In what I believe is the current issue of The Onion, there’s a presumably non-satirical A.V. Club feature called “I Wanna Bite That Hand So Badly: 6 Songs About Hating the Radio.” (Oh, there are 21 songs online. Fun.) One of the tracks discussed is “Please Play this Song on the Radio” by NOFX. This has always been one of my top three or four favorite songs of theirs. It’s expertly crafted meta-pop-punk with a practical joke built in at the end. While referencing the formulaic nature of radio-ready pop music, it also embraces it by employing every trick it cites as a cliché, as if to prove a point: We could do this all day if we only gave a shit, but we don’t, so fuck you. It’s clever, it’s funny, its message is very clear, and when you factor in the litany of profanity thrown in at the end to mess with coked-up, pre-occupied radio DJs, it’s quite possibly the crowning achievement of 90s pop-punk.
Anyway, back to the thing in The Onion. It’s credited to multiple writers—Jason Heller, Steven Hyden, Josh Modell, Sean O’Neal and Keith Phipps—so I’m not sure who’s responsible for this:
“The shittiness of pop radio (and how bands turn themselves to shit in order to get airtime) was a running gag among punk bands throughout the 90s. The truth, of course, was that B-level bands like the jokey SoCal outfit NOFX simply weren’t good enough to be played next to Green Day.”
Oh, of course. Of course that’s the truth, right? Because the truth couldn’t possibly be that some bands have different goals and, god forbid, different principles than other bands, right? Right: the truth is that, like NOFX, Fugazi always wanted to be on the radio, and that if they were half as good as Soundgarden or Matchbox 20, then they may have had a shot, but they weren’t, because everything that’s on the radio is better than everything that’s not on the radio, because that’s just how it is.
This is preposterous and infuriating and we’re talking ourselves into a corner here, where counter-culture ideals are viewed as childish, and where the only way to measure the quality of a piece of art is to look at how many people like it. Please stop doing that.