Anatomy of a Playlist (Noteworthy 05-14-2018
Ivan from Noteworthy here again (Mondays 6PM-8PM) to break down a recent edition of the show. This is just a small peek into what my thought process is to make sure that you’re entertained for two hours every week.
The previous week, I dealt with how to cope when your favorite artists are problematic people outside of their music. It was a conversation mostly centered on Kanye West, and this week provided another opportunity to delve into it with Spotify enforcing their new hateful conduct policy. This resulted in artists such as R. Kelly and XXXTentacion being removed from their playlists and opened up a bigger discussion about who else should receive the same treatment. I appreciated the sentiment of what Spotify did, but it was a flawed process, as they are even starting to admit now.
I talked about how the perception of these artists would be if they were even one bit remorseful of their transgressions, which led me to opening the show with Al Green’s “Take Me To The River.” It’s one of his greatest songs and was also a hit for Talking Heads, but ultimately, the song is about an affair with an underage girl and the guilt that Green deals with it.
You probably couldn’t get away with the content of the song today, but I felt it was a fascinating talking point given the current climate. One of the questions I raised was if an artist used their art to talk about their sins, would it have any affect on our perception of them and “Take Me To The River” was the perfect song to complement it. I didn’t want to linger on the subject too long since I covered similar territory the week before, so I made sure to follow up Al Green song with more current and soulful offerings from Leon Bridges and John Mayer to change the mood.
I knew I wanted to play something from Janelle Monae’s latest album since I made that promise since its release, so I had to make sure that the transition from the soul of the first segment to her style wasn’t too abrupt. I simply made sure that whatever music came before her was still soulful, but had a slight touch of the abstract, which is why The Internet’s latest song “Roll (Burbank Funk)” was a solid way to set a new mood.
Walking into this week’s show, I also wanted to preview the upcoming Billboard Music Awards. Luckily, since so many genres are acknowledged for that event, it wasn’t difficult to ease into it as long as I had some spacing between hateful conduct policy talk and the pop stars of today. This was also the best excuse I could find to play Halsey’s new version of “Alone” with Big Sean and Stefflon Don while it was still relatively new. Overall, I try not to let the success of a song dictate or influence whether I play it or not, but I always want to make Noteworthy a place where you’ll find something that you’re not to going hear through traditional channels. Halsey was nominated for some BBMAs and the song was barely a month old at this point, so I went for it.
As if I didn’t squeeze in enough stuff to talk about, I went back to a segment I hadn’t done in a while called Flowers. It’s a way to pay tribute to the artists that may not be on our minds constantly, but have contributed a lot to music, hence, giving them their flowers while they can still smell them. In the past, I’ve done this for Bobbie Gentry and Betty Davis, but I went the non-senior citizen route this time around by giving Flowers to producer Teddy Riley. It felt appropriate to look back at his work, especially with Bruno Mars being nominated for some BBMAs and 24K Magic borrowing heavily from new jack swing. While fans of R&B understand Riley’s impact, the canon at large still seems to overlook his career, which is why I felt he was an appropriate choice for Flowers, despite his age. I thought it was too easy to acknowledge his time with Guy and BLACKstreet, so I focused only on his production work for other artists, which came in an era where not everyone was aware who produced songs unless you were Quincy Jones or Prince.
Most editions of Noteworthys are pretty balanced genre-wise, but with Al Green, Teddy Riley and the Billboard Music Awards being some of my main talking points, this show had more pop and R&B inflections than usual. When a show is going a certain way, I try not to fight it and know that it will probably be more diverse the following week. This wasn’t a bad thing, since it allowed me to play something from the latest PREP EP. “Cheapest Flight” was one of my most played songs of 2016 and they’re usually one of the names I drop whenever people ask me which under the radar artists I’m checking out. When I found out that they had a song with DEAN, a K-Pop artist who’s been making some terrific R&B cuts over the past few years, it was only a matter of time before it found its way onto the show.
The plan was always to end with the 12-minute album version of Sheila E.’s “A Love Bizarre,” so all I had to do was keep things festive from PREP on to stick the landing.
Thanks for checking out another Anatomy of a Playlist! As always, you can listen to Noteworthy on Mondays from 6PM-8PM at uicradio.org or on the Radio FX app.