Saturday 1 May 2010
Dylan Jones: 'Last.fm has started dictating the soundtrack of my life'
If the prefix du jour in the Eighties was "designer", and if the prefix du jour in the last decade was "luxury", then the current prefix with the most traction is "bespoke". Bespoke clothes. Bespoke music. Television. Holidays. Food. Books. Magazines. For many of us the world looks like a very different place to the one we knew only five years ago. And thanks to the joys of ABC (Automatic Bespoke Culture), it will look even more different in five minutes time.
The wireless (as my father still calls it) hasn't escaped this spring clean, either, and just when I thought I had outgrown music radio, Last.fm has started dictating the soundtrack of my life. Just last night, as I was compiling a playlist to accompany a business trip (the Maccabees, Jeffrey Foskett, Joey Scarbury, Jeff Larson, Milt Jackson, etc), I punched Burt Bacharach, the Eagles and Hall & Oates into my Last.fm radio, and my bespoke station began pumping out Little River Band, Peter Thomas, Dan Fogelberg and Chicago. Suddenly, the light that traditionally pours into a southern Californian garden came pouring into Bayswater, as my room swelled to the sounds of Dennis Wilson, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Glen Campbell.
Now, while I realise that early adopters have been all over Last.fm since it launched eight years ago, it makes Apple's Genius function appear rather old-fashioned, if not completely redundant. Founded here in the UK, Last.fm is one of the best internet radio sites, and currently claims over 40 million active users based in more than 200 countries. Users can create custom radio stations and playlists from any of the audio tracks in Last.fm's library, and are able to listen to some individual tracks on demand. Occasionally it thinks I'm too perverse for words (or music), and when I recently punched in Steely Dan, Miles Davis, Kraftwerk and Malcolm McLaren, it rather annoyingly said my station didn't exist. I had better luck with David Bowie, Dionne Warwick and Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66... And much as I enjoy your company, and while I'd like to sit and chat, I'm going back in.
Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'
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