With this week's Billboard cover story on Jimmy Fallon taking over "The Tonight Show" and the program's music strategy, Billboard.biz reached out to music booker Jonathan Cohen for his Executive Playlist (below).
Cohen worked at Billboard for nearly 10 years when his friend Nick Stern of Vector Management (Phosphorescent) introduced him to "Late Night" senior talent executive Jamie Granet. "I got hired two weeks before we went on the air," Cohen remembers. He was given only one directive: "Our voice is the voice of an iPod," Fallon says, "which is: Anything goes."
Fallon said in the article by Nisha Goplan that he, "met with a lot of people," and that he furtively quizzed applicants about music. "The thing with Jonathan that clicked is that I couldn't stump the guy."
"I get emails from Jimmy in the middle of the night all the time," Cohen said. The host may send him a list of bands he likes, a song he heard on KEXP Seattle or, in the case of Neon Indian, an act he discovered using Shazam in his car. "And I'm definitely texting Quest [bandleader Ahmir "Questlove Thompson] at all hours if something pops into my head, asking him if he might help to facilitate it or what he thinks about it." Fallon and Cohen meet "fairly regularly," at which time Cohen plays him 20-25 songs on YouTube for feedback.
Judging by his playlist, Cohen has omnivorous tastes, with an emphasis on heavier post-punk, hardcore and indie rock. "I went to college in Bloomington, Indiana, and became a huge fan of music from that region," Cohen told Billboard.biz, "including Louisville and Chicago. The heavier/louder end of that spectrum became a sound I have chased ever since. The list features some of my more obscure personal favorites - some of whom broke up years ago." Highlights include Red House Painters, Polvo, Refused, Hot Snakes, The Durutti Column... you know what? They're all highlights. Enjoy.
Jonathan Cohen's Playlist
Rodan, "Shiner" (from "Fifteen Quiet Years")
Refused, "The Shape Of Punk To Come" (from "The Shape Of Punk To Come")
Polvo, "Beggars Bowl" (from "In Prism")
Cheatahs, "The Swan" (from "Extended Plays")
Hot Snakes, "Hatchet Job" (from "Audit In Progress")
X, "Around My Heart" (from "Ain't Love Grand")
Ford & Lopatin, "Joey Rogers" (from "Channel Pressure")
The Fire Theft, "It's Over" (from "The Fire Theft")
Appomattox, "Either Way" (from "A O"
Grand National, "Daylight Goes" (from "Kicking The National Habit")
Red House Painters, "Between Days" (from "Old Ramon")
The Chameleons, "Up The Down Escalator" (from "Script Of The Bridge")
Work Drugs, "License To Drive" (from "Absolute Bearing")
Don Caballero, "Well Built Road" (from "For Respect")
The Sea & Cake, "Sporting Life" (from "The Fawn")
Trans Am, "Apparent Horizon" (from "Thing")
Bowery Electric, "Fear Of Flying" (from "Beat")
The Durutti Column, "Sketch For Summer - live" (from "Domo Arigato")
Loftus, "Cake" (from "Loftus")
Ativin, "Soft Evenings" (from "SC 100")
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