Thursday, March 03, 2011

How iTunes Made Me Hate Elvis Costello

Seriously, fuck this guy

I suppose it's not very original, or even necessary, at this point to say that the ability to (legally?) download pretty much any music one could want has dramatically changed the way most of us consume music. Whereas once you might hear about a band or artist you want to check out and then remember that person/band the next time you're at the record store and decide whether it's worth wasting your hard earned money on said band's/person's album, these days you can download an album before you're even done reading a review.

Once I was compelled to do this with Mr. Costello. He's one of those guys that most people whose taste in music I trust seem to like, and I was reading some sort of music blog that highly recommend several albums by him. So I downloaded them and plopped them into iTunes along with most other music I own in the theory that as they came up randomly, I would listen to them and grow to fill in this lacuna in my musical knowledge.

Now I don't have as much music on my laptop as I do on my desktop, but still, according to iTunes' count, I have 5.8 days worth of music (or 139.2 hours). And according to iTunes I have 6.1 ours of Mr. Costello's music on there, which would be roughly 4.3% of all of the music I have on there, for those keeping track at home.

Yet despite what Apple claims to the contrary, there's no way the iTunes algorithm doesn't favor Elvis Costello on my laptop for some weird reason. Because I have equally large amounts of Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg, Dr. Hook, and Drive By Truckers (and a few others) on there, and yet I can go entire days without them coming up on my random shuffle. Yet it sticks out as unusual when I'm able to sit there for even 20 or 30 minutes without an Elvis Costello song coming up.

And as such, not only have I not come to appreciate his music, I've come to despise him. Now, pretty much any time one of his songs comes up, I almost instinctively skip it, even if it's one I like, just because he comes up so often in what is supposedly a random shuffle.

I realize this is completely irrational of me, but it's not my fault. My iTunes apparently has a crush on Elvis Costello and is determined to make me listen to him at any cost. And there's few things I react to more negatively than someone (or thing) trying to force their musical tastes on me.

So I've gone from completely indifferent to angrily annoyed with Elvis Costello, ironically because of my quest to appreciate him. And it's all the fault of iTunes' poorly programmed shuffle algorithm.

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