Category Archives: Pandora

Pandora Gets All Ballady

LOVE

After a Wednesday off, I returned to running on Thursday with a 5 miler outside. Yes, that’s right, outside. The temperature stayed down to just the low 90s as opposed to the upper 90s it’s been this week, so I figured I would take advantage of it by getting out of the gym for a quick run.

In previous months, there would always be the same five or six people running down Kenilworth Avenue at around 5 p.m. I don’t know their names, what they do, how far they’re running or anything about them, but we always give each other the classic, casual head nod as we pass. Thursday, I noticed I was all alone out there.

I always thought I was being somewhat of a little bitch by heading indoors during the late July/August heat, but, if Thursday’s run is any indication, that is what many people in south Louisiana do. So it’s good to see that I’m not being a puss by hitting the treadmill.

Thursday’s Pandora music station, though, might change that. I wasn’t in the mood for anything loud or fast. Sunday’s run showed me I could have gone with Today’s Alternative Rock again, but instead I opted for Classic Rock Love Songs, aka ballads! Fire up the lighters, everyone.

Bryan Adams – “Heaven”

What can you say about the singer who gave us “Run To You,” “I Do It For You” and “I Finally Found Someone”? When it comes to awesomely bad love songs, he is the master. Plus he owns the baseball stadium anthem with “Summer of ’69.” There’s no better way to start a ballad playlist than with Bryan Adams and “Heaven.”

He is also one of the few Bryans out there who I can forgive for spelling his name incorrectly. I loathe the name with a “Y” instead of the classic and timeless “I” version, but I give him a pass.

If this is how the playlist starts, it isn’t too hard to see we’re in heaven.

Eagles – “Hotel California”

Then I get this song, which I can’t stand. Also, love song?

Journey – “Faithfully”

Now, THIS is more like it. I said the playlist couldn’t start any better than with Bryan Adams, but Journey comes in and proves me wrong.

Everyone knows about, and karaokes to, “Don’t Stop Believing” but Journey’s “Open Arms” and “Faithfully” are arguably two of the greatest cheesy ‘80s love ballads. “Hotel California” was a miss in the playlist, and there will be many others to come, but this is an ideal song to include.

Less than four more miles to go. Four more miles of a steaming hot road. A road that ain’t no place to start a family.

Aerosmith – “Dream On”

As with “Hotel California” and now this, there will be a few questionable choices in the Classic Rock “Love Songs” playlist.

REO Speedwagon – “Keep on Loving You”

3 Doors Down – “Here Without You”

There will also be some questionable genre selections in the “Classic Rock” “Love Songs” playlist.

The playlist was going so well up to this point, and that isn’t to say “Here Without You” is a bad song. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not good, but at least it is a love song as opposed to a couple other ones on here. Still, considering the classic rock theme that was prevalent until this point, this song seems way too out of place not to notice it.

Rather than transitioning from smooth ballad to smooth ballad, this playlist is everywhere. I’ve seen some inconsistencies before (Beach Boys in the British playlist) but these jumps aren’t just oversights. Either Pandora is confused with classic rock or love songs or it’s trolling me. Either way, the station isn’t winning.

Pat Benatar – “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”

At least it’s a classic rock song…

The Outfield – “Your Love”

Edwin McCain – “I’ll Be”

Holy crap, this might be the best way to end a playlist and/or run ever.

I have an embarrassingly strong love of this song, and I don’t care. It is close to impossible for me to listen to this song and not shout out the chorus. Right now, I’m at work finishing this post with the song playing and I’m having the hardest time not screaming out “I’LLLLLLLL BE YOUR CRYING SHOULDER.”

Katie right now, I’m sure, is shaking her head reading this right now because she has had to endure multiple Brian renditions of this song when it’s on the radio. I would apologize, but I’m not sorry.

It is the greatest fan of my life.

This playlist was everywhere. Classic Rock Love Songs had some non-classic rock and non-love songs, but it had all of my heart.

LIGHTER

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Pandora Plays Sleigh Bells

sleigh

After a slow start to the month, I have found my stride (rimshot) and finally got some miles in the past couple of days. A 6 mile run on Monday was followed up with a 5 mile run on Tuesday.

The fact that these runs took place on a treadmill did not help matters. If you’ve read this blog for some time this summer, you’re well educated on the ridiculous heat in Baton Rouge this summer, making outside runs, even in the morning hours, a sweaty pain in the ass.

The good news, though, is August is about 25 percent done, and after August, the heat should subside. So for the next three weeks I’ll likely stay at the gym, sweat over three treadmills, get dirty looks from the socializing gym-goers and watch E! or Fox News on the TVs.

But at least I’ll have Pandora to keep me occupied during those runs.

Tuesday’s station was Sleigh Bells, a duo described as “American noise pop” on Wikipedia.

 

Sleigh Bells – “Comeback Kid”

Why Sleigh Bells? Doesn’t this selection feel a bit random and out of the blue?

Absolutely. But I heard the band’s song “Rill Rill” on Monday and thought it would make a decent station to listen to because I have no idea what other bands or songs would fit with Sleigh Bells.

“Comeback Kid” was released in 2012 and was a constant on Sirius/XM’s AltNation station, so I know it well. I am by far no expert on Sleigh Bells. I wouldn’t even consider myself a fan, maybe just someone with a casual affinity to their sound. “Comeback Kid” has a similar sound to Sleigh Bells’ other hits, so it’s nothing too impressive.

Song Energy: 7/10
Run Motivation: 5/10
Overall: B-

 

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps

 

The Bird and the Bee – Polite Dance Song

Easily my favorite song of the playlist, even if it isn’t a good running song. Check it out.

 

The Naked and Famous – Young Blood

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

 

Sleigh Bells – “Tell Em”

“Tell Em” is probably the best gym song you’ll get from the Sleigh Bells Pandora station. The hard beat and loud crashes throughout will drown out the grunts from even the broeyist of bros.

Like I said, I don’t know much about Sleigh Bells, but I am familiar with this song as it was played constantly a couple of years ago. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just that something new would be nice.

Song Energy: 8/10
Run Motivation: 7/10
Overall: A

 

Silversun Pickups – “Lazy Eye”

This will always be my favorite Silversun Pickups/Carson Daly moment.

 

Tegan and Sara – “Walking with a Ghost”

I hadn’t heard anything from Tegan and Sara up to this point except “Closer.” This song is better by far.

 

Sleigh Bells – “A/B Machines”

A Sleigh Bells song I hadn’t before heard. Pandora was listening to me!

 

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Kiss Kiss”

I’m not really sure what to make of this station. I expected bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to be there, but The Bird and the Bee, Tegan and Sara and Naked and Famous not so much.

 

The Xx – “Intro”

I could have done without this.

 

Late Of the Pier – “Random Firl”

Last song of the run, and it’s a song I hadn’t heard much before. After The Xx, I can appreciate this song a lot more. Even if it isn’t a great running song, it still beats the crap out of the previous selection.

This playlist was an interesting one to say the least. There were a few really good songs, some decent ones and one pretty terrible song. But at least it ended with a song I like.

Song Energy: 6/10
Run Motivation: 6/10
Overall: B-

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Alternative Rock Battle: 90s vs. Today

altern

It’s been a long few days at work, so I apologize for not updating the blog. Right now I’m sitting in the DMV because these clowns didn’t file the right paperwork when I was in a few months ago so I have to do it again. I’m No. D317 and we’re up to D309. This could take awhile and I’m using this time to update my progress with the Pandora challenge.

I also didn’t update the blog last week because there wasn’t really much to update. I ran on Monday, took Tuesday off and planned to run the rest of the week. But a work emergency had me working a 12-hour day on Wednesday, 10 hours on Thursday and left me dead tired on Friday.

I did manage to run Saturday and Sunday, a 4 mile run followed by a 5 miler. Since I had a rough week and just wanted something familiar, I chose 90s Alternative for Saturday and Today’s Alternative for Sunday and compared the two. Which decade has the better alt rock? Let’s find out.

Nirvana — “Come As You Are” vs. Foster the People — “Pumped Up Kicks”

These were the first two songs played on the runs, and it brings up an interesting debate. On the 90s side, we have one of the biggest rock bands in the decade despite the fact that it stopped producing music early in the 90s. Today’s Alternative counters with a band that isn’t a big name necessarily but has one of the biggest hits in the past three years.

I know there are a lot of Nirvana fans out there, and I’m one of them WE’RE UP TO D310 but I have to give this one to Foster the People. “Come As You Are” by far isn’t Nirvana’s biggest hit. It’s probably No. 3 or 4 on the Nevermind album. “Pumped Up Kicks” is the biggest song Foster the People have and probably will ever have. For that alone, point goes to Today’s Alternative.

90s Alternative: 0
Today’s Alternative: 1

WE’RE UP TO D311!

Stone Temple Pilots — “Interstate Love Song” vs. The Lumineers — “Ho Hey”

This is an easy decision here. Stone Temple Pilots wins this one going away.

“Hey Ho” is a fine song for a movie trailer, but it’s unbearable to hear on the radio or in this case on a run. WE’RE UP TO D312. WE’RE ROLLING NOW. It’s slow and whiny, which I’ll come to find out is the MO for Today’s Alternative music.

No one can argue with Stone Temple Pilot’s impact on rock and its energetic D314! sound. “Interstate Love Song” isn’t their hardest song, but it’s one of their most popular, and for good reason.

Point goes to 90s Alternative.

90s Alternative: 1
Today’s Alternative: 1

D315! HOLY CRAP WE’RE CLOSE!

Red Hot Chili Peppers — “Under the Bridge” vs. Red Hot Chili Peppers — “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”

Holy crap I hate the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I mean, I absolutely cannot stand to hear any song by that band. They’re total crap in my opinion, and there’s only one song by them that I can tolerate, and that’s “Under the Bridge.”

The reason I can tolerate this song is because in high school when we’d travel to away track meets, we’d break out in an acapella rendition of “Under the Bridge.” It wasn’t good, but it passed the time and ticked off our coach.

Any other RHCP song that isn’t “Under the Bridge,” including “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie,” automatically loses.

Point 90s Alternative

90s Alternative: 2
Today’s Alternative: 1

Tonic — “If You Could Only See” vs. Linkin Park— “Burn It To The Ground”

This is an interesting matchup. Linkin Park’s high energy, up-tempo song against Tonic’s slower, but with more ranges song. Each one is a strong song on its own and each one makes a decent running song, so it’s hard to compare the two.

Like every tough decision I make in life, I make a sports analogy and use past results to figure out a winner. “Burn It To The Ground” is a faster, stronger song with punishing, bruising notes. Similar to an SEC football team (You may already know where I’m going with this). “If You Could Only See” has substance and some star parts that will do damage when in the right set, but the depth isn’t there. Similar to a Pac-12 football team.

So SEC football vs. Pac-12 football. I believe we all remember what happened in 2011 when LSU faced Oregon. The Ducks put up a good fight, but they couldn’t sustain the LSU depth and punch. LSU won, and so, too, does Linkin Park.

Point to Today’s Alternative.

90s Alternative: 2
Today’s Alternative: 2

D316! WHY IS IT SLOWING DOWN?

Nirvana — “Heart-Shaped Box” vs. Mumford & Sons — “I Will Wait”

Like I said before, I’m a Nirvana fan. Not a huge one like many people I know, but I did have a Kurt Cobain poster in my freshman dorm room (Mostly because my roommate said I needed a poster of something to get rid of the dirty wall color).

“Heart-Shaped Box” is also my favorite Nirvana song of all time. Many die-hard fans despise this song because it’s essentially a love song to Courtney Love, but I think it’s great.

Mumford & Sons is dying for me. Very quickly, too. I liked the band when they first became popular around 2009, but there’s only so much “Little Lion Man” you can hear before you agree that they really fucked it up this time. D317! YES! BRB! Add that every song Mumford & Sons has sounds the same, and we’re going on four years of hearing basically the same song.

Point 90s Alternative

90s Alternative: 3
Today’s Alternative: 2

WE’RE DONE AT THE DMV! THAT WASN’T BAD ACTUALLY!

Smashing Pumpkins — “1979” vs. Capital Cities — “Safe and Sound”

It’s an elimination game for Today’s Alternative in this best-of-seven series, so this is a big matchup. Unfortunately for them, 90s Alternative comes out with its best performance up to date.

You can beat The Smashing Pumpkins, but you can’t beat “1979.” It’s by far the best song on the Melancholy and Infinite Sadness double album, and that’s including “Bullet with Butterfly Wings.” This album had a big impact on me growing up. I dreamed about getting older so I could ride in the back seat of my friends car because of this song.

“Safe and Sound” is a good song, but there’s no question which song wins here. Despite “1979” being slow for a running song, it still dominates.

Point 90s Alternative

90s Alternative: 4
Today’s Alternative: 2

Third Eye Blind — “Semi-Charmed Life” vs. Imagine Dragons — “Radioactive”

The match is over, but we still have one more song to go, so let’s do it anyway. Although, again, it’s not pretty for Today’s Alternative.

Nothing, and I mean absolutely, nothing can beat “Semi-Charmed Life.” The song first appeared on the 90s Hits station in my first Pandora challenge post, and I was happy to see it return for the 90s Alternative.

“Radioactive” is good, but holy crap it’s overplayed. Everyone needs to stop playing it on the radio and for the love of God stop making sports montage with this song in the background.

Point 90s Alternative

90s Alternative: 5
Today’s Alternative: 2

90s Alternative dominates the faceoff. I liked Today’s Alternative, but it’s sound doesn’t compare to the 90s Alternative sound. Today’s sound is slower, whinier, more depressing compared to the 90s (and the 90s had two songs sung by a guy who blew his head off!).

Am I getting old and thinking they just don’t make good music like they used to? Perhaps. But I will still love the 90s.

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Pandora Does Stand-Up

standup

It’s been awhile since I updated the Pandora running challenge, and for that I apologize. To give you an idea of what I’ve been running to, here’s an update:

After Tuesday’s ridiculous heat, I decided to take off Wednesday and try to stay cool rather than burn outside again. Thursday’s 5-mile run outside again was crazy hot, and after that I gave up. Friday I ran on the treadmill for 6 miles inside the gym, Saturday was 3-mile outside run that was cut short from a heavy rain shower and Sunday I went back inside for another 6 miles on the treadmill. While I hate the treadmill, it’s becoming the only place where I can run a decent distance without dying.

Those last four runs gave me a third straight 30-mile week and put me at 97 miles for July. I reached 100 with a 3-mile run on Monday in the heat, but it wasn’t bad because all I wanted to do was 3 miles to hit my goal. Huzzah!

During those runs, I listened to one station only — Comedy.

 

D.L. Hughley — “The World Is Different”

hugh

I started listening to this station on Thursday after discovering that Pandora had a comedy station. I figured “What the hell?” and off I went galloping to stand-up comedians doing their bits.

This station is the best thing I’ve heard since I started the Pandora challenge. The Tony Kornheiser Show podcast, my regular go-to entertainment when running, is 100 percent talk radio, so to listen to people talking rather than music actually made the runs feel like normal.

 

Doug Benson — “Boo and Hiss/Drinking”

Comedy Central Live at Gothem 2009

After a run, I go back and review the Pandora playlist and record what I listened to so I can later write these posts. On Thursday, the first day I listened to the comedy station, my phone decided to die multiple times, shutting on and off and thereby resetting my Pandora playlist before I could write down which comedians played on that run.

So everything I have listed today is from Friday’s run. I decided to replay the station as a way to get a comedy playlist and because it felt good to listen to talk on a run. What I didn’t expect was to become addicted to this station even after Friday’s run.

 

Jim Gaffigan — “4 Kids”

gaff

My gym has dozens of treadmills, and it also has a “Cinema Room” with three treadmills, a couple of stationary bikes and some elliptical machines in a dark room with a movie projected onto a wall. Every day a different movie is shown.

Friday’s movie was “Good Will Hunting,” and there was nobody in the Cinema Room, so I ran in there to try it out. With no lights, no sweating people around you and an air vent blowing directly on you, it’s a 10-degree cooler run than a regular treadmill workout. The only issue is that “Good WIll Hunting” was playing, a fine movie for a boring Saturday afternoon TBS broadcast, but not anything I’d watch on my own.

(By the way, the Comedy station plays a TON of Jim Gaffigan, which isn’t a bad thing.)

 

Daniel Tosh — “Two”

tosh

After the “Dem apples” scene, I decided to go back to Pandora and the Comedy station. In the process, I did the one thing that you can’t do on a treadmill, and that’s drift. One step too far to the right side of the machine put my on my ass in a completely dark, completely empty room. Thankfully there wasn’t anyone around to see that happen.

Most of the comedians that are played on the Comedy station I have heard of or seen them perform on a Comedy Central special. In high school, my friends and I would watch the late-night stand-up specials regularly, but that was 10 years ago. These setlists are all from current shows, and it was good to hear new stuff from comedians I watched years ago.

(The Comedy station also plays a lot of Daniel Tosh. While unwatchable on Tosh.0, he’s a lot better on Pandora.)

 

Louis CK — “Suck A Bag Of Dicks”

ck

I know some readers are huge Louis CK fans and love everything he does. I like him, but I guess I don’t know enough about his stuff to love him like others do. The Bag of Dicks bit, though, could change that.

Maybe it was because I on mile 5 at a 7 minute/mile pace, but I couldn’t stop laughing at this bit. It was by far the funniest one I heard during Friday’s run, and probably through the entire weekend. I’ve never seen Louis and I’ve only watched one of his stand-up specials, but maybe I should find some more of his comedy.

 

Matt Kirshen

kirshen

I have this theory that it’s OK for people from New Orleans to joke about Hurricane Katrina, but when other people do, especially people who live in non-hurricane threatened areas like Atlanta or Los Angeles — although California does have its own shit to deal with — it’s offensive.

So when Matt Kirshen, a 50-pound British comedian who starred in NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” in 2007, started going on about Katrina, I was ready to hate it. But I didn’t!

“It’s already New Orleans, so when they rebuild it, what are they going to call it now? They should rename is like a laundry detergent. New Improved Orleans Ultra…Whiter than ever…that’s a lovely reaction. First a boo, then a laugh, then a little clap…like my sex life.”

And what happened, then? Well, in Baton Rouge they say – that Brian’s Katrina tolerance grew three sizes that day.

I like to think I’m progressing.

 

So that was Friday’s Comedy channel. Like I said, I also listened to the station on Saturday and Sunday, and those playlists featured a lot of the same comedians like Jim Gaffigan and Daniel Tosh. I’m going to resume listening to other stations from now on, but it was good to hear something funny for a few days.

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Pandora Goes To Bollywood

bollywood

You know you’re in the bowels of summer in the South’s hell when you suffer your first heat-related problem. That happened Tuesday after the afternoon run.

I’m working on an internal employee video at work and spend a few hours Tuesday afternoon outside shooting B-roll in temperatures that hovered in the mid-90s. Couple that with a 5-mile run a few hours later, and I was left spinning and exhausted the rest of the night.

My savior!

My savior!

A couple of hours under the ceiling fan and about five Flavor-Ices — next to sno-balls, the greatest flavored ice supplement on the market — later and I was feeling fine.

Still, heat strokes, even if they’re mild, suck. So stay safe, stay hydrated and file a complaint with HR for your bosses forcing you to work outside in mid-90s heat all afternoon.

As for the soundtrack to that run, Pandora played Bollywood, and it was amazing.

Love Aaj Kal — “Twist”

Full disclosure: I know nothing about Bollywood entertainment — music, movies or otherwise. I saw “Slumdog Millionaire,” and that’s where my Indian culture knowledge ends.

I landed on the station because I hit the wrong button twice when trying to find the station and this is what came up. It was hot and I was ready to go, so instead of messing around with my iPhone more, I just went with it.

This was my introduction to Bollywood music and OH MY GOD BOLLYWOOD MUSIC KICKS ASS!!!! No, seriously, listen to the song. It’s got arguably the highest energy levels out of any song that has been on the Pandora challenge. Plus, about half of the lyrics are in English (which I wasn’t expecting), creating the awesome “We’ll be singing dancing hot romancing/Sone mone, mallo malli kar gaye talli” transition.

Song Energy: 9/10
Run Motivation: 8/10
Overall: A

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi — “Dance Pe Chance”

Hopefully I have this right because I’m no Bollywood expert, but these songs all come from soundtracks to Bollywood movies. Bollywood artists don’t make singles like Eminem or Justin Bieber. I found this interesting.

A.R. Rahman — “Jai Ho”

I’m one mile in and starting to feel like shit. This probably would have been a good time to turn around, but nothing about this run was smart.

Billu Barber — “Love Mera Hit Hit”

At least the playlist seemed fitting. The crazy hot temperatures and Hindi beat make you feel like you’re in India.

Akon — “Chammak Challo”

Wait, seriously? Akon? The guy who sang “Smack That?”

In the song info, Pandora included that Akon was born in St. Louis but grew up in Senegal before his family moved back to the United States when he was seven. He’s best known for his rap music (Konvicted is one of my favorite rap albums that I own), but he started doing Bollywood music in 2011.

Like every other song in this playlist, the energy is ridiculous, the lyrics you presume are great because you only understand 50 percent of them and it makes you want to keep moving. But it’s by Akon, which just puts this song above all the others.

Song Energy: 9/10
Run Motivation: 9/10
Overall: A

Panjabi MC — “Beware of the Boys”

One mile left, and it would be the slowest mile I’ve run in more than seven months since moving to Baton Rouge.

Sonu Nigam, Javed Ali — “Nagada Nagada”

I wasn’t in any danger of passing out or needing medical attention (in case my mom is reading this and freaking out) but it just sucked out there. You want to stop, but then you realize you’re still a half mile from the house and you have to get home someway. You might as well keep running and get out of the heat as soon as possible.

Robert Uhlmann — “Say Na, Say Na”

Like other Pandora stations have done, I was halfway expecting Bollywood to play high energy songs throughout the run and then end on a slow ballad — if there are even any Bollywood ballads. But that was not the case. The energy stayed consistent throughout the entire 40-plus minute run, even during the final 9:23 mile.

Unlike the other songs, this one has almost no English, save for a couple of lines in the chorus. More English would have been nice, but this isn’t music sung for English-only speaking people. I’m a guest in their cultural realm, so I can adapt to it.

And why the hell didn’t I get married in a white suit and pink floral shirt?!?

Song Energy: 8/10
Run Motivation: 7/10
Overall: A-

Bollywood music rocks! It’s not something I’m going to put on at work, but my first experience with it was eye-opening and exciting. This weekend I might have to browse Netflix and see what movies I’m missing out on.

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