The downside to working in retail once more is that I’m no longer able to listen to what I like listening to. I can only listen to KEXP on days off or before/after work. Which means that I’ve been listening to a lot of slightly tinny harmless current pop and retro tunes from the 80s and 90s. Some of it’s good, some not so much, but thankfully the level of oh god not this song AGAIN is at a bare minimum.
I am curious, however, as to whether or not the work tunage will be holiday-themed come this Friday. [Which, by the way, I don’t think I’ll be suffering another Black Friday as we’re not that kind of store. We’re more of a “you mean you forgot cranberries too?” shop.] I’m not complaining mind you, because I actually enjoy holiday music at work. It’s just the right amount of Christmas cheer that isn’t intrusive or distracting. And it’s a theme that crosses all sorts of genres and bends the playlist rules on radio stations and workplace music loops.
Either way, it’s going to be a pretty good year’s end here and I’m not going to complain.
Most piped-in music at retail stores are feed subscriptions of mostly innocuous pop tunes that are enjoyable but not anything that’ll distract you from your shopping moods. (I say ‘most’ because our local Trader Joe’s seems to have cornered the Gen-X mood of 80s alt-rock faves and cool retro stuff instead.) At my store I can easily file our feed into three distinct formats: –early 80s MTV (Thomas Dolby, Men Without Hats, Tears for Fears, etc.) –mid 90s alternapop (Deep Blue Something, Dishwalla, Vertical Horizon, etc.) –adult pop from about 5 years ago (Kelly Clarkson and so on)
The other day however, I heard this one song that I hadn’t recognized and pulled out the Shazam app. It happened to be the new(ish) 5 Seconds of Summer song I posted above, and thus the surprise: I was so used to hearing the same music loops day in and day out that hearing a new song was quite unexpected. I kinda like it, too! Just goes to show that the subscription feed we have does actually get updated now and again.
It reminded me of one of my other retail jobs, at the Longwood Coop in Brookline, where the loops were actually sent to us in this huge plastic cart that looked like a mutant cross between a laserdisc case and a radio station cartridge, and carried a couple dozen songs. Each cart had a different musical mood, and, you guessed it, I’d try to sneak on the one that had the weird alternative songs, one of which was a New Fast Automatic Daffodils track that I’m sure no one in the store had ever heard of. And during my HMV days, we had a set collection of promos we’d play in store, but on days where I was floor manager I’d throw on some wildly obscure imports instead.
Sure, I don’t have any say in what gets played at this job, but I’m not going to complain about it. Most of it’s enjoyable, and mostly already in my mp3 collection anyway. But it is fun to have that occasional surprise song that trips me up!