The New iTunes 8 – Genius

In Tech and Internet by Daniel M. Clark0 Comments

Although I dig the new display options in iTunes 8, I'm going to talk about the Genius function here by giving a few examples of what it's offering me.

Upon installing and launching iTunes 8, the program will scan your library. It will upload your library specifics (nothing personally identifiable) to Apple and use the data to make recommendations. When you select a song in your library and push the Genius button, iTunes will create a playlist of 25, 50, 75 or 100 related songs from your library. How related is related? Let's find out.

Generated Playlist (first 10 entries, based on the first song listed):

  • Rush – Far Cry
  • Robert Plant – In the Mood (Live in Houston)
  • Van Halen – Mean Street
  • Judas Priest – Electric Eye
  • Dream Theater – Pull Me Under
  • Joe Satriani – Surfing With the Alien
  • Iron Maiden – Wasted Years
  • Accept – Balls to the Wall
  • Smashing Pumpkins – Tarantula
  • Sammy Hagar – There's Only One Way to Rock

Other artists on the 50-song list include Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, Scorpions, Foreigner(!), Queensryche, Tesla and Asia. With the questionable inclusion of Foreigner, I'd say that these artists match Rush fairly well, if broadly.

One thing that I noticed right away is that Genius does not take into account ratings or anything else. It really looks at your entire library. I'd like to see a way to limit Genius to only 4 or 5 star-rated items, but maybe there's a way to do that that I'm not aware of.

I did run into one snag. The second time I tried Genius, I was looking for matches for John the Baptist, by the Afghan Whigs. Genius couldn't generate a playlist. The message that came up suggested clicking the Update Genius menu item in the Store menu and trying again. It seemed to only repeat the scanning/sending action from the beginning of the process, and Genius still wasn't able to generate a playlist when I tried again. Perhaps as more people upload their library data Apple will be able to find some matches.

Final verdict: I like it, and I'm hoping that there won't be many instances where a playlist can't be generated.

So, that's it… here's a few more lists here for those that are interested.

Generated Playlist (first 10 entries, based on the first song listed):

  • Angels & Airwaves – The Adventure
  • 30 Seconds to Mars – From Yesterday
  • Jimmy Eat World – Pain
  • The Used – Under Pressure
  • Eve 6 – Here's to the Night
  • Vanessa Carlton – White Houses
  • Angels & Airwaves – Everything's Magic
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps
  • blink-182 – Feeling This
  • The Killers – Smile Like You Mean It

Not bad. Vanessa Carlton might be a stretch.

Generated Playlist (first 10 entries, based on the first song listed):

  • The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary
  • New Order – Blue Monday
  • The Cure – In Between Days (Live from Festival 2005)
  • A Flock of Seagulls – I Ran
  • Peter Murphy – Cuts You Up
  • U2 – I Will Follow
  • The Psychedelic Furs – Pretty in Pink
  • Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls
  • Ratt – Round and Round
  • The Clash – London Calling

This was the most bizarre list I generated. How the Pet Shop Boys and A Flock of Seagulls related to the Cult, I'm not sure. Apparently, Apple thinks they're New Wave.

Generated Playlist (first 10 entries, based on the first song listed):

  • Motorhead – Ace of Spades
  • Judas Priest – You've Got Another Thing Comin'
  • Motley Crue – Shout at the Devil
  • Twisted Sister – I Wanna Rock
  • The Ramones – Havana Affair
  • Foo Fighters – Monkey Wrench
  • Megadeth – Hangar 18
  • Blue Oyster Cult – Godzilla
  • Warrant – Cherry Pie
  • Faith No More – Epic

I don't know what's worse, that Warrant is on listed based on Motorhead, or that I'm admitting that I own Warrant albums. Probably the latter. One last list, I'll try this based on a comedy track.

Generated Playlist (first 10 entries, based on the first song listed):

  • George Carlin – Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television
  • Robin Williams – Childhood
  • Chris Rock – Blacks Aren't Crazy
  • Bill Engvall – Here's Your Sign Christmas
  • Lewis Black – Congressional Correspondents Dinner
  • Ron White – They Call Me “Tater Salad”
  • Mitch Hedberg – Three Easy Payments
  • Al Franken – President Bush Drops By
  • David Cross – Flying on a Mexican Plane
  • Demetri Martin – Some Jokes

Well done, Apple.

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