Friday, August 21, 2009

Review: Kohl's radio

What?

In an effort to have more posts in a single calendar month since the frigid, truncated month of February, I present to you, the hypothetical reader, an in-depth analysis of the music played at the department store known as Kohl's.

Exactly. What?

Re: Absurdity and obscurity of this post, consider me a recently-liberated employee of the reasonably-priced clothing store. Having just finished my last day before my next endeavor (i.e., studying abroad in Italy. i.e., if humanly possible, even less updates than now!), I couldn't help but reflect on the music that the store selectively played.

Perhaps a slice of unimportant minutiae for some (read: typical) employees, also consider me an atypical employee. I took careful notice of the music every day I was forced into this working establishment. It really wasn't all that careful of notice, however, since the store recycles its songs essentially every day, just in some different order. Y'know, to keep shit fresh, yo.

YES, THAT MEANS I WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO HEAR NICKELBACK EVERY TIME I WORKED! Better yet, because of the seemingly randomized nature of the playlist, it was always such a pleasant surprise to hear Chad's dulcet tones out of the blue. Indeed, a breath of fresh air from all of the other shit.

Of course, I jest, I could never take a Nickelback joke quite that far. As expected for a family-oriented, PG-rated, well-established department store like Kohl's, all of the songs are inoffensive and relatively tame in both musical and lyrical nature. God forbid they offend any of their dedicated clientele, which could accurately be summed up as a majority of "middle-aged housewives in varying shapes and sizes." Alas, that means none of Nickelback's better cuts, like "Animals" or their more recent couldn't-be-more-obvious sexual romp "Something In Your Mouth", were played ad nauseum. It was more along the lines of their "attempt to be crossover and adult contemporary."

Think for a second. Nickelback, who can't even do their main genre any justice whatsoever, attempting to do adult contemporary. Let that sink in. Then, realize I had to hear one or two of these gems every fucking day. If you couldn't tell, I don't like them all that much.

Moving on, because God knows I could blab about those Canadians forever (they don't even have flappy heads, the assholes.) To sum up so far, yes, they played a share of generic, throwaway adult contempo shit that truly was forgettable and unnoticeable. I think it's a requirement. Can't have music that distracts the precious customer from the pseudo-deals over which they're salivating.

Although debatable, I'm not entirely a cynical asshole. There actually were some bright spots in the redundant radio. There were a few tolerable '90s jams, for one. Sugar Ray's breakthrough hit "Fly" could be heard in the store. Unfortunately, it was the utterly neutered version without Super Cat. Is a quasi-rapping black dude too offensive for Kohl's? Like, really? I guess this version is actually on the studio album, but I had never heard it before. Again, "neutered" really sums up the track well. As does flaccid. Other '90s songs making the presitigious Kohl's cut were Matchbox 20's ubiquitous "3 a.m.", No Doubt's "Just A Girl", Barenaked Ladies' magnum opus "One Week", and OMC's "How Bizarre." That last one there. What a treat.

In general, though, most of the songs were relatively recent, and a couple were actually solid. One of my favorite songs of 2009, "Daniel" by Bat For Lashes, for whatever fucking reason, infiltrated the monotony of Kohl's radio and truly and quite literally was a bright spot, considering the job and other songs. My Morning Jacket's "Thank You Too" was there too, but to be honest, it's not their best song by any means, and upon first hearing it, I did a double-take, thinking it was just another shitty AM radio classic. "Walking on a Dream", by Empire of the Sun, a random song I don't mind, is also there, and totally out of place, as well.

It's been shot, castrated and ripped apart for a few years now, but Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" is too classic to say it sucks, and clearly one of the best songs in Kohl's rotation. A brain dead DJ could think of "Crazy", but "Daniel"? Baffling, I really wish I knew the qualifications for songs played there.

A trifecta of Coldplay songs made its way to the Kohl's radio waves: "Yellow", "Viva La (fucking) Vida" and surprisingly "Life in Technicolor II". Like Gnarls, Coldplay is an obvious safe bet. "Life in Technicolor II" was certainly a pleasant surprise and choice among the Coldplay songs. The good news: Weezer is on there, too. The disappointing news: It's "Island in the Sun". I have absolutely nothing wrong with it. But, Jesus, could you imagine "We Are All On Drugs"? Although, considering the no-balls version of "Fly" eluded to earlier, it would probably be the awful music video edit.

In order to pass time (ahem), I utilized one of my favorite discoveries of the year: Verizon's Song ID app. It's a totally free application and it is free to use, and it tells you the title, artist and album of a song playing at any given moment. Impressively, it picked up the songs from the Bose speakers overhead, so I could put a name to the songs I loathed so much.

In reality, I discovered three songs worth illegally downloading from the cyclical song list, and two of them are borderline "well, they're not awful" choices (Ben Lee and Jem). The third is pretty legit and another head-scratcher, Iggy Pop's "The Passenger", from all the way back in 1977, much more elderly than anything else being spun.

Then, there was Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry", essentially negating any positives that could have been ascertained.

To wrap this bullshit up, for every halfway decent song, there were about four bad-to-awful ones, and even the decent songs that you'd look forward to among the sea of horseshit would start to deteriorate in quality because you'd hear them every fucking day.

I do not anticipate ever returning to Kohl's as an employee, unless it is to specifically hijack their satellite radio. So concludes my mind-numbingly excruciating analysis on the most bogglingly random topic about which a music blog could babble. Sorry to waste your time. We return you to your regularly-scheduled hiatus, already in progress.

/Breaking the fourth wall in every post like it's my job

Rating:

43 comments:

  1. I was at Kohl's last week and there was some song, I don't remember anything about it, except it made me think, "this is strangely high quality music for a department store."

    BTW I love that you guys are blogging more. I ALWAYS read it :)

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  2. I work at Kohl's too, and agree on the music. It's a sad thing when you look forward to a Nickelback or Lenny Kravitz song, just to hear something resembling hard rock. It's the only thing I dislike about the job, though. They used to play "Dani California," which helped make the day go by a little better, but stopped about six months ago. I don't know if you were working there about two years ago, but they used to play "Because I'm Awesome" by the Dollyrots oh, I don't know, every 45 minutes or so. Awful song, we all hated it. It was good initiation as far as numbing my ears to bad tunes.

    If ever the day should come that I hear "Raining Blood" on the sound system, I will surely die a happy man.

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  3. Be happy you don't work there anymore. I just started working there 3 months ago, and the same songs you described are on repeat. BTW, a shit-ton of Dave Matthews, Taylor Swift, and Miley Cyrus are now in the mix. :( Oh, and nickelback is the lamest douchiest band everRRR!!! I hated them before, but I honestly want to murder them now. Well, either that or write to the band and plead with them to make Kohls stop playing their music or write to corporate:(.....QQ

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  4. I work at Kohl's, and I actually like most of the music, with the exception of Ben's Brother 'Stuttering'. Worst song ever recorded. Worse then Morris Alpert's 'Feelings'. Anyway, highlights are I Nine "If This Room Could Move", and anything by Lenny Kravitz. The occaisional INXS is OK, too.

    I wish Kohk's would publish a playlist...

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  5. I've worked there for four years, so this article really made me smile with recognition.
    "We're All in This Together" by Ben Lee used to play every thirty minutes for about three months. And they still play it every. single. day....
    I did discover M. Ward from Kohl's radio, and they do play the occasional indie gem (though they strangely never seem to play as often, as say, the countless Gwen Stefani songs) but that's about all I can say that isn't negative.

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  6. I feel your pain. 30 hours a week listening to the SAME CRAP!!! My personal favorites would be "We're All in This Together" and some ridiculous song about being the new kid in town. Why must they change the status quo? She still has to make her cameo. SHOOT ME. Oh, and the song from "Where the Wild Things Are." I could happily kill myself while listening to any of these.

    Empire of the Sun was a welcome surprise...though I'm sure I'll soon come to hate it as well :(

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  7. Can anyone tell who sing's this song I hear at Kohl's. The artist sounds like Cat Stevens and some of the lyrics are "Whatever they say, whatever they do, I will always follow you" "Thinking about you, listening to you" "I can fly a million miles with you" are three verses.

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  8. It is Cat Stevens, or Yusuf Islam, as he now goes by. The song is "Thinking 'Bout You" on the Roadsinger album. I have been searching for it too, and you had the extra lyrics that helped greatly.
    Thanks!

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  9. I do love the Kohl's music to shop by---but then again, I don't work there.

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  10. My hat goes off to all of the other Kohl's employees and consumers who have easily made this the most popular post on this little-known blog. Rock on...just not to Kohl's Radio.

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  11. No, thank you for the the song title by Cat Stevens. I'm glad we could help each other. It's been driving me crazy.. And I do work part-time at Kohls.

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  12. I work at Kohl's, and they play fucking Justin Bieber. Having successfully avoided any of his music until I got hired, I thought it was a girl singing until I googled the lyrics out of sick curiosity.

    I also fantasize about highjacking the radio station. Thank god we get to use our own iPods during overnights (though I don't nearly get enough of those.)

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  13. I'm on the night shift as well. Unfortunately the use of mp3 players is forbidden at our store. I convinced the cont. flow supervisor to allow the intercom to be placed next to a radio. There's your chance at hearing Slayer (be that your choice of music) over Kohl's radio.

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  14. I have been working at Kohl's for almost a year now & have to say that there are some really bad songs "family time" for instance but what I would like to know is how to find out what's on the play list because there are some pretty decent songs that I only here when I'm at work

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  15. I need to know the name of this song.. for those who work there, i know you will know what i'm talking about..

    it's a high pitched kinda whiney voice and she sings something like "love, you came undone" that's like the opening line of the chorus i believe.. i hear it every time i shop there and i can't find it on google. help !!! please!

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  16. I work at Kohl's and I've been there almost a year now! I pretty much like the music they play, minus Justin Bieber, and the fact that they have the songs set on a loop... there is, however, a song that I really like, always have!! Kohl's could never change my like for it no matter how much it plays, and that song is "Fever". I've searched many places and asked many people who it is that sings this song. My first thoughts were Peggy Lee or Ella Fitzgerald, but the song has an actual beat to it or something. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if not, can someone give me the artist please?

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  17. TAKE FAMILY TIME OFF OF THE PLAYLIST!!! I am getting so sick of some of those songs, especially the above song and "He called me Baby" all night long??? I thought it was a guy at first!!

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  18. SO i've been working at kohls for about 4 months and my ears continue to be VIOLENTLY TORTURED every single shift. i must say "family time" has to be my #1 most hated song followed closely by some shit that goes "does anybody want you, does anybody need you, the question is" and its insanely awful. OH! and i almsot forgot all the Taylor Swift and Justin Beiber. Multiple songs for each of them. shoot me in the face.

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  19. I started at Kohl's in June. I agree "Family Time" is awful and "He Called Me Baby" Is so painful...is it not a guy!? And yes I swear every Taylor Swift single is played there...

    There are a few songs on there that I enjoy, even had on my iPod before I started there...of course those are only played like once a day if that.
    "Remedy" by Little Boots, "Miss Hollywood" by Carbon Leaf for example...but they're still probably not anyone elses cup of tea.

    We were discussing it the other day on a 10 hour overnight that we want to hit whoever makes the playlist because they (for the most part) have horrid taste.

    However, there IS a version of Carol of the Bells being played now that I LOVE it's so haunting...I just wish I knew who sang it :(

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  20. "We're All In This Together" drives me crazy! I was told it was a fitting room check song. That was why it literaaly played once an hour. Don't know if it's true or not. I actually like "Family Time". I think the kids singing on it are cute. "He Called Me Baby" isn't a guy?????? I thought it said "He called YOU baby", I am loving that us Kohl's employees across the map are mutually tortured by the repeating Kohl's songs!! LoL!

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  21. Okay, just looked it up (refer to last post). It is a guy and a girl on the "He Called You Baby" song.... One Eskimo....

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  22. I've worked at kohls for over two years and the majority of the music makes me want to punch a baby. That stuttering song has to be the worst! I'm actually liking the christmas music it is a nice change! And I thought the singer of he called you baby was a guy too! Im glad I'm not the only one haha oh kohls...

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  23. *shudders* I hate Justin Beiber. They /really/ need to stop playing his crap.

    I'm trying to find the "Fever" song too. I've looked everywhere, and still haven't been able to find it. Anyone have idea?

    (Oh, and I'm yet another Kohl's employee, in California. XD)

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  24. In reference to the post above: The song is called "Passenger Fever" because it is a splice of Iggy Pop's "Passenger" and Peggy Lee's "Fever".

    Kohl's Employee, Ohio :)

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  25. Huge thanks for the poster who identified the song "Passenger Fever"! I was googling like crazy until I found this post.

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  26. Ok, someone might be able to save the little sanity I have left. I was there today and I'm pretty sure I've heard this song elsewhere or maybe at Kohl's on my last visit. There is a part of the chorus that says "you don't care for me anymore" and there's another line that says "you don't believe in me" and there are a few "little girl" choruses in there. It sounds so familiar and if the idea is to keep the customer just going along not paying attention to the music, it's not working. I had my phone out trying to get enough of the lyrics to do a search and find the entire song. Several hours later I'm still searching...

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  27. Nevermind, I found it! It's Relator by Pete Yorn. I can go to sleep now, lol.

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  28. I'm looking for the title and artist to a song. It's a female singer and some of the words are something like "sweet summer song" and sticks and stones" and features a piano or keyboard.

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  29. I've worked at Kohls for about 14 years now. There is not a day that goes by when I go on a rant about "Who picks these songs...what's wrong with them". Years ago, they used to change the music for the over night shift. Much more tolerable music such as Depeche Mode, The Clash and a bunch of other 80's stuff. I'm surprised I'm still sane after hearing that One Eskimo song over and over!

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  30. i am actually going crazy trying to figure out the name of the song as well as the artist who sings it. I hear it everytime i go there and can't find the song anywhere, the lyrics i can hear and remember are as follows: "day in, day out and it always feels like wake up, break down.." something along those lines..if you know what song this is please help me!!!!

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  31. I was in the store the other day, and I loved a song I heard. It was a woman singing, in a raspy sort of voice. Kind of slow, and the only lyrics I could make out were "and I, love, the way.." and there were long dragged out parts. Any one know?

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  32. I just started at Kohl's and the only song that gets be through is "Under the Milky Way" by Sia.

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  33. I've been working at the store since 2006. It would be nice if they could update the playlist on a regular basis. I've been listening to the same songs for years....very boring. There is just so much of "Baby, baby, baby" from Justin Beibers that I can tolerate. Ugh! The Christmas music is a nice change of pace, but I am sure I will have enough of listening to Madonna singing "Santa Baby" as well real soon.

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  34. The kohls i work at plays Justin Beibers "Baby" over and over agian.. that and Rihannas "Umbrella"

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  35. i love under the milkyway.. "he called me baby" and the song "just havent met you yet".. that "stuttering" song is kind of catchy. i often myself humming the lyrics.. absolutely hate the taylor swift and justin beiber songs

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  36. I shop at Kohls a lot and I always hear this song by Miley Cyrus but I don't know what the name of the song is! Can anyone help? It is not The Climb. Thanks!

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  37. There's this one song that comes on every so often when I'm working but I have no idea what it is. It sounds very 90's britpop on the Oasis end of the spectrum but I've looked and haven't been able to find it. Any help would be great. The songs do get old VERY fast.

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  38. There's this song that repeatedly says over you in the chorus. Does anyone know the name?

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    1. Was it a really slow song*?? I want to know the name too ??? :(

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  39. What is the name of the artist that sings "Fever"? It's an updated version and I love it but searching the web hasn't given any answers...anyone know?

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  40. Kohl's music is like taking Ambien. I worked there about a year ago and it was either a Colbie Caillat fuck fest or a soundtrack to suicidal ideation. just my thoughts tho.

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  41. Was in the store at 8:15 tonight & heard a female pop song :( don't remember lyrics its a few years old though, please helppppp

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