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Hating Pandora Today, Loving It Tomorrow

image from www.technology.am I hate you. I've had an iPod Touch now for several months. The experience is astoundingly unlike my former iPod. Years ago, blinded by choice, I may have listened to the same artists and songs more than I realized, but back then, I still made real decisions.

Sometimes while sitting. Sometimes while driving.

Always spinning my fingers around the scroll wheel, attempting to discern what song I would most enjoy next. Upon downloading Pandora to my Touch, I've mostly relied upon it to choose music for me. You could argue that the breadth of music that they play makes up for my failure to choose my own music.

At least, rather than staying within the comfort zone of my own collection, it slowly pushes the boundaries of my musical taste and expose me to new artists.

Then again, you could also say that by relying so firmly on the selections of algorithms, I've actually narrowed my taste more than I've expanded it. How many stations do I actually fall back on? It's not like there's several vastly different stations that I listen to. In each session, there's probably three to four that I tune back into after having journeyed elsewhere and growing dissatisfied. The more "Thumbs Up" and "Down" I give out, the more I paint myself into a corner where the walls are always white and the music is pleasing. But why is an experience so gratifying feel so empty? The new station that I created played the exact songs that it should've, in the correct order, and that's why I hate it vehemently.

Sometimes, Pandora feels smug. And I want to punch it in the face. Yes, I perfectly understand that the sequence of songs that you played has been specifically tailored to my personal taste and that according to the last five "Thumbs Up" that I've given, I should love this song, but instead, I loathe it.

I've created stations that all start playing the same songs and suddenly, I actually have to check if I've mistakenly swiped my thumb across the wrong station.

Sadly no.

Incubus "Drive" is playing on this station and since, in researching this article, I used up all my skips – I'm stuck with it. Yes, I suppose that this song does have pop rock qualities, hip-hop influences, and a subtle use of vocal harmony, but that's exactly why I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear, because you've tried to play it, several times – against my best wishes – on my other stations too.

Maybe I even gave that near eleven-year-old, washed up, MTV ridden single a thumbs up in the past, in some moment of weak and wistful fondness, in some hope that I could be carried back to the year 2000, for a moment, but not today.

Today, there will be no Incubus played on my stations. Got it?

Sighs. Maybe we should just be friends. The last few songs have been pretty good and I forgive you now. I had to kill Blink-182 and the Gorillaz, which were also strangely from the same time period, but we're good now. Like many, I'm a skeptic. If something or someone is too perfect, then something must be wrong.

And I think, that's why Pandora is hard to handle sometimes.

Nailing four perfect songs in a row can both be a blessing and a burden. Often, that's exactly what we need to start our day. A seemingly flawless and air-drum worthy playlist of awesome. Other times, that perfection makes us unhappy and suspicious. If Pandora plays one more perfect song, my kitchen will start on fire. My laptop won't start. I'm out of milk. And the world will come crashing down.

A wonderful morning becomes a horrible afternoon. Every day, I have this inner struggle. I hate Pandora today. So, so much. But I know I'll love it tomorrow.

If Brandon Boyd quits stalking me.


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