One of the coolest things out there on that Internet (the device all the kids are just wild about) is Pandora.
If you’re not familiar with Pandora, you need to click that link up above and sign up for it. Pandora, essentially, is an Internet radio station that is completely shaped by your tastes in music.
The service is free but you’ll have to pay for some useful upgrades like more hours and such. Here’s how it works – when you first sign up, Pandora will ask you what your favorite band is. From there you are played songs based on your initial preferences so that you can expand into other bands. For example, if you like the Beatles, Pandora might play a Rolling Stones song to see if you like that particular tune, too. If you like it, you can select the “thumbs up” button and it will find similar songs. If you don’t you can select “thumbs down” and it won’t play that song again (and will modify your profile accordingly).
Along the way you have the option of adding other bands and songs to the service to further build your profile. After I chose the Beatles, I went ahead and added some of my other favorites such as the Clash, KISS, Camper van Beethoven, the Pixies, Hank Williams Sr., Howlin’ Wolf, Black Flag, the Sex Pistols, Tom Petty, Carl Perkins, the Darling Buds, etc. While you are encouraged to build various stations for various genres, I kind of like having a Hank Williams Jr. song play immediately following something abrasive by the Pixies.
Hey, that’s what we call variety, right? It keeps things interesting and helps move the day along.
For the most part, Pandora works very well. Based on my initial selections it has picked songs from the Ramones, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Blondie, Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue and a lot of other stuff that I do like. In fact, Pandora has directed me to some great bands that I’ve either forgotten about or haven’t heard of at all – that’s a great thing.
One thing that drives me nuts about the service is that it keeps dredging up bands that I absolutely hate. At this point, I think it’s cycled all the way through Nirvana’s Nevermind in spite of the fact that (I think) I’ve made it clear that I detest almost everything on that album (it is very gratifying to hit the “thumbs down” button when you truly hate something). Regardless, it keeps throwing Nirvana songs at me.
It’s rather like Pandora is saying, “Come on, The Hawg. You really do like Nirvana. I promise!” I’ve gotten the same kind of treatment with Green Day (I’ve always hated that pack of spoiled brats) and Simon & Garfunkel (an act that actually makes me angry when one of its sappy, pointless hits starts playing). The disturbing thing, of course, is that Pandora has played exactly two Beatles songs for me, no Black Flag and no Sex Pistols – those are bands I like, so why the hell do I keep hearing Nirvana instead of them?
I realize there are some folks out there who regard a strong dislike of Nirvana, Green Day or Simon and Garfunkel as heresy, but that’s not the point. To those folks I say this – just think of a band you really, really hate and imagine the fun you’d have if Pandora played them at you regularly.
Yeah. See what I mean? Sucks, doesn’t it?
Is there a point to all this? Sure there is. I think it would be great if Pandora offered an “I hate this band” button in addition to an “I don’t like this song” one. That would save a lot of trouble.
By the way, there is a very nifty device out there that has to do with Pandora. It’s a portable radio that streams Pandora wherever you have an Internet connection. It’s the Livio Pandora Internet Radio and you can read a review of it here.
This is not, by the way, a paid post. I just think that radio is pretty cool even though my wife declared it’s a “waste of money.” Thought it might make a nice Christmas present for her. I’m glad I asked her about it before I bought it.
At any rate, I would encourage everyone to rise up and demand from Pandora an “I hate this band” button. The world would be a better place, wouldn’t it?