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Playlists Are Gettin’ Crispy – Here Are Suggestions for a January Re-Fresh

Radio programmers will return to their desks next week with a need to freshen playlists that have been stagnant for weeks. We’ve got some quick fixes…

Deep Sea Diver’s Jessica Dobson. Photo by Matt Wignall

By Paul Marszalek

Savvy music industry promoters know that on January 4th, their radio counterparts will arrive back at the station looking for fast, no-brainer fixes for burnt-out playlists. Every station will have at least a handful of slots to fill.

This year, however, we’re still hearing that labels are holding back, with many bigger names targeting March and April — hoping to announce some touring dates to support the release later in the year.

The closest thing we have to a major name January surprise is the Christmas Day tease from Kings of Leon, tweeting a hook from a new song called “Must Catch the Bandit.” Accompanying was band-member Jared Followill saying, “The w8 is nearly over…If you were promised new Kings music in 2 weeks, would you forgive us? Could you?”

As of this writing, the label will not confirm a new Kings track on January 8th. But we want need it.

Thankfully, there’s plenty more to choose from, ranging from late 2020 releases from which more tracks can be mined, solid 2020 releases that got lost in the shuffle, and some new stuff just arriving.

Starting with Triple A comfort food, there’s fun to be had with the McCartney III release, and coming off a great SNL performance, Bruce Springsteen will have a new priority track. Many stations are hitting the Bleachers’ “Chinatown,” which features Bruce.

Foo Fighters’ Medicine at Midnight drops February 5, so we’ll shortly see a new emphasis track from them, and The Avett Brothers will chase “I Go to My Heart,” from 2020’s The Third Gleam.

On the modern rock side, The Avalanches have released We Will Always Love You, and the set is so solid, it runs the danger of splitting singles and scattering airplay among many different tracks. Not necessarily a bad thing. We’ll recommend “The Divine Chord,” featuring MGMT and The Smiths’ Johnny Marr.

Back in the day, when the big names were back-loaded to fourth quarter for holiday sales, January was all about the up-and-comers.

Still plenty to choose from in that department. Triple A stations that have abstained so far would be wise to jump on the Top 5 Alt throwback track from Cannons, called “Fire For You.” Also recommended is Deep Sea Diver’s “Impossible Weight,” which sounds incredible on the radio, and features Sharon Van Etten in support.

England’s Arlo Parks has gotten the attention of the ultra-hip at NON-COMM, and there seems to be consensus around the track “Hurt.”

Other new no-brainers include a fine track from Illiterate Light featuring Devon Gilfillian called “Freedom,” a solid new song from Dawes entitled “Free As We Wanna Be,” and Hiss Golden Messenger’s “Sanctuary,” which hits January 13th.

Valerie June will return with new music late in the month, with a soulful track, “Call Me a Fool.”

Let the freshening begin.

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