“What Song is This?” The Best Apps to Identify a Song’s Title
I was waiting for my coffee at a small shop in downtown Victoria when a strangely familiar, heartwarming song started playing. The attempt to memorize a special trip, to lock memories into one song made me pull out my phone, open the Shazam app and capture the song’s title.
The situation, where figuring out ‘what song is this’ repeats itself on several occasions whenever you want to associate a song with a pleasant memory. It can happen at a store, while driving and listing to the radio, or even with a melody that got stuck in your head and all you want is to find out how you know that song. That is where technology comes to help. Even though I mentioned Shazam as my personal choice of song identification app, do not rush to download it. Besides Shazam, there are plenty of other options that might match your need better.
Among eleven mentioned song recognition methods there are some that can catch the right tune even if you just hum a first few notes. Meanwhile other apps allow you to use your PC for recognizing a song, and keep the track of discovered songs. And, if you are not keen on downloading an app, and taking more space on your phone (that could be used for music instead), you could use voice assistants to find out a song’s title. But, let’s get to it in proper order.
Why Trust Us
Selecting right apps for your phone and lifestyle can be confusing. You do not want to fill up phone memory with unnecessary apps, and at the same time you are too busy to test and experiment with all there is on the market. That is why this article includes only the best song recognition apps—to save you time of research and testing. You can pick the one that would suit your needs and start using it right away.
The research was based on my personal evaluation of a few of mentioned apps, users’ reviews and other publications’ opinions (Beebom, Tom’s Guide and others).
One of the most popular song recognition apps, Shazam, is a choice number one for many users for a few reasons. First, its ability to identify a song without many unsuccessful attempts. (Basically, if it can’t find a song, the fault is yours: you are standing too far from dynamics, holding your phone in a wrong position, not trying enough, you get the idea.)
The second reason is available lyrics library that Shazam finds with the song, so you can start singing along right away.
The third, and probably the most important reason, is that this app remembers recognized songs. You can always find the song, close the app, and later when you have free time add it to your playlist. Every found song will be stored in the My Music panel where you could also access information about it. The app allows you to listen to a sample, share the song or open it on Spotify and Apple Music. You can even see related music, watch a music video and find out about other tracks and albums from the artist or a band.
Conveniently enough Shazam creates a ‘For You’ playlist section with songs recommendations.
Fourth, Shazam works both online and offline. That is especially useful if you are travelling internationally and do not have much data to use. (In fact, it is fully integrated into iOS since iOS 14. That means you do not even have to install the app itself but can access it through the Control Centre. Those new features are also be useful when you are scrolling through Instagram reels and want to know which songs and sounds were used for videos. Let Shazam find those names for you.)
Finally, what’s there not to love about this app? The interface is simple, yet aesthetically pleasing. You open an app and right away can click on an iconic logo button to recognize a song in a matter of seconds.
- Works offline.
- Recognizes songs on the background.
- Available lyrics.
- Does not recognize humming that well.
If you find yourself humming a song, and you can’t remember a name, SoundHound is the app for you. Just like Shazam, it correctly recognizes melodies, however, it can also catch a song from your singing or humming. The app works well with a voice command (“Hey Soundhound, what is that song?”) And is fairly quick in recognizing the tune.
Just like Shazam, it provides lyrics for your songs and stores them all in a clean UI.
Just like Shazam, SoundHound features a large button where you can start by tapping whenever you want the app to recognize a song. But, unlike Shazam, SoundHound can do a lot through voice control. Besides asking it to look for a song’s name, you can also navigate the app.
SoundHound also allows you to explore music hits by using the Search Bar where songs, albums and artists are within the reach of a quick tap.
One of the differences is that SoundHound has wider music libraries reach and can play music from YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming devices. The second one is that if you do not want to see any distracting ads, you might have to subscribe to the premium version. Otherwise, it is as free as Shazam.
- Recognizes songs from humming.
- Can be navigated by voice.
- Too many ads.
This feature-packed app, Musixmatch Lyrics is, as you could have guessed, all about lyrics. Like Shazam and SoundHound, this app recognizes music within a few seconds (the feature is powered by ACRCloud and works almost flawlessly). However, that is not the only fact to know about it.
Musixmatch’s uniqueness in the synchronization of music and lyrics in real-time. I find it useful in moments when, although knowing a song, I catch myself singing complete nonsense, and wanting to clarify lyrics (find out what the song is about). Hence, an all-in-one app conveniently solves that issue by providing words along with music: no more singing “Sweet dreams are made of cheese”. In fact, this app pairs with Spotify to find correct lyrics.
Besides, if you are learning another language (and listening to songs is one of the easiest and most common ways to learn), Musixmatch offers translation of lyrics.
As for other useful features, you will find the latest research and top chart on the Home tap. You can also use the Play tab to connect with your music provider and listen to tracks in your library, while viewing and following lyrics.
If you find a song that Musicmatch does not have lyrics for Contribute tab allows you and other users to add verses.
Yet, keep in mind that this songs recognition app also offers a premium plan (just $3/month) that comes with an extra benefit: you can save lyrics to use offline. However, unlike Shazam, Musixmatch does not work offline to find song, meaning you cannot save tagged music for later.
- Lyrics focused app.
- Contribute tap for lyrics uploading.
- Does not work offline.
Genius is another music recognition app that focuses on lyrics. Although it is similar to Musixmatch, based on some reviews, the app takes a little longer to identify songs.
To recognize songs simply open the app and tap on the button located at the bottom right corner. Just like popular recognition apps, Genius uses ACRCloud which is a powerful service based on acoustic fingerprinting technology to identify music and more.
Besides playing discovered songs on Spotify, Apple Music and other subscription services, you can use YouTube’s PiP window.
If you want to know what songs were most identified on Genius, the app provides such a database. You can view the lyrics of any of the songs while playing music and singing along. You can also download or share those lyrics.
Another difference from Musixmatch is that Genius saves previously discovered songs (My Music menu).
- Lyrics focused app.
- Saves discovered songs.
- Takes longer to identify songs.
Other Ways to Recognize a Song
Siri Songs Recognition
Do you own an iPhone? Then use what it has to offer when trying to recognize a song. Siri’s capabilities are improving and one of those is to name a song whenever you need it. When you hear one you want to add to your music library simply launch Siri and ask to “Name that song”. Siri will listen and, in most cases, will tell you the name of the song.
To view your results, you would have to be an Apple Music subscriber because that is where the song will land after Siri finds it. If you are not a subscriber, you will be offered to purchase a song or listen to a sample. However, you could always find it manually in any music provider you are subscribed to and add it to your playlists.
Google Assistant Songs Recognition
If you are using an Android instead of an iPhone, you could use Google Assistant in the same way as Siri to recognize a song. “Hey Google, what is this song?” is a quick and easy way to ask your phone to find out the name of the song. It might take a few seconds for Google Assistant to recognize a melody, yet most of the time it does not fail. Those that use this Android feature say that their phone recognized music playing in a faraway room, and identified it correctly.
Another way you could try with Google Assistant is by humming or singing a song yourself. Compared to Siri it offers more precise recognition even when you only use your voice.
Besides using Google Assistant, you could also use Widgets on your home screen. Find “Sound Search” and drag it to your home screen. From now on, if you need your phone to quickly recognize a song, simply tap on that widget.
A song detector website that was built by SoundHound, Midomi, allows you to find out song’s names by playing music on your PC. Just like with the original app, Midomi also recognizes songs if you hum or whistle into your laptop microphone.
All you have to do is launch the Midomi website and hum or play the song. The website will recognize and give you the right title. Later on, you can play this song on Apple Music or Spotify.
Speaking of the song recognition website, AHA Music is another one you could try while identifying music from your PC. It uses the ACRCloud database which is powerful and efficient in finding the right song within a few seconds. Conveniently it offers Chrome and Edge extension which means you would not need to open the website every time you want AHA to recognize a song.
AHA Music also recognizes songs through signing and humming which is useful when you are sitting in front of your computer and trying to remember a song that got stuck in your head.
Another way to identify music on a PC is with Cortana.
Cortana is Microsoft’s voice assistant that can also work as a song recognition service. Ask “Cortana, what song is playing?” and wait a few seconds to receive the song’s title.
Cortana is available as a separate app on Windows 10.
You might be using Snapchat to share quick snaps with friends and do not even know that this app allows you to recognize songs. Open the app and on the camera screen press and hold anywhere. After a few seconds, Snapchat will identify a song that is playing nearby.
You also might find Snapchat’s identification feature useful when trying to find out cars, plants, facts about food products and more, just by pointing a camera at the subject and scanning.
Are song recognition apps safe to use?
Microphone access might be the main concern that users have when turning on music recognition apps. And truly enough, questionable apps can misuse the given access. However, if you use trustworthy apps and websites to recognize music, like Shazam or SoundHound, they do not take advantage of your privacy.
Is SoundHound or Shazam Better?
The two most powerful song recognition apps are worth comparing. While they both offer similar features and do not fail in music identification, Shazam has one main advantage. It allows you to set up Auto Shazam. This feature keeps track of all background music, plus you can play music on your phone and let Shazam recognize it.
How to recognize a song by humming it?
A few of the services mentioned in this article allow you to find out a song’s title by humming it. To name a few would be Google Assistant, AHA Music, and SoundHound.
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