Inside Song: The Enduring Appeal Of A Sad Song

Some years ago, I went through a low period as a long-term relationship came to an end. I was living in a tiny apartment in Paris, a city where I knew only one other person. I was broke, of course. It was winter, and my music–the whole reason I’d moved to Paris–was going nowhere. I subsisted on espresso and Gauloises cigarettes, long walks around the freezing, empty city, and Radiohead’s Kid A and OK Computer. Cliché, I’m aware, but forgive me. I was young.

photoMy point, however, is that rather than seeking out some positive, inspiring music that could have helped shake me out of my gloom, I gravitated toward the saddest sounds I could fill my head with. And I know I’m not alone in this behavior.

There’s something about sad songs that holds a strong appeal for us as listeners. The pining vocals, the grand weeping sweep of strings, the dark shadow of the minor key and shattered glass spill of acoustic piano, they scratch some itch deep inside that the bounce and whirl of a chipper ditty can’t reach. Read More →

Inside The Collection: Weekly Curator Picks

Artist Debuts 

Robin Schulz

More often, it seems like deep house is part of the pop vernacular – there’s a common producer behind many of today’s hits: Robin Schulz. Widely known for his remix of Mr. Probz’ “Waves,” Robin’s debut album Prayer finds him remixing “A Sky Full Of Stars” by Coldplay and “Prayer In C” by Lilly Wood & The Prick. Upon first listen one is struck by a unified sound with emotional pop vocals, catchy riffs and plenty of reverb tying it all together. It’s stylistically similar to the Saint-Germain-Des-Pres Café compilations, but with a lot less jazz. If you’re digging on Clean Bandit, Duke Dumont, or Kiesza; you’ll find a lot to like in Prayer.

Elle King

Combining rock, soul, folk, jazz and country; RCA Records artist Elle King is preparing to release her much anticipated debut album featuring the single “Ex’s & Oh’s.” This track has been compared to Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass,” but with a naughtier edge. This “banjo slinging baby” is also the daughter of actor and comedian Rob Schneider (Saturday Night Live, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo).

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 9.22.29 AMOwl John

Owl John is the solo project of Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchinson who recently released an album of the same name produced by band mate Andy Monaghan and Olympic Swimmers’ Simon Liddell. He has so far garnered accolades from Mojo and Under The Radar for his experimentation with atmospheric, electronic and bluesy influences as heard in the album’s opener “Hate Music.”  Read More →

Inside The Collection: Progressive Bluegrass

You know how music can bring back a flood of old memories, emotions and even certain smells or tastes? Building Pandora’s Progressive Bluegrass station totally did that to me. I was introduced to the genre by way of San Francisco’s beloved Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival – an annual weekend-long concert in Golden Gate Park featuring traditional bluegrass bands, non-traditional bluegrass bands and everything in between. I’ve been attending almost every year since its 2001 inception. Because the event always happens the first weekend of October, just listening to David Grisman, Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers, Carolina Chocolate Drops or Robert Plant & Alison Krauss brings back all kinds of autumnal vibes – the shedding trees, a crisper coastal air and darker beers.

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 11.49.52 AMThe first time I’d ever heard there was a music genre called “progressive bluegrass,” I admittedly envisioned the guys in Rush playing banjos and fiddles. Up until then, the only time I’d ever heard the word “progressive” used in relation to music was when describing prog-rock. Bob Dylan went electric at Newport Folk Festival in 1965 – this was around the same time that The Byrds’ first album was released. So if adding amplifiers and drums to folk created the term “folk-rock,” why wasn’t progressive bluegrass simply named “bluegrass-rock?” While curating the songs on this genre station I learned why. Not all progressive bluegrass involves the simple addition of electric guitars and drum kits. In fact, most bands comprising the genre still adhere to playing classic acoustic instruments. But what’s progressive here is that these musicians have decidedly moved beyond the purists’ parameters of the traditional stringband blueprint to explore new and different possibilities. Read More →

Inside The Collection: Weekly Curator Picks

Artist Debuts 

Erica Nicole

Recently awarded Best Country Female Artist at the 2014 Nashville Independent Music Awards, Erica Nicole generated media buzz after revealing to Billboard her longtime struggle with hearing loss. Despite her struggle, she is making an impact on Country radio with the release of her new single “It’s Comin’ Down” which, at #73, was the highest charting radio single by an independent artist on its debut week.

Myles SankoScreen Shot 2014-09-29 at 9.05.59 AM

Dubbed as “the lovechild of soul music” by Time Out magazine, British singer-songwriter Myles Sanko has received critical and fan acclaim. His original funk and soul music is inspired by James Brown, Bill Withers, Otis Redding and Al Green. In addition to the release of his album Forever Dreaming, he has worked with funk kings Speedometer and toured with former James Brown funk diva Martha
High
. Read More →

Pandora Whiteboard Sessions: The Wood Brothers, Russian Red, Slow Club and Kevin Devine

The Wood Brothers are brothers Chris Wood (upright bass) and Oliver Wood (guitar), and multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix. A blend of folk, rock, and country sweetened with vocal harmonies comprise their Americana sound. Other artists that can be heard on their Pandora station include The Avett Brothers, The Black Keys and Old Crow Medicine Show. The trio came by the office and played “Sing About It” of their latest album The Muse. Read More →

Inside The Collection: Weekly Curator Picks

Artist Debuts

I LOVE MAKONNEN

I LOVE MAKONNEN is the stage name of Atlanta-based R&B and hip-hop artist Makonnen Sheran. His rise to prominence began after Drake remixed his song “Tuesday.” Another one of his tracks reached Miley Cyrus, who shared it on her Instagram. He has recently signed to Drake’s label, OVO Sound, and has begun work on a collaboration project with Mike Will.

You+Me

You+Me (pronounced “you plus me”) are a country-folk duo formed by singer-songwriter Alecia Moore (aka Pink) and Canadian musician Dallas Green (aka City And Colour). They recently unveiled their debut single, an acoustic love song “You And Me” and will release their debut studio album, Rose Ave., on 10/12.

Saint Pepsi

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 12.54.57 PMRecently named “Best Of What’s Next” by Paste Magazine, Saint Pepsi began experimenting with remixing, genre shuffling and mashing up tracks by Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen – receiving recognition by multiple music blogs. He recently released his first non-remix track on the Carpark record label, “Fiona Coyne,” a summery synth-pop love letter to a fictional character on the TV show Degrassi.

Read More →

What if a thumb could instantly bring you face to face with your favorite artist?

Imagine thumbing up a song from your favorite artist and moments later finding yourself face to face with them for a private concert. Sounds impossible, right? Well this is exactly what just happened for some Pandora listeners.

At Pandora, we constantly strive to create magic moments for our listeners by connecting them to the right music at the right time.  Today, we want to share a new Pandora program that takes this connection to the next level.  Within moments of thumbing up a song, we are surprising a few listeners by literally connecting them to the artist for a totally live, one-on-one concert via video chat. Read More →

Pandora Whiteboard Sessions: The Autumn Defense performs “Every Day”

The Autumn Defense is a band formed by Wilco members John Stirratt and Pat Sansone. The multi-instrumentalists have a mellow rock and folk influenced sound. Other artists that can be heard on their Pandora station include Elliott Smith, The Decemberists and The Jayhawks.

The duo stopped by the office and played “Every Day” off their album Once Around. Audio from the full session can be found here.