Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Friday, October 8, 2010

Punkin' Pandora


So earlier in the week I decided to see if I couldn't create a Halloween-themed station on Pandora. I knew that this would be a challenge, given that Pandora creates playlists based on musical - not thematic - similarities between the songs that you initially select. But I wanted to give it a try, if nothing else as an every fifteen-minute brain-stretching exercise - a palate cleanser, if you will, whilst I drafted restrictive covenants for an industrial park. (Yeah, that's as exciting as it sounds, people.)

I loaded an initial playlist including Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You," Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London," "Devil Went Down to Georgia" and "Abracadabra." Oh, and Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Can't have a Halloween playlist without that. Pandora bit on MJ and played "I Want You Back." Great tune but, um, no. I let it play, but I did not give it a thumbs up.

Then I loaded more content:

"Witchcraft" - Frank Sinatra
"Weird Science" - Oingo Boingo
"Tubular Bells" (AKA "The Creepy Music from The Exorcist") - Mike Oldfield
"The Time Warp" - Cast of Rocky Horror
"Somebody's Watching Me" - Rockwell
"Monster Mash" - Bobby "Boris" Pickett
"I Want Candy" - Bow Wow Wow

Pandora responded with "Sweet Home Alabama" - not the Lynyrd Skynyrd version, but something off of a compilation CD by The Hit Crew. I guess because "Monster Mash" no doubt appears on a Hit Crew seasonal CD? Yeah, okay, so points for logic, Pandora, but I gotta ding it.

I added more suggestions:

"Freaks Come Out at Night" - Whodini
"Ghostbusters" - Ray Parker, Jr.
"Every Day is Halloween" - Ministry
"Dead Man's Party" - Oingo Boingo
"Devil in My Car" - B52s
"The Munsters Theme" - Los Straightjackets
"Sympathy for the Devil" - The Rolling Stones

Pandora panicked - and defaulted back to MJ. "Wanna Be Startin' Something" - again, good tune, so I'll let it play, but we're definitely still off-topic. At this point, Pandora must have sighed a computer-generated sigh and said, "Aha, notwithstanding the weird s*&^ she's been throwing at me, she really just wants me to default to her standard R&B." Hence Selections 4 and 5, "September" by Earth Wind and Fire and "Brick House" by "The Commodores." I let these two pitches sail by as well, while I loaded still more "variety" onto my station:

"Psycho Killer" - Talking Heads
"Purple People Eater" - Sheb Wooley
"Red Right Hand" - Nick Cave
"Spiderwebs" - No Doubt
"Witchy Woman" - Eagles
"Devil with the Blue Dress" - Mitch Ryder
"Vampira" - The Misfits

Pandora panicked again - and Rickrolled me. Yup, "Never Gonna Give You Up," Rick Astley. A song that evokes memories of laying out on the beach with half of my high school drill team - but those are not scary memories, given that we were seventeen, danced upwards of twenty hours per week and really rocked the swimwear back then. (Now if I think back to how I looked in a swimsuit THIS PAST SUMMER, the hairs start to prickle on the back of my neck . . . .)

Selections 6 and 7 were pretty easily explainable - "Luck Be a Lady" (because I'd tagged Sinatra) and "Time Warp" (because it was actually on my list). Then came Selection 8: "Little Red Riding Hood" by Sam the Sham. It kind of has a sinister sound to it, so I thought, hmmmmmm, we may be on to something.

Selection 9: "The Monster" by Bobby Please. Hope is dawning.

Selection 10: "Devil in Disguise" by Elvis Presley. Bingo.

My elation was short-lived, as Pandora quickly backslid into non-spooky musical territory. But the experiment was worth the time and trouble (total elapsed time - forty two minutes), for the following reasons:

1. I brainstormed quite a good Halloween playlist. Actually, not sure if that's a good thing or not, because now I am fighting the urge to drop a booty load of cash on iTunes downloads. I also think I torpedoed my own experiment by suggesting EVERY POSSIBLE SONG IN THE GENRE, leaving Pandora with very little room for growth.

2. But apparently, I left room for a little bit of growth, because over the next few hours of radio listening Pandora - randomly or not - added a few clever suggestions to my growing playlist ("Mama Told Me Not to Come, No Doubt's "Six Feet Under").

Here are some other selections to spookify your October:

"The Mummy" - Bob McFadden
"Hell" - Squirrel Nut Zippers
"The Boogie Monster" - Gnarls Barkley
"People Are Strange" - The Doors
"Bark at the Moon" - Ozzy Osbourne
"Black Cat" - Janet Jackson
"Candy Everyone Wants" - 10,000 Maniacs
"Runnin' With the Devil" - Van Halen
"Spirits in the Material World" - The Police
"Helter Skelter" - The Beatles
"Devil's Haircut" - Beck
"Evil Woman" - ELO
"Dead Pumpkins" - Insane Clown Posse

I'll end this post on Insane Clown Posse, I think . . . .

1 comment:

Chic Wino said...

I had a boyfriend in high school that loved ICP, I have lots of song lyrics in my head now however I may have to google that one to refresh. I am disturbed to find that Pandora you know the box full of evils, would actually be really putting you through this evil unjustice by making you do all the work, but the site is calle PANDORA.... so it a cliche.