THANKS, BUT NO THANKS!
Has everyone heard of Pandora.com? This is a website service that claims it can find new music for its users, based on a simple profile and a few of your own suggestions, thereby doing away with a human DJ or music retailer. Here's what their homepage says:
"Can you help me discover more music that I'll like?"
That question often evolved into a great conversation. Each friend told us their favorite artists and songs, explored the music we suggested, gave us feedback, and we in turn made new suggestions. Everybody started joking that we were now their personal DJs. We created Pandora so that we can have that same kind of conversation with you.
OK, I'll play. My first entry was James Booker, the legendary New Orleans pianist. I figured it wasn't an obvious choice or an easy one at that, plus I can't get enough Booker, so I was happy to have more. The first song they played on their Internet jukebox was "Black Night," by James Booker. While playing, Pandora explains how they will go about finding more music that I will like, based on the particular attributes of Booker's music.
Here's what they said:
acoustic rock instrumentation
mild rhythmic syncopation
acoustic rhythm piano
a twelve-eight time signature
(I've often said, the reason I love Booker is his "twelve-eight time signature")
major key tonality
triple note feel.
DAMN! That's certainly more than I would say. Usually, my rave review goes something like this:
"Oh Man!! Booker is f*#@ing awesome!! Buy this!!"
Score one for Pandora.
The next song in queue was from a pretty mediocre Dr. John CD. OK, I like Dr. John and know Dr.John. This isn't groundbreaking, and why the hell choose something off of an album that even Dr. John doesn't like. The next song was...well....James Booker. Pandora!! You are a genius!! If I like James Booker then I will most definitely like...James Booker. Ok, I lost patience immediately. I typed in something easier. Todd Rundgren. At least Rundgren has had some top 40 hits- "Hello It's Me," "Can We Still be Friends, "I Saw The Light." Ok, what would I tell my customer who loves Todd? What should he buy next?
ME: "Well, there is certainly a Beatles influence, a bit of Philly soul, as well as some early garage rock, some piano-based R&B, oh man, he's f*@#ing awesome!"
hard rock roots
a political satire lyric
varying tempo and time signatures
interweaving vocal harmony
demanding instrumental part writing
mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation
a clear focus on recording studio production
minor key tonality.
The first song they played was "The Ikon," a 30 minute, side long opus, from an early prog-rock record by Rundgren's band Utopia. If I had to pick 100 amazing Rundgren songs, and I could, "The Ikon" would be #200. The next song they played was by the Tubes, the San Francisco band that Rundgren has played with and produced over the years. The song they played was "Sushi Girl, " a not so great song from an album that Todd had NOTHING to do with!! (i am so confused) Ok, this isn't any fun at all. And furthermore, I don't think this is at all helpful.
If NYCD had suggested any of these songs or records, we would have lost our customer base and closed up shop. Uh...I mean....