iTunes Genius: Not So Smart

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“Steve Jobs knew what we wanted before we knew we wanted it.”  How many times have you read that in the months since his passing?  It’s a stock phrase, inserted into any number of glowing eulogies about the man who brought us the iWorld of products.   It’s used to emphasize the unusual insight he had into the mind of the consumer, and it’s right on so many levels.

Except one.

Like everyone else, I have an iPod.  It hooks up to my iMac so I can download songs from iTunes and store them in my iCloud and listen to them on  my iPhone.  So far, so good.  Steve knew exactly how I wanted to listen to my music.  Where Steve went horribly, horribly wrong was in trying to guess what I wanted to listen to.  I speak, of course, about Genius.

Oh, Genius.  Genius, Genius, Genius.  You could not be more wrong.  Yes, I bought “Yesterday” by the Beatles.  No, that does not mean I want to hear the cast of Glee sing “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.  Without even accepting your generous offer of a preview, I can confidently assert that I do not want to hear anything by a band named The Hooters.  I struggle to see how anyone with a brain, let alone a self-proclaimed Genius could equate a masterpiece like “Beat It” with anything by Chicago, let alone “Hard Habit to Break”.

I really doubt you’ve ever heard Mariah Carey sing “All I want for Christmas is You”.  If you had (even the travesty that is the Bieber duet), you would never compare it to John Mellencamp attempting to cover “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”.  Speaking of John, you should know – being a Genius – that he is the same person as John Cougar and John Cougar Mellencamp.  None of them, however, can light up a Christmas tree like Mariah Carey.  Nor do any of them have anything to do with The Hooters.  (Again?  Really?)

Genius, I know you’re trying.  It had to take a lot of work to link Bon Jovi to Chicago.  It couldn’t have been easy finding a connection between Gloria Estefan (I’ll let everyone guess) and Jewel.  I’m sure Joe Diffie would give a king’s ransom to figure out how you put him together with Faith Hill.  But you failed.  You don’t know me at all.  If you did, you’d stop telling me to listen to Chicago.

Maybe if they played something by The Hooters…

What’s your experience with recommendation engines like Genius, Pandora, Netflix, Amazon, or others?