Cultureguru's Weblog

Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy

Songza: Playlists by music experts

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Songza is yet another streaming Internet radio station. I’ve been trying it out, and quickly discovered it had two advantages over Last.fm:

  • It’s free (not just for the first month).
  • Its app works on cell phones and tablets. Even in Canada. (Course, with the cost of Canadian data plans, one can hardly afford to use it too much, but that’s not Songza’s fault.)

What it doesn’t have, of course, is Last.fm’s “scrobbler” history of what you’ve listened to in the past. But it’s pretty intelligent at getting you started. Right now, for example, it points out that it’s Sunday night, and so you might be looking for music for:

  • Studying
  • Unwinding
  • Bedtime (is that for seniors? It’s 9 pm!)
  • St Patrick’s Day

But if you don’t want to be so led by the nose, you can click into Popular or All Categories to uncover a dizzying range of possibilities.

One thing that does annoy me somewhat is that having picked something, you then have to make more choices, and more choices. Like, OK, you decide Unwinding is what you want. Next choice is:

  • Easy Listening Pop
  • Haunting and Beautiful
  • Golden Oldies
  • Classic Rock Nights
  • Sophisticated Art Pop

And if you are then intrigued by Haunting and Beautiful, well, then, you have another choice to make, among three hauntingly beautiful playlists. (It’s this third one that really makes me sigh.)

But, creating an account, and doing a little rating of what comes up in the playlists helps it make suggestions. For example, after logging in, the “Studying” option went away for me, in favour of “Love and Romance”. Ooh la la. And the original Unwinding options included different genres: bye-bye Mellow Country, hello Classic Rock Nights.

The point of using this is music discovering, or re-discovery, so it’s bound to be somewhat hit and miss, especially at first. (If you rate a song with a thumb’s down, Songza will immediately move along to the next.) When Songza does manage to give you something exactly in tune with your current mood, though, it’s kind of magical. It can just make your whole day.

A few treasures unearthed via Internet radio :

Joe Jackson – One More Time
Squeeze – Separate Beds
The Smithereens – Only a Memory
Tori Amos – Wednesday
The Spin Doctors – Two Princes
Gin Blossoms – Follow You Down
Lady Gaga – Eh, Eh
Sophie B Hawkins – Damn, Wish I Was Your Lover
Sade – Smooth Operator
Fun – Some nights
Imagine Dragon – Radioactive
Happy listening.

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