Have you ever had the frustrating experience of hearing a song you love but not knowing the name of the song or who sang it? Or how about getting a song stuck in your head but not being able to remember what song it was or where you heard it?
These experiences are universal enough that people have spent a lot of time designing apps and services to track down a tune with accuracy and speed. From popular apps like Shazam to less well-known services like WatZatSong, we are going to fill you in with all the ways you can name that tune!
The easiest way to find out what a song is called is by using the Shazam app and having it ‘listen’ to a song while it’s playing. Most times it will be able to identify it and tell you the title. Another good idea is to type some of the lyrics exactly into Google and often a title will come up.
Apps To Help You Find Your Mystery Song
It’s entirely possible you know about Shazam already. But we can almost guarantee there are apps on this list you’ve never heard of.
Let’s get into this list!
Shazam is easily the most popular song-identifier app. If you have an iPhone, Shazam is built right into iOS – if you hear a song you like, you can just ask your iPhone, “Siri, what song is this?” and your phone will activate Shazam. More often than not, you’ll get an answer in seconds. Of all the methods of identifying songs, Shazam is the fastest.
However, it only works if you can get your phone out while the recorded version of the song is playing. The app analyzes the sound of the music and seeks a match based on the acoustic fingerprint in a database of millions of songs. If it finds a match (and it usually does), and it will tell you the artist, song title, album, and even give you a link to buy the song.
The app is accurate and works on iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and almost every other platform you can think of. It keeps a history of all of the songs you’ve Shazam’d as well, which is a fun way to build up a playlist of tunes you’ve discovered!
Basically, this should be the first app you pull out when you hear a song you like. Wherever you are, hold your phone as close to the speaker as possible and either use the Shazam app, or ask your iPhone, “What song is this?”.
Genius is quickly approaching Shazam’s popularity in the sphere of song-identifying apps, and for good reason. Not only can Genius identify whatever song is playing in almost any environment, it displays the annotated lyrics for them as well.
Genius is literally the world’s biggest collection of song lyrics, videos, and crowdsourced musical knowledge. It’s a fun community and a great app. Hold you phone up to whatever music is playing, tap the soundwave button, and the app will find the song.
Once the song is found, you can look at the complete lyrics to the songs with annotations that are crowdsourced from music nerds around the world. Dive into the meanings of the lyrics, the history of the song, the history of the artist, and how the song relates to the world we live in.
You’ll also get complete info on the artists and producers involved in making the songs and get to watch interviews with the artists about the music you are just discovering. It is a great way to find and fall in love with an artist.
Genius is easily one of the best apps to identify a song with – so long as the song is playing at the time of use.
SoundHound is another popular sound-identifier app. It is less popular than Shazam but works equally well and even has some features that Shazam does not have.
Unlike Shazam, SoundHound can identify a song just by you humming the tune into the app. This is pretty incredible. If you have a song stuck in your head, you can hum or sing the tune into the app and it will identify the song. Of course, it helps if you can sing reasonably well!
How well this works depends on how you sing the vocal. If your voice is too far off the original melody, it will have a hard time identifying it. It can also have a hard time if your range is different. For example, if you have a bass voice and are singing an Ariana Grande song, it may have trouble with that.
It is worth noting that SoundHound was originally called Midomi. The desktop version of the SoundHound app is still called Midomi, and just like SoundHound you can sing or hum into your computer and it will try to identify the tune.
If you’re on a mobile device, try downloading SoundHound and singing your mystery tune into it. If you’re on a desktop, visit Midomi.com and sing into your desktop/laptop microphone.
WhoSampled is a musical history database of samples, cover songs, and remixes that attempts to cover the entire history of music over 1,000 years. It attempts to document all of the connections between songs and artists over history.
Anyone can submit information about a sample, cover song, or remix and subject it to the approval of the moderators, and then add it to their database. The website has been running for a long time, but they just launched a mobile app that is very useful.
The WhoSampled app can identify music that is playing around you and show you its samples, covers, remixes. Next time you a hear a new song that has a sample that sounds suspiciously familiar, pull out the WhoSampled app and get the all the info.
The Musixmatch app is available for Android and iOS. It is a competitor of Shazam, Genius, and SoundHound, and offers a few very cool features.
Musixmatch can identify songs that are playing on the radio or in a restaurant. It can’t identify songs from humming or singing, but the app is good at what it does. In fact, it sets itself apart from other apps by syncing up seamlessly with your music streaming apps.
It can identify any song around you, give you the lyrics to that song, and then add the song to a Spotify or Apple Music playlist seamlessly. If the app is integrated with your streaming services, you can quickly get lyrics to every song in your library as well a little bit of history on the song and its artist.
One more fun fact about Musixmatch: if you’ve identified a song with the app, it gives you the option to remove the artist’s voice from the song and then sing over top of their tune – karaoke style!
Other Websites & Services For Tracking Down Mystery Songs
There are some incredible apps out there for finding mystery songs and they all work well. The problem is, most of them are based on the same databases. If a song doesn’t work in Shazam, you can try SoundHound or one of the others, but after that you’re not likely to find it.
Rare songs, live versions of songs, acoustic versions of songs, and samples are all hard to identify. That’s why there are other services available. First, here are couple of options where humans can help you identify the song.
WatZatSong is a social site where you can upload a short MP3 of the song or a recording of you singing, humming, or playing the song on an instrument, and the community of people on the site will attempt to identify the name of the song.
It helps if you can provide context to the people trying to guess the song. Where did you hear it? How old do you think the song is? What language is it in? What genre is it in? Can you remember any specific instrumentation or a guitar solo or anything that could help identify the song?
The site will also let you cross-post the WatZatSong request to other social sites like Twitter and Facebook so that you can also canvas your entire network of friends and followers in your search.
This subreddit is set up to help users identify things they just can’t remember. Post whatever you know about the song – a little clip of the tune, you humming the tune, any lyrics you can remember, the genres, or any other relevant details – the subreddit community will help you name that tune.
Most of the posts on the subreddit are about music, with people providing varying degrees of information. In one of the most popular posts of all time, someone identified a song just by seeing the melody spelled out in do’s and doo’s.
The people of TipOfMyTongue can also help you find movie names, TV shows, pictures, phrases, and more. Try it out!
Musipedia is a virtual keyboard and song identifier. Designed and inspired by Wikipedia, Musipedia is building a searchable and editable database of tunes. It’s pretty incredible.
The sight uses a Melodyhound melodic search engine, which gives you several ways to find and identify a song, even if you can only remember the melody. First, if you can play the melody on a piano, you can pluck it out.
If you can pluck out a tune on the piano, you can play the tune into the website’s virtual piano and it will try to match the melody with its database. This works best with classical music, but it should work with classic popular songs as well.
You can also whistle, hum, or sing into your computer’s microphone using their “microphone search” and it will match your melody with the melody of popular songs.
Last but not least, you can do a “rhythm search”. If all you have is the rhythm of the melody or a common rhythmic motif in the song, tap it into the rhythm search function and you may find a result.
Musipedia is great – it has so many ways to find songs! That said, it seems to work best on classical songs and older popular songs. You may not be able to find some super rare song from an unusual genre. Either way, it is worth checking out.
MelodyCatcher is another way to search for a mystery song. This website works with a virtual piano and will then search for the melody you’ve played.
To use it, play the melody you have stuck in your head on their keyboard. It will record the melody, and then you can play it back, correcting notes and rhythms as you go.
Once the melody is playing the way you remembered it, you can click “Search” and the site will run the melody through its database. You can try it out with your national anthem or another famous song – it works well!
The site also allows you to enter a title or author and immediately listen to a song.
If you have a 15 to 45-second recording of the song that you have stuck in your head, AudioTag is a good way to find the song in question. This will work well if you’ve recorded the song onto your phone off of the radio or another source.
Just drop the recording into the AudioTag website and the robot will analyze the song. It will run it through the site’s database and is quite accurate.
If the song is in a video or something that has a link, you can simply paste the link into the website and it will analyze whatever music is behind the link. This is great for YouTube videos with uncredited songs.
Google The Lyrics, Context, Or Artist
This may seem obvious but Googling the lyrics to the song you have stuck in the head is the easiest way to quickly find a mystery song. Google will run the lyrics through hundreds of lyric sites and databases and usually churns out pretty accurate results.
You should also Google the context in which you heard the song. Did it come up in an episode of a TV show? Try searching for the soundtrack to the TV show or movie. Search specific terms like “song in Toyota commercial”.
In the Google search, try describing the genre and artist. Was it sung by a male or female voice? Was it electronic or acoustic? Chill or energetic? Was the voice distinct? Could you make out any samples?
These are all good things to include in a Google search and they would be smart to include in any post searching for the song as well.
Radio Station Charts
If all you know about the song is that you heard it on the radio and like it, but you can’t remember literally anything else (melody, lyrics, rhythm) your best bet is to look up what the station was playing that day.
Just type in “recently played on 100.1 FM” and you should find their recently played playlists on their website. You can then go through the songs and figure out which was the one you heard. Voila, new favorite song!
Which Method Is The Best For Finding What A Song Is Called?
Depending on how much information you have, different methods will work. If you have a clip of the song, an app like Shazam or Genius will be best. If you can hum or sing the song, an app like Soundhound or Midomi will do the trick. If you can play the song on the piano, tap the rhythm, or whistle the tune, Musipedia or MelodyCatcher will work best for you.
If none of these methods work, then you should try enlisting the help of real humans instead of robots. Try out Reddit r/TipOfMyTongue, or WatZatSong. You can also Google the lyrics, the context, or the playlist of the radio station you heard the song on.
These days, there are more ways than ever to find that mystery song. Sometimes it’s as easy as asking “what song is this”. 🙂