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Smooth Radio - review

Antonia Quirke listens to "Double Top 20".

Double Top 20
Smooth Radio

Early Sunday evening and David “Kid” Jensen is rather phoning it in on Smooth’s countdown of long-bygone hits (Sundays, 6pm), introducing each number with a researcher- allotted fan fact. “ ‘Nights in White Satin’ coming up, by the Moody Blues. Written by Justin Hayward after a friend had given him some satin bed sheets . . .”

There is a noticeably high percentage of bed-related chat on Smooth. Its favourite advert is currently one for a couples hotel where there are “no kids – guaranteed” and double massages on tap. Soon the 62-yearold Kid is back on playing Elvis’s “Always on My Mind” (“covered over 300 times”) and Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” (“Mick Jagger there on backing”).

The songs all sound weirdly languid and fagged out. Still, no mention of bed for six minutes and no mention of the Osmonds either, which is highly unusual. There are times when it feels the entire station has been inexplicably given over to the Osmonds – either playing them or talking about them (“The Osmonds’ ‘Crazy Horses’ was a protest song about gas-guzzling cars”), or even allowing Donny himself to broadcast from his “dressing room at the Flamingo in Vegas”.

I say “broadcast” but really Donny’s Sunday night show is just snatches of him reading things from magazines between adverts and pre-recorded interviews about Whitney Houston conducted by someone else. Left to his own devices, Donny can talk about the bedroom more than pretty much anyone on the station. “Sometimes,” he said recently to Jensen, “I do my radio show from in between the sheets.” Kid, ever the gentleman, seemed slightly stunned and just went straight into “C Moon” by Wings, which, in the circumstances, sounded unbelievably rude.

Osmond’s thoughts so frequently return to the horizontal, he’s like someone perpetually making a pass at you. “Couples who share a bed,”’ he mused the other evening, “suffer from sleepless nights. Snoring can cause resentment, y’know. But I think what would cause even more resentment in my relationship [fruity laugh] is if I even suggested we slept in separate beds!” Then (and this can’t possibly be a coincidence) it’s straight into Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun go Down on Me”.

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She presents The Film Programme on BBC Radio 4. She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 21 January 2013 issue of the New Statesman, The A-Z of Israel