Tuesday, March 04, 2008

itunes party shuffle sucks ass

lovely language skills in the title, i know. but who else is fed up with party shuffle?

almost everyone i know that listens to digital music and owns a computer has itunes, and everyone i know that has itunes HATES party shuffle.

i want to like party shuffle. i do. sometimes i can't decide on a particular artist to focus my ears on, and i'd like someone else to do that work for me. or i realize that as a music listener i am very predictable - i listen to probably the same 100 or so songs all the time. honestly, sometimes i'll hear a song play on my computer and actually think "where the hell did THAT come from?" so the party shuffle is a good way of brushing the dust off the songs that are good but most of the time forgotten.

but it's crap, and here's why: it plays the same songs all the time, too. i have almost 3000 songs and i swear i hear the same ones all the time. yes, i know that the best of frank sinatra is a 2-disc set so maybe i am asking for it, but how is it that in the list of 100 upcoming random songs, there are ALWAYS six or seven from old blue eyes? i don't see how it's mathematically possible.

alicia often utilized her party shuffle feature, and i swear that all we ever listened to was the song "we look like giants" by death cab for cutie. look it up and i bet it's in her top played list. it has to be. that, and madonna. everytime you turn around you're hearing that "this used to be my playground..." song.

so what's the problem? i checked my preferences to see if i had any funny settings checked accidentally, like "play more annoying songs constantly," or "i LOVE vertical horizon, play them 1000 times a day please." (okay, i'll admit that if that box actually existed, i'd check it.)

you can select "play higher rated songs more often," but i don't have this checked and i only have one rated song ("livin on the edge," aerosmith. 5 stars. why?). you can also adjust how "random" your random shuffle is - it can be more likely or less likely to play your favorite songs. mine is set right at the middle on "random." so, theoretically, every song should have the opportunity to be played, right?

not quite. apparently, party shuffle isn't random in the sense that each song has equal odds of getting played. the shuffle function on the ipod chooses songs by an alogrithm that uses no replacement - meaning that every song will be played, to the end of the entire library, before any are repeated (like choosing cards from a deck until it's gone.) however, the party shuffle feature works WITH replacement, meaning each time a song is played, when it's finished it is tossed back into the pot, with equal chances of being chosen again as a song that hasn't been played. so the party shuffle is only random so far as the number of upcoming songs you choose to show.

likely story. i think apple is lying. even with replacement, it seems like with songs numbering in the thousands, artist repeats would be sparse.

we're thinking either a.) this "randomness" is a lie. apple is actually, without telling you, trying to figure out which songs you play often and bringing you into a self-perpetuating loop by playing those most-often-played songs more often. sooner or later you'll be sitting motionless at your desk, eyes glazed over and fixed at a crack in the wall, drooling, thinking only "how the HELL did i end up with the backstreet boys on my computer, and will i have to listen to only "i want it that way," for the rest of eternity?

or maybe any even slimier scheme - a conspiracy with certain artists to write code that plays their songs more often.

jocelyn's thoughts:

"i don't mind so much hearing fall out boy all the time, but my party shuffle really doesn't need to be playing the RENT soundtrack all the time. it gets a little embarrassing."

so yeah, i'm not the only one who feels like something is up. if you can shed some light on the party shuffle mystery, please do. until then i'll be listening to "we look like giants," until i forget my name.

3 comments:

something to make fun of myself for later said...

fucking party shuffle and itunes in general. "we looked like giants" is not on my Top 25 Most Played because I think you have to choose the song indepedently, without the "help" of party shuffle in order for it to count towards being "played." Also, we discussed this earlier and I think you may be right when you said that the song has to play in its entirety for it to county towards the Top 25.

But even looking at my Top 25 Most Played right now, it still makes no sense. "What A Fool Believes" is #1 and rightly so as you are aware. But then it has like three Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins songs, which kind of makes sense, but no "The Big Guns," which I listen to like nine times a day.

What's new in my party shuffle is that it keeps playing Andrea Bocelli, which I unfortunately thought would be a good idea to upload on my computer when I was home for Christmas and ransacked my parents music collection. But it keeps playing some fucking duet with Celine Dion.


itunes makes me hate my music selection a lot and i want to stop relying on it as my major form of music enjoyment, but i read that it's better for the environmnet to download cds rather than buy them. this is because each month more than 45 tons of discarded cds end up in landfills.

this was a long comment. this is beause i am unemployed. i don't even know what my point is. i think it is that i need to fix my record player.

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