The magical internet genies come through yet again.

Hola amigos. I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I’ve just discovered something that’s pretty damn awesome, and had to share it with those of you who, like me, don’t tend to notice the new shit until way later (I think this thing has been around for like four years).

It’s this Pandora Internet Radio / Music Genome Project thing. Apparently some dudes picked out several hundreds of various attributes that any given song might have, and are working their way through all the music there is, rating each song based on these attributes. The upshot being, Pandora can take a song you like, and say “You like that? Here’s something else very similar that you will probably also like.” Thank you Pandora, I had not heard of that band, and they are also pretty badass. “Yeah? How about this one?” That one is also quite good!

And when they say “hundreds of attributes”, they mean it. Just now it picked a song by a band called Vandal, and here’s why:

electronica roots
danceable beats
unsyncopated ensemble rhythms
subtle buildup/breakdown
use of modal harmonies
subtle use of arpeggiated synths
synth swoops
affected synths
subtle use of staccato synths
a variety of synth sounds
a dry recording sound
trippy soundscapes
prevalent use of groove

I say goddamn.

If you use iTunes, that has a thing called “Genius”, which is similar, but not nearly as good. Genius is based on what you and other people have in your libraries, and not by the actual song content. For example, Genius is currently telling me “You have a song by Chumbawumba. Many other people who have Chumbawumba songs also have this one David Bowie song!” That’s great “Genius”, but where the hell did I get a Chumbawumba song? And Bowie’s groovy and all but I’m not interested in that right now. Whereas Pandora, I can tell it that I’m up for some heavy Pendulum-esque beats, and it will give me some badass tunes. If it hits one that I like particularly, I can “thumbs-up” it, and it will remember that I liked that, and play that song (and others more like it) in the future. If it makes a bad choice, I can thumbs-down, and it won’t play that song any more; thumbs-down the same artist several times, and they will never darken your doorstep again. (This is all based on individual playlists btw, so you can have a KMDFM list and a Beatles list, without the fear that they will cross-pollinate and give you… well I don’t know what that would be, but on reflection it might turn out kind of awesome.)

And? It’s free. And it has an iPhone app, which is also free, allowing you to listen to excellent music on the go and sync the data to the website when you get home.

If it sounds like I am filling my pants with glee over this thing, past the point of authenticity, rest assured that they are not paying me. But my regular music-listening habits are:

  1. Buy a cd. (This happens perhaps once a year.)
  2. Listen to it three or four times, and rip the three best tracks to my main iTunes playlist.
  3. Listen to that playlist for the rest of the year.

My playlist has 256 songs on it (an amusing coincidence), all of which I have heard many many times and only a fraction of which I am in the mood for at any given point. So any device that gives me awesome music to listen to, which I have never heard before and exactly fits my tastes of the moment, is a truly amazing thing.

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