So I’ve been playing around a bit with Pandora, one of those online music services that selects songs based upon artists you tell it you like, refined by positive or negative ratings to songs played. It’s okay, I guess. I was interested in hearing something new instead of all my usual boring old crap, and it’s not entirely the service’s fault if all I find is boring new crap. Aside from the usual complaint that these sorts of sites simulate more the experience of a focus group than simple music listening, I’m just not well-suited to them. I tell the program that I like a given artist—Neko Case, say—and then proceed to give negative reactions to every song provided based on that information—a taste for Neko Case, it seems, correlates well with a liking for really boring music. I then often as not proceed to rate poorly the songs by the very artist I suggested, as the site offers up the inevitable second-rate tracks, a habit that can’t help the goal of broadening my listening. I am left to face the fact that I’m sort of person who doesn’t like anything, which I already knew, but depresses when confirmed by technology.
Typepad has a widget that allows sidebar links to Pandora, allowing random posts of songs I’ve rated positively, or even the entire “radio station” I’ve created. I’m considering putting one up. Doing so was one motivation in exploring the service, as I’m not satisfied with my current music links. I’m too lazy to update the records regularly, so the same ones just sit there. If there were an equivalent to LibraryThing but for cds, I’d be all over that, but I haven’t seen one (suggestions very welcome.) The Pandora widget doesn’t really satisfy, as it labels the links things like “My Favorite Songs” when it should really read, “Tolerable Songs I Gave Positive Ratings to Because I Had Been Worn Down by 12 Bad Tracks in a Row.” The one exception to the rule has been in gospel. I’m basically a sucker for most any gospel music, at least any made between roughly 1945 and 1975. I put the Soul Stirrers in there, and then proceeded to rate positively pretty much everything that fell into that category. So now my station plays gospel intermittently broken up with some indie rock track. It’s not exactly a triumph of revealed preferences, at least not yet.