We Hate Radio Edits!

I’d like to take a moment to talk about “radio edits” and why they are the absolute epitome of musical evil.

I listen to the radio a lot, as there is no way of getting audio out of my iPhone and into my car stereo (tape deck’s broken, there’s no line-in, and FM transmitters sound like garbage). And, when I’m listening, I spend a lot of time channel-surfing, because I can’t stand the inane commercials that most stations broadcast more often than they broadcast actual content. So, it’s not hard to see why, every once in a while, a radio edit of song I know and love might catch my ear and I might get sucked in before I know any better.

That’s happened a lot lately with this Katy Perry song, “California Gurls”.

Yes, I know there are some of you out there who are slapping your foreheads, wondering why I’m not complaining about this song’s very existence, but bare with me. See, here’s the thing about this song: it’s an exquisite piece of pop bubblegum trash, but only in its original form—an original form which features, quite prominently, a rap by Snoop Dogg. For the radio edit, the suits at Perry’s label, or at the radio station, or wherever it is that these decisions are made, have decided to excise Snoop from the track altogether. And it just makes the song unlistenable. Really, seriously, it’s the ridiculous interplay between Perry and Snoop that makes this song work. To take that away—well, it makes the song pointless.

What makes the whole matter worse is that the station responsible for infecting my ears with this horrific nonsense (Mix 104.1 here in the Boston area) played an uncut version of “Beverly Hills” by Weezer directly after “California Gurls”. You know, the song where the girls whisper in lurid call/responses to Rivers Cuomo, “Gimme, gimme. Gimme, gimme.” over and over again?

Look, I understand that some stations feel like they need to keep their playlists relatively clean, so that they don’t embarrass the soccer moms who listen to them, but I would rather they just not play the song at all, rather than play an edited version (especially if they’re not going be equal opportunity about what they censor). If the original doesn’t fit your demographic, then don’t play it. If radio stations kept to this simply rule, we could avoid all manner of catastrophes, including the 1997-1998 debacle where rap stations were playing fucking Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”.

Anyway, I just had to get that off my chest. This particular example isn’t the worst one I’ve ever heard, and I actually get more aggravated when stations condense the breakdowns or instrumental breaks in longer songs like “Sweet Child of Mine” and “Love Shack”, but I really dig Snoop’s silly rap in this song, and I can’t stand that there are stations out there who would deprive me of it.