Arts & Events

Overlooking The Sound Reviews: ‘Music to Blank to’

The award for most thematic show on KUPS goes to “Music to Blank to,” heard Friday mornings at 9 a.m. Every week the blank is filled in with some sort of musical subject or grouping, something that gives the listener some way to identify the songs played during this smart hour of songs old and new.
This week was “Music to Protest to.” Songs about revolution, change, speaking your voice and government gave listeners something to think about as they rocked out to the likes of Arcade Fire, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Macklemore.
Quite a diverse group of musicians frequents this radio hour. By having defined themes, DJs Emily and Joanna have liberty to play whatever they want. Even if the musical genres do not mesh naturally, the theme of each song does. Emily and Joanna were almost insulted when I asked if they ever stuck to one genre.
In a similar manner, the theme is a nice way to introduce new music. Each song is picked with purpose instead of simply finding the most obscure new track that nobody has ever heard of. If there is a new song the DJs want to highlight, they create a theme around that song. It is a gentle transition into the potentially frightening world of the unknown because it is mixed with at least one familiar sound.
These two have a way of weaving songs together and finding similarities in songs that come from opposite sides of the spectrum. Take the Black Eyed Peas for instance and their smash hit “Where is the Love?” and Tom Lehrer (who sang his little heart out a good 40 years before Fergie and the gang) who satirically warns about the forthcoming WWIII. The connection is politics, distaste for unnecessary violence and the recurring potential for a WWIII.
All of this I learned by the exquisitely professional DJs of KUPS. Before and/or after every set, Emily and Joanna give their two cents. This is where they give you insightful context to the songs. This is why the show works so well. Without the explanations of the conglomeration of music—although all great choices—would be weird.
Yet they pull it together every time they talk with their sultry voices. For those who are working on their radio schtick, these ladies have got it down. You can tell that they are smiling and interacting with each other just by listening to them talk. And you could listen to them talk forever.
Emily and Joanna work well together in most aspects of the show. It is clear that they communicate well with each other the intentions of their weekly show. Though they do agree on a silly little love for Sarah McLachlan, they teach one another their own personal reasons for why. While Emily brings to the table the history behind “Ohio”, Joanna contributes with the emotions behind Billie Holiday’s number about lynching. Emily brings the technological knowhow and Joanna the saucy radio-talk. Together they make it a show.
This brings me to the end of reviewing shows for this semester. Looking back on the reviews I have written, I am left with a question. Is KUPS capable of broadcasting a really terrible show? I want the answer to be yes only so I can let my dogs off the leash. There is a lot of general criticism that has not yet been said. We must wait on the answer until spring 2013, but for now keep it locked!