I have been on quite the positive roll lately, in my humble opinion, with some really good posts about online dating and movie reviews, most of which I am very happy with. However, today I feel the need to purge myself of some negative energy and so turn to my blog for the purpose that blogs were originally conceived; an old fashioned nerd rant. I figured I could get into my like/hate relationship with Pandora.
I, like most reasonably up to date (I refuse to use the word hip) adults listen to Pandora for music on my computer or iPhone. For those of you not familiar with it, Pandora is a free internet radio that allows you to pick genres of music and then either thumbs up and thumbs down on specific songs, theoretically giving you the ability to only listen to the music you want to.
“Wait a minute, Dave!” I can hear you saying. “If it’s a free service how can you then justify bitching about it? Isn’t that kind of ungrateful?” Well, yes it would be if Pandora were truly free. It is, however, actually a commercial endeavor in the most literal sense possible as they literally play commercials like old fashioned radio. Not only that, but they don’t play a variety of commercials. That would prevent them from driving their sponsors message into your brain like a railroad spike made of frozen nitrogen. Instead, what they do is get a single commercial and play it OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. It is enough to make you want to throw whatever poor device is broadcasting it into the nearest sewer. Therefore, since I am paying them for the service in brain cells I feel I have the right to point out their major flaws.
It’s not the repetitive commercials that has my boxers in a bunch. I run a commercial web site and understand the needs of everyone to get paid. What is rubbing me like a sandpaper bicycle seat is the algorithm they use to select the music they subject you to.
You see, you start a station by seeding it with a few of your favorite bands. They then play those bands and other bands they feel you would like, kind of like how Amazon tells you stuff like “People who bought Sarah Palin’s book also enjoyed See Spot Run.” Sounds good in theory, and upon occasion they manage to come up with a new band or song that I quite enjoy.
The thing is, if any of you have read more than a few of my blogs you should have realized by now that I am a contrarian (yes, that is a legitimate word and correctly spelled. Microsoft, you also suck) by nature and tend to respond negatively to most forms of peer pressure to the point that if someone said to me “Dave, the ship is sinking! Get on the lifeboat! Everyone else is doing it!” I would lay even odds on my going off to try to find my own flotation device. My musical tastes are pretty varied and tend to be more about what I don’t like than what I do, although if I had to pick a genre or two it would probably be old school or harmonic punk rock.
Therefore, I never developed a taste for “classic” rock. Led Zeppelin sucks in my opinion, as do all their contemporaries (with the exception of a few songs by the Rolling Stones. Paint it Black, for example). Yet somehow Pandora has decided it is patently impossible for someone to not love Zeppelin and insists on playing it for me all the freaking time in spite of the fact that I have given it nothing but thumbs down. Not just Led Zeppelin, but all the classic contemporaries like Pink Floyd (acid tripping losers), the Who(?), the Beatles (ever want to watch someone have an apoplectic fit? Find a Beatles fan, look him straight in the eye, and say “The Beatles ruined rock and roll.” Not necessarily true, but always funny), the Eagles (did these guys ever have a point?), the Grateful Dead (peace, love, and smoking tons of pot), AC/DC (about as heavy as aluminum IMO), Van Halen (the Frankenstein monster of rock), the Doors (I’ve read Doors of Perception. It sucks), Def Leoppard (oonder gleepin gloopin gropen), ZZ Top (beards!), and any number of other bands who should have never made it out of the 80’s. I think the mistake I made was once expressing an interest in Tom Petty, who I find a great singer and has amazing lyrics. Petty has turned out to be patient zero for infecting my Pandora station.
The thing that really gets me is the fact that in spite of my giving them thumbs down over and over again they still keep trying. “Hmm. Dave has given a thumbs down on the last 18 Led Zeppelin songs we have played for him. But you know what? I think this 19th song, Good Times/Bad Times Live at the Hollywood Bowl, will remind him that all humans are genetically predisposed to loving this band. It is significantly different from the studio version of Good Times/Bad Times we played for him two hours ago.” If it were me in charge, if someone gave a thumbs down on three songs by a particular band in a row, that band would be deleted from his play list in it’s entirety.
The final straw on this rant is the fact that Pandora likes to run songs in sets. This is normally cool in that if they play a Bad Religion song for me odds are the next three or four songs will be Rancid or something similar. The problem is they get into a classic rock set for me and once I do thumbs down on AC/DC, Def Leoppard, CCR, Buffalo Springfield, and Deep Purple all of a sudden you hit the limit of the number of songs you can skip (according to their licensing agreement. Can anyone explain how that works?) and you are forced to listen to the Eagles Hotel California. Either that or turn it off and write a bitch blog post about it.
Yes, I know I could just create a new station but really, that isn’t the point. I shouldn’t have to deal with this and if they had applied a little more thought to their service the issue would be more or less self correcting. I still use Pandora and am happy about 80% of the time. However, that is at best a B- and if I could find a better graded service I would do it.
Anyway, sorry about the complete self indulgence of this post. I actually feel a lot better all of a sudden. I should have started a blog years ago.
Yesterdays post asked what would happen if Tyler Durden’s fantasy fight with Abraham Lincoln were to become a reality (understanding that the entire conversation took place in the movie Fight Club, another fantasy). I think Tyler had a lot more fighting experience and tolerance for pain. However, I believe Abe Lincoln was one of those never-say-die guys. Therefore I am going to go with Lincoln on this one, but it would be long, drawn out, and bloody. (Lincoln image courtesy of the funny political t shirts)
Since I indulged myself with my rant today I will continue to indulge myself with my who-would-win question. This one is less about an actual fight and more about wanting to see a character I dislike intensely get gutted. Who would win, Riker from Next Generation versus Giger’s Alien (no phaser)?