The Great Music Categorization Initiative

Joan Concilio |

One of the best things to come into my life this year is Pandora Premium. It meets all my needs: Familiar music with occasional interspersals of new things I might like; the ability to span genres and decades; the serendipitous reconnection with old favorites I haven’t heard for years. I have several stations that I’ve worked hard to customize, with my current favorite being one titled Driven Home that basically exists to make my hourlong commute at the end of the day more bearable.

I’ve been a huge fan of the Music Genome Project almost since it began, and Days of Internet Radio Yore, I tried everything from Launchcast Plus to Spotify to Slacker. They all make their suggestions similarly, and I’m generally happy with them.


As someone who is at least as interested in the lyrics as the music itself, I wish someone would invent a topical categorization option for music based on lyrics. I don’t mean “breakup songs” or “falling in love songs” or “angsty emo songs.” I mean songs about any number of topics based on a particular concrete theme.

I offer this starting list by way of example, based solely on music I’ve heard in the past two weeks via either my own (fairly small) collection of mp3s or Pandora One. If anyone steals this idea and makes it a reality, all I ask is a free lifetime subscription, thankyouverymuch.

Celestial Bodies

  • Desdemona’s Building a Rocket Ship by Jimmy Buffett
  • Cecilia and the Satellite by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
  • Satellite by Dave Matthews Band
  • Synesthesia by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
  • Starlight by Muse

Day and Night

  • Daysleeper by R.E.M.
  • Nightswimming by R.E.M.
  • Some Nights by fun.


  • I’m Only Happy When it Rains by Garbage
  • Kiss the Rain by Billie Myers
  • Desert Rose by Sting
  • Flood by Jars of Clay

World Travel

  • Budapest by George Ezra
  • Pompeii by Bastille (technically not in the lyrics, but rather the title, but I claim it)
  • Holiday in Spain by Counting Crows

Au Naturel

  • The Mountains Win Again by Blues Traveler
  • The Forest Awakes by David Byrne and St. Vincent
  • Dirty Paws by Of Monsters and Men
  • Riptide by Vance Joy


  • Sweater Weather by The Neighbourhood
  • Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People

A Surprisingly Large Number of Songs About People Named Anna

  • Anna Sun by Walk the Moon
  • Hey Anna by Owl City
  • Anna Begins by Counting Crows

See where I’m going with this?