Friday, April 24, 2009

Weekly iPod Shuffle + We Test the iTunes Genius, Part 2

1. "I Hope, I Think, I Know," Oasis
I know I'm in the minority here, but I think Be Here Now is Oasis's best work. How do I know I'm in the minority? Someone did a tour through England's used-record shops in the late '90s, and found that the number one most often pawned-off album, by a wide margin, was Be Here Now. Yeah, well, fuck them. (*****)

2. "Analyse," Thom Yorke
From the Radiohead frontman's solo album, The Eraser, which is actually quite good. Though you'd expect as much, being as he's the frontman for the Greatest Band in the World. It's a little quieter, more electronic than Radiohead's work (save most of Kid A, of course). (*****)

3. "Wave of Mutilation," The Pixies
I hate playing this song in Rock Band. You know what, though? It's not that bad to listen to. (****)

4. "Maps," Yeah Yeah Yeahs
I grew very, very tired of playing this song in Rock Band. It's still pretty great to listen to, though. (****)

5. "Shaking the Tree," Peter Gabriel
This is the far superior live version, from the Secret World concert set. It's one of my favorite parts of the concert video: Gabriel convinces his entire band -- save the drummer, of course -- to dance around in a giant circle, skipping around like loons, all while still playing and singing the song itself. And there's a giant tree in the enter of the stage, 'cause, you know, it's called "Shaking the Tree" and all. Tony Levin's bass work on the middle section is awesome. (*****)

6. "Tiny Dancer," Elton John
I think that Almost Famous was both the best and worst thing to ever happen to this song. The film and tune are now completely inseperable, now and forever. (*****)

7. "Oh! You Pretty Things," David Bowie
Harvey Danger covered this as a B-side. Both versions are pretty awesome. (*****)

8. "Battle of Who Could Care Less," Ben Folds Five
The first Ben Folds song I ever heard. I loved his work immediately, not more than forty seconds into the track. Of course, it took "Brick" before anyone else even heard of the guy, but I can say I'm just a hair more with it than the masses. Barely. (*****)

9. "12:51," The Strokes
Man, I love the Strokes. I kind of panned Is This It when it first released, coming as it was after a gargantuan wave of hype -- anything short of Sgt. Pepper's was bound to be a disappointment. But later, I rediscovered it, and that let me to their much-improved follow-up: the phenomenal Room on Fire, where we find "12:51." Every Strokes song sounds the same, and the world is all the better for it. (*****)

10. "You Make Me Feel Like a Whore," Everclear
I couldn't get enough of those Everclear records when I was in high school. This is one of the few songs that holds up all these years later, but don't expect anything other than your Typical Everclear Song. It's about a unrequited lover lashing out at the object of his unreturned affections. Did I mention I loved this song in high school? Go figure. (****)

And now, We Test the iTunes Genius, Part 2.

Last time, we got mixed results with the White Stripes. Now, I go for something a little trickier. Make the iTunes Genius test its might.

Regina Spektor, "Fidelity"

Our sidebar is a little promising this time, even with the presence of one Jason Mraz. So let's see what we've got here:


Now, this is more like it.

Spoon? Bright Eyes? Death Cab for Cutie? Sufjan Stevens? Flawless. Even some bands that seem out of place -- like Bloc Party, say, or the White Stripes -- are redeemed by the tracks chosen, which actually fit rather well. (And "Dreamgirl" isn't exactly the best song Dave Matthews has ever written, but it does fit into this playlist. And big bonus points for including her guest appearance on Ben Folds's "You Don't Know Me.")

Yes: this is what the Genius is supposed to do. Well done.

10 out of 10. Now, for our next installment, I'll have to come up with something much, much harder. Something completely out of left field. Something from...Aperture Science.

I've experiments to run.

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