Killing the Music: The Mumfordization of Top 40 Radio

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Here a banjo, there a banjo, everywhere a twangy banjo.
Twenty-eight. That is the amount of times in one day that I heard the songs play. Between my daily morning routine, my various commutes throughout the city, and a quick visit to CVS, "Home" came on eight times, "Ho Hey" seven, "Little Talks" also seven, and "I Will Wait" six.

Phillip Phillips and company really have made this place their home... and this place is Top 40 Radio.

I guess it isn't exactly "news" that Top 40 radio kills music. A song gets popular and then completely destroyed through massive amounts of overplay. This is still happening to some of the greatest bands of all time. I often think that classic-rock stations seem to only be aware that the Rolling Stones have five songs, and three of those songs are "Brown Sugar." So why is it any more annoying this time around?

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Maybe it's because I don't want to hate this music. I enjoy it. I want to listen to it. And its absurd overplay is making my Okie vinyl collect a lot of dust. The anger I experience when "Ho Hey" comes on is really unhealthy. It rivals having to listen to someone loudly chew gum, or nails on a chalkboard. I actually hate that song. I'm pretty sure I liked it six months ago.

Or maybe it's because the Billboard Banjo Boom is taking music that's never really had much radio play and making it damn near unlistenable. It seems to be outside the typical ebb and flow of what is often considered "pop" music: we are not surprised when we hear Bieber's whiny ass yearning for beauties and beats and whatever 100 times a day.

But notably, three of the four songs listed above are still higher on the charts than Bieber, after months of play. Of Monsters and Men's "Little Talks" has now been on the charts for a staggering 44 weeks; The Lumineers' "Ho Hey" for 42, Phillip Phillip's "Home" for 39, and Mumford and Sons' "I Will Wait" for 33.

Is this a backlash against the over-produced and auto-tuned songs of the early 2010s? Maybe... but it could also just be convenience. Songs like "I Will Wait" fit easily into many radio stations' formats. Mumford and Co. can move seamlessly up and down the dial, from Top 40 to Adult Contemporary to Soft Rock to Alternative Rock to New Rock to Modern Country.


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41 comments
NF0308
NF0308

I think it's a backlash against the auto-tuned horse crap they've shoved down our throats for so long. I, for one, hope the banjo bubble never goes away. I prefer real music, no matter how overplayed, to "RiRi", Bieber, (gross), Demi Lovato (why the hell do stations play her music?), PITBULL! He's huge here in Miami. It's sickening.

WhiteLightning
WhiteLightning topcommenter

I can take a bit of Mumford, but I really wish they, the Avetts, etc would just go away. And Lumineers? Call in a drone strike, let's be done with that vapid, vacant shite. All the talk about this trend being a return to "authenticity" is a joke.

angelabyemail
angelabyemail

which is why I listen to pandora instead of the radio....  and I love m&s!

MissDjinn
MissDjinn

I've been so into Mumford for...damn, feels like forever now. I listened to Sigh No More on repeat for probably three months.  White Blank Page is quite possibly one of the most perfect songs ever recorded...and even Im getting effing sick of it.  Go back to the bland, boring and predictable. Leave the good stuff alone.

baduserexperience
baduserexperience

Haley Reinhart released an album with many good songs on it and none of them received radio play.

Posit
Posit

I'd far rather have M&S or P2 on my radio that anything the talentless Beibers, Keshas or Gagas can crank out.

Craigley
Craigley

These bands are the cousins of the ugly bearded ones on single gear bikes.

Dallas Hölmes
Dallas Hölmes

dubstep is the worst thing ever. followed by auto tune. followed by EDM and its producers. banjos are awesome, part guitar, part drum, all bad ass. it takes talent to play a banjo, something that is not required to hit the 'Wob knob'...

Jacob Bocanegra
Jacob Bocanegra

y is mumford and sons on the radio but not Alabama Shakes or Gary Clark jr???

Matthew Flores
Matthew Flores

Wow autumn.. Why so much hate? Is it because you're out of season! Hahahaha suck my brown eye you Gunt!

Rusty Lovell
Rusty Lovell

I can't believe that you would put dubstep and banjos in the same category.

Laurie Curtis
Laurie Curtis

IMO auto tune is by far the worst trend. Bleh. Followed by the pseudo folk-esque "hits" they also play all day on the radio. -_-

Dylan Osborne
Dylan Osborne

I have no idea why people would complain about the banjo being more popular. I enjoy it and I am glad I get to hear this style of music more because of it.

Selena.Dieringer
Selena.Dieringer

Agreed, Nate. This is all a cycle.

I don't mean that Mumford etc are killing music... I mean that the overplay is killing Mumford.

And as for hairspray, disco, grunge, Disney, and hippies... they all have a place in my book. Everything sucks if you hear it 28 times a day.

Nate
Nate

I liked it but then hated it before everyone else.  YOU SHOULD HEAR WHAT I LIKE NOW!  So I can hate it.

Autumn Smith
Autumn Smith

@Matthew I find strangers assuming that I'm not a musician to be a terrible trend as well. Nice job being an ignorant, assumptive piece of shit! I bet your mommy (who you probably still live with) is proud of you!

Colin Gallatin
Colin Gallatin

worst trend? - thinking that Mumford revitalized the banjo. the banjo is not a trend, it's been around, and popular, since before the 19th century, it's just that all the trendy kids think it is. What I'm more concerned with is why are all the 'trendy' people listening to top 40 as guide for what's good?? fyi - I DIG the banjo. Bluegrass Junction is in my top 6 presets on satellite radio. wanna talk about terrible trends....autotune!!!

Matthew Flores
Matthew Flores

I find people who have no musical talent, judging musicians, is a terrible trend in itself.

Autumn Smith
Autumn Smith

Mumford and Sons has ruined the banjo AND the mandolin for me...they're just boring hacks with nothing new, original, or creative to offer. They stand on the shoulder of giants, only to vomit up bland mediocrity onto everyone who's unfortunate enough to have to listen to the radio on a daily basis.

craig.hlavaty
craig.hlavaty moderator

"Killing" is pretty dramatic. People thought hair spray, disco, grunge, Disney, and hippies were killing music too.

Selena Dee
Selena Dee

i have an iPod :) just not a car with a jack! so i guess i need a new car...

michaelbell.1975
michaelbell.1975

It's not that popular music is inherently bad, it's just that you don't have to try to listen to it.  Being in public in general will force it on you in every place at every time.  I wouldn't want that from my favorite band, much less one in which I had only a passing interest.  

I recently had a very nice dinner in a very nice restaurant downtown, and I had Phillip² and Mumford piping in through a speaker directly above my table.  The songs themselves aren't unpleasant, but they were completely inappropriate.  I suppose the various merchants and managements are to blame, but it's the bands that are going to feel my wrath so-to-speak.  I'm never, ever going to listen to any of those bands in my free time or of my own volition, and I certainly would never spend a cent on them.

Josh Webster
Josh Webster

Somebody needs an iPod for Christmas. Who listens to the radio anyway?

Craigley
Craigley

@Dallas Hölmes Yes but do they have to LOOK like they play the banjo?

error415
error415

@Rusty Lovell Why not, there both shitty

MadMac
MadMac

You've actually articulated my vision of h3ll. Thank you, I'll sleep like a baby tonight. A big, teething, collicky-baby with an ear infection.

error415
error415

@Matthew Flores I find people like you to be a terrible trend. If shit sucks we can all tell it sucks.

H_e_x
H_e_x

@Matthew Flores Two things: 1) Does that mean only musicians can judge other musicians? and 2) Is there no room on our world for any form of criticism? 

MadMac
MadMac

You and me--fingers to eyes--right here. As much as it galls me to admit, and it does, Chris Brown is probably the Jimi Hendrix of this generation. Which tickles me pink since I'm an old fart.

MadMac
MadMac

Had the same experience at Craft in Dallas. "Mad Man Across the Water," but not while I'm attempting to dine with and listen to the Mrs.

MadMac
MadMac

And, who is a muscian? Does flatulence count? Cause if so, I'm changing my job title to "Maestro."

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