Pandora’s Box

I have very few vices.

There’s poker, comics, Canadian chocolate bars, watching three movies on basic cable at once (best combo is Predator, Cool Runnings and Breakfast Club, they’re basically the same movie), avoiding responsibility, run on sentences, self-aggrandizing list making in blog posts, and new music.

I have a lot of vices.

The largest and most time-consuming of these weaknesses (if you can even call them that) is new music. I’m ADD with music, constantly needing a new fix. But I just can’t give Pandora, or any other algorithm-based system, a fair shot.

A big part of the Pandora’s story is no longer in the news, but it was a bigger deal eons ago (2008): The Music Genome Project. Using people and algorithms, the project scores each song so when you choose an artist on Pandora, the other songs played are similar.

IMG_0472A bunch of musicians analyzing songs based on things that musicians know about, and the ensuing site and algorithm further categorizing them and putting them together in a playlist that ensures you hear similar things over and over again?


Musicians are not dependable. They are delicate and prone to self-destruction. Or worse, selling out. Or worse, not selling out.

Music is not dependable. Rather, it’s not predictable. Nor should it be.

An album that blows you away could be followed by a CD that makes you feel bad about buying the first one.

You may hear something you never heard before on the 300th listen of a particular track.

You may hate an album until you experience it through the company of friends.

You need people putting together playlists, not algorithms. Would you ask Skynet to choose your music? How about HAL 9000 making you a mix tape? And Johnny 5? Would he put anything but El DeBarge on your phone?

Maybe I would ask Skynet and other digital overlords to screen my music, but only because I don’t think John Connor would win. I bow to you, future sentient death machines!

In the meantime, listen to WPRK, go to 8tracks, and find human-curated music before the zombie apocalypse finally happens.

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