Praising Pandora

I'm getting ready to tackle organization of my class materials, which have been in an unruly pile in the study for over a year.  For that, I need motivation -- music I like listening to.  I could put iTunes on shuffle, but shuffle favors Rob's taste (David Bowie, Talking Heads, and some that are too awful to even mention here.  Okay, I'm being unfair.  Much of what he likes, I like too.)

I could also create a playlist, but there are too many rules for that, and it would just be another way to put off the task at hand (kind of like blogging about it, I guess.)  So, I'm going to Pandora instead.

Pandora is pretty much the most amazing thing to come along since Al Gore invented the Internet.  Basically, a group of scientist-musician hybrid beings has mapped music "genomes" the way we can map the genomes of organisms.  If, for instance, your favorite song is the Beatles "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," you favor music with the following characteristics:

  • rock and roll influences

  • intricate melodic phrasing

  • paired vocal harmony

  • a vocal-centric aesthetic

  • major key tonality

  • melodic songwriting

  • electric rhythm guitars

  • a dynamic male vocalist

  • romantic lyrics

So if you plug that song in, your new "channel" will play only music with those characteristics -- including "You're Gonna Loose That Girl" by the Crying Shames, and "Sherry" by the Four Seasons. And if you add in another "seed song" that you know you like, your choices get more diverse and interesting.  Eventually, you end up listening to artists you never realized were making music you liked.

And it's all free, no advertising, just a smooth interface that's fun and easy to use.  I even play it during exams when my students want some background music; I seed the channel with Hadyn to energize them and Schubert to keep the stress level low.

Try it and let me know what you think!

Update, 2 hours later: procrastination has to be the biggest lie of all time.  I can't believe I put that job off for more than a year -- it turned out to take just a couple of hours, during which time I 1) came up with a much better system for organizing all my papers and handouts, and 2) discovered about a dozen instances of my having repeated the same job because I was too disorganized to realize I had already done it.  D'oh!  I hereby vow to never let it get that bad again.