UncleLar’s Mundane Website of the Week…

from here on out known as mWow.

Since things have been a little slow here, I thought I’d start something new to keep folk entertained. With the free time that I have on my hands I regularly stumble across interesting websites on the net, so I thought I’d start sharing them with you. Some of them you may have heard of, many of them I will guarantee that you never have, and I’ve no doubt that some of them you will wish you never had, but I hope at least a few of them you find enjoyable.

The only criteria that I’m am going to put on the selections is that they will all be something that I found quite intriguing. One week I might turn you onto something that is immensely practical, the next week you could get something totally absurd, it’s all going to depend on the mood I’m in.

The honor of the first UncleLar’s mWow goes to Pandora. Pandora is the result of the Music Genome Project, which is an effort to break music down into it’s “genes” or essential elements. The creators have analyzed over 300,000 songs and 10,000 artists and broken them down into over 400 different attributes such as tempo, rhythm, harmonies, lyrics, etc.

Now, I can already hear you saying “so what?” Here’s where the fun begins.

You simply give Pandora the name of a favorite artist or a favorite song of yours. Pandora creates a personal “radio station” based on that artist or song and begins playing music based on your choice. That’s it (well almost, after about 5 songs it asks that you register with the site).

What blew my mind was how right on Pandora’s selections seemed. Not from the perspective that the songs sounded like my pick but how much I enjoyed them.
In addition to playing songs that I’ve always liked and enjoyed, Pandora regularly picks out an artist or song that I’ve never heard of, or never would have considered listening to, and plugs it into my mix – and I pretty much like all of them. It’s infinitely better than listening to your same old collection of songs (Gary – not all of us have a music collection as extensive as yours).

Here’s a little example of what Pandora can do. I picked one of Gary’s favorites (and one he turned me onto) and created a Marcia Ball radio station. Here’s what Pandora played for me.

“How I wish” by Keith Richards
“Quicksand” by Tracy Nelson
“So Many Rivers to Cross” by Marcia Ball
“Wonder” by Natalie Merchant (from Tiger Lily an album I own)
“Living Proof” by Cat Power (who? never heard of them but liked the song)
“Quicksand” by Tracy Nelson
“That’s Enough of That Stuff” by Marcia Ball

When I put in what I considered one of the greatest Rock and Roll songs ever “Gloria” by Van Morrison I got:

“I Want Your Love” by the Pretty Things (who?)
“Boom Boom” by The Animals (kind of freaky since one version of Gloria that Van Morrison does has John Lee Hooker singing “Boom Boom” in accompanyment with Van)
“My Way of Giving” by Rod Stewart
“Too Many Fish in the Sea” by the Young Rascals (always liked the Rascals)
“Mickey’s Monkey/Love Things” by the Rascals again
“I’m Down” by Aerosmith
“Honey Are You Straight or Are You Blind” by Elvis Costello
“Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” by AC/DC
“Wrap It Up” by the Fabulous Thunderbirds (an much underrated group in my mind)

You get the idea, now try it out yourself.

UncleLar’s mWow #1: Pandora