Novelty playlist ordering

[tweetmeme source= ‘plamere’ only_single=false] We’ve been building a new playlisting engine here at the Echo Nest.  The engine is really neat – it lets you apply a whole range of very flexible constraints and orderings to make all sorts of playlists that would be a challenge for even the most savvy DJ.  Playlists like 15 songs with a tempo between 120 and 130 BPM ordered by how danceable they are by very popular female artists that sound similar to Lady Gaga, that live near London, but never ever include tracks by The Spice Girls.

I was playing with the engine this weekend, writing some rules to make novelty playlists to test the limits of the engine.   I started with  rules  typical for a similar-artist playlist: 15 songs long, filled with songs by artists similar to a seed artist (in this case Weezer), the first and last song must be by the seed artist, and no two consecutive songs can be by the same artist.  Simple enough, but then I added two more rules to turn this into a novelty playlist that would be very hard for a human to make.     See if you can guess what the two rules are.  I think one of the rules is pretty obvious, but the second is a bit more subtle.  Post your guesses in the comments.

 0    Tripping Down the Freeway - Weezer
 1    Yer All I've Got Ttonight - The Smashing Pumpkins
 2    The Most Beautiful Things - Jimmy Eat World
 3    Someday You Will Be Loved - Death Cab For Cutie
 4    Don't Make Me Prove It - Veruca Salt
 5    The Sacred And Profane - Smashing Pumpkins, The
 6    Everything Is Alright - Motion City Soundtrack
 7    The Ego's Last Stand - The Flaming Lips
 8    Don't Believe A Word - Third Eye Blind
 9    Don's Gone Columbia - Teenage Fanclub
10    Alone + Easy Target - Foo Fighters
11    The Houses Of Roofs - Biffy Clyro
12    Santa Has a Mullet - Nerf Herder
13    Turtleneck Coverup - Ozma
14    Perfect Situation - Weezer

Here’s another playlist – with a different set of  two novelty rules, with a seed artist of Led Zeppelin.   Again, if you can guess the rules, post a comment.

0    El Niño - Jethro Tull
1    Cheater - Uriah Heep
2    Hot Dog - Led Zeppelin
3    One Thing - Lynyrd Skynyrd
4    Nightmare - Black Sabbath
5    Ezy Ryder - The Jimi Hendrix Experience
6    Soulshine - Govt Mule
7    The Gypsy - Deep Purple
8    I'll Wait - Van Halen
9    Slow Down - Ozzy Osbourne
10   Civil War - Guns N' Roses
11   One Rainy Wish - Jimi Hendrix
12   Overture (Live) - Grand Funk Railroad
13   Larger Than Life - Gov'T Mule

  1. #1 by Jeff on July 25, 2010 - 9:13 am

    I can see that the last letter of one song title is the first letter of the next song title, but the second rule is eluding me. I’m guessing that it’s something to do with the artist name, hence the alternate wordings of The Smashing Pumpkins, but I could, of course, be way off with that. I’d love to figure it out, but I think I’ve spent too much time on it already. ;)

  2. #2 by Paul on July 25, 2010 - 9:19 am

    Jeff – you are too fast, I didn’t even get a chance to tweet the post. I added another playlist to the post with a different set of novelty rules so you can waste more time on your Sunday morning.

  3. #3 by Ian on July 25, 2010 - 9:37 am

    Looks like they’re both sorted by song title length.

    • #4 by Paul on July 25, 2010 - 9:48 am

      Ian – indeed, so between you and Jeff, you have the rules for the first playlist. Need one more rule for the second.

  4. #5 by pietro on July 25, 2010 - 10:29 am

    Wow !!! That looks fun !
    Does anybody have access to this engine or is it only for private or commercial purpose ?

    • #6 by Paul on July 25, 2010 - 10:32 am

      Pietro – we’ll be releasing our playlisting APIs soon. These are open APIs that anyone can get access to. Look for them at

  5. #7 by Andy Baio on July 25, 2010 - 10:43 am

    The second playlist is Paul’s precision hack: “ECHONEST IS COOL”.

  6. #8 by Paul on July 25, 2010 - 10:47 am

    Andy – that’s it!

  7. #9 by Alex on July 25, 2010 - 12:48 pm

    The first playlist’s second rule is that all of the songs titles have the same number of syllables.

  8. #10 by brian on July 25, 2010 - 2:08 pm

    oof, you need to find a song that starts with a space for position 4 of the second playlist, stat

    • #11 by brian on July 25, 2010 - 2:10 pm

      ps can you film it when you ask tyler to code in the “spell a secret message” api parameter?

    • #12 by debcha on July 26, 2010 - 9:32 am

      “Space Oddity.”

      Obviously. :)

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