Found this graph on Slacker’s Google+ feed:
Thought this was a very unique way to display the lyrics to Hey Jude.
I found a great free iPhone/iPod touch application recently that displays lyrics for songs, line by line, as the song is playing. It’s called TuneWiki [free, AppStore link]. This app, like all other apps for the iPhone/iPod touch, doesn’t store the lyrics it finds in the songs being played from your music library. It’s just not allowed to do so. That limitation aside, the app takes on a unique twist to displaying lyrics. It also uses advertisements to help offset the cost of running it’s servers, so you will see ads on certain screens.
Instead of displaying the entire lyrics to a song. While the song is playing, it scrolls the lyrics, line by line, with the music as it plays. This can be accomplished by storing time stamps with each line of the lyrics. As the song plays, when the time stamps passes, the app moves to the next line in the lyrics.
If there are no time stamped lyrics for a song in it’s database, it displays a message stating that they need the users help with the song. Asking the user to tap the lyrics box to advance the lyrics as the song plays. I’m assuming that just one sample isn’t enough for this app to start moving the lyrics by itself. I have to assume that it needs samples from several users before it stores the time stamps permanently.
With the songs on my iPhone, it did an amazingly accurate job of scrolling the lyrics as the music played. There were quite a few songs it didn’t know and helping the app out was pretty easy for songs I knew well. For newer songs I didn’t know that well, tapping to let the app know to move to the next line was trickier than I thought it would be. I think I’ll leave that task to folks that know the songs better.
The application also lets you stream radio powered by SHOUTcast Radio. I was pleasantly surprised that the lyrics scrolled for streamed music as well as music stored on my iPhone. It’s not perfect though. The songs I listened to on the “radio” were a little behind what was playing at the time.
There were also times when the song stopped streaming. I’m assuming this was when the app was pulling the time stamp data for the song from it’s database. This could have just been coincidence and not related at all. However, this happened three out of four times with one song not stopping. In all cases the lyrics were about a line or two behind what was playing on the stream.
Other features of the app include the ability to watch music videos stored in YouTube. The app chooses videos that have lyrics displayed with the videos if it can. Otherwise, it just plays videos it finds.
The application also has a Community section that displays songs being played near your location as well as preselected locations. It also has a search that lets you locate a specific location.
[Top 50 Songs for this month in choosing Missouri]
[Top 50 Songs for this month in Missouri]
[Top 50 Song "Beautiful World" by Coldplay]
It also shows you the top 50 songs by location as well as Hour, Today, the Week, or the Month. This includes the entire world, and you can select down to a specific state if looking at the United States, or country for the rest of the world. In this case, it doesn’t play the song. It just looks up the lyrics with the same search engine it uses for user searches to locate the song and display it’s lyrics. you can buy the song on iTunes, comment on it, play a video if its on YouTube and “Blip” on the video as well. Blipping on a video will send a short message to Email, TuneWiki, Facebook, or Twitter, or any combination of them.
The User Interface seems a little cumbersome and is probably a web based system hidden behind the app. There is no indication of places on the screen where the user should tap. They just have to tap and hope that it’s a button as opposed to text. The only well defined buttons are the Tab Bar buttons at the bottom of the app screen: Music, Radio, Video, and Community.
If you tap 4 or 5 levels deep in a section of the app, you have to use the back button at the top of the app to return. There isn’t a way to return to the first page of a given tab. Tapping the tab should do this, but it doesn’t.
It does allow you to return to the location in the app where a song is currently playing if you navigate away from the library or radio players. This is a nice touch.
That said, I would prefer an interface that is a bit more standard. If it is web based, its not that hard to emulate the iPhone HIG (Human Interface Guidelines).
The application was also a little buggy. It crashed out a couple of times and wouldn’t start once. They might have been attributed to low memory. With all the restrictions that Apple places on apps in the AppStore for approval, not reporting that the application is about to crash due to lack of memory is one that I’m surprised isn’t enforced. I’m pretty certain that an app can state that it is about to die due to this condition since there is a “delegate method” in the SDK that is called when the app is about to die due to lack of memory.
Even with the applications flaws, it’s definitely worth checking out if you are into reading the lyrics of songs being played.
This probably means that other programs that would pull lyrics won’t work anymore either.
Fortunately, I did find a “good news” situation here. There is an article on the site Cult of Mac! Automatically Add Lyrics To All Songs In Your iTunes Library [How To] describes how to grab lyrics with little effort. You just have to wait much longer for them to come down. The gist of the article is to use an AppleScript that will play songs in a playlist for about 10 seconds. When you are running a Dashboard widget that gets lyrics from a couple of sites serving them up, this widget will save the lyrics to the iTunes song playing (hence the need to play the song for about 10 seconds).
This process can take a really long time compared to MassiveLyrics, but at least this one works for now.
I have looked long and hard for a way to get lyrics into my music files. I have about 8 programs that attempt to insert lyrics into songs, mostly while the songs are playing. I have even looked at a couple of iPhone/iPod touch apps that display lyrics. Unfortunately, they don’t store the discovered lyrics into the music because AppStore applications are not allowed to store data outside their little sandbox. I felt like I was never going to find a “fast and easy” way to add lyrics to my music, until I found the Mac program “Get Lyrical“.
The Unoffical Apple Weblog had a post about getting lyrics using a program and AppleScript combo that doesn’t sound like a bad idea, but its very slow. They suggest using an AppleScript program that plays the first 10 seconds of a song along with GimmeSomeTunes to find and insert lyrics. With my collection of music, it would take just under 2 DAYS to get all the lyrics it could. My method only took about 30 minutes.
UPDATE (8/28/11):Looks like the link to MassiveLyrics to download it doesn’t work anymore. I have just sent an email to the developer hoping that he has an alternative link. If not, I’ll have to find another app that works as well to suggest for folks. MassiveLyrics is a great app, but if the developer doesn’t let folks download it, I guess that’s his right. I’ll let you know what I find out.
UPDATE (10/02/10): MassiveLyrics is a program, similar to GetLyrical, that retrieves lyrics from LyricsWiki. Its got a great UI, even better than GetLyrical’s, and works exceptionally fast. The developer posted a note in the comments here to let me know about it. I downloaded it and checked it out. It is way better than GetLyrical in the speed department. Otherwise, its workflow is pretty much the same as GetLyricals. You simply select the songs you want to add lyrics to, then click the Get button. It then starts looking up the songs about 5-6 at a time. GetLyrical only does one at a time, so that’s probably the biggest reason for the difference in speed.
A big thanks to the developer Dade for letting us know about his great application!
Get Lyrical is a free (donation-ware) application that one thing and does it very well. It gets lyrics for songs in iTunes and adds them to the songs ID3 tags.
The UI is very clean and simple. A button to add lyrics to a selection of tracks in iTunes, a button to add lyrics the currently playing track, and a button to add lyrics to songs as they play. There are two “quick look” buttons that open up a HUD type window to show you the lyrics found for a particular track.
The best feature of Get Lyrical is the Tag Selection button. I selected all 16,000+ tracks in iTunes and clicked the button. It told me how many tracks it had found, and started processing. About 30 minutes later, it showed me how many tracks it had found lyrics for. That was it, over 10,000 tracks in iTunes with lyrics added with very little effort at all.
You can use the “Active Tagging” feature to work like other programs out there. However, I found it very frustrating to have the song you are playing pause for a second or two so that the lyrics can be inserted into the ID3 tags. Other programs also seem to “lockup” iTunes while it’s searching for the lyrics as well as inserting the found lyrics into the tags. I really hated this. If I was using iTunes to look at something in the AppStore, I found I had to wait for the other lyrics program to finish its search before I could do what I wanted to do. I just don’t find this method the best way to get lyrics.
This program doesn’t get album art or do anything other than get lyrics for iTunes music. However, it does this exceptionally well. If you want lyrics in your music so that you can see them when playing the songs on your iPhone/iPod touch or iPod, this is the program to get the job done and get it done quickly.
Update (8/8/2009): It looks like the RIAA is putting the hammer down on sites like LyricWiki that give Get Lyrics the ability to download lyrics easily. Check out the new post I wrote about this news.