The Growing Creepiness of Pandora’s Music Recommendations

Jeremy Blachman notices his Pandora recommendations becoming increasingly sinister.

Illustration by David Mansfield

Based on what you’ve told us so far, we’re playing this track because it features mellow rock instrumentation, rhythmic syncopation, and the use of an out-of-tune string ensemble.

It also features a six-eight time signature, and your mother’s name, sung just loud enough to mess with your subconscious. Hear it?


Based on what you’ve told us so far, we’re playing this next track because we know your secret, and we’re thinking about telling your wife. Maybe it’s worth upgrading your subscription so she’ll never find out.

If you choose not to pay, you won’t be able to stop us from telling her. You also won’t be able to stop us from continuing to play this track, since you’ve already skipped too many songs in the past hour. Skipping an unlimited number of songs is a benefit available exclusively to our paid subscribers.


Based on what you’ve told us so far, we’re now playing something we are absolutely certain you hate. It’s courtesy of your ex-wife. Yep, we said “ex.” We told her your secret, and she’s already filed the divorce papers.

Listen closely to the vocal-centric aesthetic and string section beds, because there’s a message in there, coming straight from her grave. Oh yeah, she’s dead too. Did we kill her? Who knows. We only tell paid subscribers those kinds of things.


Based on what you’ve told us so far, we’re playing this track because the ghost of your ex-wife is controlling your music preferences, and this is what she wants to hear. It goes well with whatever it is demons like to do for fun.

Don’t think you can just turn off the computer and the music will go away. Silly listener, that’s the whole point of haunting. And, nope, beating your laptop with a baseball bat isn’t going to help either. Nice try.


Based on the bat you just slammed against your computer, we’re now playing Michael Bublé’s jazz-inflected version of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” We hope you enjoy it.

Okay, we don’t actually hope you enjoy it. Just another way to torture you. There are eighty-seven more jazz-inflected versions of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” lined up in your queue. Or maybe we mean jazz-infected. And nothing you can do to stop them all from playing at a deafening volume.


Based on what you’ve told us so far, we’re playing this track because we think the rhythm will match the speed at which you’re falling from your window.

We’ll synchronize the loud part with the trumpets so it plays just as you hit the ground.


Based on what you’ve told us so far, we’ve chosen this track because it’s your funeral, and we think you would have wanted this song to play.

Sorry that we digitized your voice and added a spoken word section where we damned everyone you care about to hell. And by hell, we mean a place where you have no control over the sonic characteristics of the music you hear.


Based on what you’ve told us so far, we’re playing this track because it features mellow rock instrumentation, folk influences, mild rhythmic syncopation, and the use of a string ensemble.

The strings are made from pieces of your small intestine. Thank you for using Pandora.


Illustration by David Mansfield

Jeremy Blachman is a freelance writer and the author of Anonymous Lawyer, a comic novel about corporate law. Well, not really about corporate law, because that wouldn't be funny at all. If you email him, he'll write you back. You can read more of his work on his website.