had a station like that here. I positively loathe DJ's, and would welcome a music station that actually plays music, even if it is modern muzak.
I have yet to meet a person (nor do I want to) who is amused/entertained by DJ antics and ramblings between songs. I have a special place of hate in my heart for DJs (and this is 99% of them) that talk over the intro of a song. Good riddance.
Nothing says "I'm the most stupidest," like a double superlative, at least in my book.
Jack FM is compromise radio... the missus and I tend not to agree on what should be played, since the public radio station is the highest frequency station I bother to pre-set. And she likes the hits of the 80s and 90s, and the hits of today, and the disco. So Jack, with its unobjectionable mediocrity, fills a hole. It's radio spackle.
Our public radio station here in Chicago just announced that it's getting rid of all its jazz programming (gradually) and I'm suffering a little bit. Thank God for college radio.
Eug, thanks for the link. I had the same question. I wonder though, who determined that while Jack is a good name for a radio station in Seattle, Bob was more appropriate for Spokane. Is there a demographer out there that determined which male first name would be the best fit for a city?
Perhaps related, is there something to learned from the fact that while most cities have regular-joe / action-hero-ready names like Jack, Bob, and Steve or the strangely acronym-ed SAM, in Greensboro, NC Simon gets the nod.
Most descriptive name? Rochester, NY's Fickle 93.3.
I totally see why playing the most popular, least noxious music of the last three decades is a good strategy. The thing that bugs me is the Orwellian bit that this post so skillfully skewered. E.g. the tagline: "Playing what we want!". Oh yeah, cause the *man* wouldn't let you play The Police. Conformity is Rebellion indeed... Just beautiful Mr. Yeti.
I can't help but notice that you changed "Blink 187" to "Blink 182" without mentioning the fact that I called you on it. I'd like recognition, if nothing else.
Nope... looks like Matt's too busy listening to 411.
I hereby acknowledge that Andrew is even more versed in the awful, awful band Blink 187 than I am.
Yes, Phantom Planet did a song called "Lonely Day." It is very good, and grammatically correct. I'd highly recommend their album "The Guest" for summer fun-time outings.
JACK FM is even WORSE in Vancouver with their Canadian Content law. So here it's random Canadian "hits" that I've never heard before, lots more Bryan Adams, and it's mixed with.... Joan Jett.
On that same note, it's always a laugh for me to hear the Classic Rock station when I hear some song by the Tragically Hip from the early 90's or some other song I've never heard in my LIFE and it's on a CLASSIC rock station.
Ah these Canucks. Oh the hilarity.
Yes I'm still in transition.
Given the other songs from SoD, I always assumed that 'Most Loneliest' was a tongue-in-cheek poke at the other gobshite 'rock' out there these days.
Holy crap, they still have the Canadian content law? That's what gave us Great White North. Why can I not be Canadian? I couldn't love Canada more if I tried! That's the kind of semi-socialist bureaucratic law that makes my heart race.
i highly recommend you invest in XM Radio. I am in love with the 90s channel and can sing and live nostalgic all day long. No more Jack.
Well, I actually like Jack FM. (The Kansas City station, to be precise, in the unlikely case that it makes a difference.) Not enough to repair the radio so I have FM again in my car, and not enough to listen to it straight without flipping channels or sticking a CD in when I got the other car, still, I like it. They play lots of 80s stuff that other radio stations don't play. I hear stuff I haven't heard for ages.
I don't, though, like that "we play what we want to" line. Makes it sound like they have D.J.s who each get to play whatever they want. Which clearly isn't the case, just from listening, because they clearly have a format as far as what kind of music they play. Of course, since they don't say who "we" is, and thus it could be the corporation, I suppose "we play what we want to" is technically true.
i can't stand the voiceover guy -- he has the most annoyingly affected forced casual tone ...
People, why are you still listening to terrestrial radio? Satellite is amazing. I personally have Sirius for Stern, and the music channels are great - i've discovered a number of new favorite bands i never would have heard of through them. I highly recommend it. XM is part owned by ClearChannel so i suggest you go with Sirius!
I, too, once clung to hope that "Lonely Day" was tongue-in-cheek, but sadly it is not so. I'm a big fan of SOAD, but pretty much any song that Daron (the guitarist) writes lyrics for or sings lead on - usually these coincide - somehow manages to diminish the rest of the band's output.
Let me draw an analogy here. If SOAD was Public Enemy, then Daron is Flavor Flav to Serj's Chuck D. A little Flavor Flav is fantastic, but too much spoils the show.
To the guy in Vancouver who is "still in transition:"
Hey, those Canadian "hits" you've never heard before (early Hip? excellent) ARE classic to us. Is "classic" a designation determined only by middle-aged Americans? Sheesh.
To quote: "...shoehorns a superfluous "most" into a line that would otherwise have been both grammatically and metrically correct"
If the purpose of music was to use correct grammar and adhere to strict meter, then it would be very easy to write. Any old pedantic geek could have an instant hit. But don't forget that music is a form of art, not an English exam.
The liberties taken with "correct form" are often what lifts a piece above being a predictable series of soulless beeps and crashes. These departures from convention, whether small and imperceptible or big and blatant, are responsible for creating interest and emotion in the listener. They are why you like other System songs (assuming that you do).
Rules do exist in music and other art, and breaking them all without thinking is not a quick recipe for success. But following them all without thinking is definitely a recipe for failure (or RnB).
So just because they have written a crappy song, doesn't mean that its crappiness is due to its grammar or meter. It's just crappy.
P.S. Before you point it out, my own little grammar faux pas was intentional. Just to annoy you! Assuming that you picked it up.
and what about "A day like this should be banned"
How do you suggest we do that?
worst lyrics ever:
"there is no love left in her eyes,
but there is love left between her thighs"
Funny you should pick on that song. I like System of a Down, but the first time I heard that song I wanted to tear my radio out of my car and dash it on the street. I even like the *melody* quite a lot, but the lyrics are just unbelievable. I guess some things just get you, you know?
Matt. Blink is punk for kids who are too young to know what punk is. Third eye blind is... pain. And Creed? It's pre-teen "I'm rebelling against my parents" music. Maybe even "I'm rebelling against my parents music" music.
Or even "I'm rebelling against good taste" music.
and besides, the beastie boys are undeniably awesome. You've let me down.
And, yes, early Hip is awesome, too.
I thought I was the only one (aside from my mother) who could not STAND that song because of the poor grammar. That song makes me want to punch babies.