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Stop, hey, what's that sound?

Song recognition services try to match the random tunes playing in your head with real world titles. But do they work?

Ella Morton

commentary"So the other day I heard this song,'s got a sort of catchy beat, and I think the words are about love or something. And the singer is a girl. Or maybe a high-pitched guy. Anyway, please tell me what it's called, because if I don't find it, I'm at risk of going mad from hearing one section over and over and over in my head."

Music store employees subjected to such requests on a daily basis have lately been given a break, with a range of song recognition services apprearing on the Web and even being pre-loaded into Sony Ericsson's Walkman series phones.

The services work by recording a short sample of a tune -- taken from a radio broadcast, or your own melodious voice -- and analysing the tones against a song database.

The sing-it-back service receiving the most publicity at the moment is the one offered at music discovery site This recognition app, currently in beta, uses a Flash plugin to record your vocal stylings via your PC's microphone. It will then provide a list of song matches and give you the option of sharing your rendition with other Midomi users.

CNET sites around the world have had mixed results with Midomi. One of the reviewers, Rory Reid, tested it out with a truly epic version of Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You. Despite his faithful, emotion-laden phrasing, Midomi decided he was singing the Red Hot Chili Peppers, ABBA or Run DMC. His attempt at the torchsong, and the equally dodgy singing samples of other reviewers, can be heard at the end of episode 20 of their Crave podcast (

Have you tried any song recognition services? Were they accurate, or did your slick Sinatra stylings register as a Spice Girls song? Confess below!