I don’t remember the exact moment I received my blue boom box, but I imagine it was around 2nd grade. I only remember that as soon as I got it, my dad started burning mix CDs for me to enjoy. I still have all of them, although they skip like crazy from being played so much. Each CD is a chaos of song choice. On a single CD, the artists can range from Missy Elliott to The Beatles and even The Andrews Sisters. I didn’t see how strange it was to create such a seemingly non-cohesive collaboration until I was in high school, but now I am glad my dad took the time to make those.

So where am I heading with this? Due to my exposure to an immensely diverse music culture as a young one, I have reached a dilemma with the world of online music streaming. Did you know Pandora only lets you create up to 100 stations? I know, it’s insane. I don’t have room for an Enya station, a White Stripes station, an Incubus station, or any more of the 100+ stations I want to add. So, I created both a Spotify account and a Grooveshark account, both of which involve hand-selecting your own playlist content or listening to a pre-arranged one.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the time in my over-scheduled life to create my own mixed playlists. I enjoy being able to just shuffle my Pandora stations with one click. But even that gets dicey. For some reason, my Pandora account insists on playing a weighted variety, leaning mostly toward my Kenyan Boys Choir, Bollywood Workout and Yodeling Mountaineer stations. Yes, I love the enchanting style of African tribal music, the fusion of sitars and guitars and the strange vocals of the mountaineer, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear from my homegirl, Ella Fitzgerald, or one of my sister’s boyfriend’s screamo rock bands (The Bunny The Bear and Forgive Us Crazy Kids, in case you were wondering).

What’s a girl to do? I could create a couple more Pandora accounts, but I suspect I would become frustrated with having to sign in and out constantly. The dilemma continues.

For now, although I am still on a quest for a solution of some sort, I continue to endure the mere 100 stations I currently have on my account. If you are looking to diversify your musical horizon, here are some of my favorite “non-standard” bands and artists, all of varying genres:

  • Cu Dubh – Original dark heavy metal bagpipe and war drum compositions for the Celtic / Viking warrior in all of us, played on the ancient acoustic instruments.
  • The Emeralds – A polka band responsible for many catchy polka tunes, including the Chicken Dance we all know and love (or hate).
  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo – An all-male a cappella group from South Africa, which has won four Grammy Awards and recorded with Paul Simon. Just like Cady Heron in “Mean Girls,” you too can love Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
  • Mika Singh – Born and raised in India, he brings pop flair to the traditional Indian style of music. In other words, he is the epitome of what Bollywood music encompasses. (I have no idea about anything he is saying, but it’s still super catchy!)

Not feeling quite so adventurous just yet? Check out these nifty beat creators:

  • LCD Soundsystem
  • Dub FX – A worldwide street performer and studio recording artist from Australia, his trademark is using live looping and sound effect pedals to create his tunes on the spot. He creates intricate hip hop, reggae and drum and bass rhythms. (Hint: Watch the Youtube videos of it first, so you get the full effect of him live looping his beatboxing with the techno-esque beats).
  • Forgive Us Crazy Kids – A rock/metal band from Buffalo, NY with swift riffs and solid awesomeness. (No, this is not just a shameless plug for my sister’s boyfriend’s band, they actually made the list of their own volition).
  • Aron Wright – If you like Daughter or Anya Marina, you will like this gentleman. His music is laid back and instantly makes the image of driving down a long strip of road in the summer with the windows down and my hair all over the place pop into my head.