What Song Is This? 7 Ways to Find That Song You Just Heard

Updated on December 10, 2018
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Music buff and guitar player—always humming, always got my ear to the speakers.

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Do you have a bad case of "stuck song syndrome?" It's bad enough when it's a song you know, but when a melody plays over and over again in your head and you have no idea who sings it, what the title of the song is, or even what the lyrics are, you will, without a doubt, go mad and scream, "What song is this?!"

Perhaps you have a milder case, where you hear a pleasant song playing in a store, at the club, or at a party, and you need to know what it is so you can download it when you get home. Either way, this article will explore apps, tips, and tricks to help you track down the exact song you're looking for.

7 Ways to Find That Song You Just Heard

  1. Search Shazaam (it listens to and identifies songs).
  2. Use SoundHound (it can search by hearing you hum).
  3. Search the lyrics.
  4. Search the artist.
  5. Look up the radio station's playlist.
  6. Search songs by genre and/or decade.
  7. Play similar songs on Youtube, Spotify, or Pandora.

1. Shazaam Listens to and Identifies Songs

If you haven't heard about this app by now, then you are not fully a citizen of the 21st century. Shazaam is a phone app that listens to a song that is currently playing and, within seconds, returns the name of the song, the artist, and the album.

How it works:

  • Open the app: All you have to do is open the app and press the button on the first screen to activate listening.
  • Save the song: Once Shazaam gives you the song, you can save it to your playlist or download it through iTunes or Google Play Music.
  • Use presets: You can also set Shazaam to listen to every song within earshot, even when the app isn't open.
  • Autosave: Shazaam will save all songs it can identify in your playlist.

2. SoundHound Can Search With Your Humming

SoundHound is very similar to Shazaam in the sense that it can listen to a song and identify the name and the artist. The thing that makes SoundHound even cooler is that it has functionality to listen to your humming, singing, or even whistling!

How it works:

  • Hum: Just hum, sing, or whistle the melody into the app, and SoundHound will literally sniff out that song.

3. Search the Lyrics

If the song is no longer playing, or you couldn't pull out the app on time, you can do a quick search for the lyrics. You don't need to know every word or even know a few of the words accurately.

How it works:

  • Type in whatever you heard: If you don't get the right results, type in the words along with the word "lyrics" or "song" (e.g. "rollin rollin on a river song" or "rollin rollin on a river lyrics).

4. Search the Artist

If you couldn't catch any of the words, or can't remember any of the lyrics, but you know who sings it, search the name of the artist. Depending on where you heard the song, there are a couple of ways to narrow down the song search.

How it works:

  • Search artist's most recent songs: If you heard it somewhere hip, then it's most likely a new song. Search the name of the artist and the word "latest hits" or "recent song" (e.g. "Katy Perry latest song").
  • Search artist's greatest hits: If you heard it anywhere else, you should search for the artist's name, along with the query "greatest hits" or "top tracks." Most places do not play deep tracks. They like to play the most popular songs by an artist—ones that they know most people will recognize. So it is easy to find the song by just searching for an artist's greatest hits.

5. Look Up the Radio Station's Playlist

If you heard a song on the radio, then it's likely you'll hear it again. You can either wait to hear it another time, so you can Shazaam it, or you can look up the radio station's rotation of songs on their website.

How it works:

  • Website search: Every station has its own website. Go on their website and find their playlist or list of songs, and you'll most likely find it there.

6. Search Songs by Genre and/or Decade

If you're a music pro, but you couldn't put your finger on the artist or the words to the song, then there is still hope. Look up the top hits for the genre or decade.

How it works:

  • Type in the genre and decade you think that song belongs to (e.g. R&B songs of the '90s).
  • This takes a bit more work because you have to listen to every song in this pool, but it will still narrow it down into specific parameters.

Tip: You can get even more specific in your search terms in order to narrow the pool down even more. What was the song about? Was it a slow song or an upbeat song (e.g. R&B love song from the '90s).

7. Play Similar Songs on Youtube, Spotify, or Pandora

If you can identify the genre, create a playlist on Pandora or Spotify based on artists or other songs that are similar to the song you have in mind. Pandora and Spotify use artificial intelligence to curate songs that are similar, so you'll eventually run into that song.

How it works:

  • You can also search for a similar song on YouTube, and click on their playlist suggestion.
  • You can scroll through the playlist to find similar songs, and that song you're looking for will most likely be in that playlist.

For example: The example below shows the YouTube playlist that was suggested to me based on watching a video for Jennifer Lopez's "If You Had My Love."

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