Sunday, June 28, 2015

Rating the Retail Chain Music Soundtracks

I've worked for my share of retail chains over the years. They all have their own music soundtrack that play over the intercom, in between trying to lure you in with their "Attention Chopper Shoppers...." blue-light specials. Sometimes the playlist is the difference between getting you through eight hours of retail hell and wanting to slash your wrists.

So, in a fit of boredom, I decided to rate the soundtracks by chain:


The Chopper plays a lot of adult contemporary and slightly alternative/slightly folksy indie artists -- there were a few frequently played songs that my coworkers and I would call Chopper Soundtrack Classics.

YOU'LL LIKE SHOPPING HERE IF YOU LOVE: Sixpence None the Richer, Gavin DeGraw, Olivia Newton-John; Linda Ronstadt.

SLEEPER HIT: "Satellite," Guster

GUILTY PLEASURE FAVORITE: "Breathe Your Name," Sixpence None the Richer

GRADE: B -- decent enough, but when you feel like there are five songs you're guaranteed to hear every day, it's time to weave in more variety.


I've never actually worked for S&S, but I've had a part-time gig with a company that does business with them, so I've spent enough time here. Some of the same songs that you'll hear in The Chopper Soundtrack, but way more emphasis on pop and less on the folksy stuff.

YOU'LL LIKE SHOPPING HERE IF YOU LOVE: Sara Bareilles, Weezer, The Pointer Sisters.

SLEEPER HIT: "Island in the Sun," Weezer


GRADE: D -- good songs here and there, but too often feels like I'm listening to a bad hybrid of Top-40 and adult contemporary radio stations.


I've managed a few convenience stores in the past couple of years, and they definitely trend toward classic rock as the soundtrack of choice. Must have something to do with the cigarettes and gas.

YOU'LL LIKE SHOPPING HERE IF YOU LOVE: Journey; Fleetwood Mac; Aerosmith, Pink Floyd.

SLEEPER HIT: "There's No Way Out of Here," David Gilmour

GUILTY PLEASURE FAVORITE: "Flirting With Disaster," Molly Hatchet

GRADE: B-  -- I like a good classic rock song as much as anyone else, but I can't listen to any genre for eight hours straight without getting bored.


I had a brief stint with Honey Farms earlier this year. The thing that killed me about their soundtrack is that every day, there'd be one song that you'd hear -- and then hear again literally ONE HOUR LATER. Also, "Free Bird" would skip, which would suck if it were any song, but for a song that clocks in at 11 minutes, 9 seconds, it's like having your ears stabbed with a pitchfork. They'd also run a house ad about six times an hour where the narrator screams, "FREE MILK!!! THAT'S RIGHT!!!!!"

YOU'LL LIKE SHOPPING HERE IF YOU LOVE: The Beatles; The Eagles/Don Henley; Elton John; Bruce Hornsby and The Range; The Cars.

SLEEPER HIT: "Nowhere Man," The Beatles


GRADE: C-  -- I could justify a lower grade on the "Free Bird" debacle alone, but I'm in a generous mood. Also, apparently you can get FREE MILK here.


The CVS Soundtrack is like a hybrid of The Chopper and Stop & Shop Soundtracks, though CVS gets significantly more alt-rock-ish the later it gets at night, almost like listening to the old WFNX

YOU'LL LIKE SHOPPING HERE IF YOU LOVE: Taylor Swift; Foster the People; Sting/The Police; REM; Bonnie Raitt.

SLEEPER HITS: "All the Way to Reno (You're Gonna Be a Star)," REM; "King For a Day," XTC

GUILTY PLEASURE FAVORITE: "Heart of the Night," Poco

GRADE: B+ -- Can be over-repetitive, but probably the best all-around mix of all the places I've worked.

There you go, folks. Shop accordingly.