Games People Play

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This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.

Here we are, one day after the release of Grand Theft Auto IV. One more day where millions will rationalize killing, humiliating and degrading people, as a legitimate form of entertainment.

Personally, I didn't understand it when the Greeks and Romans did it, and even though it's virtual, I don't get it now. I like to play without leaving bodies on the field. So it's hard for me to understand why Grand Theft Auto is so popular. I guess with first day sales anticipated at nine million copies, few are especially concerned with the why.

There is one thing I do like about the game and that's the music. It has great music.

Where else will you hear Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Aphex Twin, Grace Jones, John Coltrane and Gil Scott Heron? With over 200 songs programmed, you just might hear something inspiring while you're pummeling innocent bystanders.

I like to connect with music in a different way. If you do too, I've got a few other recommendations. First, try It's the brainstorm of Marek Gibney from Hamburg, Germany. According to Mr. Gibney, it's an experiment in the field of artificial intelligence. is a self-adapting system, that "talks" to everyone who comes along and maps the results. Insert your favorite musician, and the map identifies other artists you might enjoy. So, for example, if you like The Arcade Fire, there's a high probability that you'd be interested in TV on the Radio, The Stills, and The Unicorns. Music-Map was built to be a robust, crowd sourcing test site. It shifts minute to minute to reveal new qualitative information, based on visitors' input.

And if you just can't wait to hear TV on the Radio, right now, on command, go to S O N G E R I Z Simply put in a song title and the artist, and instantaneously the song plays. For the obsessed, this site is perfect for those times when you gotta hear that song right now.

Ever wonder what kind of music folks in Latvia are listening to?

Gracenote has developed a music mapping system that identifies the most popular search request around the world, and maps the results by region. Gracenote is a global company that provides a variety of database services for media. And this week, Sony announced they were buying Gracenote for $260 million.

Right now, Depeche Mode is one of the most sought bands in Russia, while Slipnot and Avril Lavine are heavily searched in Latvia. And in China, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Linkin Park take top search honors. Meanwhile, in Iraq, George Strait, Korn and Elvis Presley are the big winners. Back home in the Golden State of California, classic rock rules the day. The most searched artists on Gracenote's mapping service here are The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, U2, The Eagles and The Rolling Stones.

And not surprisingly, none of these artists can be found on the Soundtrack for Grand Theft Auto IV. I guess some things are more important than money.

This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.