What Song Is This? – Do The Apps Really Work?

What song is this?
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There is a song stuck in your head but you have no idea what it is. Unfortunately, the song doesn’t have any lyrics or at least none that you could clearly understand and thus do a Google search with. Many mobile apps claim that they can help identify these songs. But does it really work?

We put the most famous song identifying apps to test!



For this test, we took four different kinds of music to check whether these apps are able to identify the tracks. One song is a popular and thus well-known one, two are more “niche” and one is even unknown to us. The three first ones are:

  • The Proclaimers – “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”
  • Scott Sire – “Mister Glassman”
  • The Sidh – “Shake That Bagpipe”

All three of these songs are available on Spotify. Furthermore, the first two feature lyrics that should help the apps even more in identifying the correct song.

The fourth piece of music is a mystery song snippet that inspired the author to test all these song-identifying apps in the first place.

To test, we start playing the songs from the beginning until the apps give us some kind of result. If the first try was incorrect, we let the song play one more time until starting it one minute into the song for a third and last try.

Following, we will show the results of our testing. If you are here for the quick review? Scroll to the very bottom for a summary table.



Shazam is possibly the most well-known app of its kind. Yet, is it actually able to detect all the music we prepared?

Shazam had virtually no issue identifying both “I’m Gonna Be” and “Mister Glassman”. It could identify both songs within 7 seconds and 9 seconds respectively.

Problems arose when we tried the third song. After the first 10 seconds, it was incorrectly identified as another song. After another 10 seconds, Shazam couldn’t find any information only to give another false song after the third try.

Unfortunately, the app couldn’t find anything for our fourth, mysterious song-snipped either.

Conclusion: 2/3 popular songs



Another app that was highly recommended by lists we found on the internet and the Google App Store is SoundHound. Let’s see how it can compare to Shazam.

Even the first song caused some problems as SoundHound couldn’t find anything after 13 seconds. After another 8 seconds, however, “I’m Gonna Be” was identified correctly.

“Mister Glassman”, unfortunately, was not as successful. All three tries (15 seconds for each) resulted in no match.

At first, it seemed like SoundHound might also be unable to find the third song after a first unsuccessful attempt of 15 seconds. However, after 16 more seconds, “Shake That Bagpipe” was successfully identified.

There was, however, again no chance for our mystery song.

Conclusion: 2/3 popular songs



Another app suggested by the app store was MusicId. Occasionally, this one had popped up at the end of the suggestion lists we found on Google as well, so let’s give it a try.

It took MusicID a bit longer than Shazam to identify the two first songs, but it did so either way. “I’m Gonna Be” took 13 seconds while “Mister Glassman” took only 12 seconds.

Again, just like with Shazam, “Shake That Bagpipe” was a problem for the music identification app. All three tries lead to no result whatsoever.

Needless to say that MusicID also didn’t find the mystery song snipped.

Conclusion: 2/3 popular songs



Another Google Play Store suggestion was Beatfind. And, spoiler alert, this app would be the first surprise in this list.

All three songs were identified correctly by Beatfind, making it the first overall successful app in our test. Both “I’m Gonna Be” and “Shake That Bagpipe” were identified correctly after a mere 5 seconds.

The first two tries of “Mister Glassman” delivered the wrong results, but after scrolling to one minute in, it found Scott Sire’s song after 6 seconds.

And yet, no luck with our mysterious fourth song.

Conclusion: 3/3 popular songs



Last but not least, we wanted to try MusixMatch. Primarily used for finding lyrics to popular songs, the app can also detect songs that are playing. Did it keep what it promised?

Yes, the app certainly did. MusixMatch also managed to identify all three popular songs correctly. For “I’m Gonna Be” and “Shake That Bagpipe”, it took 7 seconds each. The latter shows that MusixMatch is even able to identify songs that do not contain any lyrics.

At first, it misidentified “Mister Glassman” but after an additional 8 seconds, this song was identified correctly as well.

Sadly, our fourth song also remained a mystery for this app.

Conclusion: 3/3 popular songs



Following is a quick overview of our findings as well as some positive and negative things that caught our attention.

Result Positive Negative
MusixMatch WINNER
3/3 songs
  • Fast
  • Easy to use
  • Provides Lyrics
Opens by default when playing any music on your phone to display lyrics
Beatfind Runner-Up
3/3 songs
  • Fast
  • Easy to use
Annoying & intrusive ads after every successful identification
Shazam Solid
2/3 songs
  • Fast
  • Easy to use
MusicID Solid
2/3 songs
Does not work reliably, several attempts of button pressing needed
SoundHound Solid
2/3 songs
  • Easy to use


Unfortunately, none of the apps was able to tell our author what song it was she got stuck in her head from merely hearing a snippet of it.


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