As you've noticed the last several years, similar artists for bands/artists have gotten worse and more unreasonable. Especially if you keep reading on and on through the top similar artists for each artist. The one that has been baffling me for a while is The Offspring
, a punk rock band that's not extreme metal
or hard rock
(though they do have alternative
influences and sounds at times). In fact, as of 12/25/2011, these are their top 50 similar artists in order:Sum 41Rise AgainstBad ReligionBilly TalentPennywiseMetallicaGreen Dayblink-182ZebraheadMillencollinAC/DCNickelbackPapa RoachSystem of a DownRed Hot Chili PeppersDisturbedAnti-FlagRage Against the MachineNOFXGodsmackBloodhound GangLimp Bizkit3 Doors DownRancidFarben LehreSlipknotStatic-XNirvanaKornDropkick MurphysRamonesIron MaidenAudioslaveGoldfingerRammsteinDrowning PoolPidżama PornoBullet for My ValentineDragonForceRob ZombieBowling for SoupP.O.D.DopeGood CharlotteGuano ApesFlogging MollyTenacious DFoo FightersThree Days GraceAFI
You guys can puke now. The current formula is based on what people of Offspring listen to more often. But seriously...we know this. If one person listens to two bands, those two bands aren't necessarily similar...especially The Offspring to Metallica. The Offspring to Nickelback. The Offspring to AC/DC (seriously...). The Offspring to System of a Down...The Offspring to Disturbed and Godsmack (seriously...?) The Offspring to Slipknot, KoRn, and Limp Bizkit (when has The Offspring ever been nu metal?). And worse yet, The Offspring to Iron Maiden, Rammstein, Bullet For My Valentine, DragonForce, Rob Zombie...are we supposed to believe that The Offspring is a heavy metal band?
Anyone should know that this method isn't the best way to find a similar artist. It's not. Simple as follows. A topic on the forums discussed that and some people suggested that the bands/artists be determined by tag clouds. That could work, but a few believe that there could be problems, especially when taking the whole tag cloud as a whole and seeing a ton of hard rock and alternative bands become similar to the one artist (The Offspring in this case).
Actually, there is another way I've been looking at, and it was a waste of several hours.
What if we took the current list and re-sorted it based on just the top 5 tags, taking into account the order of the tags. Of course there are questionable tags like classic rock
, and for some reason, very frequently polish
and polish rock
(appears that The Offspring has a huge following in Poland), but for now, let's leave them here (already, the infamous seen live
tag was banned from the tag cloud).
This is what I did...I grabbed the top 5 tags for every single band and resorted the list based on how many tags a band/artist shared those tags. Those that shared all 5 tags (in this case, punk rock
, alternative rock
) came on the top followed by those that shared 4, then 3, and then 0. Here's how the top 20 now looked like:SHARED ALL 5 TAGS
Alien Ant Farm
Unwritten LawSHARED ONLY 4 TAGS (missing tag in paranthesis)
Sum 41 (had pop punk
, missing alternative rock)
Bad Religion (had political
, missing alternative rock)
Green Day (had pop punk, missing alternative rock)
blink-182 (had pop punk, missing alternative rock)
Bloodhound Gang (had comedy
, missing punk rock)
Pidżama Porno (had polish
, missing alternative rock)
Bowling For Soup (had pop punk, missing alternative rock)
Good Charlotte (had pop punk, missing alternative rock)
AFI (had emo, missing alternative rock)
SR-71 (had pop punk, missing alternative rock)
Social Distortion (had rockabilly, missing alternative rock)
No Use For a Name (had pop punk, missing alternative rock)
+44 (had pop punk, missing alternative rock)
Strachy Na Lachy (had polish, missing punk)
As you can notice now, all of those metal and hard rock bands like Metallica, AC/DC, Nickelback, System of a Down, Disturbed and Godsmack....GONE from the top 20...actually they didn't even break the top 30 as well. What was more disturbing though was the high number of bands that didn't even share a single tag with The Offspring. These are some of the bands that you could hear when listening to The Offspring similar artists radio, and grab a bucket, you're about to puke hard...no, Justin Bieber is not there, but still...
Bullet For My Valentine
DragonForceIn FlamesPanteraThe ProdigyApocalypticaSlayerKorpiklaaniSabatonChildren of BodomNightwishSonata ArcticaHammerFallClawfingerSoulflyHollywood UndeadMegadethAll That RemainsPendulumTriviumBlind GuardianVolbeatFive Finger Death PunchVavamuffinSepulturaLacuna CoilAs I Lay DyingMachine HeadAnthraxSpineshankJudas PriestHunterAlestormEluveitieSonic SyndicateEminemA Day to RememberJelonekSoilworkHatebreedWithin TemptationFatboy SlimFrontsideMassacrationAlley Life
Take a look guys...enjoy listening to all that metalcore, symphonic metal, power metal, heavy metal, electronica, nu metal, thrash metal, melodic death metal, and hip-hop stuff. According to last.fm right now, they are really similar artists to The Offspring (actually, all of them except for DF and BFMV come up as medium to low similarity to The Offspring). But seriously, a band that doesn't even share any of the top 5 tags with another band/artist has no reason even being on a list with that band. And there's literally a common thread with the bands/artists listed above. Most of them are pure metal to the point they don't even have a rock
tag (I suspect Priest would get one if classic rock was barred though). Others like The Prodigy or Eminem are from electronica and hip-hop genres...and..really...I can't see a similarity with those bands to begin with.
So there...we managed to filter in bands that are similar...but it's not over yet. Let's now resort the list again, but this time, only compare the top 4 tags for all artists/bands. Tiebreakers for this sort will be
1). Number of tags shared when maximum 5 tags are used...
2). Their original ranking on the old formula, higher goes first
After the sort, the top 20 looks even more different:
Alien Ant Farm
Bowling For Soup
No Use For a Name
Well for the most part, the ordering has changed here. Some other bands now moved into the top 20 as there's more of a focus on the top 4 tags.
Last but not least, I repeated the resort again, but only comparing the top 3 tags for all artists/bands using the same tiebreakers as before while adding another tiebreaker that takes greater precedence (basically the number of tags shared when the maximum tags is used at 3...followed by the 2 tiebreaker rules listed above). And here is the final product:
#2 Billy Talent
#3 Unwritten Law
#4 Sum 41
#5 Green Day
#7 Social Distortion
#10 Bad Religion
#12 Bowling For Soup
#13 Good Charlotte
#14 No Use For a Name
#17 The Distillers
#18 Autopilot Off
Now where did Hoobastank and Alien Ant Farm go? Even though they shard all 5 tags as The Offspring, the ordering on both bands was different (rock, alternative rock, alternative, punk rock, punk), while with The Offspring, the ordering was (punk rock, punk, rock, alternative rock, alternative). As a result, the bands only shared 1 tag among the top 3 tags and ended up going below those that had at least 2 of The Offspring's top tags (punk rock, punk, rock).
As for some of those disputed bands, Nickelback ended up coming in at #69. Much lower on the list, but still quite high as they did share 1 tag among the top 3 (rock). Also, remember we are re-ranking the top 250 bands artists and remember we are already dealing with a good 45 bands that have nothing in common with The Offspring. I do not know whether they strive to get the top 250 bands and cut off from there, or work out some weird formula there, but perhaps maybe they should apply the current formula to get a batch of even more artists, apply the above formula, and then just take the top 250 artists...honestly 250 might be too much...top 200 perhaps? You could see a real shake up on many similar artists lists.
Many mainstream bands like Metallica
, Linkin Park
and other bands could see a lot of shake-up too. There are still a few other unresolved issues, like will it actually pick up 100% similar artists? Red Hot Chili Peppers
for example has their top tags as rock, alternative, and alternative rock. Didn't some of the bands listed above have those 3 tags as well? Are they really similar? But perhaps it could cut bands that aren't alternative to begin with, like AC/DC, Black Sabbath, etc...
Another issue is potential abuse of tags. I'm talking about a bunch of wackos attempting to give something like Justin Bieber the now infamous brutal death metal
tag (honestly though, 1 tag isn't really going to be enough and even identifying a brutal death metal band that a Justin Bieber fan listens too is going to be real difficult...especially if it doesn't share a pop or something. Moderators can assist with issues like that.
Also, the removal of tags could have an effect on similar artists. If we remove something like 70s, 80s, swedish, female vocalists, and all those other tags, can we guarantee that the new tags will make things better, or make things worse? What about tags regarding the same thing (alternative is not the same as alternative rock, but hip-hop/hip hop/hiphop? Nu metal/nu-metal? alt-rock/alternative rock?)? Do we merge these tags into one? Or do these duplicates exist because there's no other major tag to classify them as? What about vague tags like "classic rock"? And abused tags like "alternative", "indie"? And bogus tags like "crap
", "better than radiohead
"? With cases like this, it's all trial and error then, but it's really something that can be done on the go and with the assistance of user feedback.
There is one more thing I thought of regarding my suggested? Perhaps we could start sorting based on top tag for each artist, then by top 2 tags, then by top 3 tags, and all the way until the top 50th tag or something (and if an artist doesn't have a certain number of tags, TOO BAD :P). But that's something that would take a while to look at.
Who knows, perhaps someone might create a last.fm widget tool based on this suggestion. But it is clearly a possibility to use instead of the current formula, which guarantees a ton of similar artists that have nothing to do with each other.