Jessica Miller has written for Jewcy.com, The Jew and the Carrot, and is an avid digital music explorer. She holds a B.A. in religion from Barnard College, and blogs regularly on her own site, The Boomerang Blog.
You don’t have to be Oliver Sacks to know that music can have a profound effect on the human psyche. Music is undeniably important in shaping moods, and, likewise, certain frames of mind require certain kinds of songs.
Luckily for us, there are now several websites out there that feature mood searches. Instead of generating artists and songs by genre or title (as Pandora does), they are able to filter songs by emotions and activities.
So whether you’re feeling down and need a pick-me-up; you’re down and you’d like to stay that way for a bit — whether you’re in an “Empire State of Mind,” or it’s just another “Manic Monday” — we’ve hand picked our five most satisfying sites for finding the perfect songs to suit your mood.
Musicovery is a fun and colorful website that lets you find your mood-appropriate music with several adjustable options. First, it instructs you to chart your mood on a grid, with the x-axis going from dark to positive, and the y-axis ranging from energetic to calm. Then, below the chart, you can select which genres of music you’d like Musicovery to dig around in for you, and which music decades you’d like to be included in the search. (If you’re open minded, you can select them all!)
Musicovery then creates a brightly colored family tree of mood music for you. Each burst on the tree has a shade corresponding to a genre (rap is dark red, funk is light green, etc.). Although you have to register on the site in order to shuffle from one song to another, you can always alter your mood on the grid if you don’t like what’s coming up. You can also ban songs you don’t like, and you’ll get the next song in the lineup.
As an added perk, if you’re looking for something to dance to, there’s an additional grid to refine your search. This grid allows you to alter the dance-ability and tempo of your tunes. There’s also a discovery feature that will just plainly surf Musicovery’s library for you without any fuss.
Pros: Fun to look at, lots of fine-tuning options.
Cons: Registration is required to shuffle and choose specific songs.
Despite the enthusiasm in its name, AUPEO! is not the flashiest website, but it gets the job done. Like Pandora, it is capable of creating a playlist for you based on a favorite artist, but it also contains an easy-to-use mood search feature.
Simply click the mood tab, and then select one of the ten provided emotions, which include aggressive, happy, relaxing, and dramatic. Then you can instruct AUPEO! to hunt for appropriate songs in all genres, or narrow its searches down to one specific classification. The menu includes nine genres ranging from pop, to country, to R&B. Hit the orange music notes icon and you’re in business. You can shuffle songs if you want something new, or change your search criteria. As you listen, AUPEO! will give you album covers to look at, which is nice.
Pros: Simple and easy to use. No fuss involved.
Cons: Must search for songs one emotion and genre at a time. Occasional ads.
There are three elements to Stereomood: Mood, activity, and artist.
To get started, you can either click on one of the tags on the homepage, or use the menu at the top. The tag cloud on the front page is a wacky jumble of emotions and activities varying from the more basic (e.g. sad, jogging) to the more eccentric (e.g. lost in thought, driving Route 66.) I prefer to use the menu at the top, which is a little more organized. The menu lets you search either the site, the moods, or the activities one at a time. If you search by mood or activity, a pull down menu will appear, and you can make a choice from that list.
Whatever you choose, you will be taken to a playlist page where you can either select the specific songs you’d like to hear, or just put the songs on shuffle. There is also a menu on the left that will suggest other action, emotion, or artist playlists for you based on the one you’re currently in.
If you simply choose to search the site through the menu, you can put in whatever criteria you wish, including artists you like, or your own activities/emotions. The search results tend to be a little more literal when you put in your own keywords, but, for example, if you wanted to find a whole mess of songs that contain a specific word, this would be a good tool. If you search for an artist though, you can see what mood and activity playlists your favorite band is included in, which is kind of fun.
Also, regardless of how you search, each song that comes up contains a list of tags, so you can see what other playlists each one is in.
Pros: Shuffling, and even choosing specific songs you want to hear, is possible.
Cons: Slightly disorganized.
Maybe I’m the only one, but I never realized that it’s possible to search music by tags on Last.fm. Thanks to those user tags, Last.fm can be an excellent aid for finding songs appropriate to how you may be feeling.
Simply type an emotion into the music search field, and then click on the appropriate tag. You’ll get a station full of songs that other Last.fm-ers have tagged as being appropriate to that emotion. In addition, you’ll get a heads-up on the artists included in the station, and a list of suggested tags that might be related to what you’re looking for.
Pros: Very straightforward. Easy to pick up and contribute if you already use Last.fm
Cons: Somewhat less adventurous.
Thesixtyone is different from the other sites because it has a strong visual component. The images and information it generates are usually nice, but can veer towards distracting or cluttered at times. Other than that, it’s a fun experiment in finding mood-appropriate music, and in finding new music in general. Since thesixtyone likes to highlight newer artists, you’re more likely to hear something you’ve never heard before on this site.
To get a mood station on thesixtyone, simply hover your mouse over where it says “popular” on the top right, then click on moods. A little menu will pop up with 12 moods listed (10 really, since “remix” and “covers” are not moods.) Just click on one and the station will start playing. If you’d like to shuffle forward or back, click on the green paddles on both sides of the window.
Pros: Nice photos and artist information. Backtracking is possible.
Cons: A little cluttered. Less user-friendly.
Have you found any other sites that can generate music playlists by mood? Let us know in the comments, and happy hunting!