Saturday, March 19, 2011

What Is An Oldie? (Part 9)

Hi Kent -
As a broadcaster on Live 365 I'll be keeping a close eye on what FH readers consider an Oldie, and furthermore the music they really want to hear. Being on the other side of the fence so to speak I've always been happy to play requests, but it's not that easy to update playlists regularly and hold down a full time job at the same time. I've attached a copy of my current playlist which has 240 songs, though only around 20 of these are actual requests received in the last week or so.
As you can see some of the songs featured on FH are already included, but it would be interesting to see how many of them are actually played on US Oldies stations as very few are played here in the UK anymore.
Nicky's Oldies
Click here: Playlist March 10.docx - Microsoft Word Web App
Nice to see so many of our Forgotten Hits titles on this list ... and even nicer to know that we're helping to change the way radio is being programmed today. (We've got some good ideas here ... if just a few jocks on the list will give it a shot and listen to their audience instead of their consultants, we just MIGHT change radio forever!!!) kk

And, I'll tell you what ... radio IS listening to what we have had to say on this subject ... many of our readers (which include a number of deejays) have commented about how they can't wait to see what others have to say on this topic ... little by little we may just help to define the whole oldies concept ... and once we do, EVERYBODY WINS!!! Radio is better ... the listeners listen and enjoy it more ... the mind-grinding repetition tapers off (which pleases the listeners) ... and the deejays are happy because they get to play a greater variety of music ... so EVERYBODY WINS!!! (kk)

>>>Are songs that belong on the oldies channels more "artist" dictated? Two immediate examples that come to mind are "Kokomo" by The Beach Boys and "You Got It" by Roy Orbison, both late '80's tracks that found an immediate home on the oldies stations. Is it because both of these artists are held in such high regard in the oldies community? Is it because these songs seem to fit in with the style normally associated with these artists? (kk)
Although I was born in 1978, I would like an oldies station that mixes in a lot the country crossovers, one hit wonders, early rock and roll, the better known “underground AOR” radio tracks, British Invasion, MOR, R&B, etc., all on one station from about 1955 - mid 70s and nothing afterwards. I’d open a station that plays late 1970s-mid 1990s hits for the Kokomo, You Got It, etc. type of tracks.
I think tracks like "You Got It" and "Kokomo" still fit the bill for an oldies station ... because you've got proven oldies artists still creating new music that clearly has caught the ear of the masses. But here's the part I don't get in all of this ... "You Got It" features Orbison's fellow Traveling Wilburys Jeff Lynne (ELO) and Tom Petty ... and certainly his OTHER Wilburys bandmates (George Harrison and Bob Dylan) fall into the oldies staples category ... so why aren't The Traveling Wilburys featured as part of oldies programming?
(EDITOR'S NOTE: I typed this a week ago and then last week heard WLS-FM play "End Of The Line" by The Traveling Wilburys ... that record came out in 1989!!! Jeez!!! What have I done?!?!?)
Or, better yet, why will oldies radio play a wide selection of tunes by ELO, Roy Orbison, George Harrison and Bob Dylan ... but completely ignore the music of Tom Petty? For some reason, Tom Petty ... a Wilbury ... doesn't fit the oldies format.
By the same token, who better than oldies radio to let fans of this music know what their favorite artists are up to these days? Why not play something off the "brand new Paul McCartney album" or "the brand new Paul Simon album"? Where ELSE is this music going to fall in the mix of things? What about James Taylor? Eric Clapton? Many of these artists are regularly singled out for Grammy consideration yet the radio format that has the most likely built-in audience for this music ignores their new stuff. And what about artists like Elton John and Billy Joel and Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow and so many more that have provided decades of hits? Should nothing by Elton John post-1980 be played on the oldies station? Or is the fact that it IS Elton John ... an accepted oldies artist ... enough to play even his most recent release?
Tommy James has recorded some GREAT new music over the past few years that holds its own with some of his biggest and best known hits ... yet NOBODY is playing this stuff on the radio. SO many of these great acts from the '60's and '70's continue to release brand new music ... not just rehashing their old hits ... on a regular basis ... yet nobody dedicated to the oldies community is doing their part to let the fans know about it ... or give them a listen once in a while.

I generally go by anything ten years or older qualifying as an oldie, no ifs ands or buts.
I do listen to what others have to say on this subject, as it is a highly speculative area, and not all people will agree on one idea.

As for songs and artists like The Beach Boys and Roy Orbison ending up in the oldies category quickly even though they released new songs, you are correct in stating it's because of the type and style of music they're associated with, plus there seems to be a bias against older artists in the radio community releasing new music. It would seem that most PDs consider their music passe and not fit for today's Top 40 markets.
Oldies are songs that take a person to a time and place when a point in their lives were simpler and they had many good times and feelings associated with those songs.
Happy Days!

Oldie? At least Pre-Disco! Most of the stuff after that doesn’t matter to me. Exception being the Punk stuff from late 70’s and some of it’s spinoffs. Most of that wasn’t US hits anyway. Mainly because the US was buying some real mediocrity and crap for the most part.
Just an informed man’s opinion.



Kent ...

You asked for our definition of an "Oldie". I think a person's age has a lot to do with answering this question.
Here's how I see it:
1940 's ="Old Standard " - (Pre war, During the war, After the war)
1950 to Early 1960's (Before the Beatles and the British Invasion) ="Oldie"
1964 and later years = "Old Song"
Highest rating and best music is what I call an "Oldie"
Sometimes an "Old Standard" becomes an "Oldie".
For Example = "Till Then" (Mills Brothers to The Classics); "Lazy River" (Mills Brothers to Bobby Darin); "If I Didn't Care" (Ink Spots to The Platters); "That's My Desire " (Frankie Laine to Earl Lewis & The Channels)
I'm sure you can think of many more.
Hey Kent, that's not a bad idea for a show. First you play the "Old Standard" followed by the "Oldie" version of the same song. What do you think ? Check it out with all your contacts.
Frank B.
Actually, Scott Shannon's been doing his "Rock And Roll Remakes Weekends" for quite a few years now ... and it's one of the most popular features on The True Oldies Channel. (See, Frank, you have to turn off WCBS-FM once in a while and check out The True Oldies Channel, too!) But he certainly could go back a little deeper I suppose. Biggest problem with this concept is that the rock and roll "hit" version doesn't get played on the radio anymore ... so nobody's going to recognize EITHER version of these tunes!!! Radio has done an exemplary job of erasing MOST of musical history in favor of 300 "favorites" ... that we've all grown sick of!!! WTG, Radio!!! (How much do these so-called consultants make?!?!?) kk

My first instinct is to consider something an "oldie" if it came out between 1955 and 1970. I could even say 1972. But I'm willing to make it a clean twenty years and say an oldie is a song that came out between 1955 and 1975. This takes us from "Rock Around the Clock" to "Philadelphia Freedom." 1975 marks the rise of disco and the decline of AM radio. I agree with those who say that disco was an abomination that changed the music landscape forever. I would argue that during these twenty years, and especially in the 60s, there arose a fairly universal set of music that young people listened to. It was not one style of music, because we could listen to most stations and, in a one-hour period, hear just about anything. For example, on WABC's Top 100 survey for 1966, the top ten songs were by Sgt. Barry Sadler, Supremes, Frank Sinatra, Young Rascals, Four Tops, Monkees, Association, Beatles, Byrds and Mamas & Papas. Among the top 20 were songs by Herb Alpert, Roger Williams, Rolling Stones, The Happenings, and New Vaudeville Band, and the top 100 included Troggs, Standells, Fontella Bass, Roger Miller and Statler Brothers. Wow!
To be sure, these two decades could be divided into their own periods -- from 1955 to around 1960, from 60-63, 64-70 (Beatles), and 71-75. Even those periods, of course, had their unique musical components as well as a good amount of overlap. But on most stations, we heard it all. I think that by 1975, the music landscape had become much more fragmented. In fact, by 1975 there were"oldies" stations that were exclusively playing music from the 50s and 60s.
Call the disco, big hair, synthetic pop, and other music of the 70s and 80s something else, but don't call it "oldies."

Dan Crabtree

Wheaton IL

IMHO an "oldie" is a song performed or released by an artist or group beginning in the timeframe of Bill Haley and the Comets and concluding in proximity with the disbanding of the Beatles. Mid - 50s to the end of the 60's. Singles released by groups / performers of that era that precede or come after those years may be included.

The 70s had great music but I do not consider them "oldies" - Just because a song or single is old does not mean it is an oldie.
That's my bias and I'm sticking to it.

I define an oldie as 1955 - 1972 [when WCBS-FM started broadcasting]. After that it is 70s, 80s and 90s ... and all are retro. Most folks think of Beatles - Beach Boys - Elvis, etc. when oldies are mentioned.
Unfortunately, that Beatles - Beach Boys- Elvis mentality really pigeonholes the oldies concept and helps to narrows the play list down as small as it is ... there was SO much more great music that came out of this era than The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Elvis. Don't get me wrong ... all three rank high amongst my all-time favorites ... but I find myself turning off songs by all three of these artists today in favor of catching one of those "Wow" songs we keep talking about. I've heard The Beatles, Beach Boys and Elvis stuff thousands and thousands of times ... right now I want to hear something fresh and unexpected ... and, judging by most of the mail WE get lately, I think more and more oldies listeners are starting to feel the same way. (kk)

We've been getting some GREAT response to this topic ... be sure to voice YOUR opinion before we wrap things up next week!

SIDE NOTE TO THE JOCKS ON THE LIST: Most of you have commented about how fascinating you're finding this series ... some have gone as far as to say that it just may be the most honest and accurate accounting ever done when it comes to polling an audience ... especially an audience that LOVES this music ... and that we have provided some incredible insight not found through your typical consulting contacts. However, MOST of you have adopted sort of a "wait and see" attitude ... more anxious to hear what OTHERS have to say on the topic first than go out on a limb and let your own true feelings be known. We're hoping that some of you will step forward and speak YOUR minds during the final week of our "What Is An Oldies?" Series ... so let's hear from you!!!

TOMORROW IN FORGOTTEN HITS: It's a brand new Sunday Comments Page ... then we'll pick up (and wrap up) our "What Is An Oldies?" Series next week ... so speak now or forever hold your peace!!!

Here's all I have to add to the "Oldies" topic:
You are limited what you can play (as a DJ) if you tag particular songs as an Oldies.
Music is music, in my mind, not Oldies and Youngies. :)
Why waste anymore valuable FH space on this topic? There are no definitive answers!!!
Actually, we're polling our audience ... and the audience of oldies radio across America ... we knew this would be hot topic and it has been. Some EXCELLENT opinions and insight have been shared ... and we LOVE it!!!
If you're bored, you'll probably want to tune out for another week ... because we're FAR from done with this!!! (But we WILL have a brand new Sunday Comments Page that has all kinds of goodies in it!) kk