Day 69: A song that you wish someone would cover.

“Hole In My Head” – Human Radio

Human RadioRemember yesterday when I said that I used to turn my nose up at music a lot more easily?

So one day in 1990 my roommate Pete comes in and says “I heard this great song called ‘Me & Elvis’ over the weekend, so I bought the single.”

Um. What?

I’m not an Elvis fan (Presley, not Costello, whom I do like), so the thought of a song talking about someone’s adventures with Elvis did not thrill me. But he insisted on playing it. My nose was summarily up. I insisted on dismissing it and saying I didn’t like it. And I’m not sure I was just being obstinate at that point, I’m not sure I cared for it much.

He proceeded to insist it was good and play it a lot more. And then he showed up with a whole friggin’ album (CD, really). Are you kidding me? I was having none of it.


Not familiar with a song I’ve mentioned?
Click the > button above to hear samples.

And then something strange happened. Over time it became apparent that the music on that CD (including “Me & Elvis”) was good. Some of it was really good. So good, in fact, that I went out and bought the album (CD, really) myself.

While I’d love to put the whole album in the post, just to do my part and promote the band (who seem to be trying to make a comeback), I do have to pick a single song, so I’m going to go with “Hole In My Head.”

When looking for a song to pick, I decided that the song had to meet at least one of three criteria:

As Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman said, “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad.”

“Hole In My Head” fulfills the second and third criterion quite well, but fails miserably at the first. (I think Human Radio did a great job with it.)

Now, please stop and listen to the song before you read further. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Hey, welcome back. So, now that you’re intimately familiar with the song, listen to it again, and tell me you can’t hear Barenaked Ladies doing a great cover of this… I know, right?

No matter that it was released two years before BNL got a record deal, in some ways it seems like it was written for them. It has the right feel. It “fits.” I suspect BNL would do a great job with the rest of the songs as well. Except, ironically enough, “Me & Elvis.” I’m not sure anyone else could really pull that one off.

“So,” I hear you asking, “what happened to Human Radio? Why have I never heard of them?” Well, I’ll tell you. We kept waiting for a follow-up album, but alas, none appeared. For years I had no idea why. And then this little thing called the Internet (you may have heard of it) showed up where you can always find the information you want. (And many things you don’t.)

It seems Columbia Records, in their wisdom, did a crappy job of promoting the first album. So it didn’t sell. Since it didn’t sell they decided that the band must not be that appealing (because how could it possibly be Columbia’s fault?) and dropped them. And the other labels figured if Columbia couldn’t make it work, how could they? (This is really how labels operate, it has nothing to do with the music or any sort of logic whatsoever.)

I tried to find a list of albums Columbia released in 1990 so I could point out some hit album(s) that were God-awful that Columbia did promote, but I couldn’t find one. At least not easily. At least not in the first four Google search results. (The Internet sucks! You can never find what you want!) Further searching, however, uncovered a prime example: Step By Step. By New Kids On The Block. Yep. This is how record labels work.

At any rate, if you’re interested, you can have your very own copy of the Human Radio album (CD, really). Multiple copies are available here. (I recommend you go for the used ones.)

Don’t turn your nose up. I’m telling you, it’s really good!

And for those that are curious, here’s “Me & Elvis”…