Music Monday: Love Songs, The Non-Cheesy Kind

On Valentine’s Day my guy got all sweet on me and started a Love Songs station on Pandora for the drive to our Ethiopian vegan dinner at Cafe Lalibela. I swooned at the first song by Journey, until I accidentally hit the skip button — a fatal move for that station because the songs that followed were of the abhorrently cheesy Boyz II Men style. I couldn’t handle that.

Here are a handful of the non-cheesy and non-traditional love songs that I would want on my romantic play list:

I Will Follow You Into The Dark
by Death Cab For Cutie
Let’s start with a buck-the-system, non-traditional, but very sweet song with a beautiful acoustic beginning…

* * *

by Guster
What happens when love outrun its initial fascination phase? The reality — the reality of life and the reality of the imperfect partners — is digging its claws into the relationship that Guster sings about In Careful. The singer reaches for his imperfect, struggling lover with his stable, secure, and accepting love, hoping to bring her “Back where I can find you, to crawl inside you…”

* * *

by Regina Spektor
I know you know the next song, but how can I leave it off the list when it so successfully communicates the drama and the passion of every unacknowledged love that has to end before its time?

* * *

Hard To Concentrate
by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sweet tastes sweeter when you don’t expect it. Here’s a band of musicians who are reckless and wild but when one of them is ready to settle down and start a family with his girl, the Chili Peppers can be very, very sweet…

* * *

by Red Hot Chili Peppers
As far as I’ve read, Anthony Kiedis has never divulged the exact meaning for and the story behind this song, but I think sometimes the mystery behind the sorrow is better than knowing the story…

How Pandora Radio Made Me Hate Jack Johnson


Side Stepping

Let me step to the left before I plow face-first into my Pandora Radio complaint by stating that I LOVE Pandora Radio. LOVE. IT. Pandora has introduced me to hundreds of new bands to swoon over and reunited me with past lovers. As one of many parents who lose their musical way after college ends and child-rearing begins, I wandered lost in a ten-plus-year phase of no longer knowing where to find music I really love. Now days, Pandora provides me with a constant flow of new music based on other bands I tell it I love. Acquainting myself with bands is once again one of my favorite hobbies, just as it was in when I was in junior high and high school.

Now that my devoted love for Pandora Radio is on the table, let me side-step again—this time to the right—for devoted fans of Jack Johnson. He may be a decent musician. I don’t mean to offend all you ladies who love him. I might have actually liked him a little if it weren’t for Pandora’s obsessive and bizarre man-crush on him, and its insistence that we all get dosed with Jack daily. I over-dosed on Jack soon after Pandora hit the internet.

Pandora Radio has a man-crush on Jack Johnson.

Either that or Jack is paying them a beautiful amount of money. Maybe Jack OWNS Pandora. Why my accusations of either a crush, a conspiracy, or under-the-table money-passing? If you plug almost any band or artist into Pandora, it will tell you that that band or artist shares qualities similar to Jack Johnson.

When I first began creating my own personalized stations on Pandora, I thought Jack Johnson was okay. There were a few songs I even enjoyed. That lasted about a few days when I realized Jack was invading my stations every few songs. I am a lover of new discoveries and repetition of the same music or style or sound will kill my interest and it will kill it fast. Jack began to get a lot of thumbs down on my new stations.

The more stations I created, the more I realized a pattern. Having created more than thirty different Pandora stations, I have only found a couple where Pandora didn’t throw me a Jack-ditty by the third song. Seriously. All of the songs on a station are supposed to have similar musical characteristics to the original band you chose, but almost without fail Jack will be your song number three, no matter the music genre of your original band.

Not only that, but if you don’t start giving Jack the good-old thumbs-down, he’ll sprinkle your station with his non-dynamic and always-calm voice every handful of songs. I began complaining about this on twitter and got a quick response from Pandora’s twitter account. They told me that two thumbs-down will ban that artist from your station permanently, except for the songs you’ve already given a thumbs-up, and unless the band is the one that initially created your station.

Great, I thought! There is a way to stop these regular buzz-kills! I was pretty sure I’d given Jack plenty of thumbs-down’s already, but I have so many different stations, maybe they were spread around and somehow never happened twice on the same one. I began counting. And then I complained to Pandora on twitter when, after the fourth thumbs-down on my Sublime station, he popped in again, just a song or two later.

Maybe Pandora’s resident twitterer had her numbers wrong. Or maybe Pandora excused Jack from the thumbs-down rule because its man-crush is so tight, it cannot imagine anyone wouldn’t love him the way it does. Whatever it was, eventually, after numerous thumbs-down—maybe I downed every single song he ever released—I got my stations to a happy point where Jack’s pop-ins were relatively rare. I was a happy girl…until today.

Jack Came Back

All of a sudden this morning, Jack invaded my Sublime station four times during less than ninety minutes of listening. And yes, I was giving him the thumbs-down every time. The fourth Jack-intrusion happened with only one song after my third Jack-booting.

So what’s the deal, Pandora? Did you think my short reprieve from his music made me forget how much Jack’s inability to change vocal levels bothers me? Did you think that your obsession with him escaped my memory during that short sweet period when he wasn’t invading all of my stations? Not this girl. I may be one of only a few, but I am not in love with Jack Johnson. And if there was ever any hope of me sorta-liking him, your insistence on seeing every band and musician in light of Jack destroyed it. Please, Pandora…understand that we don’t ALL love him. No way am I interested in becoming the third member to your love triangle.