Tag Archives: Pandora

Close up Pandora’s Box

pandora1  The Music Genome Project was supposed to change the way we listen to music online, or at least how music is organized. According to the founders, “the project was an effort to capture the essence of music at the fundamental level using almost 400 attributes to describe songs and a complex mathematical algorithm to organize them.” Under the direction of Nolan Gasser, the musical structure and implementation of the Music Genome Project, made up of 5 Genomes (Pop/Rock, Hip-Hop/Electronica, Jazz, World Music, and Classical), was advanced and codified.

The Music Genome Project is the backbone of the popular online radio service known as Pandora. Pandora utilizes the genome as a jumping off point toward something called a “distance function.” In essence, when you input a band, song or basic genre, a station is built using the above attributes. The distance function includes songs and groups that may not include all of the attributes of your original entry. Basically it moves you from your comfort zone toward new music you may enjoy.

When I first stumbled onto Pandora in 2004, it was a breath of fresh air. I enjoy a wide variety of artists and genres, so having access to such a vast quantity of songs was fantastic. I enjoyed being challenged by some of the selections on my stations. I spent a fair amount of time adding artists and songs to my established stations and using the “thumbs” to indicate my likes and dislikes. Pandora was a big part of my Internet time. This has continued as Pandora has grown and has been included on most devices. I now play my custom stations in my car, on my TV, and on my and phone.

My very first Pandora station is still active. It has over 900 adjustments and includes almost everything I can think to add. Over the past 9 years my tastes have changed slightly, they have grown in ways that I must attribute in part to Pandora. However I am considering shutting the whole thing down over the following 3 points:

How many times must I tell Pandora I don’t like Bryan Adams?:

You tell Pandora what you like or don’t like by hitting the thumbs up or thumbs down icon attached to each song. These ratingsbryan-adams sort of work…in a way…sometimes. If you “thumbs down” an artist (Say Bryan Adams) and that artist was ever part of another band or appeared on a film soundtrack etc. then you will have to “thumbs down” each individual entry (All For One, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves sound track etc.) Also as you create additional stations you must go through this process each time. The ratings do not carry over to other stations.

There is no way to eliminate an entire genre or era:

I am a lover of classic rock, though I feel the word classic is kicked around with little criteria to define it. Say you want to eliminate the 80s or 90s from a straight forward rock station. You can’t. Let alone get specific enough to remove, say, ’80s ballad heavy roots rock from Canadians. Canadians named Bryan, for instance.

How many times must I hear the same commercials?:

In the beginning, Pandora was ad free. When they began adding commercials the frequency of ad play was as predictable as traditional radio. Now I cannot determine the sequence. At times I can hear 10 songs with zero ads, others I get an ad every 3rd song. This would not be a big deal except they only appear to have 5 ads. These are played completely at random, so you wind up hearing the same ad three times in the same 30-minute period. Imagine if that ad were for a Bryan Adams’ greatest hits package or tour; it would be unbearable.

So I find my time on Pandora more and more limited in an effort to avoid frustration. These few complaints are causing the music to have the opposite of its desired effect. Also Bryan Adams sucks!



Tagged , , , , , , ,

Pop Shock: Radioactive


RAWR! Scary ape monster puppet! Image is a screen grab from the “Radioactive” video by Imagine Dragons.

As an adult individual who spends an embarrassing amount of time with our All-Father, the Internet, I must say that there’s not a whole lot that surprises me, anymore.

It’s rare that I don’t have music blaring through my ear buds, damaging my inner ears and making my day go just a bit faster. I’m always on the look out for an upbeat, peppy piece of fluff that I can drone out on. But, once in a while, a song will creep up on me, and I will become a wee bit obsessed with it.

Maybe I get into a groove, I dunno. But, I have to go look it up on YouTube and play it over, and over, and over, and over. It’s a habit that greatly amuses some and annoys others, because I’m constantly pestering folks with my awesome find. And, to be honest, my “finds” aren’t all that new, generally.

It’s probably because I kick it into neutral that I don’t pay the closest attention to the music I’m hearing on my Pandora station. Then, later, I’ll hear a song when I’m outside of work and think, “Huh, I wonder why that sounds familiar? I like it!” In reality, I’ve probably heard it lots of times and just never noticed.

The latest song the come on my radar in this manner was “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons. Now, this is a special case, because while I became obsessed with the song, it wasn’t the ACTUAL song. Someone posted the cover by Pentatonix and Lindsey Stirling, and I fell in love.

(That’s a bit over-dramatic. I didn’t fall in love, so much as become intensely piqued. There. That sounds better.) A Capella music is awesome, and the “Radioactive” cover was pretty sweet. So, I listened to it until I was tired of it.

But, I still craved it.

Does that make sense? To crave a song? The musical progressions, the ebb and flow of emotion that makes me feel better.

So, I looked up the real song by Imagine Dragons, and I loved it, too! It was different, and in some ways much better. The lead singer is able to cultivate an intensity that Pentatonix strives for, but just misses, frankly. There’s only so much nifty harmony and beat-boxing can do for you, guys.

Okay, so where am I going with this? Why is this article called Pop Shock?

Well, first off, look for more articles under the heading of Pop Shock. I intend to call out things that I find shocking in one way or another for various reasons (AREN’T YOU EXCITED?!).

What’s shocking about “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons? Watch the video, and then, we’ll talk.


Lou Diamond Phillips is running illegal (I assume) stuffed animal cock fights!

This delights and shocks me at the same time. What a great video! (See, shock isn’t necessarily a BAD thing.) In my ritual obsession, I’d never taken the time to watch the real video. And when I finally got around to it, I was SHOCKED (And delighted. Don’t forget the delighted part.). And, yeah, I know it’s MONTHS old. I skillfully managed to avoid the video, though. Yes, it was skill!

There’s a teddy bear with laser eyes that slaughters people. An innocuous-looking, pinkish teddy bear gets pushed too far and BAM! So, long Lou (and others!)!

Sure, Lou and his minions, including a terrifying purple ape puppet monster, deserve it. I mean, Imagine Dragons is (are?) being held captive in the puppet/stuffed animal/cock fighting dungeon. That’s serious business.

And what’s the relationship between the teddy bear and the woman who brings him to the fight? Is she its trainer? Its master? It must like her, because if it didn’t, I’m sure she’d be extra tasty crispy by now.

One more thing: How about that ending? Despicable Lou is dropped into a drippy, dark hole with bits of dismembered animated stuffed creatures!

It’s the stuff of nightmares.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,