I have lived my whole life about an hour from the Canadian border between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario. Growing up we got the CBC (which always came in handy during the Olympics and for The Kids in the Hall), and the radio stations out of Windsor (a.k.a South Detroit). These stations always were, in my opinion, slightly better than anything pumping out of the Detroit area. Over the years as my tastes changed so did this opinion, but I still have them as presets on the car radio.
The only problem is that they play a ton of Canadian music.
At first I just thought this was some patriotic, you need to listen to Avril Lavigne crap, but a few years ago I found out the real reason. Canadian regulations require their stations to play a certain percentage (20%-40%) of music from the great white north.
Which means we hear a lot of Nickelback, Barenaked Ladies, Alanis Morrisette, and Our Lady Peace to fill the quota. We do also get to hear Arcade Fire, Feist, and Sam Roberts Band more regularly than we would otherwise.
I wondered how much Canadian music I would actually hear if I spent a day listening to two Windsor stations (93.9 The River and 89X), and after a few hours I was not sure I would complete the task
10am until 1pm – 93.9 The River
The River was never a station I listened to until I had reach my 30’s. It bills itself as “Real Rock Variety,” but a better description might be “Adult Alternative All the Time” because they do not play anything even close to offensive to anyone other than a nun…maybe. Hell, nuns probably listen to The River.
10:06am – Nickelback
It only took six minutes to hear a Nickelback song. I am surprised it took six minutes. I am pretty sure you could listen to hours of Nickelback, and not know the difference between any of the songs. They sure are damn popular though, but that does not mean they are any good.
10:36am – Tal Bachman – She’s So High (The only song title I remember)
The only way this song gets airplay is because of the regulations. Bachman is the son of Randy Bachman from Bachman Turner Overdrive, and this song was hugely popular in 1999. He is a former Mormon who left the church after realizing that Joseph Smith’s stories were “made-up.” Bachman just went up a few notches in my book.
11:12am – Thornley
How Canadian are these guys? They are signed to Nickelback lead singer Chad Kroeger’s record label, 604 Records.
11:19am – Theory of a Deadman
When this song started playing I initially thought it was Nickelback again, but they would not be playing Nickelback every hour, would they? Having a line-up of bands who sound like Nickelback probably helps keep Chad and Company off the air.
11:42am Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire is a band I really enjoy, and the only Canadian song that I actually noticed. Based out of Montreal these guys actually won a Grammy in 2011 which is the American equivalent to the Juno.
From Noon to 1pm The River plays Retro Lunch. It was actually only about 45 minutes long since I heard Coldplay and a couple other newer groups during the final 15 minutes of the hour. Also, Retro Lunch almost entirely consists of 80’s English New Wave acts.
1pm to 4pm – 89X
As I write this I am still blown away by how much 89X blows. Twenty years ago 89X was the alternative station in the Metro Detroit area. It is where I first heard Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Beck and Rage Against the Machine. In 1997, I went to the 89X Birthday Bash and saw this line-up: Sloan, Soul Coughing, Pavement and Beck. Even at concerts they need to be at least 20% Canadian. Now 89X still plays 90’s alternative music, but it plays mostly post-grunge sludge in between. Pretty sad for “The Only New Rock Alternative.”
1:34pm – The Veer Union
1:49pm – Hail the Villian
2:03pm – Theory of A Deadman
I had to look up the first two bands to make sure they were Canucks. The Veer Union is from Vancouver and Hail the Villian from Oshawa. Two more Nickelback proteges. One hour in, and 89X sounds like one long grungy song. If they didn’t throw in Alice in Chains and Smashing Pumpkins I might have turned the radio off.
2:12pm – Sum 41
Here’s something a little different. Sum 41 always felt like the Canadian Blink-182. They have a bunch of fun, make music, marry Avril Lavigne, divorce Avril Lavigne and are still plugging away. Just replace Lavigne with the Miss USA runner-up that Travis Barker married.
2:18pm – Evans Blue
2:44pm – My Darkest Days
3:09pm – Nickelback
3:35pm – Art of Dying
I am sure someone out there enjoys the post-grunge sound, but I am not one of those people. I just don’t get it. It might have something to do with growing up during the grunge era, and it might have something to do with Chad Kroeger. The Canadian groups were split up by The Offspring (!), Stone Temple Pilots and Weezer. Seriously a grunge loving dad, and his twenty-something son probably bond over 89X everyday.
3:37pm – City and Colour
The group name has the “u,” so they must be Canadian. This group is actually one guy, Dallas Green. Not the former Philadelphia Phillies manager, but someone named after him…seriously. Damn! I just realized City and Colour equals Dallas Green…smarty pants. This is another curveball. An acoustic slow, melodic, nice song. I can picture a bunch of kids singing along to this one. 89X promptly follows this song up with Puddle of Mudd. Thanks 89X.
3:53pm – Three Days Grace
I figured it would be either Our Lady Peace, Three Days Grace or Finger Eleven that I would hear and recognize from the late 90’s. Three Days Grace wins…I guess.
I did not keep track, but I am pretty sure these stations fulfilled their obligations to Canadian music. 89X definitely fulfilled their grunge quota for the next couple of years, and The River fulfilled its boring quota. These two will be removed from the car pre-sets sometime in the near future.