Not that kind of table dancing, Mom.
June 5, 2012 11:46 AM   Subscribe

My family needs a new streaming music option for our Sunday night dinners. Semi-traditionalist snowflakes inside.

Sunday night is family dinner night at my house, with very rare exception. When followed by dessert and tea as it almost always is, this can go one for two or three hours, and we need a new music option to go with the meal. Here to fore we have listened to tapes and the local classical station on the radio, but tapes require regular maintenance to rewind, flip and so forth, and the Sunday evening radio programming, while presenting a variety of small/large/choral group music, is very low-energy, which has lead family members to complain that it is making the tone of dinner "somber", "sleepy", "boring", and so forth. The only other non-boring terrestrial radio options for us here have been a jazz station that is too unpredictable in terms of tone and energy (two big band songs might be immediately followed by a loud, more experimental piece) or popular music stations that may at some point play a song with lyrics that would be inappropriate for a family dinner (though we are all over 21) or objectionable to my father and could send him into a tirade, or worse, stubborn, awkward silence.

All other questions that I've found on MeTa about dinner music have referred to dinner parties for young/er people rather than families, which is why I am presenting my question.

I am looking for recommendations of a streaming service or radio station online that I could play off my laptop, then, that might meet our needs: energetic but not high energy, family-friendly, not necessarily classical music though that has performed well, and that provides a variety. I have test-driven Songza, but have run into the same problems with energy and lyrical appropriateness. is too unpredictable (for example, my father enjoys 70-80s dance/funk, but it's too easy for a more explicit sex jam to work its way into the mix).

Thank you in advance for your input.
posted by koucha to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Build a playlist (or twenty), each tailored to a different mood with different flavors of music and stream away!
posted by DWRoelands at 11:51 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I second Spotify, but you can also tailor a Pandora station pretty well. After you start with the first artist or type, it might take a couple go-rounds to solidify some of the specifics. Each time a songs comes on that you don't like, click the "thumbs down," and it won't play similar types again.
posted by jymelyne at 11:54 AM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

You might like Folk Alley.
posted by jquinby at 11:57 AM on June 5, 2012

iTunes has a crazy number of Classical stations from all over the world in its oft-overlooked Radio menu.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:19 PM on June 5, 2012

Seconding Pandora; their library includes an amazing variety of musical types, from Kashmiri santur to Dmitry Shostakovich to Janelle Monae. You choose an artist and it finds similar music for you.

The minute you click thumbs down on a tune, it stops playing and goes to the next, which is nice.

The free version has ads but they are pretty non-intrusive.
posted by Currer Belfry at 12:49 PM on June 5, 2012

Pandora! Easy, has a decent suggestion algorithim, and I've heard that if you're running AdBlockPlus in firefox, you don't hear any ads.
posted by cosmicbandito at 2:27 PM on June 5, 2012

I pay for Pandora, because it's my primary source-of-music-I-don't-own. I've got a bunch of channels that I created by entering a composer or artist I like (say, "Baroque choral music" or "Galactic"). As Pandora plays, I can thumbs-up or thumbs-down the tune; one thumb down means "we won't play that song again in the next 30 days," while more thumbs down will eventually cause that artist not to play on that channel again. Alternately, if my "classic 70s rock" station is getting too Neil Young, I can click "add variety" and enter an artist I like. If I put in Steely Dan, Pandora will also start feeding me music with the same characteristics. (Somehow I have tuned my station with confusing enough choices that it thinks it's now the ASIA ALL THE TIME station, though.)

I used a rock example, but I listen to far more classical and jazz recordings on Pandora than rock, and it's played songs and artists that I had forgotten about, and exposed me to new artists I wouldn't otherwise know about.
posted by catlet at 3:42 PM on June 5, 2012

Pandora is the answer. Give it some songs you like and let it do it's thing.
posted by empath at 4:01 PM on June 5, 2012

seconding thorzdad...the chinese classical music station is one of my faves...
posted by sexyrobot at 7:30 PM on June 5, 2012

If you're up for paying a bit, SiriusXM might be an option. Sometimes the songs that Pandora choses from what I put into it are way off base, leaving me staring at my speakers quizzically. However, the playlists on the satellite channels always seem to fit in with the station theme perfectly. Coffeehouse is one of my favorites stations on there. They also have some family friendly packages to keep from hearing the adult stations while channel surfing. Anyway they have a free 7 day trial of their Internet streaming service, so you can see if it fits the bill for you.
posted by punocchio at 10:23 PM on June 5, 2012

For just background music I like Musicovery. You pick mood and tempo along with genres and it sets up a stream for you.
posted by koolkat at 3:42 AM on June 6, 2012

I like 8tracks. You can search for a term, find a few playlists, choose one, and it'll play continuously (as far as I can tell) through the hits for that search. You might try "instrumental" and "study" (though the latter is quite varied).
posted by knile at 6:58 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am in current love with Pandora. I put in three or four totally different 'stations' and can pick from them or shuffle. RIght now I'm into the Benny Goodman channel. ALso love my Perry Como and even the Jerry Lewis station--lots of awesome comedy routines!
posted by msleann at 10:49 PM on August 16, 2012

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