Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hey Mr. DJ

It's always hard saying goodbye to a long cherished friend.  You spend days and weeks growing to know them, months loving them whole heartedly, and then... one fine day... you realize the magic is over.  Gone.  Caput.  Nothing is left but a cold vacant wasteland of feelings that dull the senses and leave you longing for spicy foods.

I am speaking, of course, of my love affair with Pandora.  My internet radio companion for many long months now, my vocal and caring companion, purveyor of all that is finest in music.  Alas, it's time has come, I must pass on now and continue my journey to musical nirvana without my trusty ass steed, otherwise known to me as "big P".

Pandora had a great run.  Building a station around a particular musical genre is easy, just pick an artist or a song.  You get plenty of other artists in the same genre that are similar, and you find a whole bunch of new musical acts to love.  Mix it up with other artists outside the genre, and you get a complex and joyful station that seems to know exactly what mood I'm in.  Except when it get into those long runs of Irish folk rock music like the Pogues that it refused to want to stop playing no matter how many times I tried to skip ahead.  I guess my Pandora was a bit of a lush, but it was a fault I could over look somehow.  Maybe I was in denial.

But then, I tried to go for something a bit more breath taking.  Something deeper and more meaningful.  Something... oh hell, I was trying to create a naughty comedy station.  Something to keep me laughing on those bleak days when work got me down and I needed a boost.  So I tried all the old techniques for inputting an artist.  I started with Christine Lavine, whose song "Doris and Edwin: the Movie" is a hysterical piece of work.

I got lots of folk rock from the 60's and 70's and 80's.  Nothing funny.  It seems Christine had been a folk singer early on, so the station was defaulting to her "core" attributes.  Hmmm... ok, go for a person who is ONLY a singing musician:  Stephen Lynch.  Initially that seemed to work.  I got Lynch, then some Tenacious D (who I've grown to love), a little Tripod, some Flight of the Conchords.  Good stuff, funny... until it played Green Day.  Smash Mouth.  Barenaked Ladies.

It seems my Pandora was confused.  It wasn't seeing comedy where I was seeing comedy.  It was seeing something like "singer songwriters who write musical tunes with strong guitar accompaniement and sometimes explicit lyrics and a backing group with rock alt qualities that leads me to conclude that what you really want is all this other stuff over here which is more musical in nature because I provide you with tunes, tunes, tunes you stupid red neck moron and don't even try to get to Adam Sandler because that guy sucks my big left toe...."

I tried putting together a station with a variety of chosen musical comedy acts, but the more I added, the more twisted the other songs would get.  I ended up hearing Johnny Cash for god's sake... the Man in Black himself!!... whom I love, just not on my comedy station so much (unless it's a live version of "A Boy Named Sue", naturally).  Nothing I did worked, and what DID work ended up repeating the same 20 or 30 songs over and over again, still mixing them in with the occasional non-comedy tunage.

So... Pandora has failed.  I have now found Last.FM, which can handle the concept of "comedy" with much greater alacrity and aplomb (it's two dollar A word day at K-Mart, so I picked up a few).  My first attempt at a Stephen Lynch station pulled up tons of similar comedy acts, and none of the musical crap I want to avoid at this point.  Hopefully it will stream well in my car from the iPhone as I drive home. 

Sorry Pandora.  I'll send you a text message breaking it off later, right now I got me some Adam Sandler to listen to.  That dude rocks! 

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