Real internet continues to elude us in the capital city of Italy, so we’re surviving on a diet of dongles – including one whose software insisted on BSOD’ing my computer – and the tantalising whiff our neighbours’ WiFi networks.
All of which makes access to decent radio – ie 6Music and Radio 4, with perhaps a little Radio 2 – impossible. We can’t even get World Service here on a conventional radio.
The station that we’ve tuned to on our little non-digital number in the kitchen is Virgin. Let me just make it clear that this is the least bad station we can find. Which means it’s the station that plays the smallest amount of stupefyingly bad Italian pop/rock. It does play some though, and that’s mostly in the form of sub- and cod-Bryan Adams soft rock. Yes, apparently all Italian “rock” singers have to be gravelly voiced. I assume it’s in the constitution.
Those tracks, perhaps surprisingly, aren’t the worst Virgin has to offer though. The station also has a deeply irritating range of “spoken jingles” (I don’t know the technical term), performed by a gormless-sounding woman with a south of England accent. She intones things like “Style rock”, “Contemporary rock”, “Rock forever”. Even sometimes treating us to rolled Rs in “rock”. Oddly. Oh and yes, there’s a lot of English used, which is understandable when much of their fare is in English.
Another “jingle” samples someone saying “Let’s crank this motherfucker up.” Something that’s not ideal when my three-year-old nephew is around.
Now firstly I’d like to point out that while vintage panto heavy metal like AC/DC may qualify as “rock”, the oft-played Coldplay does not, by any stretch of the imagination. And why Coldplay may qualify as “contemporary”, I’m not sure that argument stretches to the adolescent poetry of The Doors (hey, I still like the music, but oh boy, those lyrics don’t scan so well as you age way beyond Morrison’s age).
More worryingly though, the station seems happy to excavate a disgusting seam of misogyny exemplified by a couple of songs currently in their (limited) playlist. One culprit is by far and away also the worst song they’re playing: “We’re all gonna die” by Slash. And Iggy Pop. I’m having to restrain myself from using lots of exclamation marks here. Iggy Pop!! I’m ashamed to say I maligned the entire Italian nation when I initially thought this had to be an Italian song. It’s jaw-droppingly moronic, tuneless, and lyrically odious. Did Iggy really co-write that? Is he singing? Is he doing it for a joke?
The other current culprit – and I’m having to Google this to find out who it is – is “The bitch came back” by Canadian bank Theory of a Deadman. Who I’d never heard of before this moment. This band may have done some other good songs; I don’t dislike their audio style per se, but the lyrics of this song are way out of order, or at least are way out of order for being played outside the confines of a some dumb male teenager’s bedroom. Sure, maybe it’s a comedy record, but it’s just plain nasty. Mr Branson, I think you need some higher ethical standards in this regard.
Anyway, you wonder why we turn the radio on at all. Well, because I like to have music while I cook, and because it’s not all bad. They do play plenty of music that I can tolerate, and sometimes even music I actually like. In no particular order these include: Depeche Mode, The Beatles, Smashing Pumpkins, Queen, Led Zep, Foo Fighters, Neil Young, Kasabian, Pink Floyd, Noel Gallagher, Travis, Jane’s Addiction, Vaccines etc.
Oh, and you too can enjoy those gormless verbal jingles here.