My sixteen-year-old daughter has very eclectic taste in music. Before she left for a session with her basketball coach last Saturday morning, she was listening to “Thanks for the Memories” — yes, the Frank Sinatra version.

Admittedly, that’s not her usual taste, but a quick scan of her iPhone will reveal several decades worth of music. It’s not unusual for her to ask me the name of a song playing on the radio, or who sings it (or for the tables to be turned when she chooses the station).

shazamEnter Shazam. Download the free app, hold your device up to the music source and voilà — the answer to those questions — in mere seconds.

Shazam-ing a song brings up an information page with information on the album, its label, date it was released, along with the genre, the date I “Shazamed” it, and a discography that offers suggestions for similar music. For popular music, lyrics come up as well, and a tap on the square scrolling the lyrics brings up a full page with the current lyric highlighted karaoke-style, in case you want to sing along.

Depending on the song, it might also show an author bio, information on concert tickets and the opportunity to watch a video related to the song. It’s a free app, so ads for radio apps and iTunes are part of the landscape as well, but their intrusion is minimal — just don’t tap on them. (There is a Shazam Encore app available for $6.99, but at least one reviewer complained that ads are still a part of that app. I haven’t tried the paid app).

Initially, all I used the app for was figuring out song names and artists, and I never bothered to explore any other aspects. But when I whipped out my phone to get Shazam’s help with a recent “who sings this?” question, I noticed that the app had a new look, and so I started clicking around.

And downloaded a free song. Scrolling through the “News,” I discovered a free download, along with charts of the most “Shazamed” songs (Hip Hop, Top 100 United States, Best of 2013, Top 100 Worldwide), a single of the week and, in case I wanted to see what I missed, last week’s free song (now 99 cents on iTunes). Tap on the “Explore” button and a screen full of album covers pops up — tap on one to sample its songs.

I put Shazam to the test and tried some of the more obscure songs on my iPod and it did well, missing only one song that was, indeed, pretty obscure. Shazam also works on TV shows.

So now, in addition to answering the “what’s the name of this song?” and “who sings this?” questions, Shazam can answer the more challenging “what was that line?” question. And if you want to know the answer before your kids download the song….well, you can always Shazam it.


Shazam requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5. Also available for Android.

Intended for ages 12 and up.

Copyright 2014 Lisa Hess


About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.

1 Comment

  1. Speaking as a person who had to explain to a room full of 6th-graders why “Dark Horse” is a terrible song and who Jeffrey Dahmer was, anyway (see “Dark Horse”), I need this app!

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