Saturday, September 20, 2014

Jazz music buyer meets very strong algorithms

Over the years, I've purchased a bunch of CD’s on Amazon, including a few box sets and such from Tony Bennett. Right around the time we bought tickets to see Tony Bennett in concert in Nashville this December, Amazon started flashing me with a Tony Bennett Lady Gaga duets album pop-up. It was relentless. They really wanted me to pre-order this record, but, having never listened to Lady Gaga and not being all the enamored of a young woman who never shows her own face and wears meat dresses, I told myself that no matter how much I liked Tony Bennett, his recording with Lady G was one I was going to pass on.

Still the popups came. It didn't matter if I was shopping for books, music, salt shakers, saxophone reeds, cheesecloth, pineapple corers, sheet music, silver polish, a hand ax, Roomba parts, super glue, or protein powder. As sure as I was going to check the box for “checkout”, Tony and Lady were going to bounce up to tell me, “Eric, new for you!” It wasn't new. And frankly, an 88-year old guy with makeup by himself is not disconcerting, and a 28-year old pop star with a curly black wig and makeup is not disturbing, but together, staring at you, calling you by name, it is disconcerting, disturbing, and downright scary. For months, this went on, but as the sale date of the recording approached, Amazon figured they had given it their best shot, and eventually, the popups stopped.
Sometimes they just send me an email. You know, maybe I missed the popup or something.
Then came a Wall Street Journal article about the recording, together with an interview with Lady Gaga. It talked about how it came to be that Lady Gaga sings jazz, not only with Tony Bennett, but also that she wants to release at least one solo jazz album every year “forever”. It talked about the odd pairing of the two, how Tony ended up wearing different performance outfits, and how Lady Gaga was able to tap into some previously unheard part of herself, thanks entirely to Tony Bennett’s encouragement. Suddenly, everything made sense. I shared the article with Mrs. S who just asked, “So, are you going to buy the CD?” Of course, the answer was ‘yes’. I pre-ordered the CD. Amazon knew exactly what I wanted before I even knew I wanted it. In fact, they knew I wanted it, before I even really understood what it was. Some would say that is scarier than the faces on the popups. I, however, am oddly relieved to know a company can generate a computer program that knows me and my intentions better than I do. I’m almost happy about it. No, I AM happy about it!

From now on, if I have any question about anything in my life, I think I will just ask Amazon.


LB said...

I agree that is a strange pairing. I'm assuming you love the CD? Loved the blog, you're so humorous.

Eric said...

Haven't listened to it yet. It comes out Tuesday. I could listen to the download, but I'm saving myself. I'm sure it's going to be fantastic. It's Tony!