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State of the Airwaves

Ovations, damnations, and Latin sensations

By Daniel J. Katz

Every now and then, a really poppy dance song hits modern rock radio that you can sense is going to catch on, hit the mainstream, and eventually get played in the background of a club on 90210. The Wiseguys’ “Ooh La La” is one of those songs. I’m not fond of it at all, and I haven’t heard it all that many times, and I still randomly hear the words, “Say ooh, la la, say ooh, la la,” running through my head at inconvenient moments. I see nothing that could possibly stop this song from blowing up big. Of course, I felt the same way about a very similar song by the Freestylers from this summer. You remember the Freestylers, don’t you? You know, those guys with that song ... never mind.

But just when you thought dance music was taking over and hard rock was going to die a horrible death, you get Death In Vegas and “Aisha,” a DJ tune that rocks harder than most of the metal released this decade. The track relentlessly loops a surging guitar line, and the video gives the song a Blair Witch mood, showing a girl running through the forest away from who knows what. Death In Vegas, incidentally, last got exposure from a creepy piece called “Dirt” with a black and white video featuring Nazism, Woodstock, and other oddities. It did quite well on 12 Angry Viewers and lives on in everyone’s memory about as strongly as the Freestylers.

A few weeks ago, I glorified Our Lady Peace’s “One Man Army,” Days of the New’s “Enemy,” and Chris Cornell’s “Can’t Change Me,” as the best singles of the summer. A little update on all of those artists: Our Lady Peace’s new album finally hits stores in Canada Tuesday and here a week later, and I fully expect it to rock. Chris Cornell’s new video doesn’t have the fanciest special effects in the world, but the concept, about a girl who sets everything she touches on fire, is well executed. And Days of the New have unfortunately released their new album. It’s got one good song on it. Tape it off the radio and save yourself some cash.

Ironic song title of the week: 311’s “Come Original.” How can you have the nerve to label your song with the word “original” when it sounds virtually identical to every single you’ve ever released? It’s got the same off-beat power chords, the same rhythmic echoing vocals, and to top it off, it’s got a repetitive battle cry (“You’ve got to come original”) that extends beyond being grammatically awkward to just not making any sense whatsoever. On September 26, 311 are headlining the WBCN College Rave with Ben Folds Five in tow. My advice? Come early, leave early.

And to finish up, I feel obligated to deeply apologize for a portion of my review of the MTV Video Music Awards last week, in which I mistakenly referred to Ricky Martin’s “She’s All I Ever Needed” as “She’s All I Ever Had.” Such a grave error is, of course, strictly outlawed in the Ten Commandments, and I plan to make amends by saying thirty Hail Marys, building a shrine to Enrique Iglesias, and shaking my bon bon (whatever that means.)

Want to rave or complain about music, radio, concerts, or those horrendous subheadings I come up with every week? Direct your feedback to There just might be a shiny nickel in it for you. ’Til next time, keep expanding your horizons.