Opening Pandora's box

A friend sent me a link to www.pandora.com, part of the Music Genome Project, which has analyzed the musical attributes of 10,000 songs in order to “capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level.” The Pandora site creates a radio station based on an artist or song you suggest, since the project’s friends were always asking for suggestions of new music they might enjoy.

So, of course, I had to pop in U2 and see what came up. I entered the group rather than a song to see which direction they took it in, and I was pleasantly surprised to see them start off with “An Cat Dubh.” In explaining the song choice, it said, “We’re playing this song because it features electric rock instrumentation, a vocal-centric aesthetic, extensive vamping, electric guitar riffs and a dynamic male vocalist.” So what could be next? Coldplay? REM? One of their influences? No, try 38 Special’s “If I’d Been the One.” Wha?

The explanation: “We’re playing this track because it features electric rock instrumentation, a vocal-centric aesthetic and many other similiarities identified in the genome project.” Ummmm … OK …

Next on the list were Led Zeppelin’s “The Wanton Song” and Chris Isaak’s “Dancin’,” with much the same explanation (except Isaak also features “repetitive melodic phrasing, extensive vamping and minor key tonality.”).

But I think I’ll keep playing with it. You get about four songs before you have to register, but it’s free if you don’t mind ads. You can create multiple stations, save them, tell it you like or don’t like a song … I could see myself losing much time here. And the next song that came up was “Staring at the Sun” Live from Rotterdam. Gotta love that. 🙂

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