This might come as a surprise to a few people who know me, but I'm pretty sure I like music again, and it's because of last.fm. As per usual, I'm behind the times, but this is neat lil' piece of technology. If'n you haven't used it before, you register, perhaps download their desktop software, and then type in your favorite group/artist/whatever-you-call-it, and it'll play "similar artists" to what you've typed in. From there, you can rate the songs that play with either "love it" or "don't play this ever again." You can also submit comments on the songs that are playing.
Here's where the assumptions start.
I suppose that the "similar-to" feature is predicated upon how users rate music and there's some algorithm that figures out what else you might like if you like the thing you typed in. Seems to make sense, sort of like Google's directed advertising or Amazon's "People who bought this also bought" feature. Here's the inherent problem: people who like Fugazi apparently have HORRIBLE taste in music. Here's a quick sampling of the songs that play when I type in "Fugazi," the songs that follow, and my commentary on them.
Against Me!-"A Brief Yet Triumphant Introduction"--I know nothing about Against Me!, but I do know this: this song is boring. Also, they blow goats.
Lost Alone-"Say no to the world"--I've never heard of this band, but they sound like the Killers, if the Killers actually used a somewhat natural tone on their drums. Here's the thing--they make me want to jump off of a building.
Don Caballero-"Delivering the Groceries at 138 Beats Per Minute"--Finally a decent band, but this song takes a VERY long time to get started. But it's pretty good, and within the same universe as Fugazi, which makes me less nervous.
Yo La Tengo-"I Should Have Known Better"--I've tried to get into YLT a number of times, and was never really able to. But this tune reminds me of pretty much every other prototypical indie rock band, and I can't say I hate it. It's just kind of, "Whatever." More or less background music. You know.
Escape the Fate-"The Ransom"--I wish someone would kidnap this band for ransom. Better yet, they should be buried alive with their records so that nobody would ever have to listen to them again. Sounds like EVERYTHING ELSE on the radio right now. I'd like to escape the fate of ever having to hear their brand of PUNK (tm) ever again.
Joy Division-"Shadowplay"--This is more like what I'd expect to hear after typing in "Fugazi" and choosing to listen to "similar artists." Never really cared for Joy Division, but it's certainly not as bad as Escape the Feces, or Against Me, or (insert pseudo pop-punk band name here).
The Stooges-"Death Trip"--Finally, the first VERY GOOD song I've heard in this go 'round with last.fm. I got into The Stooges when I was about 23 or 24 (not too long ago), and think that pretty much everything they've done was great. You know Mike Watt from the Minutemen toured with them? I think he's actually in the Stooges now. Pretty cool.
Coheed and Cambria-"The Willing Well I: Fuel for the Feeding End"--This band is basically Styx, if Styx had contemporary recording equipment. The song reminds me so much of "Mr. Roboto" that it's now stuck in my head. I like "Mr. Roboto" way more than this, by the way. Other than that, this song is a completely dull song masquerading as an interesting song. Blecch.
Late of the Pier-"Broken"--I've never heard of this band before, and even though it's sort of got that 80's dancy quality that I typically hate, I actually think this is kind of good. Nothing like Fugazi, but not too bad. The keyboards at times sound very 8 bit Nintendoey. That might have something to do with it.
Scratch Acid-"Crazy Dan"--I've never had the opportunity to hear Scratch Acid before, and I've wanted to for some time. It's David Yow's first band, which is why I became interested. It's pretty good. So, check it out or something.
Circle Jerks-"Wild in the Streets"--I remember this song being old when I was in high school. It's as good as I remember it.
Television-"In World"--I think that last.fm has pegged my age.
Propaghandi-"Nation States"--Maybe not. This band sucks it big time. I'd rather get a blowjob from Newt Gingrich than ever have to hear this band again.
Emery-"In a Win/Win Situation"--Very Jesusy, very boring.
Polvo-"Lazy Comet"--This is more like what I'd expect to see w/ Fugazi as a search term. One of the few legitimately good songs I've heard. The song ambles like a fat man leaning on a shopping cart in the grocery store. And it's almost as frightening.
The Clash-"The Sound of Sinners"--As good as their self-titled record was, you can't possibly expect that their others would be nearly as good. And you'd be right. The rest of the Clash's stuff, with the possible exception of London Calling, is more or less garbage.
Mogwai-"Dial Revenge"--I got the last.fm tab in IE wet during this song, and suddenly, there are, like, 20 or so new tabs playing the exact same song. Did that reference go over well?
Rapeman-"Hated Chinee"--Steve Albini, as you might know, fucked Pac-Man.
Okay. I think my point comes across... There's no Fugazi that got played. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. This is the primarly problem that I have with last.fm--it won't play exactly what you want to hear on demand, but is rather like a radio station that is directed solely by the tastes of its listeners. And most people have terrible taste.
Not that you'd get anyone to admit that.