From last summer:
The iTunes installation on the work box, set to shuffle through 3,236 tracks, managed to put these two together:
- P. J. Proby’s “Niki Hoeky,” from 1967, cowritten by Pat and Lolly Vegas.
- Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love,” from 1974, written and sung by Pat and Lolly Vegas.
As the phrase goes: “What are the chances?”
Doing the actual math is left as an exercise for the student. But clearly this phenomenon isn’t exactly unheard-of; almost daily iTunes surprises me with an unexpected but utterly spiffy juxtaposition of two, sometimes even three tunes.
And it’s not just me, either. From Rich Appel’s Hz So Good newsletter (3/09):
I’d be lying if I said I understood how “shuffle” works on the iPod. I’ve been using it for weeks, and I’m convinced there’s a miniature Lee Abrams in there. Why else would 50s and early ’60s cuts almost always play together (such as, the other day, The Volumes’ “I Love You” followed by Don & Juan’s “What’s Your Name”)? Why would Kelly Clarkson’s “If I Can’t Have You” come after Beyonce’s “Halo”? Or Tommy Roe’s “Sweet Pea” go into The Osmonds’ “Yo-Yo”? Sure, there’s the occasional train wreck — Sinead O’Connor’s “Mandinka” was paired with Steve Lawrence’s “Poor Little Rich Girl” the other morning, and just yesterday Beyonce’s “Video Phone” was followed by Richard Harris’ “MacArthur Park” — but most of the time, with a 4,600-and-still-growing playlist, my ‘Pod sounds like nothing more than a very good oldies station (with the occasional “Future Gold”).
About 4240 here, but the same general results.
That’s one key point about [Portable Digital Music Players]: if yours doesn’t sound like the best oldies station you’ve ever heard — music-wise, that is — you’re either doing something wrong or you’ve programmed all new music (and if you’re doing that, I take off my hat to you: we need more folks like you). I might be hitting some musical extremes on mine — nowhere near what several of my friends have going on theirs, trust me — but for most users, I have to think that even a 500-song playlist on shuffle would sound like a ballsy AAA, Urban AC or Hot AC.
Get up to 1500 or so and you’re already ahead of Jack and Bob and all those other FMs with Christian names and snark from elsewhere.
Trini and I have been experimenting with the shuffle, or at least with trying to see if we can outguess it. As applied to my current automated playlist (the 320 tracks least often played, your mileage may vary), it has some predictable tendencies: it tends to jump to a track by an artist whose name begins with the same letter, or to a track with the same playcount — or, most remarkable of all, to a track with a combination of both characteristics. With this in mind, and Andy Kim’s remake of “Baby I Love You” (the Ronettes song) playing, we recorded our predictions for the next track to be shuffled in. I picked “Too Shy” by Kajagoogoo; she went for “Lips Like Morphine” by Kill Hannah. These tracks were exactly two apart, when the list is sorted by artist, and the one iTunes eventually served up was the one in between: Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long.”
This also precipitated a discussion of whether Kid Rock should be filed under Kid or under Rock. I pointed out that despite his name, Kid Rock is not a kid, nor does he rock, but this observation did not result in a re-sort.