Day 249: A Letter to Pandora

Dear Pandora,

You took the idea of the human genome project and applied it to music, right? Songs have a certain genetic code that allows you to group them together in various ways based on their attributes. Say I put in “Manic Monday” by The Bangles. Your algorithm will search the DNA of all the songs ever recorded, find the other ones annoying enough to fuel a genocidal dictator, and create a radio station containing just those songs. Then if you play “Everybody Wang Chung Tonight” by Wang Chung on that station, and I click the thumbs down icon, you’ll adjust your math so it doesn’t play any more songs by bands with fans who drive Fieros and carry nunchucks. That’s the basic idea, right?

If you’ve got this amazing scientific approach to predicting the songs I might like, start having some confidence about it. When I click that thumbs down icon and you say “Sorry, we will NEVER play that song again,” it feels too final. Are you really going to give up that easily? You’re the expert here, so act like it. Just because I don’t want to hear “Heaven” by Bryan Adams right now, doesn’t mean I NEVER want to hear it again. It’s not like that song gave me food poisoning or something. I love that song, so keep it in mind and throw it at me again in a couple weeks. I gave it a thumbs down because it’s just too much to take, given that I’m already crying about my lost youth. When I’m in a better place emotionally, I’m totally down for hearing it. How will you know when I’m ready? I’ll give a thumbs up to “Every Rose has It’s Thorn.” When that happens, toss Heaven back into the mix, and I think you’ll be happy with my reaction.

Also, you should know that most of the time I just leave you on in the background and forget to give you the constant feedback and attention you desire. So when you stop playing and ask me, “Are you still listening?” it makes you seem like an insecure college girl trying to convince her American History professor to let her write a term paper on Sex and The City. Relax, Pandora, even when I’m not actively listening, I can still hear you. No need to get all high school girlfriend on me, ok? I listen with my ears, not my eyes, or in your case, my curser.

The more I use you, the more I realize that maybe your insecurity is justified. Here are some of the gigantic mistakes made by your algorithm over the past couple of weeks. For your reference, I’ve included links to some of the lesser known artists.

My Station: “Dreams” by Van Halen.
You played: “Keep your hands to yourself” by The Georgia Satellites.
Why you were wrong: What do overly emotional midwesterners who can’t let go of their youth have in common with people who swallow their chewing tobacco and don’t bother to put on shoes while they mourn the death of the Confederacy? Nothing. That’s my point. Cut the shit.

My Station: “One” by Metallica
You played: “Honestly” by Stryper
Why you were wrong: Metallica fans aren’t Christian (I hope). Do you have Stryper adequately marked as “Christian Metal?” The only people who want to hear that already have a Stryper station. It’s impossible for someone who likes a band that basically invented modern metal to also enjoy a bunch of church goers dressed as bumble bees.

My Station: ” Dr. Feelgood” by Motley Crue
You played: “Kiss Me Deadly” by Lita Ford
Why you were wrong: I get it. This kind of makes sense, and it’s a typical mistake made by computers because they lack certain nuances. You think because I like Dr. Feelgood that I must also like any other artist from the 80’s that slept in the bathroom at the Whiskey a Go Go. Well, that’s generally true, but you’ve ignored the important variable of gender. I love listening to music made by MALE drug addicted degenerates. I can’t believe you don’t have the sex of the artist in your fancy equation. If you thought Lita Ford was a dude (not a crazy error to make), then I forgive you for this mistake. It was a confusing time for all of us. By the way, you could have gotten by with Lita Ford on this station had it been her duet with Ozzy.

Also, you appear to play copious amounts of Def Leppard regardless of the station. Maybe you should take a look at that. Is it a virus or something?

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

19 comments On Day 249: A Letter to Pandora

  • I try to be Zen with Pandora. I really do. But if I have one more shit fest song played, followed by another shit fest song, I may just take my anger out in an inappropriate way. Inevitably, I pull up a song I like, and then I hear 5 more songs, of which 3 I hate, 1 I'm indifferent to, 1 I sorta like.

    Instead, I just use playlist and add the damn songs I want to hear, without having to be dragged through 9 pits of Pandora hell.

  • Took me four nights to read all your blog entries, but I am now current. Thank you for making me laugh repeatedly!

  • I have a love/hate relationship with Pandora. I'm happy that they made me realize how overly christian Dave Matthews is… it totally ruined everything Dave ever did for me.

    • I have an irrational fear of giving the wrong 'thumbs up' or 'thumbs down' due to an unfortunate Michelle Branch incident that I'm not too proud of. I call the condition of being stingy with your responses "Pandora Nervosa" I'm pretty sure rehab centers around the nation will begin diagnosis very soon.

  • Have you read Fargo Rock City by Chuck Klosterman? Whenever a metal fan discusses the "finer points" of metal distinction and other types of hard rock, I think of this book and recommend it. It was written pre-Pandora, so you'd think they could get the genome figured out if they'd read it too.

  • Love it! I listen to Pandora a lot too and wonder why they throw some weird stuff in my Metallica station! I love how they describe the songs so scientifically.

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