The cast managed to get its band's song played on K-Rock, which taught Josh Wolk a valuable lesson about music

By Josh Wolk
Updated November 28, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
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Here’s what’s wrong with alternative rock radio

On the Nov. 27 episode, the ”Real World” gang faced their final task in their cushy Arista job: to go to K-Rock, the major alternative radio station in New York City, and try to get its music directors to play a new song by a band called Adema. While this episode was meant to illustrate just how this group has learned to work as a team, it provided a secondary, unintentional lesson: why radio sucks.

What the ”Real World” bunch had to do was kiss the asses of the station execs from every possible direction. And, when that didn’t work — as it didn’t on their first sales pitch — they had to get the BAND to make an ass-kissing videotape. They also had to be prepared when the K-Rock guys peppered them with questions: Who’s the band’s manager? And would Adema come to the station to pay respects?

This just shows how naïve I am: I thought the primary question would be, Is it a good song? Personally, I wasn’t that impressed, so if I ran, say, WOLK radio, I wouldn’t play it. But if I did like it, I wouldn’t need the band to come to town and hang out at the WOLK Morning Zoo before I’d share their song with my listeners. I realize that there are far more bands putting out music than there is space to play them, but considering how slim the playlist is for a station like K-Rock, this Staind-weary idealist thinks there should be an extra three minutes available to give a new tune a whirl and see how actual listeners react.

Not that the success of the ”Real World”-ers pitch wasn’t a foregone conclusion; it was obvious K-Rock was already sold, since the business world does not generally go for the practice of ”do-overs.” After the septet’s first pitch bombed, they returned a few days later to resell the Adema tune, complete with more a-whoopin’ and a-hollerin’, and this time it stuck. Did they have a standing appointment to come back every three days until they got it right, or until Adema volunteered to detail the K-Rock staff’s cars, whichever came first? Another sign that this was rigged was that if it wasn’t, Adema would have a case for a bad-faith lawsuit against Arista for letting this bunch steer their careers. Yeah, if they’re so confident in the ”Real World” gang’s abilities, put them in charge of Whitney Houston’s next album release and see how long it takes before Bobby Brown is personally feeding these execs their desk chairs.

In a subplot, Arista engineer Nicky offered to record Lori singing. It turned out the studio was in Nicky’s apartment, which got me a little nervous at first. I kept having flashbacks of the movie ”Fame,” and expected the episode to end with Lori topless and weeping. Thankfully, it was as up-and-up as a one-bedroom recording session can be. Lori did struggle with her delivery, although thankfully Coral was there to provide support and suggestions, even though as far as I knew, Coral had no training in music. But, I guess I should just assume Coral knows everything about everything. After all, that’s what she assumes.

As for the song itself, how to rate it in relation to past ”Real World” hits? With its incessant chorus, ”I put it down for ya,” the tune did pack the raw repetitive punch of L.A. Tami’s ”I’m a slave, I’m a slave, I’m a slave to your lovin’.” And yet it lacked the passionate emotion of New Orleans’ David’s ”Come on be my baby tonight.” It needed work, but you never know: If she were to offer to come to K-Rock and make lunch for the DJs, she might still get some radio play.

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