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Forbidden Friday: Envy

Oh, the list of blogs we envy: Boingboing, Gawker, Engadget, the HuffPo"¦ Cory, Jessica, Pete, Arianna, link to us! We'll love you forever, when we're not cursing you for being so huge!

Er, sorry, the following folks' inferiority complexes must have rubbed off on us:

bigmama.jpgMusicians Who Always Felt Cheated

Big Mama Thornton: In 1953, while playing at New York's Apollo Theater as part of the "Hot Harlem Revue," Thornton was asked by composers Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller to record a song they had written for her. Thornton recorded "Hound Dog" and the single quickly sold nearly two million copies. As we all know, though, a young rockabilly recording artist with Sun Records named Elvis Presley also recorded said song and the rest is history. For her recording of "Hound Dog" and the two million copies sold, Thornton received one chek for a whopping total of $500. Of course, that wasn't her only hit. Big Mama's song "Ball and Chain" became a huge hit for her in the 1950s. However, most of us remember that tune as the version recorded in the 1960s by another booming voice -- Janis Joplin's. Like so many African American artists before her, Big Mama Thornton never received the financial and historical rewards she was due.

Two more nice guys who finished, well, not first after the jump.

Johnny Rotten: (Editor's note: Okay, "nice guy" was a stretch.) In 1975, the 19-year-old John Lydon met a young entrepreneur, Malcolm McLaren, at McLaren's fashion boutique in London called Sex. McLaren, who was putting a rock group together, was on the hunt for a lead singer. Happy to oblige, Lydon accepted the position even though he'd never sung before -- and somehow Britain's most notorious punk group, the Sex Pistols, came into existence. With his outrageously rude manner and his total lack of personal hygiene, Lydon was soon dubbed Johnny Rotten. Because of their lyrics, the group was sooned banned on British radio, but they still garnered a huge following. Of course, they garnered huge egos as well. Rotten soon became disenchated with McLaren's management style and inability to move the group to a higher level of stardom. At the same tie, he didn't feel that he was receiving his just due as a top performer, and after a concert in San Francisco in 1978, Rotten officially broke up the group, claiming that all of rock and roll had been played and now it was officially dead. The legal system, however, was not. Johnny Rotten eventually reverted to his given name and, teaming up with the other Sex Pistols, successfully sued McLaren for $1.44 million in back royalties.

George Harrison: Known as "the quiet Beatle," George Harrison, who was the youngest of the lot, was also arguably the best musician among the Fab Four. Having attended school in Liverpool at one time or another with both Paul McCartney and John Lennon, Harrison started jamming with the two, forming a group called the Quarrymen, later to become the Silver Beetles, and eventually just the plain old Beatles. Harrison, who played lead guitar and occasionally sang lead ("Roll Over Beethoven"), was the first Beatle to get invovled in Eastern religion. However, over the years, he found it more and more difficult for the group to take his compositions seriously and feature them on the albums. Interestingly, some of Harrison's works such as "I Need You," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Here Comes the Sun," and especially "Something," are considered among the Beatles' greatest hits. By 1970, Harrison's resentment of his second-class status within the group had grown to the point that it became one of the factors that caused the Beatles to disband.

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New AI-Driven Music System Analyzes Tracks for Perfect Playlists
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Whether you're planning a bachelorette party or recovering from a breakup, a well-curated playlist makes all the difference. If you don't have time to pick the perfect songs manually, services that use the AI-driven system Sonic Style may be able to figure out exactly what you have in mind based on your request.

According to Fast Company, Sonic Style is the new music-categorizing service from the media and entertainment data provider Gracenote. There are plenty of music algorithms out there already, but Sonic Style works a little differently. Rather than listing the entire discography of a certain artist under a single genre, the AI analyzes individual tracks. It considers factors like the artist's typical genre and the era the song was recorded in, as well as qualities it can only learn through listening, like tempo and mood. Based on nearly 450 descriptors, it creates a super-accurate "style profile" of the track that makes it easier for listeners to find it when searching for the perfect song to fit an occasion.

Playlists that use data from Sonic Style feel like they were made by a person with a deep knowledge of music rather than a machine. That's thanks to the system's advanced neural network. It also recognizes artists that don't fit neatly into one genre, or that have evolved into a completely different music style over their careers. Any service—including music-streaming platforms and voice-activated assistants—that uses Gracenote's data will be able to take advantage of the new technology.

With AI at your disposal, all you have to do as the listener is decide on a style of music. Here are some ideas to get you started if you want a playlist for productivity.

[h/t Fast Company]

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