Actually, there are several. In this feature we’ll look at several services that can help you name that tune. We’re still waiting on the app that can actually banish that annoyingly catchy song from your mind, but until then at least you can be armed with knowledge.
Midomi is a musical search engine powered by your voice. If you have a webcam, built-in mic or can hook up even the cheapest of microphones to your computer, all you have to do is click the voice search tool and sing or hum the song that’s stuck in your head.
In our usage of Midomi over time, we’ve found it to be startlingly accurate. Of course, it depends a bit on some esoteric factors such as how faithfully you can reproduce the sound (or conversely, how tone-deaf you are!) and how obscure the track is you’re trying to identify. You’ll also need to give the search engine some core identifiable piece of the song to work from, which means knowing enough of the lyrics or melody to trigger a match.
Still, it usually only takes a few seconds’ worth of recording (Midomi suggests 10) to get search results. You can then listen to a clip from what Midomi identifies as the original performance, as well as clips from other users who have sung in their own search queries from that track. The results set is influenced by other users who have searched for that song and found the right match, so over time the accuracy of the entire database theoretically improves as well.
Midomi also has an iPhone App, Midomi Ultra that provides the same functionality, for song recognition on the go. You can also simply hold it up to a speaker and base a query on the actual song itself. Check out a brief video demo of the app below, which also integrates with Twitter () and Facebook () for socialized sharing of your found songs.
Shazam () is similar to Midomi, but works primarily as a mobile app and does not include the ability to sing or hum the tune. However, it’s available for more platforms and features quick and accurate search results from simply holding your phone up to the source of a song.
With applications available for iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android () (plus other platforms in the UK only at the moment), Shazam casts a wider net in terms of platform support. They also feature a number of social integrations including a Facebook app and other ways to share songs and “musical moments” with friends.
You can also find out more about the artist once you’ve identified a track, as well as get links to purchase the song immediately or watch any associated YouTube () videos.
If it’s a tune from a movie soundtrack that’s stuck in your brain, or you just can’t remember the name of That Song from That Movie, ScreenTunes might be able to help you out. Mashing up the IMDB soundtrack data with the LyrcisFly API, ScreenTunes allows you to search by song or movie title, or by a specific lyric.
From the search results page you can listen to a song inline or purchase it from iTunes or Amazon. You can also click on the movie title to see the rest of the tracks from that film. The creator, a high school senior, says artist search is coming next.
There are a number of sites dedicated to creating databases of song lyrics, so if you know some of the words but don’t feel comfortable trying to sing or hum the tune, try out one of these destinations.
elyrics.net — Search by lyrics within a song, browse lyrics by artist, or search by band or song name.
Find Me a Tune — Taking the simple approach a la Lyrster, Findmeatune.com returns results based on your lyric search and gives you the ability to purchase the track on CD or MP3.
Google Music Search
Of course, the most obvious way to find the song name if you know some of the lyrics is to use our old friend Google to search the string of words you know from the track. However, if other songs have similar lyrics or if the track you’re looking for is somewhat obscure, you might have to dig through some results to find the right match.
However, there’s a way you can up your chances of finding the right song on the first try by invoking the not-well-documented Google Music Search. If you simply add the term “music:” to the front of your search you will invoke Google’s searchable database of artists, songs, albums and lyrics specifically.
You can also use Google Music Search to pull a bunch of other
information related to your song, its artist and album, other versions
of it, and more.
Do you have other great ways of naming that tune that don’t involve asking Uncle Howard who can recite the lyrics to every song since 1957? Let us know your favorite method in the comments!