Tired of bots and algorithms recommending “popular” songs you don’t like? Music makes a human connection, so it’s best to hear song recommendations from real humans.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like AI is terrible at recommending music based on your tastes. But your ‘guilty pleasure’ track suddenly can mess up your algorithm, as can an earworm. There’s nothing like a friend who tells you, “Hey, you might enjoy this, try it out.”
So forget about bots, and check out these real people recommending really good songs.
Two music curators are sharing their picks worth listening to on the internet. Song Per Day sends a newsletter to your inbox with a cool track that you probably haven’t heard before. Auditory Musings recommends full albums to stream. Along with the pick of the day, both also write a short blurb about why you should listen to it.
Auditory Musings tends to dive into music history and context, which is often important when you’re listening to a full album. Heck, how often do you listen to a full album these days anyway, and for that matter, how many artists put out albums instead of singles? Click the album cover to find a link for your preferred music streaming service.
One Song Day focuses on the style of the song, and a few things to watch out for, like the vocals or an instrumental section. You’ll find links to stream it on Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube. You can browse the entire catalog of past recommendations on the website, and even suggest songs to the creators.
The name is a mouthful, but it’s self-explanatory too. For those who never found electronic music to be to your taste, this website promises to change your mind if you give it a shot.
Electronic Music for People Who Don’t Like Electronic Music (EMFPWDLEM) sports a Tron-like design, tipping their hat at Daft Punk. You’ll find buttons for your taste: rock, hip-hop, metal, or if you like Daft Punk itself. Click any one to get a recommendation.
This recommendation screen will have a full album by an artist on Spotify, along with a few more buttons based on the songs. For example, buttons might say “I like the beats” or “I like guitars in electronic music, more like that!” Listen to the songs or song previews if you don’t have Spotify, and click a button to refine your discovery.
The whole website comes from a popular flowchart on Reddit, but it’s so masterfully executed that the music discovery itself is fun. The simple, normal-language captions for the buttons make it feel more natural to pinpoint what you like and don’t like.
3. Music Genre Tree (Web): 1,111 Essential Recordings of Every Genre
This is one of the most comprehensive and exhaustive musical charts you’ll ever see. Music Genre Tree tries to include the original quintessential album of every musical genre, and they mean every genre. It includes medieval, renaissance, baroque, jazz, hip-hop, R’n’B, rock, classical, and much more. Genres also include regions like Sub-Saharan African, South Asian, etc. In total, it adds up to 1,111 essential recordings for every musical genre out there.
But what does “essential” mean? Well, the chart prioritizes the earliest classic instead of the “best ever” or “most popular” from each genre. The idea is to listen to the album that first popularized a genre, to really understand how it impacted that style of music.
Genres further branch out into styles, like rock having psychedelic, metal, punk, alternative, etc. Click any album cover to launch a YouTube search for it. You could always search for it on your favorite streaming service too.
The main Music Genre Tree homepage has a few more links if you like this. You’ll find places to discuss the choices on different online forums, where you can also suggest changes. There are a few outdated Spotify playlists as well, and you can download posters too.
4. Rate Your Music (Web): Active and Passionate Community of Music Lovers
Rate Your Music, popularly abbreviated to RYM on the web, is the closest alternative to Rotten Tomatoes for music. It’s a strong community of music aficionados who put their passion into words, reviewing every song and album. If you’re looking for a forum to discuss music and get recommendations, you can’t do better than this.
While you can use RYM without registering, it’s best to sign up and get involved. Browse the topics, contribute your thoughts, and make friends, because that is where it truly shines. RYM starts giving you both a general rating as well as “friends’ rating” to see what people with similar tastes thought about a song or album.
Apart from that, dive into the many curated lists made by the RYM moderators and members. For example, there are the decade-by-decade charts, or the massive RYM guide to everything and the Ultimate Box Set. No AI and algorithms here, these are real people discussing and voting to form lists of the best music recommendations.
If you love your music, it’s hard not to fall in love with RYM. And the homepage is a great way to track and discover new music releases .
5. Song Exploder (Podcast): Find a Song and Learn How the Musician Made it
Song Exploder is a unique combination of song recommendations and music appreciation. Each episode is only 15 minutes long on average, so it’s easy to get into. And it embraces all genres, so it’s great for anyone.
Host Hrishikesh Hirway speaks to a new musician in each episode to talk about one of their greatest hits. The musician picks apart the song piece by piece, talking about the composition, the lyrics, the production, and other fascinating insights into how a song is made. It’s an easy, well-edited conversation that values your time, after which you can go listen to the song they talked about, and perhaps others by the same artist.
How do you get into Song Exploder? Hirway recommends you listen to one episode about a song you love. And then listen to one episode about a song you have never heard before. Between those you, you’ll get what the podcast is all about, and probably be hooked for life.
More Goodies for Spotify Users
None of the websites in this article make you switch to a particular streaming service. But given the global popularity of Spotify, users of that streaming music app have an advantage. There are a host of websites to discover music through Spotify accounts, including the fantastic Moodify. It’ll auto-create playlists based on musical features, and you must try it out to discover new tunes.
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