algorithm and blues
I wasn’t overly optimistic when I heard about the music website Pandora. Perhaps it was because of the mythology of Pandora and her “box”. It seemed almost like a warning, that somehow your musical tastes would run amok and the next thing you know you’d be listening to old Joan Baez songs non-stop. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a Joan Baez song but it’s definitely the image that comes to mind when I think of myself dazed and sitting cross-legged and naked except for a pair of Birkenstocks and a crown of daisies in a field.
Odd that a fear of technology would elicit hippy imagery but that just goes to show you … something. If you’re getting a bit agitated waiting for me to come to a point you’re in for a long blog, but out of respect for your time I’ll try to dig one up.
So I signed up and thought I’d give it shot. Typically I just listen to whole albums on Youtube so the idea of hearing new artists every few minutes was appealing. I threw in a few bands I like to get the ball rolling and sat back and waiting for the algorithm magic to begin.
The bands? Do you really want to know? I know you think you want to know but that’s only because you view music as some sort of litmus test and if you like my dumb stories you’ll assume that we are musically simpatico and if you hate my dumb stories you’re waiting to revel in my shitty tastes.
But it doesn’t work like that. If you don’t believe me, believe Pandora and their over-reaching algorithm. Believe me, I used to be like you and think that I was the gatekeeper of all that is tasteful but I learned the hard was I’m not. And neither are you. Some singers that I love you hate and vice versa and the only thing I can do by listing artists that I think are talentless frauds is sow the seeds of my own destruction. Eventually I’ll hit on one that you are passionate about and the next thing I know you are looking elsewhere for your dumb stories.
In fact, some of the bands I hate are considered hip and cool and by saying anything negative about them I’m just ensuring that I’ll always remain unhip and uncool.
Like Anthony Keidisof the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He’s fucking tone deaf. He can’t sing and I seem to be the only person on the planet who hears it.
Shit, I didn’t mean to mention anyone by name. Happy now? I bet you’re probably deciding whether or not to send me an e-mail pointing out why musical tastes suck so much because I dared to slander your precious Chili Pepper.
Anyway, so I put in The Tallest Man on Earth, God is an Astronaut and Wolf Parade and sat back in my chair, eager to see where that particular road led. If you’ve never used Pandora before let me explain how it works. You like or dislike every song they offer up and before you know it they have crawled inside your head and figured out your musical tastes and what songs you really want to hear.
Your ultimate playlist.
Or so their algorithm would lead you to believe.
Their algorithm is crap. It was completely hit or miss and after about five hours they were alternating between James Taylor and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young songs. How can anyone bring themselves to dislike any of their songs? It’s impossible. If they were Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young and Taylor all other singers would simply lay down their vocal chords and find other work.
During the first five hours they were throwing in stuff from all over the place. What part of The Tallest Man on Earth, God is an Astronaut and Wolf Parade suggests I’d like to hear a fucking Morrissey song? I sprained my wrist hitting the dislike button I hit it so hard, leaving myself to wonder why I was so insulted by this suggestion.
Then there were the songs that I secretly enjoy but didn’t want to have popping up on my Pandora in case someone came in. Sorry again Bee Gees.
Maybe those are the ones that Pandora considers their little victories. The ones they know I like but don’t have the balls to acknowledge.
Still waiting for a point?
Holy shit you’re persistent. Good thing there isn’t a Pandora for short stories.
(or so you tell yourself … I’m the “More Than a Woman” of writers)