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17 June 2010
TEANECK, New Jersey -- Musician Natalie Merchant was today inducted into the Muzak Hall of Fame, something those in the know claim was long overdue. "I can't believe it took so long," said Burt Fayston, 31, of Chicago, who was first introduced to Merchant's music while on a three-hour hold with Dell technical support. "I mean, the first time I heard 'Wonder' I was leafing through the manual, and the second time it really didn't catch my attention - or the third, for that matter. But the fourth time, just after Pratibha put me back on hold to look something up, I suddenly realized what an utterly okay song it is."
Fayston is not alone in his tepid appreciation for Merchant's music. Amber Lee Murphy, a second-shift cashier at a White Hen Pantry in Newburyport, Mass., has her own story to tell. "It was about halfway through my first week here," she said. "I was restocking the ice freezer and I suddenly heard this voice singing this incredibly unremarkable song [on the store's music system] about how 'these are the days we'll remember,' or something, and I realized that the voice sounded familiar. About forty five minutes later the voice comes back, only this time it's singing about 'have I been blind' or something, I really can't remember. And that was how I met Natalie Merchant."
In an official statement, Muzak Hall of Fame chairman Grover Hammond said that Merchant "really earned this award," citing how she manages to strike the perfect balance. "She's really a rare find," he wrote. "Perhaps more than any other singer-songwriter in recent memory, Natalie Merchant has this gift for writing songs that you can really listen to without being interested in. Supermarkets, call centers and medium-distance commuters nationwide owe Ms. Merchant a debt of gratitude for this fantastic body of music that nobody would ever actually consider paying money to hear."
At the official ceremony, which was attended by over six people, Merchant was presented with a galvanized bowling trophy and a coupon for free bread sticks at Pizza Hut. Her likeness, in the form of a grainy blow-up of her driver's license photo, will hang in the Hall next to such greats as Jewel and Train for the next six months, at which point the building is scheduled to be demolished to make way for a methadone clinic.