April 12, 2007 | Comments ()

By Seth Freilich | Comment Diversions | April 12, 2007 |


Well following up on last week’s game, we’ve got some Pajiba playlists, boys and girls. And I say playlists because we’ve also got a runners-up list (which, personally, I think I dig a little more than the “winning” list). I had already decided, shortly after the comments started flooding in, that there would probably be a second list. And once I saw reader Lizzy’s suggestion of calling such a list “That’s What I Call Pajiba 2,” well, the decision was made.

So I’ll give you the two lists now (and clicking on either list’s title will take you to the iTunes iMix), and then I’ll go into a ramble about how I put these lists together, for those who care about such shit, and address some of the comments/complaints/criticisms about all of the indie music that showed up, about why were trying to pigeonhole folks, etc. But first, the lists:

Pajiba Presents: Tunes from the Readers

1. “One Angry Dwarf & 200 Solemn Faces” - Ben Folds Five
2. “We Used to be Friends” - The Dandy Warhols
3. “Wagon Wheel” - Old Crow Medicine Show
4. “Mad World” - Gary Jules (with Michael Andrews)
5. “The Only Living Boy in New York” - Simon & Garfunkel
6. “Life on Mars?” - David Bowie
7. “Ain’t No Sunshine” - Bill Withers
8. “Hold On, Hold On” - Neko Case
9. “Rebellion (Lies)” - Arcade Fire
10. “Phantom Limb” - The Shins
11. “Breathe Me” - Sia
12. “Paper Bag” - Fiona Apple
13. “Rehab” - Amy Winehouse
14. “Pink Moon” - Nick Drake
15. “Here Comes Your Man” - Pixies
16. “Hallelujah” - Jeff Buckley
17. “Fidelity” - Regina Spektor
18. “Wolf Like Me” - TV on the Radio
19. “Sinnerman (Felix da Housecat’s mix)” - Nina Simone
20. “Birdhouse in Your Soul” - They Might Be Giants

Now That’s What I Call Pajiba 2

1. “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” - Otis Redding
2. “The Mariner’s Revenge Song” - The Decemberists
3. “Float On” - Modest Mouse
4. “Fairytale of New York” - Kirsty McColl and the Pogues
5. “Postcards from Italy” - Beirut
6. “Lebanese Blonde” - Thievery Corporation
7. “I Want You” - Bob Dylan
8. “You Wouldn’t Like Me” - Tegan & Sara
9. “Mass Romantic” - The New Pornographers
10. “Not Ready to Make Nice” - The Dixie Chicks
11. “Rise Up with Fists!!” - Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins
12. “Casimir Pulaski Day” - Sufjan Stevens
13. “A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left” - Andrew Bird
14. “That’s Entertainment” - The Jam
15. “I’ll Believe in Anything” - Wolf Parade
16. “Two Headed Boy Part 2” - Neutral Milk Hotel
17. “Jesus, Etc.” - Wilco
18. “Son of Sam” - Elliott Smith
19. “The Seed 2.0” - The Roots
20. “Misery is the River of the World” - Tom Waits

So how did these lists come about? Well I stopped tracking comments around 1 p.m. yesterday (although I believe there’s only been one new comment since then anyway). This left me with a list of 1,059 individual songs — I included almost every song nominated, even when folks listed more than five, except for a few instances when people listed just too damn many songs.* For the record, here were the top five individual vote-getters: “Mad World” (26 votes), “Life on Mars” (19), “Rehab” (17), “Rebellion” (16) and “Ain’t No Sunshine” (16). If you would like to see the complete list of tracks, sorted by song title, you can check it out here.

With this big list, I then made two smaller lists. One was just the top vote-getters (i.e., those five I just mentioned were the first five on the list). For the second list, I basically combined all the votes for an artist into one song — if there was one song by the artist that already had an edge over the others, that’s the song that “took” the rest of the votes, but if the votes were split evenly between different tracks, I used my own judgment in picking a “representative” track. And then I compared these two lists and whittled them down into our two playlists.

There were only two “cheats” here. First, “Where is My Mind” (by the Pixies) should have been on the “Now That’s” list. But I decided to punt it since there was already a Pixies track on the “Scathing Music” list, to make room for a new artist (i.e., I wanted to have the two lists give us 40 different artists). Second, Elliott Smith’s “Miss Misery” also should have been on the “Now That’s” list (having only just missed being on the “Scathing Music” list). But iTunes doesn’t carry the Good Will Hunting soundtrack, or any other disc with that song on it (and I am sticking with iTunes not because of any love I have for it — in fact, I rather hate iTunes and rarely use it — but to make it easy for folks to find and buy these tunes if they so choose). So I turned to Dustin, who’s more knowledgeable about Elliott Smith tunes than I am, and asked which of the other suggested Smith songs (all of which only had a single vote) should be a replacement. He said “Son of Sam,” so that’s what I went with.

And there you have it.

Now, as for the complaints and criticisms. I’ll be the first to say that I wish the final lists were slightly more diverse, with a little less alterna-rock and a little more hip-hop, electronica and “agro” (as maylai and Kate K. rightly pointed out). That being said, personally, I’m quite fond of both of these lists and they include quite a few songs that wouldn’t otherwise be on my iPod. So sure, these list could be a little more “diverse,” but at the end of the day, these were the songs and genres that were most popular.

Which of course brings us to the other complaint about all this — several folks bitched about my call that folks try to throw at least a couple of votes to songs already nominated, the most vocal complaint coming from DDT, who said I was only interested in “groupthink.” Well to some extent, that’s kinda true. I said right from the get-go that the whole purpose of this game was to try to come up with a list that was representative of our collective tastes. That necessarily requires some type of, if not full “groupthink,” at least “thinking on the same page.” A representative or populist can only be made in such a way. If I had not pushed people, a little, to add votes to songs that were already suggested, instead of a list of 1,000 songs, we would’ve had a 2,000 song list, with 200 songs having 2 or 3 votes, and maybe about 5 clear “winners.” And simply put, that wasn’t the point of this game. On another day, we may do a comment diversion of “list the five songs that you think everyone should listen to,” but that’s a different beast.

That being said, while the above playlists give us 40 good songs, there are over 1,000 other songs included in the master list, many of which fall outside the scope of these two playlists. So if this is all too “mainstream” or “populist” for you, you don’t need to buy any of these tunes or ever listen to them, and you’re welcome to dig through the other recommended songs for something more to your liking. Or you can just sit on your pedestal and be happy that your music tastes are so more eclectic than, and superior to, everyone else’s.

OK, rant over.

To end on a positive note, a big thanks to everyone for playing along (even those who moaned about it), regardless of whether you voted for already suggested songs or supplied new songs. I know that at least for me, that master list gives me plenty to explore the next time I decide I need some new tunes, and ultimately, that was the purpose of this little experiment, to give everyone a way to discover some new music. And I also think that the two playlists will do that, to a large extent, for many folks.

*(Actually, some other votes may have been left out. Just before publishing, I learned that some comments may have been inadvertently missed by me due to some site-wide problems we’re having with our commenting system and our attempts to automate the weeding-out of spam comments. So if I missed your comment and vote, apple-ologies.)

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Think Like Us ... Act Like Us ... You Will Listen to What We Say You'll Listen to ... Obey Us. ...

An Afternoon Comment Diversion / Seth Freilich

Comment Diversions | April 12, 2007 | Comments ()




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