What Song Is This? How to Find and Identify Music Now

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We live in a world of instant gratification. We can get food delivered to our door even if the restaurant doesn't deliver. We can watch blockbuster films the moment they leave theaters, and sometimes even before. We can book trips around the world and secure home loans at the push of a button. Why should we ever accept not knowing the name of some jammin' song?

Thanks to ever-developing technology, we don't have to. Music recognition software is so powerful, apps can identify songs in a matter of seconds. There's even a gameshow on FOX called Beat Shazam where contestants compete to identify songs faster than the most popular music recognition app on the market. But just because Shazam is the most popular doesn't mean its the only way to name that tune.

Whether you're on the road, in the club, sifting through old mix CDs, or just remembering your favorite song from 1987, there are lots of great options to answer the age old question, "what song is this?" Here are the best ways to find and identify music online.

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Is there anyone who doesn't yet have Shazam downloaded on their phone? This is the handy-dandy go to for recognizing random songs in the street. You just press the “listen” button, hold your device toward the speaker, and wait. You'll be shocked at just how extensive the Shazam library is. It saves your discoveries, and it gives you the option to listen to and download the tune. There's no shame in Shazaming during your favorite DJs set at the club, and it's successful most of the time. Just don't be surprised when it doesn't know that one sick house track Carl Cox drops. Knowing a dude like that, it's probably never been released.


Shazam's closets competitor, SoundHound offers a few tricks Shazam does not. Say you're driving through traffic and a jam comes on the radio. It's not safe to Shazam and drive, but with SoundHound, you can use the app hands free. Just say “OK Hound, what song is this?” The app will start listening and identify that tune, all while you're hands are at 10 and 4. Check out a map to see where people are listening to what, add to your library, and have fun.

Google Play's “What's This Song?”

Much like Shazam, this Google Play widget can help identify songs playing around you. Just stick it to your home screen, press the widget, and hold your phone up to the speaker. If the song is identified, you'll be directed to Google Play where you can purchase and add the song to your library. It also offers you lyrics to the song from Google Play's database. Of course, it's Google, so you have to have an Android operating system, but if you're running on Android 4.2 or higher, you can add the widget to you lock screen and search for sounds instantly, no unlocking necessary.

Ok Google, Siri

Artificial intelligence and speech recognition technology is getting better every day. Next time you can't remember the name of that song on the tip of your tongue, just grab your phone and be all “Hey Siri” or “Okay, Google,” then say “what is that song that goes like,” and sing some of the words. Your helpful digital assistant should be able to help you, even if you're a little out of key.

Alexa, Google Home

Much like singing into your mobile device, Alexa and Google Home can listen to you sing or hum a song, and they should even begin to play it. You can also ask Alexa or Google Home who performs whatever song it's currently playing, and you can ask it to add that song to your library. You can also ask “what's the song by Lana Del Rey featuring A$AP Rocky?” and a host of similar questions. Go ahead, try to stump 'em.

Genius, Google Search

If you know the words to the song you're looking for, but don't have an Alexa nor want to get up from the couch to find your phone, you can always just type the words into Google. Genius is my favorite lyric website, and they've got pretty much everything covered. It can also show you what songs may have sampled those lyrics. Try to be as specific as possible to narrow down your search.


If you're a true music nerd and you wanna kill some time fast, get lost in the catalogs of This website is an incredible resource for heads who wanna know where that funky sped-up sample in their latest hip-hop or dance favorite originates. Maybe you swear you've heard that lick before, but the original artist escapes you. Or maybe the hook on the latest pop summer smash sounds awfully familiar. Look up any song you like to learn where the samples come from and hear a back-to-back comparison. You can also discover who and how many artists sampled your favorite songs. It works both ways.

These days, most people have turned over to streaming services, but if you're over the age of 25, you've probably still got an external hard drive or a case of CDs with a bunch of songs you downloaded back in the day. A lot of those files were mislabeled, and some of them might not be labeled at all. If you want to rediscover the tracklist of “my hot summer mixtape 2003,” you can upload the files onto AudioTag, and it scrolls through the metadata to figure out just what nu metal or forgotten hip-hop jam you were rockin' to. It's best to upload sound files ranging from 15 to 45 seconds, but any size file can be supported.


This website capitalizes on human resources. It's a community of do-gooder music fans, coming together to collectively identify tunes for those out there in the struggle. You just make a post on the forum like "What song is this?" or “Hey guys, I can't remember who does this song,” and attach a sound file, or maybe just a voice recording of you trying to hum or sing the tune. The users of WatZatSong rather quickly try to get back to you, and you can help others identify songs as well. Isn't it nice to see people working together in this tough political climate toward a greater good? Hope is out there, yet.