Monday, July 16, 2007

Is It OK To Change The Lyrics?

Chris The Listener at Radio-Info's country board raises an interesting question:

Rodney Atkins' These Are My People
Album version: "We're loving and living and busting our asses..."
Radio version: "We're loving and living and busting our backs..."

Taylor Swift's Teardrops on My Guitar
Album version: "I laugh cause it's so damn funny..."
Radio version: "I laugh cause it's just so funny..."

Sugarland's Everyday America
Album version: "Fell in love out of high school..."
Radio version: "Fell in love out of college..."

"I realize that these are here to make the songs more "family friendly" for the radio stations. But what I don't understand is why the radio stations are making such a big deal about little words like these (all in an effort to be "family friendly"), when they play these songs between others with lyrics like "Let's get drunk and be somebody", and "I want to check you for ticks". "

Then, there's the custom cuts artists record for the most influential radio stations (like the 80 versions Montgomery-Gentry did of "Lucky Man", adding the names of almost every sports team in North America in place of the original "Bengals" version).

My experience is that the special station versions of hits which include call letters or brand names often are seen as 'commercials' for the station by the artists and, as a result, are a bit irritating to the fans, but they do make a memorable impression.

Jason Aldean's "Johnny Cash" has taught me a lesson in today's sensibilities. At first, I preferred the tame remix sans the word "screw" until I realized that one still contained the word "ass," so I went with the flow and watched client research on the original. Last week, it ranked #4 on A&O's National Accu-Test.

The three songs with the highest negatives in our testing last week were the ones which deal with 'controversial' lyrics - the Aldean, "Because of You," and "Everyday America," and yet at least on those three, our research indicates that more than four out of five listeners are not negative on the songs. Those three, and the Taylor Swift, all rank in our top 15 by positive scores.

Of course, it's a 'case by case' local decision. But, at least in THESE cases, it appears that there was no need for 'special mixes.' Hopefully, you're asking your listeners for their opinions on these issues and they know you want their ideas and opinions on such things.

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