I'm looking to make some lemonade with the "lemon songs" that iTunes genius doesn't know how to catalog. One such example currently is an obscure song called "Polythene Pam" by some beatles boy band with bad haircuts walking on abbey road.genius fail message

I'm aware that for some people, this song has enough matches for genius to make a playlist - I want to exploit my specific library to make a list of all the songs that currently won't make a playlist. Basically is there a way to get at genius results and create a playlist based on that status in a systematic way.

I'd love to make a smart playlist to exploit this and collect tracks for listening based on the idea that "if genius can't match this song to others in my library, it's worth a listen". This song is either too new (or obscure) and genius won't match it on anyone's library no matter how complete, or that song is so different than the others in my library that it stands out as a singleton.

Basically I'm asking if the Smart Playlist criteria are extensible as I want a Has Genius flag similar to the Has Artwork flag to make a playlist where this is false. Has Genius

I'd also consider a script or third party software that could periodically make a traditional playlist if I can't automate it with a smart playlist. I am not looking for alternatives to iTunes or genius. Thanks for any ideas you might have!

  • actually if you follow the instructions it corrects the problem
    – mcgrailm
    Commented May 17, 2011 at 19:35
  • 2
    @mcgrailm Not always. Rarely, in fact. Following the directions only fixes the problem if iTunes happens to have recently gathered info about that song (e.g, a new release). For songs like those mentioned in the question, iTunes will probably never get enough info about them. Commented May 17, 2011 at 22:35
  • @Nathan but I do have that same song and followed the instructions and it fixed the problem
    – mcgrailm
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 0:09
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    @mcgrailm @Nathan it totally depends on your library. Imagine you only had one country song. Of course iTunes won't be able to find a similar song if there is nothing else like it in your library. Commented May 18, 2011 at 2:16
  • thats true @steve moser, but I thought it gave a different error message than that one? Commented May 18, 2011 at 2:57

3 Answers 3


I'll answer that it's not currently possible in hopes that someone can answer this and prove I'm wrong on this.

  • The only thing that comes to mind is writing an AppleScript but I don't know if you can determine if a song lacks genius info. The only script I found dealing with iTunes's Genius is this: dougscripts.com/itunes/scripts/…
    – styfle
    Commented Jun 3, 2011 at 21:02
  • Thanks @styfle - sadly that script reads a list of songs that are in a genius playlist (iTunes does the genius selecting) and doesn't access genius metadata or status directly.
    – bmike
    Commented Jun 3, 2011 at 21:09

With respect to songs that Genius doesn't understand, I have an overwhelming reliance on beaTunes to create playlists. You can run an analysis to inspect and determine a song's BPM, harmonic key, and color, all of which go into making a more accurate playlist that you define.

  • Thanks for the suggestion. Can beaTunes show me which songs don't have a genius match? It looks like an alternative to genius - I'm really looking for the outliers and not a different way to group songs based on another algorithm.
    – bmike
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 16:43
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    No, you'll have to rely on your memory or a self-made list of songs that don't play with Genius. It's a fault of iTunes' Genius database, and since BeaTunes relies on an entirely different system, they don't mesh in any way. Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 16:55

I'm not sure this is possible because the genius information isn't stored in the iTunes tag system that you can see. Genius actually has its own library that lives right next to your iTunes library. I assume that when you click on the genius button, iTunes checks to see if there is any information in the separate Genius library file and then reports back to you. If you could write a script to read that file then you might be able to do it, but I'm not sure that you can add the flag. Your best bet might be to add a comment when you do see that dialog pop up. Not automatic like you want, but as good as it gets I suppose.

  • This may be the nub of the issue. It's hard to tell if the seed song I select just isn't even in the "database" locally (since we can't expect to know what's in Apple's database) or if the failing to match is more due to the "coverage" in the rest of my library. Specifically, Polythene Pam might come back with hundreds of song matches on the main database, but if my library only has 10 songs that meet "genius matching" I will still get the same ...please choose another one. result.
    – bmike
    Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 14:32

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