Monday, March 06, 2006

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin a rocking band I have just discovered because of Pandora, a.k.a. "the music genome project." I am probably the last person on earth to try this idea of custom-tailored internet radio, but now I have, and I am here to tell you: Dude, it's fucking awesome. For the last two days I've been sitting at work meandering through a playlist that I started by telling it I liked Neil Finn and going from there. Subsequently hearing songs by 20 different bands that I a) had never in my life heard of, and b) freaking loved is only one of the the cool things about it. There's also the slow drift through genres that it has done based on whether I give particular songs the thumbs up or thumbs down--yesterday I was in kind of a wispy, folk-influenced kind of place and so after five songs of feedback it was playing this steady stream of Elliott Smith-y, Iron & Wine-y (and the aforementioned 20 folks of whom I'd never previously heard) kind of stuff, and today I'm in a little more of a emo rock kind of place, which led me to thumbs-down some of the folky stuff, so I've been hearing such things as "I Am Warm + Powerful" by these Yeltsin-loving fellows from Springfield, Missouri (which, oddly, is where my mom's family used to live).

The third cool thing is this melding of the unfamiliar with the familiar (stuff I already own) and the ubiquitous (stuff one would hear on the radio), which creates all manner of new contexts for music. The next song Pandora played after the Yeltsins was Stone Temple Pilots' "Big Empty," a song that had previous drifted right over my consciousness, and right now I'm listening to a song by some sort of Poor-Man's John Mayer teen rocker which I'd immediately dismiss in the real world. But the fact that this music algorithm (which affiliates songs by the type of singer, instrumentation, underlying musical influence, etc.--my favorite criterion so far which it's inferred that I like is "a good dose of acoustic guitar pickin'") plays mostly indie stuff overcomes my built-in coolness filter and I end up listening to the songs with a different ear. I mean, okay, that teen-rock song still sucks, but today it gets a pass.

I suppose there's some comparison to be made between the iPod playlist which isn't really reading your thoughts, and this, which is trying to do just that. Like last time, I'm leaving that up to you. It's time you all stop riding on my coat tails and learn to synthesize for yourselves.

Next: the collective musical consciousness!
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