Today is a propitious day: The Hannah Montana Soundtrack I pre-ordered months ago from Amazon.com finally arrived. La Montana is portrayed on TV (dramatically and musically) by spunky tween-queen Miley Cyrus, 13-year-old daughter of (program co-star) Billy Ray. Maybe I should watch the show, but gravity can't pin me to the couch even long enough to enjoy complete episodes of would-be faves like South Park and Chappelle. (Say what you want against ADD—it cures TV addiction!)
Pending victory over videophobia, the Hannah CD will do. As a 55-year-old AARP-registered male with a Seussian distance from kids ("You have 'em, I'll amuse 'em") and 30+ years airtime here at the free-form factory, I'm not Radio Disney's target demo. (Turning 49, I sighed, "Advertisers no longer care about me"—then realized: When did they?) Hannah's lyrics evoke the hopes, dreams, and rockstar fantasies of prepubescent girls, but the music is captivating to these pre-senescent ears. It's everything catchy pop should be: frothy, harmonic, propulsive, memorable—that is, it's formulaic. And irresistible. She's The Monkees in a pleated mini.
Miley is young, glamorous, and probably makes enough money in a week to support WFMU for a year. Not that we're expecting her pledge.
Years ago I co-hosted a weekly WFMU offering called Incorrect Music, a misguided tour of outsiders, bumbling celebs, no-hopers, corporate anthems, pop-eyed zealotry, uber-patriots, Third-Eye Lounge crooners — a survey of Frankentunes. But years before Incorrect Music there was "incorrect music." My original concept of the genre was music that was out of place on WFMU, not because it embodied any of the aforementioned qualities of "badness," but because it was too popular, too slick, or too commercial, viz., too unhip. Didn't get around to developing that concept into a program, but four years into the redefined IM, on February 28, 2001, guest co-host Monica Lynch and I gathered the gumption to flood the WFMU airwaves with our guilty pleasures, presenting one hour of recordings that were too incorrect for WFMU. We alternated pop-trocities — Paula Abdul, Black Oak Arkansas, Debbie Gibson, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Natalie Cole. We tried to explain our vices and quantify our tastes, but ultimately you love 'em or hate 'em, and logic plays no part. Listener feedback was as expected: 90% despised the show, as did the few staffers who bothered to comment. Emails were merciless. We never did it again, but not because of negative test-marketing. One show provided the necessary catharsis. Monica was proud to have breached the Babyface Barrier.
All of which is backstory to Hannah Montana. It's October 27, 2006. About a hundred DJ's have hosted WFMU programs in the past year. Just did a quick playlist search and it appears that, to date, just one DJ has aired Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus. Maybe this stuff loses free-form cachet because it's technically flawless, a studio contrivance of some producer-svengali. But pop perfectionism was Abba's raison d'etre, and a WFMU playlist search tracks 212 hits for the Swedish leviathan.
That lone WFMU fanboy intends to continue sporadic spins. Call him a Disney apologist. But as a free-market enthusiast, he has no problem with the rich getting richer. Create a Hannah Montana and you deserve to cash in.
UPDATE 1: Cash calf indeed: Hannah CD debuts in Billboard at #1. (Link now dead; trust me.)
UPDATE 2: How much do I love Hannah's "Best of Both Worlds"? Enough to make a doddering fool of myself mangling it with the Hoof & Mouth Sinfonia at Marathon 2007's conclusion. I didn't even have drunkenness as an excuse.