Pandora sucks

I have been on quite the positive roll lately, in my humble opinion, with some really good posts about online dating and movie reviews, most of which I am very happy with.  However, today I feel the need to purge myself of some negative energy and so turn to my blog for the purpose that blogs were originally conceived; an old fashioned nerd rant.  I figured I could get into my like/hate relationship with Pandora.

I, like most reasonably up to date (I refuse to use the word hip) adults listen to Pandora for music on my computer or iPhone.  For those of you not familiar with it, Pandora is a free internet radio that allows you to pick genres of music and then either thumbs up and thumbs down on specific songs, theoretically giving you the ability to only listen to the music you want to.

“Wait a minute, Dave!” I can hear you saying.  “If it’s a free service how can you then justify bitching about it?  Isn’t that kind of ungrateful?” Well, yes it would be if Pandora were truly free.  It is, however,  actually a commercial endeavor in the most literal sense possible as they literally play commercials like old fashioned radio.  Not only that, but they don’t play a variety of commercials.  That would prevent them from driving their sponsors message into your brain like a railroad spike made of frozen nitrogen.  Instead, what they do is get a single commercial and play it OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN.  It is enough to make you want to throw whatever poor device is broadcasting it into the nearest sewer.  Therefore, since I am paying them for the service in brain cells I feel I have the right to point out their major flaws.

It’s not the repetitive commercials that has my boxers in a bunch.  I run a commercial web site and understand the needs of everyone to get paid.  What is rubbing me like a sandpaper bicycle seat is the algorithm they use to select the music they subject you to.

You see, you start a station by seeding it with a few of your favorite bands.  They then play those bands and other bands they feel you would like, kind of like how Amazon tells you stuff like “People who bought Sarah Palin’s book also enjoyed See Spot Run.”  Sounds good in theory, and upon occasion they manage to come up with a new band or song that I quite enjoy.

The thing is, if any of you have read more than a few of my blogs you should have realized by now that I am a contrarian (yes, that is a legitimate word and correctly spelled.  Microsoft, you also suck) by nature and tend to respond negatively to most forms of peer pressure to the point that if someone said to me “Dave, the ship is sinking!  Get on the lifeboat!  Everyone else is doing it!” I would lay even odds on my going off to try to find my own flotation device.  My musical tastes are pretty varied and tend to be more about what I don’t like than what I do, although if I had to pick a genre or two it would probably be old school or harmonic punk rock.

Therefore, I never developed a taste for “classic” rock.  Led Zeppelin sucks in my opinion, as do all their contemporaries (with the exception of a few songs by the Rolling Stones.   Paint it Black, for example).  Yet somehow Pandora has decided it is patently impossible for someone to not love Zeppelin and insists on playing it for me all the freaking time in spite of the fact that I have given it nothing but thumbs down.  Not just Led Zeppelin, but all the classic contemporaries like Pink Floyd (acid tripping losers), the Who(?), the Beatles (ever want to watch someone have an apoplectic fit?  Find a Beatles fan, look him straight in the eye, and say “The Beatles ruined rock and roll.” Not necessarily true, but always funny), the Eagles (did these guys ever have a point?), the Grateful Dead (peace, love, and smoking tons of pot), AC/DC (about as heavy as aluminum IMO), Van Halen (the Frankenstein monster of rock), the Doors (I’ve read Doors of Perception.  It sucks), Def Leoppard (oonder gleepin gloopin gropen), ZZ Top (beards!), and any number of other bands who should have never made it out of the 80’s.  I think the mistake I made was once expressing an interest in Tom Petty, who I find a great singer and has amazing lyrics.  Petty has  turned out to be patient zero for infecting my Pandora station.

The thing that really gets me is the fact that in spite of my giving them thumbs down over and over again they still keep trying.  “Hmm.  Dave has given a thumbs down on the last 18 Led Zeppelin songs we have played for him.  But you know what?  I think this 19th song, Good Times/Bad Times Live at the Hollywood Bowl, will remind him that all humans are genetically predisposed to loving this band.  It is significantly different from the studio version of Good Times/Bad Times we played for him two hours ago.” If it were me in charge, if someone gave a thumbs down on three songs by a particular band in a row, that band would be deleted from his play list in it’s entirety.

The final straw on this rant is the fact that Pandora likes to run songs in sets.  This is normally cool in that if they play a Bad Religion song for me odds are the next three or four songs will be Rancid or something similar.  The problem is they get into a classic rock set for me and once I do thumbs down on AC/DC, Def Leoppard, CCR, Buffalo Springfield, and Deep Purple all of a sudden you hit the limit of the number of songs you can skip (according to their licensing agreement.  Can anyone explain how that works?) and you are forced to listen to the Eagles Hotel California.  Either that or turn it off and write a bitch blog post about it.

Yes, I know I could just create a new station but really, that isn’t the point.  I shouldn’t have to deal with this and if they had applied a little more thought to their service the issue would be more or less self correcting.  I still use Pandora and am happy about 80% of the time.  However, that is at best a B- and if I could find a better graded service I would do it.

Anyway, sorry about the complete self indulgence of this post.  I actually feel a lot better all of a sudden.  I should have started a blog years ago.

Yesterdays post asked what would happen if Tyler Durden’s fantasy fight with Abraham Lincoln were to become a reality (understanding that the entire conversation took place in the movie Fight Club, another fantasy).  I think Tyler had a lot more fighting experience and tolerance for pain.  However, I believe Abe Lincoln was one of those never-say-die guys.  Therefore I am going to go with Lincoln on this one, but it would be long, drawn out, and bloody.  (Lincoln image courtesy of the funny political t shirts)

Since I indulged myself with my rant today I will continue to indulge myself with my who-would-win question.  This one is less about an actual fight and more about wanting to see a character I dislike intensely get gutted.  Who would win, Riker from Next Generation versus Giger’s Alien (no phaser)?


25 Comments

  • diamond July 29, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    I put in josef k, durutti column, aztec camera, wim mertens, joy division and new order and f—ing pandora played the rolling stones. they’re idiots. Now it’s playing elvis costello!?!?!

  • Sean August 30, 2011 at 2:06 am

    Their algorithm is really bad. One thing that bothers me is that if I like one song by a particular artist, they’ll continue to play that artist over and over again despite me rating every one of those songs thumbs down. So if I like one Aerosmith song and have a thumbs down on 50 others, they’ll still continue to punch up new Aerosmith songs. You would think they would program it in a way so that if you vote down 95% of a band’s songs, they shouldn’t keep force feeding you that crap and just stick to the one song.

  • Dave August 30, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I totally see what you mean. I thumbed up on one Ministry and one NIN song. The thing is both of those bands are known for changing their music style dramatically from one to the other. Honestly most of the rest of those bands gives me a headache, but I get subjected to several a day. Lame.

  • Spencer September 4, 2011 at 9:29 am

    I wish you could have a station that only played one artist.
    I start a station about Bruce Springsteen. Just Bruce Springsteen. It plays Born to Run, which is a decent if predictable song choice. Then it plays John Mellencamp’s Small Town. I want to hear Bruce, not artists who sound like Bruce. !@&$ you.

  • Jim October 11, 2011 at 9:28 am

    I have a variety of stations for background music when I’m working, and every single one of them has the same issues.

    I make distinctions between classical music and stand-up comedy, between church hymns and jazz, between traditional English folk music and Puccini. Pandora does not.

    I also consistently hate how Pandora lumps things thematically. Not only do I resent burning through my skips on telling Pandora that I don’t like club music, I also don’t care to have my “rock” station swinging between Lilith Fair and Sausage Fest.

  • Dave October 11, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I was worried when I wrote this that I was alone in my dislike of Pandora and would look like some kind of nut, but I’m glad to hear other people have the same issues. Thanks for reading my rant.

    Dave

  • Philip October 30, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    I started an Arctic Monkeys station, and from the last 25 songs only 2 were Arctic monkeys. I’ll never use Pandora again.

  • Spooks November 9, 2011 at 6:51 am

    Pandora sucks pretty bad. Overall good post, however it could have done without all the classic rock bashing(You’re so lucky that you didn’t touch Queen).

    I hate that I have to thumbs down fifty System of a Down songs in a row in my MSI channel.

  • Spooks November 9, 2011 at 6:55 am

    The new Pandora is crap. When the update was first released, I had to log in EVERY time because apparently it’s too hard to program cookies to work correctly. Then they had the nerve to imply that it was my fault when I sent them an email about it. Even though I had the same problem on two different computers, and it started happening on both at the same time.

    Well now I don’t have that problem anymore, but I’ve lost the ability to switch between channels because half their buttons don’t work anymore. Great service, Pandora.

  • Dave November 9, 2011 at 8:51 am

    I actually kind of like Queen. Not really sure why. I don’t hate all classic rock. I just had a lot of that stuff shoved down my throat back in the day.

  • Lukeboy January 30, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Pandora does indeed suck, however anyone who thinks the same of zeppelin has no credibility at all……:)

  • Dave January 30, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Well, I don’t know if it is Zepplin I really have a problem with or all the guys I grew up with constantly telling how I was an idiot for not being a rabid fan ;)

    At least we agree about Pandora.

  • bringer February 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Pandora is a fascist piece of dog anus. It tells you what you will listen to. If I could find it’s tiny balls I would deliver them a swift and diligent punt…with a 12 gauge.

  • Andy March 9, 2012 at 10:59 am

    I’ve been hating on Pandora for over a year since someone “liked” Jack Johnson on one of my stations. Now Jack Johnson seems to play all the time on any station I play. %$#* Jack Johnson and %$#* him hard! Pandora has forced me to irrationally hate on Jack Johnson.

    I’ve been using Slacker on my new phone and I like it quite a bit. Who knows though, it’s probably only a matter of time before it pisses me off as well. For now, it’s awesome! Never again Pandora, never again!

    My apologies to anyone that likes Jack Johnson; your taste sucks as much as his music. :P (joke)

  • Anne April 26, 2012 at 11:58 am

    I have the same issue with Pandora. Also the original artist I put in amazingly comes up once in a blue moon, pisses me off. If I said I like a particular artist I want to hear more of them, not less.

  • Dave April 27, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Yeah, I have been listening to it again and am getting frustrated all over. How do I remove an artist entirely?

  • pizzagirl April 28, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    pandora sucks cuz it’s not live. there is no human interaction. pandora is robot radio. college radio is real radio. the radio flag app on the other hand lets you connect with live radio DJs while they’re on air. check it out http://www.radioflag.com

  • Aldous May 13, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Yeah, Pandora sucks. Totally agree. Now, stop reading about mescaline trips and go have one you f****** square.

  • Dave May 13, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Fair enough, although my personal taste in music makes most of this look pretty bland.

  • athleticmilf May 21, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Effing Cold Play..no matter what station I create, just like you I thumb it the fuck down! Then? John Mayer. I am on Trams Am station. It’s electric funk!! F * * *!

    Help. I need a replacement, and I need Tonya Harding to call me.
    AM

  • athleticmilf May 21, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Zepplin has it’s time and place, but not during my Cure station.

  • Mike June 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    The fact that they limit the number of tracks you can skip or vote down strikes me as counter productive to their business. They force you to listen to songs you don’t like…why? I just muted the output. It seems that they would get more information if they allowed you to skip songs you didn’t like. I tried Pandora for an afternoon, and will not use it again.

  • Pandora Sucks August 22, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Preach on! Although, I do like Zep. Regardless, Pandora blows. So does Slacker. My rational, in my workplace, my “coworkers” play the same few stations over and over and over and over. It is my personal hell hearing the same music day in and out. Weezer sucked in the 90s, thank god almighty I get to hear “Say it ain’t so” every day.

  • Ron October 20, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    I’m not sure where I fit in. Generally I was pretty happy with Pandora. Yes, the constant re-airing of the same commercials over and over is enough to drive anyone mad. And yes they often mis-guess what I might like to listen to. But all in all I was happy. Hell I even found a few songs I’d never heard before that I liked and thumbed up.

    In fact I was so happy with Pandora that I created my own station, spent countless hours over the past few months custom grooming it with just the songs I like, and then sending out an invitation to listen to all my friends.

    And all was good. Until today.

    Today I log in, try to seed a song and I get an error saying I don’t have permission to add a song to this station. Uh what? It’s the station I created, hell it’s even got my name in it…

    So I write to pandora and the response I get is sorry bout that. Our engineers have decided that you shouldn’t be able to add songs to your playlist because it was originally a Pandora playlist that you renamed. WTF??

    Right-click any playlist and you have the option to rename it. Nothing tells you that at some random point in the future, after you’ve spent maybe a hundred or so hours customizing your new station, that you will no longer be able to add or edit the song list.

    What a bunch of sh&t Pandora!!!

  • Dave October 21, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Ouch. Haven’t seen that yet myself, but I am sure I will soon. Did they revert your station back to their original set up?

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