You know what the worst three feelings in the world are? One: stepping on a damp floor in fresh socks. Two: sitting on an overly-warm toilet seat. Three: not being able to identify the song that's currently doing endless laps round your head. There are times when Shazam fails, and you can't remember the right lyrics to google, and all feels lost. There's no hope, and you're left waiting for that moment somewhere in the future when you stumble across the record again. You can wait forever.
So what would you say if we told you that there was an app that allowed you to hum into your phone and then attempted to recognise whatever it is that you're humming? "That's bullshit and it won't work," is probably the answer, but bear with us. Soundhound has existed since 2005, which means we've spent 11 years sat in the metaphorical dark. Still, we know about Soundhound now, so, in theory, we'll never be without a track ID ever again.
We decided to trial Soundhound to see how effective the app is at actually recognising songs. On the App Store, Soundhound currently boasts five out of fives stars and is defined by users as "freaking awesome" who state that the app "works perfectly" at identifying songs with close to "100% accuracy". We decided to test the app's ability to recognise house and techno. Techno is less than renowned for having melodic and lyrical components, and house music vocal samples are often obscured if not unrecognisable. Using some of house and techno's most melodic and memorable bangers would attest to just how great this app really is.
1. Retro Grade - Moda
We thought we'd go in hard with this cheeky slice of Italo-tinged warehouse madness. The synth-line's really easy to hum so surely this wasn't going to test Soundhound too much, was it? Oh, it was. Soundhound thought we were either humming the theme tune from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, something called "Sailing Day" by whoever the fuck Bump of Chicken are, or the old sappy Carpenters song "I Wont Last a Day Without You."
Does "Moda" actually sound similar to an auto-tuned Sarah-Michelle Gellar begging monsters to give her something to sing about? No. No it doesn't.
2. Kerri Chandler - Brooklyn
Another humming session, another struggle for Soundhound. For reasons that are perhaps best never revealed, the app had decided that Chandler's 2000 deep house banger was by either Keane, the Goo Goo Dolls, or Garbage. Kerri, dear Kerri, would probably be righteously furious if he'd been made aware that his jazzy number had been mistaken for a trio of tunes that sound like department story muzak.
3. Midland - Final Credits
The saxophone inspired synth-sounds of "Final Credits" haven't been around for long. It was released in May 2016 but has already become a crowd pleaser as Midland has made his way touring around the world. We hoped that its recent release didn't reduce Soundhound's ability to recognize the banger. We imitated the sax-synth and in return were offered Musical Youth's seminal kiddy-reggae classic "Pass the Dutchie", "Dani California" by ageing sex-rockers the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Taylor Swift's "We Belong Together." "Final Credits" actually sounds nothing like any of these whatsoever. My faith in Soundhound was diminishing by the second.
4. Paranoid London - Paris Dub 1
LISTEN TO THE RECORD ABOVE. LISTEN TO IT AGAIN. ONCE MORE. RIGHT. NOW SING IT. THEN HUM IT. THEN COME BACK AND TELL ME THAT IT SOUNDS LIKE "LOSE YOURSELF" BY EMINEM. TELL ME THAT IT SOUNDS LIKE "FORVER & ALWAYS" BY TAYLOR SWIFT. TRY AND FUCKING TELL ME THAT IT SOUNDS LIKE "GOODBYE MY LOVER" BY JAMES BLUNT. CAN YOU TELL ME ANY OF THAT? CAN YOU? CAN YOU ACTUALLY? FUCK YOU SOUNDHOUND.
5. Fatima Yamaha - What's a Girl to Do
I was going to give Soundhoud one last chance. This is a song that grandparents can hum. And if your grandmother recognizes it then surely an app literally create to recognize songs can? Hey, guess what...Soundhound didn't have a clue! No, I wanted to scream, no this isn't "Hey There Delilah" by the Plain White T's. It isn't "Mad World" either. And it really isn't a cover of the cover of "Mad World" sung by someone who I think was on American Idol. Soundhound had comprehensively let me down again.
Frustrated, sad, and still no closer to having a definitive way of recognising records that doesn't involve tapping out the hi-hat pattern to some big bastard in a record shop, I deleted the app from my phone. Soundhoud, you let me down, and I'll never forgive you for it.