We have a conundrum for everyone out there to ponder for a moment. Radio One seems to currently be in the midst of an identity crisis. Despite recently playlisting such shit as Gangnam Style, it has now decided that anything that resembles pop music in the slightest should be avoided at all costs. It has, for a relatively long time, been a bit of a pop snob anyway, cherry picking output from only certain pop artists who are considered cool. Currently on the ‘cool’ list: Olly Murs, P!nk, Justin Timberlake, The Saturdays, One Direction and Bruno Mars. Not on the cool list: all other pop music.
Two points cross our minds here. The first says that surely songs should be judged on the songs themselves, rather than who sings them. Of course, a Cliff Richard single would never be playlisted, but in general and applied with common sense, it’s a good rule of thumb. We all know that anything by Rihanna, Ellie Goulding, Calvin Harris or Beyoncé is automatically playlisted, regardless of actual content. Radio One is happy to drip feed us literally shit songs by these ‘special’ artists. On the other hand acts like Britney, Christina and Avril have to fight for their playlist spot on the merit of the songs. We would prefer it if the latter was true for all songs, regardless of who it is that sings them.
The second point that crosses our mind, in relation to this specific example, is that Nicole Scherzinger must be as close to Radio One’s idea of “the perfect” pop star as you can get without being called Ellie, Florence or Gabrielle Aplin. The X Factor massively increased her profile, she has a “cool” racing driver boyfriend, she is hot, she is an extremely capable live performer, and she’s big enough to frequently provide the tabloids with fodder, without going overboard a la Kerry Katona. In terms of her output, too, she seems to be Radio One friendly. Although she occasionally strays a bit too far into Kiss FM territory with R&B jams like ‘Right There’, tunes such as Poison and Boomerang seem to suit the station’s identity.
Also to bear in mind at this point of the discussion is ‘Candy’gate, as nobody called it. Robbie William’s rather brilliant Candy infamously went number one last year despite Radio One deciding not to playlist Robbie because he was viewed as too old for the station’s 16-29 year old demographic. This led to the ludicrous but memorable suggestion from mop-haired-Northerner and occasional muppet Nick Grimshaw that he didn’t know any songs by Robbie Williams. Can we agree that Nicole is also too old for the demographic? No. Conversely, despite her rumoured age, the X Factor has exponentially increased her relevance to the beloved 16-29 age group Radio One so desperately caters to.
If we sound like we have an axe to ground, we really don’t. We are aware that Radio One can choose to play whatever it likes, within certain grounds of it’s remit due to it’s licence-payer-funded nature. We are aware that certain genres are never given the light of day, such as heavy metal, and all but the very fringes of dubstep and D&B. However, we are discussing pop. Pop, which by it’s very nature is popular music. Which means that ‘Boomerang’ could make midweek #1, and Candy a proper #1, without any support from Radio One. We just think that when such acts such as Bridgit Mendler, Icona Pop and Little Mix are releasing stellar tunes, we would like to see them playlisted. Because of their quality, not because of who they’re by. It’s a shame Radio One is far too try-hard cool sometimes to be able to admit that songs such as Ready Or Not, Boomerang and I Love It are very decent indeed.