Friday, May 29


Thanks to a friend, I've recently discovered Pandora. It’s become my new best friend/worst enemy at work. The theory behind Pandora is fabulous. You create your own radio station based on the artists you like, then sit back and let Pandora do the rest. Ideally, this is where Pandora plays the bands you like and throws in those that are similar in some way or another. It’s been great as something for me to listen to and fight with at my desk during the day. Well, besides my co-workers.

When you first start, you make your list and Pandora kicks in her two cents. Eventually you wind up adding music, branching out more and more which causes Pandora to do the same, forever expanding and growing into an infinitesimal musical “genome project." As each song rolls by, it has a nifty feature with a thumbs up or thumbs down icon. You click these to let Pandora know that you liked the song and/or artist and play it again Sam, or not so much. I even got a nice note the first time I clicked the thumbs down that said, "sorry about that, we'll never play that song on this station again." How nice, Pandora. You're nothing like your namesake that unleashed many evils on mankind.

Like the beginning of so many relationships, these early types of thumbs up and thumbs down are so gentle. I would see some songs and say to myself, "aww you know, I don't really like Mazzy Star, but it's not that bad. I'll let it slide." It's kind of like how when you first start dating someone and their idiosyncrasies are so cute. "He really loves music, that is so cool." But after a few years of moving four megatons of records and CD's you find yourself screaming, "if you fucking buy one more album, I swear to God I will find a way to shove it up your ass." Thumbs down, thumbs down! As I began to be a little more aggressive with my thumbs down I soon learned, as the major motion picture Hellraiser depicts, you do not control Pandora’s Box, it controls you, be-otch.

In the beginning of my Pandora experience, I sort of had this mental picture of Pandora as a person. I envisioned her as Alice Ghostly on Bewitched. Sort of sitting at a huge switchboard with the old-fashioned headphones on trying to figure out what everyone wanted to listen to. You know, flustered and spacey and kind of always fucking things up? The only problem was that Alice Ghostly wasn't Pandora on Bewitched, she was Esmeralda and there wasn’t even a Pandora there was an Endora and she was Samantha’s Mother and she was a bitch. But this Pandora is a bitch, too. Except that there wasn't a Pandora, but you get my point.

I will admit, I didn’t make things easy for poor Pandora. I have a wide-ranging taste in music. I can go from The Bee-Gees to The Hives back to Nina Simone (don't you judge me), so I think that it’s pretty hard to come up with a standard song list. However, when I put the Isley Brothers on my play list and I’m now fending off Tony!Toni!Tone!, you and me got some problems. Out of nowhere, bands that I would never, ever listen to were popping up all over the place. Then there were the artists that I would have listened to, but it was like Pandora was limiting songs to their Greatest Shittiest Hits.

I caught myself clicking thumbs down more and more each hour. Usually, when you click thumbs down, Pandora moves on to the next song. But after a day of unusually poor Pandora choices, I apparently clicked one too many times. I clicked and got no new song. I clicked again. Again. And again. And still Peter Cetera was screaming at me about something. Finally, I saw a message that said some gibber-jabber about music license and how only a certain number of songs per hour could be jumped. “I knew it!” I yelled to know one in particular.

After a few days pondering the new oh-not-so-cool development, I figured there had to be some way to get past all of these bands that I didn’t like that kept appearing on my play list. For the love of God, I never added Sheryl Crow, I never gave her the thumbs up! I gave her the thumbs down! Thumbs down! Why is she still playing? I questioned the functionality of a “don’t play this song button” if it didn't exclude the annoying artist that MADE the song I didn't want to hear. Why wasn't there a “don’t you dare ever play this goddamn person again” button? After taking the time (ugh) to search the site, I found out why they were playing Sheryl Crowe. I apparently like women singer songwriters that play the guitar. Hmmm. I think that told Pandora that I liked Liz Phair, OK and maybe Aimee Mann. But that doesn’t mean that I like Sheryl Crowe. Jesus, who's next Melissa Ethridge? Sarah Mclaughlin? Next thing I know, the entire Lilith Fair line up is going to be on this thing (I am old). Good news for all of those musicians that might feel slighted by my heavy-handed thumbs down! of late, apparently no matter how many times I click your sorry ass, you won’t go away. Just ask The Beatles. I love the Beatles. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But forgive me if don’t want to hear that upbeat shit at 8:30 in the a.m. Thumbs down!

In an age where radio stations seem quaint, I thought that the upside to all of this technology upheaval would be that music lovers might actually get to listen to what they wanted to. I guess that Esmeralda is a lot smarter than she seems. Or maybe she’s just in cahoots with Pinhead, I don’t know.

If you want to rock to some awesome music (well half the time anyway), check out my station. Again, I can't take credit, because Pandora makes most of the choices like the Bitch Goddess she is.

** Here is my little Pandora update. It seems as if Alice Ghostly has thrown in the towel and completely sold out to The Man. Two days ago I was in the middle of a "thumbs down" marathon, when a snotty little message popped up on my computer screen. It said, "you've used up your 40 allotted hours of Pandora a month. If you'd like to have access of for the rest of the month July just pay $.99." WTF? I got all pissed, because this development came out of nowhere. They didn't even hint to anything like this, just BLAM-O "you're cut off, now gimme your dollar!"
Well the one thing that Pandora doesn't know about me is that I don't take kindly to being mind-fucked. I have a couple of exes out there that could probably testify to that. So, guess what Pandora, if that is your real name, you aren't getting my dollar. Instead you get the Rockefeller, and you'll like it. I'm going back to my iTunes radio. Well, at least until next month.