October 10, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Top 5 Apps for Identifying Songs

You’re innocently going about your day when it happens: You hear a song you’ve never heard before. It rules. You need to know what it is.

Before the age of smartphones, this would probably require writing down a few lyrics to Google later. Before computers, you’d probably have to come to terms with never ever hearing that song again in your life, or perhaps singing the half-remembered chorus to a snide record store employee.  Nowadays, a plethora of apps can help you track down any stray tune that drifts into your ear.

I have gone through these apps and compiled the best of the best, so that you don’t have to [update: We tested them more thoroughly]. And yes, we realize you probably have one of these installed already, but maybe you’ve forgotten to use it, which would be a shame. Besides, some of these take a different approach, so you might want to install more than one. There’s a world of music all around you — don’t let it slip away.

Update: We ran a road test of the best of these apps in various New York City venues. See those results here.

1. Shazam (Free, iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry)

With unlimited tagging and loads of features, the original music ID app is still the best. Shazam identifies songs quickly and accurately, and the app is fully integrated with Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, and Pandora. It has also scrapped most of the limitations they used to have on the software, meaning you can now tag as many songs as you want.

2. Soundhound (Free, iOS, Android)

Have a song stuck in your head, but can’t think of the name? Soundhound can help you with those songs that are on the tip of your tongue, or ear rather. This app can identify a song for you just by humming the melody or singing a few lyrics, in addition to providing Sham-style tagging. You have to be pretty accurate with your humming for it to guess the song, because it can’t read minds (yet). Tagging a song as it’s playing lets you see the lyrics as they’re sung, just like karaoke. You can also check out what’s hot to see what other people are tagging.

3. Hound (Free, iOS, Android)

This younger sibling of Soundhound is a music search tool that skips the typing and tapping to give you information Apple Siri-style. Say the name of a song or artist and you’ll get tour dates, biographies, their top songs and more instantly. The app shows the artists latest tweets, Facebook updates, as well as similar artists. You’ll spend less time typing and more time exploring.

4. musiXmatch (Free, iOS, Android, Windows Phone)

MusiXmatch has powerful lyric recognition and a large catalog of lyrics to accurately find what you’re looking for, based on song lyrics. You can tag and save lyrics, share them, and even browse lyrics while offline. The app is compatible with many third-party music players to give you lyrics as you’re listening.

5. Spotsearch (Free, Android)

Spotsearch is heavily integrated with Spotify, hence the name. Type in any lyrics you know to a song you’re looking for, and Spotsearch will identify it and link you to it on Spotify. If you don’t have Spotify Premium (the only way to get on-demand playback with Spotify on a smartphone), it’ll link you to YouTube so you can listen there instead.

Image courtesy of Flickr/Dalboz17

  • http://www.facebook.com/alan.d.currie Alan Currie

    This was really useful – more detailed info that I expected – well done!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Williams/100000434202693 Robert Williams

    Curious which of these would be useful for identifying songs that came out 30 years ago—in a much narrower genre like smooth jazz.

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  • shaka

    i am looking for one for the PC that helps identify songs on posted videos like youtube…good article here that i will pass on to my yound adults

  • ddj

    probably none, i tried soundhound or whatever it’s called, it’ll detect almost all modern music and the VERY famous old songs as old as Beethoven, but other songs got to be English only.

  • ddj

    however i think shazam is better cuz i played part of hollywood undead songs(i didn’t know what it was) on soundhound like 5 times with different positions of the phone, and different volumes and it couldn’t detect it, it didn’t even try long enough xD
    but shazam detected it in less than 5 seconds.

  • Sandra

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!! found a song that’s been stuck in my head for AGES through Soundhound! GREAT app

  • ACommentingBox

    Are there any (besides long-dead Tunatic) for actual computers? Or is this realm of software development exclusive to “smartphone” people?

  • Anonymous

    just ask any ol timer.!!!!

  • Amber

    soundhound is really bad i realized it only works with older song that you would probably already find out the name

  • Nature Boy

    just tried Shazam a few times and it couldn’t come up with any results at all.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/MrEstonian123 Arukula


  • AR

    yeah, soundhound isn’t as good as shazam.

  • jim

    you are retarted

  • wonderful
  • wonderful
  • Mickey Mickey

    Shazam did not recognize Dancing Queen :-) Sony’s TrackID never let me down :-)

  • ghfjdksl

    Worst list in history… shazaam is useless if it isn’t a song that plays on the radio every 30 minutes. What idiot voted it #1?

  • Jennifer Hayes

    I’m desperate to find songs that were around before I was even born…. boy am I having difficulties, I know the tunes, but I don’t know the words…what chance have I got?

  • ArtDe

    I am looking for an app that can identify a song currently being played on my iPhone. If you know any, please let me know.

  • George

    TrackID ;)

  • Theresa Mãrtįñęžź

    Gosh I have this stupid song stuck in my head but I don’t know the name or who singed it or the lyrics and its so annoying its bugging me. All I remeber is somethin about a guy havin a wife but he cheats on her in the office and he comes home late and drunk and something about him throwing his key on a coffee table or something and he’s off to be and when he’s about to go to work he takes one of his wife gucci shirt and shes crying and she was in the phone when he came one at nigh drunk and the singer I think he liked her and he didn’t like the way he say the other guy treat her. Of anyone can help me find the singer or the name of this song is so awesome. :( please help its really bugging me.sorry that using remeber a lot but its a old song and a good one at that. Thanks!

  • Bullit

    so who can help me identify 3 songs in one recording.. i have tried the apps and could find only one of the 3 songs. lol

  • shafter

    shaggy – wasnt me

  • Theresa Mãrtįñęžź

    Thanks but it isn’t that song. I know that song and it isn’t it. Awe man ill never know

  • Charles T.

    Shazam is better than soundhound but in soundhound u can hum to the mic

  • Sergey Kishenin

    If you would like to find out tracks from a Youtube or Vimeo video then Trackcha can probably help you! http://www.trackcha.com/

  • zhului zhu

    I think he liked FCNSA.v5 her and he didn’t like the way he say the other guy
    treat her. Of anyone can help me find the singer or the name of this
    song is so awesome. :( please help its really bugging me.FCNSA.v5
    sorry that using remeber a lot but its a old song and a good one at that. Thanks!

  • Shan

    How do you track songs you play on your phone radio?
    Like the lumia identifies through bing

  • TJ5

    What about an app to tag online on MAC or Windows PC? I’m listening to online radio with no song lists

  • Anonymous

    Soundhound is WAAAAY better than Shazam!

  • Mike Jones

    What does this have to do with Shazam or Soundhound? Fuck BMW this is about song finding apps.

  • Murad Beybalaev

    You should rename this article to “Top 5 apps for identifying songs FOR PHONES”.

  • LordSlug

    suck my dick

  • elguybrush

    Soundhound instantly recognized me singing “hey brother” and “californication”. Shazam can’t help me, if a song is stuck in my head.

    Neither can help me find an EDM song I only know the intro to though :[

  • Luis Alejandro

    Is there an app in which you can click to find the beat of a song?

  • inferioranality

    These are only for lyric recognision, why not beat recognision?

  • Guesto

    Bullshit! Only the first two are real song identifiers. All the rest can be done by googling..


    track id’s the best to find the real music..soul funk dance tunez from back in the day

  • seymour butts

    I found an old anime song in the ruins of geocities a while back. the song was only called kewl.mid and the metadata was all garbage with a few japanese characters. will these be able to identify this song?

  • IamyourFather

    sick my duck

  • Anonymous

    Likely, Shazam managed to identify a song I had that was titled unknown that came from a bunch of MP3s I had ten years back. turned out it was Rise Up by Freedom Call.

  • SHhhh

    One would assume “Phones” as they say Apps…If it were for Windows Mac or Linux they would say Program?