03 January 2009

For a Genius, you're not very smart.

When Apple first came out with Genius for iTunes, I didn't bother downloading it. I wasn't updating my iTunes ever, as it was generally a pain in the ass and I didn't want most of what they were offering. However, with the new computer, I downloaded the newest version of iTunes (dammit), so I kind of had to have it. The Prison Librarian seemed to like it, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

I am not impressed.

It works kind of like Pandora -- you pick a song and it builds a playlist around that song. Unlike Pandora, however, you can't really tweak it. Or if you can, I haven't figured out how to do that. All I've done is delete songs and refresh, which puts shit back on that I'd deleted. Um, NO. With Pandora, you can rate songs or suggest songs or tell them not to play this certain song for a while or just flat-out say, "Hell 2 da naw!" to a song. And I did that a lot with Pandora. I also had to say "don't play this song for a month" very often. I mean, you have this enormous music database and I'm hearing songs twice in an eight-hour period and several times over the course of a week? FAIL.

Genius seems to play only songs in the same genre. I tried Elbow's "The Bones of You," and the resulting playlist is 80 percent Brit pop. Oh, and Kings of Leon, who are fucking huge in the UK. Start one with a little "Rehab" from Amy Winehouse? Nothing but R&B.

There seem to be plenty of songs they don't have in their database. Nothing comes up with Brendan Canning's "Hit the Wall." Same with Tilly & the Wall's "Blood Flowers." And I've updated a couple of times. I can get Gomez's "How We Operate" to generate a playlist, but if I choose "Meet Me in the City?" No fucking dice, sister.

It works okay for something like Broken Social Scene, what with their Stars, Apostle of Hustle, Feist, Amy Millan, Emily Haines and other connections. Well, it would work great if Brendan Canning came up. I mean, the album title says, "Broken Social Scene Presents ..." for fuck's sake. And I like a lot of Canadian bands, so I guess it's good that Arcade Fire and The Stills make it onto the Broken Social Scene playlist.

I suppose it's fine if you're totally lazy, but I don't want one single genre or all similar artists in a playlist. I am almost always looking for a very odd mix when I make a playlist. And I know what I'm doing. People tend to like my mixes. Macho Man is insanely jealous of my playlist-making abilities. So fuck off, Apple. You don't know me!


Daddy Geek Boy said...

Isn't the whole thing with Genius that it takes other tracks from your iTunes and pairs them up with what you're listening to? I don't think it goes and gets new music.

I haven't played around with it much, because I prefer to make my own playlists or just let shuffle have it's way with me. But sometimes it's fun to mix it up and get surprised with a song I haven't heard in a while.

Jess said...

Oh yeah, I didn't mean to imply that it would go out and get me new songs like Pandora does. Though, maybe that's the function of that sidebar thing I closed immediately?

It still just throws in shit from the same genre in my own iTunes. Dammit. I want to hear Amy Winehouse with Elbow and Broken Social Scene. And would it kill you to throw in a little Marty Robbins or Dolly Parton or Outkast with all that?

This is why I make my own playlists.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Leave it to fate and use shuffle. I find that more often then not, iTunes knows what kind of music I want to listen to even if I'm not aware of it.

Jess said...

See, I'm crazy picky and full-on shuffle is often just a bit too much. Sure, I want to listen to a bunch of different stuff, but maybe not that aria from The Marriage of Figaro, or something from The Irish Rovers, or a selection from Low's Christmas album in July.

I'm also crazy because I have something against skipping. Obviously, I'm totally high maintenance in this instance and I just have to take matters into my own hands. And that's okay.

jana said...

genius is indeed for those who are lazy. like me, when, for example, i am studying and cannot come up with more than 1 song i feel like listening to and need background noise that does not do the dread shuffle thing and leave me listening to the overture from "jesus christ superstar" right next to brother ali.

that said, homemade mixes will always be superior.

Jess said...

I'm really itching to make an honest-to-goodness playlist on the new iTunes on the new computer. But I've not had a couple of free hours in which to do it, so Genius is having to suffice for now.

Maybe I'll eventually figure out how to outsmart it ... but I doubt it.