Having spent some time working at a radio station, I understand many of the problems and concerns that come with writing up a playlist and fitting music into the right slots, in addition to the more general concern of finding and maintaining listeners. So I understand the point of cutting songs down into more manageable slices so they can be shuffled in and out more easily, as well as avoid the possibility of driving away potential ears if an unpleasant song goes on too long. This is especially the case when songs from bands new to a station’s playlist get added; it’s best to approach with caution to make sure that your listeners are fans.
However, I find that once songs are dropped from current rotation but are maintained in the station’s library shouldn’t have to encounter those same difficulties. Once a band becomes an accepted part of the format, it makes little sense to me why the radio should continue to play the shortened version of a song, especially when in the meantime many fans went out and bought the album or song and got used to the way it was intended to be played. With that in mind, here is a short list of the songs that stations need to replace with their album versions immediately.
5. Nine Inch Nails – “Closer”
Now I understand why stations would want to play the radio edit of this song, if simply for the convenience of not going in to edit all the non-PACIFICA approved language themselves. I say this even though I know all of us twenty years later know exactly what Trent wants to do to someone like an animal. My main problem is that it also chops off close to two minutes of pure instrumental genius near the end. I know it’s tough for radio stations to have plain music without vocals playing for extended periods of time, but throw the audience a bone once in a while and toss in the full version every once in a while. We’re sophisticated consumers at this point, and we know what to expect.
4. Silversun Pickups – “Lazy Eye”
If you only listened to this song when it came on the radio, you would have no idea that this song contains the most beautiful feedback-drenched guitar solo since the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Drown”. That is, unless you listened to my old radio station. Our station never got a radio-ready copy of the single, and instead we just played the album version of the song that we had from when we played the song on our specialty new music show. We simply dropped that version into regular rotation, and somehow managed to survive with a six-minute song getting heavy rotation for a few months. It can be done.
3. The Black Keys – “Little Black Submarines”
It makes sense that our ultra-hyperactive generation can’t sit still enough through two acoustic verses, that we have to get to the RAWK immediately. But this kills the beauty of the song in my eyes. In the radio edit, the acoustic beginning serves as mere prelude to the heavy second part of the song, and especially with the fact that the backing organ comes in so early in this version it feels inevitable that the distortion is going to kick in soon. With the album version, the first part feels more complete, as if we are listening to two equal songs together. By drawing out the soft beginning, it also gives more weight and emotion to that kickass second half, and it feels more earned.
2. Interpol – “PDA”; Interpol – “Obstacle 1”
We’ve got a tie at this spot, since I can’t choose between the two of them which edit is worse. With “Obstacle 1”, the bridge is severely cut, and in a rarity, we even lose some lyrics. While some may be pleased that there are people that never heard the line “Her stories are boring and stuff”, they miss the opportunity to marvel at Sam Fogarino’s shuffling drums and some more of Carlos D’s unique basslines.
The hatchet-job is even worse with “PDA”, as the ending is completely chopped off in an absolutely graceless manner. The interplay between the different guitars is one of Interpol’s best musical moments, but apparently we shouldn’t be allowed to appreciate that.
1. Deftones – “Change (In the House of Flies)”
The video version of the breakthrough hit from the Deftones cuts even more than the radio version, but I’ll allow it because 1) the video is pretty great and 2) it helped the band reach a massive new audience. But the radio version commits the unforgivable sin of fading out just before Abe Cunningham’s drums kick in once again with one of the best fills of the decade as the song ramps up one more time before gradually winding down for the finish. The minimal damage that would be done by letting the song linger for thirty seconds longer is what puts this edit at the top of my list.
BONUS CATEGORY: SONG THAT WOULD BENEFIT FROM A RADIO EDIT
The Black Keys – Strange Times
I think this is a great song that would benefit if they cut out a repetition of the chorus at the end, as it would benefit from being leaner and meaner. Luckily, at some point the band realized this, and the band has performed a shortened version when they play it live.