RADIO

I love my new XM Radio.

I’m a big music fan, but I’ve gotten really tired of radio lately. They just play the same 20 songs over and over.

XM has a station for just about every kind of musical taste. A couple of my favorites are the 80s station and the 90s station. (The first station I turned on was the 90s channel, and they were playing “Girls Night Out” by Tyler Collins, a song I’d totally forgotten existed. I practically hyperventilated.) There’s a station that plays movie music, one for Broadway music, a standup comedy station, a station with live recordings and one that’s all acoustic. There’s U-POP, which plays hits from around the world. And there are tons of news and talk stations.

But my favorite station is the one that plays the same 20 songs over and over.

Top 20 on 20 counts down the top 20 most requested songs over and over all day long. But what’s great about it is that the list is constantly changing in response to listener requests. You can even vote for the countdown on their website. (I’ve been stuffing the ballot box for Clay Aiken, who for the record is kicking Ruben’s ass on XM, and “Fighter”, the new one from Christina Aguilera, which I shouldn’t like, but I do.)

It’s obviously not a scientific countdown, since XM has a very specific audience (mostly truckers) and the charts are at the whims of jerks like me stuffing the ballot box. But there’s one big benefit. A few years ago, after I first stopped listening to commercial radio stations, I realized I didn’t recognize any of the songs in the Billboard Top 10. That’s right: ANY of them. A lot of them, I didn’t even recognize the artist names. My friends couldn’t believe I had never heard J-Lo’s “Jenny From the Block” or Eminem’s “My Name Is…” (that’s right… NEVER).

This was devastating for a pop music trivia machine like me. Just try to stump me on any 80’s hit. You can’t do it, foo! (Well, okay, unless the song is “Key Largo”. I once lost $16,000 on a game show because I couldn’t identify who sang it — but that’s another story). The Billboard charts were mocking me, telling me I was old and losing touch.

But now when I see Thalia and Fat Joe storming the countdown and I wonder “Who are Thalia and Fat Joe?”, I know exactly where I can hear their song. And I’m no longer out of touch. I know just what it sounds like.

I think it sucks. But I know what it sounds like.

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