The last decade of entertainment technology has been dominated by the breathless pursuit of an on demand life. With revolutionary zeal, we have been dying to declare our independence from the bastions of broadcast who for decades have told us what we’re going to enjoy and when.
And now, with our iPhone in one hand and our DVR remote in the other, we are totally and completely free.
But, sadly, often what we are free from is surprise. With everything we listen to and watch sourced from carefully choreographed playlists, musical serendipity has been stripped down to wondering which slight riff on “anthemic British rockers with piano driven melodies” Pandora is going to source next from our musical genome.
And then, every once in a while, an itty bitty Belgian belle with a Jamaican flow comes out of nowhere to break us out of our rut and remind us that what’s least expected is often what’s most enjoyable.
Selah Sue has yet to make her way to the States yet, but with a collaboration with Cee-Lo and the groundwork being laid by Adele, I can’t think that her breakthrough is far from coming. Here are two of her recent tracks, as well as a riveting take on the Bill Withers classic.
Back in the day, I worked in a music store. And, though it was camouflaged as a homogenous chain store, a cadre of employees actually made it a pretty awesome place to randomly find yourself shopping for music (trust me, the only way you’d find yourself there would be randomly). The group of us working there really knew our music, and the way that we liked to strut our stuff was to provide personalized music recommendations to customers. More specifically, we’d ask for a customer to name a few songs or albums that they have liked, and we would in turn provide a few recommendations of things they had never heard but would probably like. We were a collection of khaki-panted mini-pandoras.
Except any of you who have worked in retail know that’s not the entire story. Because saying that we provided recommendations of music we thought they would like is not exactly the entire truth. Full disclosure, we provided recommendations that were at the intersection of what we thought they would like and what we thought they should like. We were mini-pandoras with not-so-mini agendas– and some (well, many) bands just didn’t make the list of said agenda.
But I think that our agenda-led recommendations created more serendipity and true discoveries than some “Pandora purist” if-y0u-liked-this-you’ll-like-this recommendations ever could. Continue reading →