Google Play Music Thinks Preachers Like Filthy Lyrics
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Google Play Music Thinks Preachers Like Filthy Lyrics



The new Google Play Music app added a cool feature, that is cool in theory. There’s a new “I’m feeling lucky radio” link at the top of the main page. The app intends to help users find some music to stream based on their listening habits. The Music app on iOS offers a similar feature called Genius mixes, which recommends “radio stations” based on music in a user’s library.

The feature sounds great and I hoped it would help me discover some new music. The iOS Genius mixes work well.

When I hit the “I’m feeling lucky radio” link, the results embarrassed me. I was glad that I wasn’t with the people I work with. That’s because Google seems to think this Southern Baptist Preacher loves explicit lyrics. F-bombs at church don’t go over too well, but that’s what I got and in large quantities. The stream plays nothing but rap and hip hop and most of it is explicit.

google play music adds i'm feeling lucky radio

Understand this I’m not judging anyone who likes songs with F-bombs. Have a good time with them, but I’m not one who does. I like Christian rock, classical, jazz and some good old-fashioned 70s and 80s rock-n-roll. That’s what’s in my library and that’s what I listen to often.

This could cause problems for parents who don’t want to expose their kids to this kind of music. Fortunately, we eventually found the setting to block explicit content. Tap the menu button in the upper left and choose Settings. Mark Block explicit songs in radio to stop the feature from offering F-bombs and other adult lyrics.

Over the last month I’ve used the Google Play Music app to find some kids Bible songs for a Saturday kids club we host at church. If Google had its way the B-I-B-L-E would stand for something very different from what I’m trying to express to these 5-10 year old kids.

google play music i'm feeling lucky recommendations failed me

The recommendation engine is seems see that some of the music in our family’s library includes some Christian rap and soul artists like Toby Mac and Newsboys. My son likes Lecrae and uses the app on his Galaxy S3 to listens to him a bit. However, recommending music based on one style of music which makes up only 2 percent of a library means Google has a real fail on its hands. I can see throwing one or two songs like that in by mistake based on the small number of Christian rap songs, but it only plays one kind of music, rap and hip hop with explicit versions more than half the time. I keep hitting the thumbs down button and it keeps feeding me the same kind of songs.

Maybe this is a minority case. A friend seems to get a wide variety of music that fits his library and listening habits. Let us know how well Google did in finding your favorite style of music. Will you use the “I’m feeling lucky radio” feature?



  1. Chris Waters

    11/03/2013 at 10:56 am

    Interesting–and nearly embarrassing–experience!

    I heard about a similar experience from another columnist — so was understandably apprehensive the first time I selected the “I’m feeling lucky radio” button a few days ago. So far, I’m very pleased; it’s played many songs from artists in My Library…and introduced me to similar artists I had never heard of before or were unfamiliar with. No songs with obscene lyrics.

    Update: I just noticed that I have Settings > “Block explicit songs in radio” enabled on my account. I guess I selected that when I first began using Google Music a few years ago.

  2. martinakca915 (@martinakca915)

    11/03/2013 at 2:01 pm

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  3. Matt Hogg

    11/04/2013 at 9:07 am

    Chris above is right, block explicit songs in radio in your settings.

  4. 667

    11/04/2013 at 10:30 am

    Surely it’s more embarrassing that you listen to christian rock?

  5. Rafael

    11/04/2013 at 12:19 pm

    For me it matches perfectly. I don’t listen music other way since it started. Maybe u actually like these songs and still didn’t realize that yet lol

  6. Nick

    11/04/2013 at 1:16 pm

    You ‘eventually’ found the ‘block explicit songs’ option that was directly inside the settings menu?! How ‘eventually’? More than 30 seconds?

    I can understand your disappointment when using the feature, but leave other people to make up their minds, without skewing the facts.

    If it really took you a while to find that option, maybe you need to stop blogging about gadgets.

  7. ell

    11/05/2013 at 2:12 pm

    Why not just use the option of music on device, then it will not play what u can consider offensive. It does a lucky mix only with music already stored on my device and there are no musical surprises to skip past

  8. D

    11/06/2013 at 10:23 pm

    I have had the “Block Explicit Songs In Radio” checked from the first time I logged on…it simply doesn’t work. I have emailed Google and will see if they are able to, with all of their programming, “databasing” (is that even a word?) and other techno-experience, actually produce lists with no swearing. (I would think that this would be fairly simple, but, alas, the last few months I see that I still regularly get explicit songs.)
    P.S. I actually wouldn’t care one way or another if I was by myself, but I work in education with 8-10 year olds, and I would prefer not to be surprised with some of the language if kids are around.

  9. Raymond

    11/07/2013 at 8:04 am

    I’ve had surprisingly good experience with it so far actually. Though I do get the occasional song that doesn’t fit into what I want at all. Any time I want to be careful about what plays though, I just choose to play only music from my library or something.

    Just one perspective — the fact that they don’t make a distinction between LeCrae and same genre music can actually be a good thing. Because in the same way, someone who likes other rap music can be exposed to LeCrae and his good, wholesome lyrics. So that part is kinda good at least.

    I don’t know what their algorithms are like, but I’m guessing as time goes on it will get better. For me personally it’s gotten better just since it was released quite recently.

    All that said — block explicit songs in radio works for me. Maybe try disabling it, generating a station, then re-enabling it and see if that makes any difference? Or is it successfully blocking ones with the explicit tag, but that tag is not accurate?

  10. Alan Carwile

    11/26/2013 at 4:00 pm

    I’m looking for a way to “clear listening history” so I can get a fresh start and maybe teach Google Music my preference from scratch. My experience is that it is stuck on country music for me, but a couple Willie Nelson songs, Sweet Home Alabama, etc. should not have me listening only to all country. I listen to lots of other styles much more. I also found (and agree) that using the thumbs-down did not affect the stream of music, which was frustrating.

  11. Andrew Littler

    05/31/2015 at 1:28 pm

    Did you consider that, with Google being Google, it took into context all of the hate and violence in the book that you preach? I mean, is rape and murder really that different than the f-bomb?

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