Sat 25 Oct 2008
Last night, an old song that I first heard in high school suddenly popped into my head. I didn’t know the name or any of the words, but I could distinctly hear in my mind the haunting melody and the clear singing but the indistinct lyrics. I also knew it was by the ’90s British band Lush.
So I went on a little quest: how could I figure out what that song was? Two iPhone apps sounded like they could help.
One of them is Shazam: hold up your phone to a recording of a song, and Shazam will figure out the song. It works well at weddings (American Boy by Estelle featuring Kanye West), bookstores (Midnight Sun by Ivy) and even while boarding airplanes (Taking You Home by Don Henley). But it doesn’t work if you don’t have a recording, so it wasn’t going to help in this case.
Another iPhone app, Midomi, is supposed to detect songs that are played on the radio or even hummed. But I’ve found that it doesn’t work as well as Shazam for recorded music, and when I tried humming the Lush song, it didn’t display any songs by Lush in its results.
So I tried something else: I went to Amazon and searched for Lush. Eventually I navigated to the Amazon MP3 store, where I could press one button and hear 30-second previews of virtually all of Lush’s songs. Finally, at #23, I heard it: For Love. And also thanks to the web, I finally figured out what the heck they were singing.