Waking up this morning to Villagers on Radio 1 was a surreal treat. Gone was the shouty inanity of Chris Moyles, in its place the gleeful indie evangelising of Zane Lowe. Opening my curtains I half expected to see muggers handing out flowers and a cartoonish version of that ‘hate something, change something’ Honda TV ad unfolding.
Under the banner of ‘In New Music We Trust’ the BBC’s most mainstream station is switching its schedule around all of this week and swapping its presenters’ time slots to celebrate ‘new music’. So in come Annie Mac, Nick Grimshaw, Huw Stephens and Zane to dominate daytime airwaves, out go Moyles, Fearne Cotton etc.
And with the fresh faces comes the refreshing sounds of the type of new music only usually heard in daylight hours on, well, NME Radio.
A Jamie xx remix of Adele. A Fred Falke remix of Marina And The Diamonds ‘Shampain’. The rude bounce of ‘I’m Fly’ by Donae’o. Plus, of course, surefire bangers like The Streets’ riff-heavy ‘Going Through Hell’, Miike Snow’s ‘Animal’.
You have to admit it shits on Black Eyed Peas, Take That and Eliza Doolittle – three of the most played tracks on Radio 1 currently.
Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac, just one of the presenters moved into a daytime slot this week
‘Mainstream’ listeners have undoubtedly been surprised – and often baffled – by the switch, as one glance at the hundreds of comments on Twitter can attest.
@RaffelloGossip howled, “@CHRISDJMOYLES_ where are you?!? This fella on in your place is doing my head in!!! BRING BACK MOYLES & THE TEAM!!!”.
Zane did however have his fans. Lots of them – his name fast becoming one of the ten most popular topics on Twitter during his show. Surely that’s never happened before?
“The Beeb should let Zane do the breakfast show full time – Chris Moyles is about as funny as fucking toothache, and he plays shit music,” tweeted @flo_holt.
It’s an interesting, fun and brave experiment by the BBC. Any station that moves away from the mass-market gloop of vanilla ‘hits’ on repeat, even temporarily, can only be a good thing.
But it’ll be interesting if they ever release listening figures as you would expect many regular listeners to switch the dial to their next favourite station rather than endure music they simply don’t like.
But which side are you on? Should Radio 1 be doing more than just experimenting with a broader playlist and genuinely restructuring its schedule?
Can new bands really handle yet more promotion when they barely have an album under their belt?
Is Moyles and his ‘Celebrity Raspberries’ comedy still the man for the primetime Breakfast Show?
Is having Annie Mac and Huw Stephens championing new music and less mainstream tastes in the evening the right way to go?