As it has for so many rock 'n' roll aficionados of my generation, iTunes has played a pretty pivotal role in my pursuit and attainment of new music. It has been at the forefront of legal downloading software nearly since its inception. In recent months, however, it seems as though iTunes has been taking unnecessary precautions in order to stay at the front of the pack.
Virtually every time I open iTunes, I'm prompted with a message. Something along the lines of "iTunes v220.127.116.11 now available for download. Download now?" Initially the changes were helpful, but now they're increasingly trivial and occasionally not even noticeable. The most blatant of these recent "improvements" is the nefarious Genius Sidebar.
Genius' intention is to provide the listener with unfamiliar albums or similar artists; it can also formulate playlists from your library based on a "seed" song. I first have to say that even if it were flawless, Genius doesn't do anything for me that All Music and Adam Gold don't do already. What's worse, it's done in a much more intrusive manner. Yes, I know I can make Genius go away, but I always find myself wanting to give the thing a chance. But when listening to Roy Orbison, my Genius recommended The Bangles, Journey, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna and Debbie Gibson. While I was enjoying Neutral Milk Hotel, my Genius thought I might want to check out The Decemberists or Okkervil River. Next thing I know, my Genius will be telling me to stab myself in the ears or park my car in the garage with the motor running.
Is there anyone who finds this thing beneficial? Am I overlooking some key feature that makes Genius badass? I'm afraid iTunes is swiftly becoming the Coors Light of music software, forever fearful of losing its footing, steeped in neurosis and self-doubt. I don't need a frost-brewed liner or a temperature sensitive label to enjoy a cold one. I liked you just the way you were.
But on an interesting side note, while listening to Wilco's A Ghost Is Born, Genius recommended the likes of one Missus Butterfly Boucher. So, you know. There's the local angle. Visual proof of Genius' iTardation after the jump.
You don't say.