Rocks Off is a prisoner of the airwaves. At home we can listen to just about anything we want thanks to the comforts of 24-7 satellite radio. Actually, we rarely tune in anything besides Outlaw Country, but that's another story. We can't bring the satellite receiver to work, where we spend the overwhelming majority of our time, and have been advised that streaming Internet radio sucks up too much valuable bandwidth from the office server. Our new computer does not have iTunes either, in case you were wondering.
Therefore, we are left with our good old AM/FM boombox. Worse, we work on the first floor of a building near several of downtown's tallest skyscrapers, which do a fine job of blocking the reception of most Houston stations worth listening to - KTRU (which is still on the air, by the way), KPFT, KCOH, KUHF, KTSU, Country Legends 97.1 and newly crowned Best Radio Station 103.7 FM, for which are just going to take our colleagues' word that a Houston commercial station really does play Wilco.
And so our options are very limited, even moreso because we are not 14, so KRBE's out, and Rocks Off would rather shower with sulfuric acid than tune in either to Houston's "Hot Country" stations or 94.5 The Buzz. That leaves us with either the classic rock of 93.7 The Arrow or the slightly poppier "classic hits" of 107.5 The Eagle. Don't get us wrong - we could listen to the Stones, Zeppelin, Skynyrd, Tom Petty and The Who all day every day, but plenty of other songs make us want to go Keith Moon on our office.
Here are five that we've found especially irksome lately.
Def Leppard, "Love Bites": The song that inspired this list. "Pour Some Sugar On Me" we can tolerate, and "Armageddon It," and even "Foolin'" for the ten-millionth time. But every time Joe Elliot whines his way through this Hysteria power ballad, Rocks Off wants to jam this ball-point pen we're looking at through both eardrums. Lucky we need both hands to type. Shut up.
Replace With: Hell, might as well play "Photograph" one more time.
Don Henley & Stevie Nicks, "Leather and Lace": Rocks Off is a huge Fleetwood Mac fan, and at the risk of our critical credibility, a pretty big Eagles fan too. But this tepid duet we always skip over on Nicks' otherwise stunning solo debut Belladonna reminds us of Rodney Dangerfield in Back To School: "She was an Earth sign, and I was a Water sign. Together we made mud."
Replace With: "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," Nicks' duet with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers from the same album. Duh.
Eric Clapton, "Wonderful Tonight": Rocks Off thinks we have discovered the real reason Slowhand's ladyfriend is taking so long to get ready for their night on the town in this song - its simpering, snail's-pace melody has put her to sleep. Especially that organ in the beginning; it sounds like something that belongs in an Anglican church service, but it would probably put the Sunday-morning crowd under faster than even the vicar's most long-winded sermon.
Replace With: Just play "White Room" or "Sunshine of Your Love" again, or "After Midnight," which we always thought was a much better J.J. Cale cover than "Cocaine."
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Billy Joel, "Big Shot": Generally, as far as singer-songwriters who never let you forget they're from New York for a second go, Rocks Off likes Lou Reed, but we'll take Billy Joel because they don't play "Dirty Boulevard" on any commercial classic station we've ever found (rock or hits). We usually find Joel sharp-witted, sarcastic and insightful even when he's being saccharine, and can even tolerate "We Didn't Start the Fire" a few times a week, but there's something about "Big Shot" that makes us want to slap the Yankee smirk right off his face. Then again, that's mostly because of the obnoxious saxophone, so it's not entirely Joel's fault.
Replace With: "A Matter of Trust." Much grittier, we always dug the melody, and it hardly ever gets airplay.
Peter Frampton, "Do You Feel Like We Do": Unless Peter also wants to change the station about 20 seconds into his interminable (14 minutes!) live-recorded wankfest, especially the Vocoder-vocal part, he probably doesn't feel like we do. The only possible reason this song persists in numbing our brain on a regular basis is that, like "Free Bird," "American Pie" and the Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want," it's a "smoke track" DJs used to put on whenever they wanted to step outside for a cigarette (or something else), and somehow got grandfathered in when all the playlists switched over to computer control.
Replace With: Any of the above, or "Midnight Rambler." That's long enough to burn one too. Don't ask us how we know.