The music mystery

Pandora finds connections in the strangest places

One question: How the hell do you get Barenaked Ladies out of the Velvet Underground? No, it’s not a bad joke. I entered “The Murder Mystery” from the Velvet’s third record and Pandora managed to create a playlist that included the one-time VH1darlings’ song “It’s All Been Done,” because it featured “electric rock instrumentation, major key tonality, electric rhythm guitars and many other similarities identified in The Music Genome Project.” A little kooky. Of course, it would seem near impossible to make a songlist from such a disjointed piece of work, but Pandora redeemed itself by lining up two songs by 13th Floor Elevators, “And Your Bird Can Sing” by The Beatles and even a couple from V.U. themselves.

I’ve played with Pandora before. And some of the results have been mixed. But so what? For the most part it’s been pretty close.

My first entry on a recent trip to Pandora was—surprise, surprise—Old 97’s, and the results were pretty dead-on. The first song it spit out was the 97’s “Ray Charles,” followed by “Tremolo Blooz” by the Presidents of the United States of America. From there I got “Tulsa County” by Son Volt, “Ramblin’ ” by Lee Rocker and “Blinding Sheets of Rain” by, well, Old 97’s.

Not bad.

If anything, the site might just turn you on to some new music. I had to give Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile” a try. Pandora shot me songs I had never heard of—most notably “Welcome to Your Doom” by Virginia’s Forensics and “I Want I Want” by The Letters Organize.

Like I said, the site isn’t perfect, but it’s fun to see what song will come up next. If you’re not keen on a certain track, you can always skip it. Keep in mind that due to the site’s music licensing, listeners are only allowed so many track skips in an hour, which kinda sucks.

Funny story: A Chico State professor recently told me that he showed Pandora to one of his classes. When he entered The Doors, Pandora went to work, explaining: “Based on the information you have given us you like a strong male singer with a prominent organ.” Now that’s accurate.