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Top Wedding DJ Mike Bills Hits A Milestone On The Calendar

09 September 2023

After a long, hot. but relaxing summer of 2023, we've flipped the calendar into September and are now ready to begin the fall wedding season.  This means if we stand on our tiptoes, we can see some cooler weather coming down south. September is my birthday mnoth and this year I've hit a milestone. I've hit the Big 5-0. Honestly, I'm not sure how one is supposed to feel when they turn 50. I really don't feel any different at 50 than I did at 40. You've probably heard the old saying. "Age is just a number.". Well, I truly believe it is. Perhaps it's because I am in some of the best physical shape of my life? While I'm ecstatic to be in excellent physical shape, i truly believe that it is "music" that is responsible for feeling youthful. Every single DJ I know whose sole focus is on the music is young at heart. This includes the guy who got me started as a DJ on the radio who stands at 71. I swear though when I spoke to him over the phone last week, I was talking to a 40 year old. I'm going to embrace the new perspective this milestone will bring, because at the end of the day, different ages do bring a new perspective. I'm sure you'll never meet a more cooler 50 year old. But, as I turn 50, I only wish the music scene had as much to be excited about as this healthy 50 year old right here.  I wanted to take this time to reflect where it is we exactly are in the world of new music.

As a top wedding DJ, my focus has always been on the music. After all, it's the music that makes people dance. It's the music that makes people happy. It's the music that is played at your wedding that makes for lasting memories for years to come. But on my 50th birthday, I'm wondering where in the world we are as it pertain to new music. I'm at a total loss when it comes to the music industry in 2023. Having done the bulk of my growing up in the 80s and early 90s, I often wonder if my parents (who were 50 in 1991) thought about Nirvana and Depeche Mode the way I feel about Luke Combs and Morgen Wallen or any other fly by night pop artist with a short shelf life in 2023. Recently, I've asked some of my friends who are in the same age group as me; "Are we getting old or is music just not hitting us in the face like it used when I was younger?" I'm not in denial about my age, and I refuse to bring up "I'm getting old" argument, but I do feel as though new music today is lacking substance.  

What Types Of New Music Turn Me On In 2023?

At this stage of my life, I am still open minded to finding and learning about new music.  Odds are though I am probably not going to be listening to a Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) radio station. I find myself gravitating to an Adult Album Alternative (AAA). There is one located in Charleston, SC called 105.5 The Bridge. You'll hear anything from late 60s Rolling Stones to mid 70s Eagles to early 80s Tom Petty, to early 90s Lenny Kravitz with a little Bob Marley mixed in and a side of Glass Animals and Tame Impala. Yes, this radio format spans so many music genres, including Phoenix, Empire Of The Sun, and The Knocks. If you listen closely, you may even hear a Motown track thrown in for good measure.  Some of the other genres you might hear include Indie, Americana, and 90s Alternative.  Right as the COVID 19 pandemic was getting started, legendary AAA programmer Bryan Schock came to the Holy City to begin his programming duties at this radio station and turned it upside down and created a masterpiece. The other day I was listening in the afternoon and heard "I Am The Walrus" by the Beatles  and started to smile, and in the same set I heard "Snap" by Rosa Lin a few songs later. Then, you may hear the Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer with some Billie Eilish. Adult Album Alternative is definitely my choice of radio format at age 50, and I could totally see anyone who has large musical vocabulary (young or old) listening to this station. The Triple A format could also be a safe format for someone like me who never acquired a taste in country music. If you head over to the Bridge website, on the homepage you'll see a lot of newer artists that are played on the station. They call it "New Music Discovery". I call it a masterpiece because program director Bryan Schock is master at mixing the new music with the older music.  I've met Bryan for lunch a few times and its always amazing to speak with someone who is just as passionate about the music as I am. 

Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) - Lack Of Content Plus Country?

The last time I worked at a CHR radio station, it was the mid 2000s and Kanye, Nickelback, Gwen Sefani, Maroon 5, and Green Day with Pretty Ricky and Chris Brown were in rotation. Yeah, I know exactly what you are thinking. Nickelback? Yeah, I would have to leave to studio as "Photograph" by Nickelback was playing. What a great time to head to the restroom! :) And since CHR radio tends to have a super tight rotation of songs, I might have to endure "Photograph" twice in a shift.  Yes, it was pretty painful. But back in the years of 2005 or 2006, CHR did not play any country music like it appears to be playing today. I've been out of terrestrial radio for several years, but I still follow the industry and are well aware that today's radio stations are just a shell what they were back in the mid 2000s. There are numerous reasons why radio got to where it is today, none of which I will bore you with in this article, but one huge reason is how music is distributed. Not being a huge fan of country music, seeing it being played on CHR stations is really disturbing.  Yeah I get it. Country music is probably the most popular genre of music in America. It's even more popular than pop music and rock music combined.  But here's the question: "Are country music radio stations suffering to the point where they need to put their content on pop radio stations"?  I don't believe so. I believe that most people have a device that sits in their pocket that is used to discover new music: Their smartphone. And most people I know don't object to the $10.99 their credit card is charged monthly to use Spotify.

The 80s And 90s Saw This Country Music Infiltration Too

I've read numerous articles about country crossover into the pop charts. 2023 isn't the first time we've seen this.  Back in the early 80s, I was young, but I recall seeing groups like The Oak Ridge Boys climb up the Hot 100 chart with signature songs like "Elvira". Kenny Rogers also crossed over to the adult contemporary charts with songs like "You Decorated My Life" and "The Gambler".  Why was this not talked about too much then? Well, music was drastically different in the early 80s. MTV was getting ready to sign on the air ushering in and exposing America to what would become a British invasion of music. Before MTV, music was dominated by adult contemporary artists with artists like Air Supply, Christopher Cross, and Dan Fogelberg. Artists like Journey and Rick Springfield were breaking, but prior to the British invasion of the 80s, it's my opinion that radio could handle a country track or two in rotation. "I Love A Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbit is a song that comes to mind that went well on CHR and AC because if programmed well into rotation, it did not clash with a lot of music. Country songs on CHR and AC back in the early 80s did not create as big as a trainwreck in programming as it does today. What is a trainwreck? Well, the two songs that may cause a trainwreck is subjective, but anyone in radio will tell you that a trainwreck are two songs played back to back that might be in two different genres but sound pretty bad played up against each other.

In the late 90s, Shania Twain crossed over to the pop and adult contemporary charts but I took no issue with this. I didn't take any issue with this because a lot of the crossover versions of country songs had different versions of the song that really took the "country" out of the song.  An example of this would be Shania Twain's "That Don't Impress Me Much", which was remixed in the UK. It sounded nothing like the country version and gained traction on the Hot 100 charts. If someone requested this song at a wedding, I would probably throw on the UK version and everyone would be ok with it. And I would be ok with it because it doesn't have that country sound.

In the early - mid 2000s, there was a lot of crossover from country to adult contemporary with artists like Mercy Me and Rascal Flatts. Some of those Rascal Flatts songs are still used for Mother / Son Dance Songs <----Click HERE for some ideas.  For me personally, music is about texture and is about "sound". The trouble with country crossovers on today's pop charts is when you put it up against artists like Lizzo, Drake, or even Taylor Swift, it sounds horribly out of place.  And plus, country has its own radio format and in Charleston, there are two country stations, which is a lot for a tiny, tiny radio market like the Holy City. If you are looking for more information about country crossovers, check out this article put together by veteran radio music consultant Sean Ross. Click HERE to be taken over to the article.

The Last Great Recent Era For Dance - Early 2010s?

All this talk about how new music may be at a low point in 2023 had me taking the time to dig deep into my Spotify and remember where we were around 2010.  Back then, Lady Gaga was 2 years into her career after the release of "Just Dance". Rihanna was riding up the charts, as was Katy Perry  who was getting ready for one of her signature releases with "Last Friday Night" in the spring of 2011. Britney Spears was still all over the charts in the early 2010s, as was Beyonce. Carly Rae Jepsen was all over the radio with "Call Me Maybe" and Taylor Swift was in the midst of her very successful transition from country to pop.  As we get ready for the last quarter of 2023, Beyonce and Britney are in their 40s, and Katy Perry will be there next year in 2024.  While 40 is certainly still very young, Rihanna and Beyonce have become mothers since the early 2010s, which means they may have had to take a break from music. When you are "in it" and playing the music, you sometimes are not aware of just how good things were back then until you are out of it and past it. Perhaps that era of music looks so much better today because of the lack of product, but at this stage of my life, I'm prepared to say that all of the ladies mentioned here were putting out some amazing music. Oh! I almost forgot, Ke$ha and Charli XCX.  Check out some of the songs down below I came across that were bangers back in the early 2010s., and still show up on playlists in 2023.

"We Found Love" - Rihanna (with Calvin Harris)
"Party In The USA" - Miley Cyrus
"Born This Way" - Lady Gaga
"Firework" - Katy Perry
"S&M" - Rihanna & Britney Spears
"Diamonds" - Rihanna
"Love On Top" - Beyonce
"Die Young" - Ke$ha
"Super Bass" - Nicki Minaj
"I Love It" | Charli XCX & Icona Pop

Those are just a few of the songs that came to mind from that early 2010s timeframe that continue to show up on wedding playlists in 2023. I've spoken about this before in some of my previous posts. Songs that pack enough punch to be used in future weddings and years.   For more information about the use of recurrent songs in weddings <----CLICK HERE

More Musical Perspective At Age 50

Back on September 7, 2013, I turned 40. The Number 1 song in America was "Blurred Lines".  Back during the summer of 2013, you couldn't seem to get people off of the dance floor when that song was cued up.  10 years later, I still see that song coming up on wedding playlists. While it was a banger back in 2013, it packed enough punch to be mixed during 2023 weddings. Down below, you'll see the Top 4 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 from September 7, 2013.  As you can see, the top of the charts were still occupied by a lot of the ladies I spoke above up above.

Music Charts On September 7, 2013

Let's go back a little bit further to when I turned 30 years of age back on September 7, 2003.  The summer of 2003 was so fun! I was working at WCSQ, which used to be hot AC, Coast 92.5. I found myself dating someone in Savannah, so there were a lot of trips each and every week down to that beautiful city.  As you can see in the early 2000s, hip-hop and rap was reigning supreme and Beyonce was at #2 after "Crazy In Love" was up top of the charts during the summer of 2003.  For the right wedding crowd, "Shake Ya Tailfeather" could still work in 2023. 

Music Charts - sept 7, 2003

So now, here I am at 50 years of age and this is where we are when it comes to the pop charts. Country is more popular than it ever has been. At least 3 of the Top 5 on the Hot 100 chart are country songs. I'm just gonna leave that right there. I'm not gonna try to sway musical tastes at all.  Down below you'll see the Top 4 on Hot 100 on September 7, 2023. 

1.  "I Remember Everything" | Zach Bryan featuring Kacey Musgraves
2. "Fast Car" - Luke Bryan
3. "Paint The Town Red" - Doja Cat
4. "Last Night" - Morgen Wallen

Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. Luke Combs recorded a cover of the 1988 hit by Tracy Chapman.  For more of the best songs from 1988 for wedding playlists, <---CLICK HERE.  Less than 1/2 percent of cover songs have a chance to exceed the greatness or popularity of the original, but with country taking hold of the Hot 100, the Luke Combs verson of "Fast Car" sitting at #2 exceeds Tracy Chapman's #6 peak in the spring and summer of 1988. Having grown up in the 80s and not really taking a liking to country, I will appreciate the 80s version more. However, with more and more younger people in their teens and early 20s being exposed to country, it's completely understandable how the genre is taking over spots once occupied by Beyonce, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga years ago.  

But A Lot Of Young People STILL Reach For The Older Music
I asked two people in the Gen Z demo recently if they knew that "Fast Car" was a cover, and they said "Yes". I speak with millenials and Gen Z all the time about what types of music they like. You can learn a lot from someone by finding out some of their favorite genres of music.   Millenials and Gen Z are the ones who are getting married right now, so you get to really learn what is popular right now and what's not so popular.  Back in the fall of 2022, I put together a post about Whether Young Couples Really Did Prefer Older Music <---CLICK HERE. As you are checking out that article,   let me tell you this. A millenial coworker of mine is in her mid 30s. She told me she likes Billy Idol, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Alanis Morrisette plus she tells me she likes 80s music. In addition, she told me she got into Sting, which also got her to explore The Police.  She told me that there wasn't much in the 2000s she liked, maybe a few songs here and there. Her story lines up perfectly with the recent trends in the classic rock radio format seeing higher ratings in recent years, and why we might be seeing more "classic hits" radio stations popping up.  To be honest, the Triple A format is the perfect radio format for any 35 year old woman who loves music. 

Ready To Speak To Mike Bills As You Search For Your Wedding DJ?
You know I could go on and on and talk about my musical perspective at this point in 2023, but I am going to wrap up this post here with a sumary of some of my opinions about the musical landscape for me at age 50. First and foremost, I'm probably one of the coolest 50 year olds you'll meet.  Guaranteed. :) i think I' might have already mentioned that up above, but in case you missed it, I just said it again. You are never too old to be turned on to new music, and I still have a thirst for seeking it out. But honestly, I find myself trapped back in the 80s and 90s and I don't believe we'll ever see two decades like that in a row ever again. Be sure to check out this archived post of Soft Rock Songs Of The 90s too.  Don't believe me abourt 90s musc? I am still convinced that 1991 was the best year of 90s music ever. Check out this epic post I put together about 1991 - One Of The Best Years Of 90s Music. Over the past 3 years, I've been introduced to a lot of great new bands and artists by listening to 105.5 The Bridge.  Special thanks again to Bryan Schock. I still am waiting for my Bridge t-shirt. I'm wondering what the pop music charts will look like in 2028. Only time will tell, but I don't believe the great country takeover of 2023 is going to be subsiding anytime soon.  i hope you enjoyed reading over this post and I really appreciate you finding my website.  It is YOUR wedding. The music you should hear at your wedding should be centered your musical likes and dislikes.  I would love to speak with you about your wedding.  All I need you to do is click the Contact link and you'll be taken over to my contact form so that you can fill it out and provide a few details about your wedding. I look forward to hearing from you.   One more hyperlink for those Brides And Grooms Who Love 80s Music <----CLICK HERE