I think David Medsker can relate to this… Back in my salad days of college, I made extra money with two turntables and a microphone.Â More often than not, some guy at a wedding reception I was working at would amble up to my DJ rig with a toothpick in his mouth, trying in vain to dig out a small bit of rubber chicken or steak, and stand there looking at my setup.Â I’d get the once over twice, and then it started.
“So, you do this a lot?” Queried semi-drunk reception attendee.
“Yeah,” I would answer (knowing full well what was coming next).
“Seems like a pretty easy job.Â I mean, all you do is get paid to play records.Â Hell, any trained monkey can do that!Â How hard can it be? You just play some songs, get paid, and go home.Â Seems like a dream job to me.”
“Well,” I would patiently try and explain, “It’s not as easy as you think.Â You have to read the crowd, pick songs that you think they will like, watch the tempo of the mix, and know when to play a heavy hitter that’s going to be a crowd pleaser. It’s not science, but there’s a skill at doing this right.”
“Like I said,” Mr. Bibulous Blowhard would intone,”any trained monkey can do this. In fact, I’ll bet you one day there’ll be a computer that can do what you’re doing.”
Flash forward twentysomething years later, and the fucker’s right. There is a computer that can do what I used to do. In fact, if you work in the radio industry, a computer has by and large replaced what DJs used to do. Yep, most DJs who work in the radio industry just play whatever the music director has scheduled into the computer.Â They rarely have any control over the music content, so it stands to reason that it would only be a matter of time when “shuffle” mode on your favorite music player would morph into DJ mode. And so it is with Apple’s “Genius Mixes” — which comes with the latest version of iTunes.
What the computer does (for those who don’t know), is analyze your entire library and then group songs by genre, decade, and style.Â Since the trained monkey has arrived, I thought I would see if Apple could come up with a good mix based on its algorithm.Â Â So, first things first. I randomly picked one of the mixes iTunes put together for me, and this was it:
Okay, not the sexiest title, but, ladies and gentlemen, behold Apple’s Genius Mix that any trained monkey only Apple’s iTunes can put together! Oh, and for the record, Apple can pick the music, but has yet to figured out how to write about the music you’re going to hear.Â So take that, Apple! Yeah, ON THE GROUND!
“Shadow Dancing,” Andy Gibb (download)
“Second Hand News,” Fleetwood Mac (download)
“Horse with No Name,” America (download)
“Do Ya,” Electric Light Orchestra (download)
“25 or 6 to 4,” Chicago (download)
“Same Old Lang Syne,” Dan Fogelberg (download)