Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Oddities of Pandora

I love Pandora. It's a site that allows you to build your own stations by starting with an artist or song you like. It then plays music similar to them and you can rate it with a thumbs down if you don't like it or a thumbs up if you do. This is great for tweaking a radio station for any genre of music or any mood.

Still, Pandora occasionally plays some odd songs. I've got a station I've dubbed Epic Metal which as the name suggests is for epic sounding heavy metal (mostly power and symphonic), think Nightwish, Edguy, Blind Guardian, Iced Earth, Symphony X, and Rhapsody of Fire. This stuff is mostly over the top with songs about adventures, fantastic quests, and so on. Cheesy, yes, but I love it.

So, imagine my surprise the other day when I'm listening to this station on my phone while I'm driving and this song comes on.

What the hell? I thought. There's nothing metal about that.I had to double-check the station to make sure it hadn't been changed on me somehow. It hadn't. The Pandora algorithm somehow thought this New Age soft song used on Pure Moods was an appropriate fit for my station of over the top metal (\m/). If I had been at my computer I would have clicked the "Why was this song chosen?" button, but that's not an option on the phone version. If I had to guess, I would say that it was chosen due to the orchestral elements which many songs on my station have as well as the strong vocal aesthetic which again is a common element of the songs on Epic Metal.

But it certainly was an odd selection and not the first time it's happened to me.

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