T’Pau — “Heart and Soul”
(from Heart and Soul: The Best of T’Pau) — Heart

In an attempt to test out the much-fussed-over Shazam app — which purports to identify any song via the five or ten-second snippet to which you expose it — on my new iPhone, I cued up VH1 Classic’s horrifyingly ill-researched series One Hit Wonders on the DVR, and A — who has yapped ad nauseam about this application since he first learned of its existence, and who desperately needs technology such as this, because no fewer than ten times a day , he hears a song (on the car radio, at the gym, in the supermarket line!) that he fails yet desires to recognize — was duly impressed as Shazam correctly identified each tune it heard. And while we were having a nice laugh about the wonders of the modern world in which we happily and blessedly live, T’Pau — a British band named for a Star Trek character and fronted by the crazy-brilliant Carol Decker, whose ferocious pipes should have become feted the world over — came onto the television screen with their one and only American hit, and I knew at once that I had just heard my next song of the day candidate. An unstoppable smash during the unforgettably spectacular summer of 1987, this one — surely one of its decade’s twenty-five best tracks — still brings me to my feet whenever I hear it, and I still know how to blow out my voice singin’ it at full blaring blast. Absolutely a classic.

1 response to “looking for a little bit of love to grow, so
(or: october 23’s honey from the hive)”

  1. the buzz from A.:

    Although Brandon would probably prefer that I comment on “Heart and Soul” (a fine song), I want to share a few thoughts on Shazam.

    First of all, it is a wonderful illustration of how big and abstract ideas in theoretical computer science become translated into real-world applications like this one. (When I first learned about combinatorial hash algorithms ten years ago, I could have never imagined that they would be key to an application enjoyed by millions around the world!)

    Secondly, Shazam is extraordinarily fast: it requires just 10 seconds of a song’s sample to initiate a search, and it completes its search in not much more time than that. Imagine searching through millions of songs for a ten-second sample!

    Finally, I am delighted by the vastness of Shazam’s library; while it may not (yet) include this week’s Sugarland release, it did have the Eurovision 2007 hit “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” (which Shazam (correctly) identified in great detail as the “Long Version with Balalaika”). In any case, when Shazam fails, there is always the human Shazam (i.e., Brandon)!

    (For those interested in how Shazam works, check out this write-up in Slate or this more technical paper.)