It happens to all of us, a song gets stuck in your head, and no matter how hard you think about it, you just can’t remember what the name of the song. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to help you identify music that feels like it’s on the tip of your tongue. Between voice assistants, apps like Shazam and other methods, you will never have an issue identifying a song again.
- 1. r/NameThatSong
- 2. Ask Google By Humming, Whistling, or Singing
- 3. Search the Lyrics
- 4. Ask Alexa, "What song is this?"
- 5. Ask Siri, "What song is this?"
- 6. "Hey Google, what song is this?"
- 7. Identifying Music with Shazam
- 8. "Hey Soundhound, what's that song?"
- 9. Check Your Music Streaming Service
- 10. Search IMDB.com
- Frequently Asked Questions
If you remember the lyrics to a song, then most of the entries in this list will help you out, but what if you heard just a tiny segment of a song on some short video, remember the music video, or remember the general “theme” of the song while not being able to pin down the lyrics.
It could be time to ask Reddit.
The NameThatSong subreddit is a community of 143,000 people who work together to try and identify a song based on the description, clips, even clips of humming uploaded by the poster. It’s kind of like having a giant detective agency working to find your song, with you engaging in a constant back-and-forth with the community to hone in on the right answer.
For a smaller subreddit group dedicated to the same thing (where your post is less likely to get drowned out by other people), check out r/WhatsThisSong/
2. Ask Google By Humming, Whistling, or Singing
One of the fastest ways to help identify a song is by using the Google app on your mobile device. Launch the app, tap on the microphone in the search bar and say “Search a song.” Follow this by humming, whistling or singing the melody. The results will show you the most likely songs and allow you to listen and verify whether it’s the one.
3. Search the Lyrics
This method isn’t super specific to Google alone, but if you know the lyrics to a song, type them into your favorite search engine.
Trying “If you wanna run away with me, I know a galaxy” on Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo all showed the proper result of “Levitating” by Dua Lipa. Even Brave’s new search engine showed the results.
Google and Bing will take it an additional step by letting you watch the YouTube video directly in your search results as well as showing you the full set of lyrics, where to listen or buy the song and more.
4. Ask Alexa, “What song is this?”
With Alexa, you need to be listening through a service like Amazon Music, Spotify or another streaming music service. All you need to do is say “Alexa, what song is this?” any time you are streaming music. Alexa will pause the music, announce the name and artist of the song and then return to your music.
5. Ask Siri, “What song is this?”
“Hey Siri, what is this song?” is the perfect way to get started with Apple’s voice assistant. Siri will respond with “Hang on, let me listen,” then identify the tune.
Backed by Shazam’s outstanding ability to identify music, Siri is usually pretty spot on with its results, but singing, humming and whistling don’t work.
6. “Hey Google, what song is this?”
Similar to how you ask within the Google app, Google Assistant requires you to say “Hey Google, what’s this song?” then start humming, whistling or singing for around 10 to 15 seconds. The best part is that Google provides you with a few different possibilities so that you can find the correct song.
7. Identifying Music with Shazam
When it comes to identifying music through an app, Shazam is undoubtedly one of the first methods to come to mind. With Shazam available on both Android and iOS, just hold the phone up or near the source of the music.
Tap the giant Shazam logo inside the app to begin listening, and once identified, songs can be added to Apple Music playlists (Android and iOS). Shazam can handle music identification from pretty much anywhere out in the world: YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, sitting at your computer, watching a movie, etc. The app also works offline and identifies a song when you are back online.
Mac and iOS users have one extra option with Shazam: identify music without the app installed, thanks to Apple’s purchase of Shazam in 2018. With iOS 14.2 and later, Shazam has been integrated directly into the Control Center.
To add to the Control Center, go to “Settings -> Control Center,” then tap the green “+” button next to “Music Recognition.”
Tap on the Shazam button in Control Center whenever you want to identify a song. The app works best with actual music, as humming and whistling don’t generally yield results.
8. “Hey Soundhound, what’s that song?”
If Shazam isn’t for you, Soundhound is the next best song identifier for both Android and iOS users. Unlike Shazam, which doesn’t allow for humming or singing, Soundhound allows both methods, often with pretty solid results. Just say, “Hey SoundHound” within the app and follow with “What’s that song?”
Of course, you can also press the music discovery button, but it’s so much more fun with your voice. Once music is identified, you can add it to either Apple Music or Spotify or listen inside the app with the built-in YouTube player. For its part, Shazam tends to identify music a little faster, but it’s really not noticeable if you don’t use it that frequently.
9. Check Your Music Streaming Service
You can also search directly with lyrics while in the Spotify and Apple Music apps. No matter which app you use, as long as you know at least some lyrics from a tune, begin typing it into the search function and wait for the results to pop up. For example, start typing “If you wanna run away with me,” and both apps should identify “Levitating” by Dua Lipa. Results are near-instant and often exactly what you are looking for.
For its part, Deezer also adds a “What’s this song” button inside its search functionality. Like Shazam, it listens for any music playing and looks to identify the artist, song title and any associated artwork. It only works with music so no singing or humming is allowed.
10. Search IMDB.com
This won’t work for all music searches, but if you are trying to identify a song from a movie or TV show, IMDB.com can be super helpful.
Let’s say you want to identify music from the recent “The Suicide Squad” movie. You would search for that movie in the IMDB search bar. Scroll through the search results, which include the cast and various movie details, until you locate an option for “Soundtracks.” Click on that to see a full list of music included within the movie.
There is no way to listen inside the website, but you can start typing song names into YouTube or your streaming music app of choice until you find the song that has been stuck in your head all day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will these apps or tools identify every song?
In all likelihood, these apps can identify millions of songs easily. It’s always possible lesser-known music may escape the database, but for all intents and purposes, you should rarely run into an instance where Shazam, Google, etc. can’t identify an artist or song title.
Do I need more than one song identification app?
There’s no harm in having multiple apps installed. For iPhone owners on iOS 14.2 and later, as Shazam is preinstalled through Control Center, another app certainly can’t hurt. Of course, you can always use Shazam alongside Apple Music or Spotify.
Are there any privacy concerns with song identification?
No, searching for songs should have little impact on privacy. Apple Music and Spotify for instance already know your music interests, so the worst case is that they will start recommending songs you searched for. In the case of Google, Alexa, Siri, etc., it’s just another search.
At the end of the day, at least one of the above methods should identify any song you are looking to remember or discover. Whether you are humming, whistling, singing or typing in lyrics, we have covered all of the bases for music discovery. We even showed you a surprising way to search using a site like IMDB, and with that, you should never come up empty when trying to think of a song name again. Wondering how to identify a song while wearing your earbuds? Find the answer.
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