Pandora and the ever-present Jack Johnson

This cannot be said enough. I (heart) Pandora radio. It is my sanity at work. (ps, if you poke your head into my cubicle and see me with headphones covering my ears, there's a 90% chance I'm plugged into Pandora.)

Rare is the suggested song that I don't care for and have to give a thumbs down rating. But there are some songs that work their way into playlists that leave me in puzzlement. But it works. It is radio that lets me dictate the music it plays.

Yet in all its curiosities, Pandora is not a perfect system.

There is one artist that Pandora seems to treat as an omnipresent figure of the music kingdom. Jack Johnson.

The first playlist I created was intended to be upbeat, happy, summertime music. Reggae, hip-hop, and ska. I created the custom station with the following seeds: Wyclef Jean, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Five Iron Frenzy, Cake, Toby Mac, Flobots, 311, and the Long Beach Dub Allstars. When Pandora slipped in a Jack Johnson song, I thought nothing of it. Jack's neo-hippy/coffee-shop vibe fit in with the beach-side variety of tunes that I programed into the the virtual brain that controls Pandora's stream of music.

For my second station, I wanted something mellow that was safe for work in case i wanted to listen to Pandora at work without my headphones. The seeds: Switchfoot, Coldplay, The Fray, OneRepublic, Fountains of Wayne, Need to Breathe, and Jason Mraz. Yet again, Pandora seemed to find Jack Johnson as a suitable suggestion for this list. I can see how one might see some logic there - even I would argue Mraz and Johnson are contemporaries - but Jack wasn't the type of artist I was hoping to hear.

The third station is where it got weird. I only gave Pandora two seeds to work with: Smashing Pumpkins and Our Lady Peace. Something heavier. More kick. More bite. A few songs in and what do I hear? A Jack Johnson song. This is where I first began to think there is a grievous error in the way Pandora filters its song selection.

My fourth custom station has an electronic bent station. Music that will keep me awake and focused. Daft Punk, Fatboy Slim, Timbaland, Justice, Benny Benassi, The Crystal Method. And (according to Pandora) Jack Johnson. Really? Is there any way to escape the sounds of Johnson's hapless strumming and high-as-a-kite vocal style?

Now that the Christmas season is upon us, I've attempted to create a holiday music station. Songs of glad tidings and great joy. And... Jack Johnson (Pandora's choice - not mine).

I have a theory - that Pandora and Jack Johnson have some shady agreement that guarantees a Jack Johnson is suggested to every Pandora subscriber regardless of their musical interest.

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