August 14, 2012 at 9:54 am

Music Quiz SongPop Strikes Social-Gaming Gold

songpop review appWhenever a music app cracks the top 10 in the (lowercase) app stores, we pay attention. While we look at music apps all day, these sudden rushes of popularity are a nice reminder that non-music-nerds get down with this stuff too. SongPop, a ridiculously engaging music quiz game for iOS, Android, and Facebook, is becoming outrageously popular. It’s currently the number three free game in the iTunes app store, with about 15 million Facebook Connect users each month.

The SongPop game operates on a simple premise: Users compete against one another to guess the name of a given song or the artist behind it, based on a thirty-second sample. The faster you guess, the more points you’re rewarded, and whoever has the most points a after five-song round wins. If you’re not winning enough coins for your liking, you can buy them as in-app purchases on iOS or Facebook, for $2 and up, or pay $2 for the full Android version (oddly, the game isn’t as popular on that platform).

Got it? Good. Now we can get down to just how much fun this thing is. I’ve seen the addictive fervor with which some of my friends play social games like Words With Friends and Draw Something, but while I’m a fan of both, I’ve never caught “the bug,” so to speak. That may change with SongPop.

There’s just something about the straightforwardness of the app’s gameplay — hear a song, guess what it is, click a button — that’s absolutely irresistible. And, like any good geek, I jump at any chance to demonstrate the breadth of my musical knowledge. This game has a magic formula; we’re not surprised that it’s so popular.

You might argue that the musical guessing game concept is tired and unoriginal, and you might be right. A similar game has come standard on the old-school iPod Classic for at least five years, and we’ve seen loads of music quiz games on the mobile app platform. However, this game is executed so well here, that its oldness or lack of fundamental originality is a moot point. Just as the hyper-successful Draw Something game “ripped off” (read: improved upon) the classic pencil-and-paper game Pictionary, mainly by bringing it to the mobile space and adding a few social features, SongPop takes an old-fashioned concept and adds just the right amount of social app pizazz.

Each time a new round begins, one of the players chooses a category from which the songs will be chosen. Most of the time these are based on musical genre, as you’d expect, but some categories are more interesting and esoteric — one is comprised entirely of songs either about or by artists from New York City, for example. As you progress through the game, you unlock new categories and songs.

As is de rigueur for these sorts of games, you can play against your Facebook friends or initiate random games with strangers. I’m a little ashamed to admit that at first, I was a worried that the random people the game hooked me up with would be no match for my pop music prowess. That turned out to be hubris. I was repeatedly proven wrong — very, very wrong.Bianca R., whoever you are, you may be crushing me like a grape, but I have not given up… yet.

In short, SongPop is a simple, engaging app that’s every bit as addictive as its higher-profile peers in the social-gaming world. If you’re a fan of the aforementioned mega-hits, or consider yourself a music nerd par excellence, you should probably add SongPop to your stable of daily time-wasters.