Really a ‘Genius’?

11 Sep

If you’ve downloaded the newest version of iTunes, you have probably seen the newest feature, Genius.

Basically, Genius takes a song or artist you choose and creates a playlist (of your already existing music) that it thinks you’ll like. It’ll remember what songs you play and which songs you skip, so the playlists will get better over time. It’s kinda like Pandora.

I decided to play with it this afternoon and see how it goes. Keep in mind the music on my work computer is nowhere near the stuff I have at home, so this Genius didn’t have a whole whole lot to choose from.

The first song I chose was “Our Lady of Sorrows” by My Chemical Romance (thought it was best to choose an artist whose music I have a lot of on here).
And here’s the playlist Genius created for me from that song (top 5):
1) “The Fantasy,” 30 Seconds to Mars
2) “Disposable Teens,” Marilyn Manson
3) “Macy’s Day Parade,” Green Day
4) “Assassin,” Muse
5) “God Save the Queen,” The Sex Pistols

That’s pretty right on, in my opinion. I’d definitely follow up that MCR song with Manson, Muse or Sex Pistols.
I notice on the side of the screen there’s a “Genius Sidebar” that tells me things like “Songs I’m Missing” and “Recommendations.” The “Top Songs I’m Missing” lists the MCR songs not in in my library, and Recommendations include everything from The Fray (huh?) to Fall Out Boy to Hinder (again, huh?) and AFI.

Next I try another band whose music fills my library: The Decemberists. Based on “The Engine Driver,” Genius picked this playlist for me (top 5):
1) “The Great Salt Lake,” Band of Horses
2) “Mykonos,” Fleet Foxes
3) “Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse,” Of Montreal
4) “West Coast,” Coconut Records
5) “Mansard Roof,” Vampire Weekend

Other tunes by Tegan & Sara, Bikini Kill, The White Stripes and Peter Bjorn and John follow. The first five songs are spot-on; the rest of the list, maybe not so much, esp. with the White Stripes or Bikini Kill.
Again, it recommends music by The Decemberists not already in my library (for shame!) and recommendations include Neutral Milk Hotel (big surprise), Belle & Sebastian and the New Pornographers.

Then I decided to give it a challenge. I threw in “Boyz” by M.I.A., which, to me, is almost a little bit of everything…dance, hip-hop, rap, maybe even a little punk. Genius came up with this playlist (top 5):
1) “Nobody Lost, Nobody Found,” Cut Copy
2) “Let’s Make Out,” Does It Offend You, Yeah?
3) “Comfortably Numb,” Scissor Sisters
4) “Dirrty,” Christina Aguilera
5) “Sipping on the Sweet Nectar,” Jens Lekman

I see what it did – it went for basically “dance” songs. The rest of the playlist is kinda similar (even though it’s short), but The Smiths also made it in there. hmm.
Recommendations include artists like Daft Punk, Imogen Heap and LCD Soundsystem.

I like, too, how Genius considers the time frame the music was made when choosing a playlist. I also tried “Everything She Wants” by Wham!, and Genius gave me a playlist full of other 80s tunes, by artists like Billy Ocean, Falco and The Police. There are a few other random ones (Stone Temple Pilots? Really?) but for the most part I got a good mix of 80s hits.

Have you tried Genius?

Do you like it?

Share some of your playlists.

One Response to “Really a ‘Genius’?”

  1. popculturefairy September 12, 2008 at 5:04 pm #

    Haven’t tried that or Pandora but I have last.fm and I adore that…it keeps track of what you listen to and then gives you recommendations or you can just punch something in and it will construct a playlist of similar things…It’s helped me a lot since I’m going through an alt-country phase, but didn’t know a lot of band names…has opened me up to a lot of great stuff out there!

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