The year is 2016, but it might as well be 1996. Taylor Swift resurrected Gwen Stefani’s wardrobe for the Grammys; women (and maybe some dudes) are wearing floral skater dresses with Doc Martens; and chokers are cool again. If you hit your head dramatically singing along to Matchbox Twenty’s “Real World” and didn’t wake up for 20 years, you could literally ease back into the popular culture scene with little difficulty. The tech scene? Not so much. If the idea of a 20-year coma to keep the ’90s alive appeals to you, you definitely know the lyrics to at least three Rob Thomas/Matchbox Twenty songs. He and his wispy Caesar cut were a staple on MTV. Truly, it was he who was so smooth. And also surprisingly resistant to the winds of time, because while he’s not a frequent figure atop the charts, he’s still going.
If you like Thomas (even secretly), you possibly have a Rob Thomas channel on Pandora. Which almost sounds okay.
Started in 2005, Pandora is the face of the music genome project, which means each of its roughly 800,000 songs is mapped into 450 genes that are used by an algorithm to develop your channel. With all that science at play, Pandora must be free of judgement, right? Wrong. Pandora is less a cool/logical robot and more a taste-interventionist entity trying to force you to admit that you have a problem.
With that in mind, here’s our very (un)scientific assessment of what your Rob Thomas Pandora channel says about you after conducting the brave experiment of reviewing a day’s worth of results on the channel.
You are at least 35.
This one is a gimme. Most Rob Thomas channelers are “adult contemporary” fans. Yes, the label is harsh, but accurate. The channel’s onslaught of music hammers home how much you have aged the way that internet dating and trying to program a new cellphone do. Remember when The Wallflowers, Counting Crows, Oasis, Dave Matthews Band, Semisonic, and Eagle Eye Cherry were proudly “alternative rock” and not mood music in flashbacks? Pandora knows you do, so don’t be sad. It will give you all the Gin Blossoms you need to cope.
You love white guy music.
First of all, there is nothing wrong with white guy music. Tom Jones? An icon. But this is white, white, white guy music. This is background for a touching scene on Gilmore Girls white. This is twentysomethings bringing back the piano ballad with the forgotten fervor of Billy Joel white. To put this in perspective, the only artists of color to show up in 24 hours of play were Santana (and he’s only there because of his collaboration with Rob Thomas) and Darius Rucker of Hootie & The Blowfish. Hootie. And. The. Blowfish.
You tell people you like the blues, but you really don’t.
Pandora knows that you like your blues like you like your rock: modern and pop-y. How can you tell? Pandora calls Thomas’ music “a blend of ’70s rock influences, slick hooks, and ’90s post-grunge crunch” and matches that to John Mayer, who is basically one big O-face attached to a guitar. Of all the blues artists that have ’70s rock influences and slick hooks, they deliver Mayer. Mayer is a really talented blues guitarist, but still. Still. For more proof, look to the other blues included: Blues Traveller. Challenging yourself to sing along to “Hook” without passing out from oxygen deprivation is as bluesy as you get, and Pandora just wants you to admit it.