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A Boulder startup improving the way developers work.

Shazam vs Mashup Music

I had a funny thought while listening to some music recently and decided I needed to do battle between music mashups and music recognition software.

Shazam is a pretty cool app on the iPhone to help you recognize and find music, it uses the microphone and listens to whatever music is near the iPhone. Shazam then compares the few second recorded sound to an online database of music data to try to determine the song. I was curious what would happen when it was given mashup music which contains parts of many songs. Would it just be entirely confused? Would it recognize the mashup? Would it recognize the currently most prominent sample in the mashup?

Artist, Song Title Results
First let’s test it on some normal songs and check the accuracy

(played on iTunes)

Beck, Loser correct
Aquabats, Red Sweater! unrecognized
Beastie Boys, Intergalatic correct
Pearl Jam, Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town correct
Billy Joel, Captain Jack correct
Flobots, Handlebars correct
Weezer, Surf Wax America correct
Now let’s throw it some mashups and see what happens

(Shazam used randomly during song)

Jay-Zeezer, Surf Wax Off your Shoulder rating: Good
Fails twice

identifies as Lil Jay, Dirt off your Shoulda Shurga twice (Should be Jay-Z, Dirt Off Your Shoulder, but it is basically a cover)

identifies as Weezer, Surf Wax America twice

Girl Talk, Set It Off rating: Great
Fails three times

identifies as Jay-Z, Roc Boys (correctly in song)

identifies as Mary J. Blige, Real Love (correctly in song)

identifies as Fatman, Scoop Be Faithful (correctly in song)

Girl Talk, Play Your Part (part 2) rating: Poor
Fails eight times

identifies as Huey Pop, Lock & Drop It once (correctly in song)

Girl Talk, Shut The Club Down rating: OK
Fails two times

identifies as Dolla Feat. T-Pain and Tay Dizm, Who The F**k is That? (correctly in song (there are multiple versions of this song see below))

identifies as T-Pain Feat. Dolla & Akon, Who the F is That (correctly in song (there are multiple versions of this song see above))

identifies as Rich Boy Feat. Polow Da Don, Throw Some D’s (correctly in song)

Danger Mouse, 99 Problems (The Grey Album) rating: Awesome!
No Failures!

identifies as Jay-Z, 99 Problems (correctly in song)

identifies as Dangermouse, 99 Problems/Helter Skelter five times (This is the actual mashup)

Danger Mouse, Public Service Announcement (The Grey Album) rating: Poor
identifies as Jay-Z, Interlude three times (correct artist and album but the wrong song)
Danger Mouse, What More Can I Say (The Grey Album) rating: Great
identifies as Jay-Z, What More Can I Say nine times (correctly in song)

identifies as George Harrison, While My Guitar Gently Weeps twice (correctly in song)

It was far more noticeable when the dominant sample was playing during both Jay-Zeezer and The Grey Album which seemed to mean that Shazam could pick out the individual songs easier. I was quite impressed when it even correctly identified some of the Grey Album as actually being a mashup. Girl Talk gave the program a harder time, which makes sense seeing as many samples are put together for very small amounts of times and many of the samples are slightly altered. Some songs where there were dominant samples for a period of time, it did a decent job. It is a cool way to figure out what songs contribute to a mashup if you are unsure about a piece of a song. I was pretty impressed with Shazam’s abilities to pick apart the pieces of the songs. I guess the results aren’t really that surprising, but it was still a fun way to spend some of a Saturday afternoon listening to music and testing some software.


Written by DanM

November 14, 2008 at 10:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Great story. Since you are a mashup fan I want you to write about if you have the time


    November 6, 2009 at 12:01 pm

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