Stop these bastard Segues

The ‘segue’ (pronounced ‘seg-way’) when applied to songs on the radio used to mean carefully playing one song after another with them intermingling as one came to a close and the other started.  (Yes, it’s also the name of a stand-up bike thing, but that’s not what I’m lamenting here.)

It used to mean that it was appropriate to ‘segue’ the two songs as they fitted seamlessly, either extending or slowly lifting the mood, and with musical elements that somehow interlocked.  In the days of the ‘radio DJ’, the segue was an art.  It was the radio DJ showing his art.

In fact in the early days of pop music radio the segue was a real exception rather than the rule. Segues weren’t the norm.

Today on pop music radio with have the bastard child of the segue.

This is where songs are always played in twos or threes regardless of how jarring the transition from one to the other might be.

Jarring transitions rule because humans are no longer making decisions about what plays after what.  Instead, badly programmed computers are, and they have no idea what might comfortably fit because essentially they are just shuffling the songs around like a deck of cards with only the most ridiculous of ‘rules’ as to what may be played after what.  Rules the listeners just don’t care about like not having a female vocalist song follow a female vocalist song seem far more important than whether the ‘segue’ might actually sound pleasing.

Once they realised this process of using the ‘bastard child of the segue’ could be a jarring experience to listen to, they programmed the shouting words of a man or a woman with effects over their voices that usually made them sound like they’d recorded themselves sitting on the toilet with constipation.  This ‘imaging’ of constipated voices now shouts the station straplines inbetween the ‘bastard child of the segue’ seguing the songs.

Except of course, they were now no longer even slightly ‘seguing’ in the traditional sense.  They were just playing the songs one after the other with an overlapping constipated shouty voice.  This ‘bastard child of the segue’ is now sadly all that’s known as the segue.  Today’s listeners and even those loading the playout computers, are completely unaware of the real segue and how it engenders loyalty from longer listening.

Listeners don’t seem to care any more anyway, and just accept that pop music radio is exactly the same as an iPod but with shouty constipated voices inbetween the songs.  It’s become the norm with all creativity having departed from pop music radio as it attempts to rival the iPod rather than carve a new niche for itself by doing something intelligently that a dumb iPod cannot do.

Indeed, pop music radio is now so desperate to imitate and rival the iPod, that the radio DJ, as was, is not allowed to do anything beyond fulfilling a contractual obligation to Ofcom, the people who licence the radio stations, of having somebody in the studio.  No longer can he have sung jingles declaring his name ‘Bobby Bobbinson’ loud and proud.  He’s now just ‘Bob’ when he’s allowed to actually mention his name almost apologetically, which is usually no more than once an hour.  His job is to just sit there and wait.  A couple of times an hour the computer will tell him he’s allowed to speak and will count him down to finish.  He has to use a similar factual and unemotional voice to the platform announcer at a railway station, except he doesn’t speak as often, and he reads out all the stuff he’s told to read out that usually promotes some non-radio related event the radio station has attached itself to in order to appear cool and in touch, whilst also being paid handsomely for the promotion.

The radio DJ is now just an ‘announcer’, filling in the occasional gaps he’s told to, and the public recognise the shouty constipated voices more than they recognise his.

The computer does absolutely everything else apart from the live announcements, but since nobody programming it is carefully shuffling the songs in order to make them segue with a pleasing continuity, the actual art of seguing, along with the personality of pop music radio is slowly dying as the desperation to be an iPod continues.

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