posted by Matt W on July 16th, 2014

I like to listen to music at work. Pandora is one of the few websites that makes it through the federal firewall so, there you have it. For the uninitiated, Pandora is a website that allows you to plant a “seed” of a song or artist you like and it will use a sophisticated algorithm to find music you would also like based on your original “seed.” You can also pick pre-made “stations” featuring artists. (After I typed those last lines I laughed as I can’t think of anyone less “initiated” than myself with technology. Oh well.)

Pandora stations are interesting. Sometimes it plays the “seed” group repeatedly and sometimes you hardly even remember whom you plugged in. Sometimes the algorithms draw in excellent matches and some are, . . . well, . . . crazy. One important note, generally I don’t give songs “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” anymore as it basically changes the station to a different station over time. Every once in a while, I give the thumbs down to eliminate truly hated artists or groups from a station (Take that Stevie Nicks.), but that’s about it.

As with every Top 10 List, there are some good stations like Blues Traveler, Green Day, and Jack White that barely missed the cut, usually because the stations didn’t pull in great songs consistently. Anyway, here you go, my Top 10 Pandora Work Stations:

10 – Sara Bareilles: I start with a woman. Not because I’m in touch with my feminine side, but because I have a 16-year old daughter and I try to stay up on some of the groups she likes. Bareilles is a very talented performer and her algorithm eliminates all the tini-bopper girly voices from her station. Typically, the stronger women performers are featured which is nice. She is however, the only woman on my list and if you don’t have the same fatherly constraints that I do, go with Miles Davis instead.

9 – William Tyler: Tyler is a guitarist that makes a nice background at work when I’m doing something like reading a technical document and singing lyrics would distract me. (In truth, it doesn’t take much to distract me while reading a federal technical document.) Tyler is pretty calm, but has enough of an edge that he keeps me awake during my reading. A very nice eclectic acoustical guitar-work station. Pat Metheny is the jazzier version of this station.

8 – Chamber, Baroque: Every once in a while I listen to classical music at work. I really like classical, but I’m kind of a Tennessee outcast anyway, so I try not to bring it to people’s attention. I always close the door when I’m listening to classical as I’m a little afraid the villagers will burn me at the stake, or tie me down and make me listen to country music which is essentially the same thing.

7 – Hot Bodies in Motion: A friend of the family was part of the group Hot Bodies in Motion so I checked it out. They are a pretty cool new young group. This station exposes me to other pretty cool younger groups. If I find myself pushing fast-forward a few times, I realize I’m in a middle-age mood and pick a different station. If you’re in the right mood, check them out.

6 – Mumford and Sons: Mumford and Sons is another newer group that I have come to enjoy over the past few years. (Okay, not that new.) The station itself plays a lot of Mumford songs which is nice but doesn’t branch out as much as most other stations.

5 – Joe Bonamassa: I’m a big Bonamassa fan and always enjoy getting bluesy with the Bonamassa station.

4 – Pink Floyd: Pink Floyd is probably still my favorite group after all these years. Much like the Mumford and Sons Station, the Pink Floyd Station plays a lot of Pink Floyd which in this case makes more sense as they are truly one of a kind.

3 – Explosions in the Sky: Explosions in the Sky is a good instrumental group, but more importantly the station has a great flow of instrumental works by a variety of newer artists. A great work station, especially on heavy reading days. My wife asked if one of their songs was Pink Floyd which was meant as a slight on her part, but cemented their place on my Pandora list. What’s with women and Pink Floyd?

2 – Lumineers: The Lumineers are one of my favorite younger groups. My daughter and I were watching one of their performances on TV and I was hooked. But as I said about Explosions above, their eclectic station is even better. It really pulls some great younger folky groups and also pulls in many instrumental works as well. I found Explosions in the Sky when listening to the Lumineers station.

1 – Dire Straits: While anything that Mark Knoffler touches is usually golden, the station just pulls great song after great song from all of the older groups that I am comfortable with, with just the right amount of younger talent to spice things up a bit. There is just a constant flow of exceptional songs; easily my favorite station.

So there you have it my Top 10 Work Pandora Stations. Share your favorite stations so we can check them out.

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