surinenglish

THE MUSIC MAKER

Appy days are 'ere again

Shazam is an app that allows its users to discover the name of a song that's being played and who it's by. On a practical level (at least in The Shakespeare) this process usually involves somebody holding their phone ridiculously close to a speaker - often standing on stool to achieve the goal - and waiting a few seconds, poised like the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus until their device pings and they discover they have a hitherto unrecognised penchant for Sacha Distel.

Every time this happens, I look on, aghast, wondering why they didn't avoid the whole rigmarole and its corresponding loss of dignity and simply ask someone what song was playing. Apparently more than two hundred million people per month around the globe use Shazam to identify songs; that's an awful lot of souls straining and flailing their arms in the air towards music speakers. How did we get here?

Well, the sheer quantity of easily available music these days means that it's impossible to know what everything's called. This state of affairs is compounded by those radio stations that don't bother to employ presenters and tout their 'non-stop music' as something positive when, in fact, it's anything but - the same two hundred songs churned out randomly, interspersed with adverts for carpets and sofas until the listeners' brains turn to apricot blancmange. Then, we have the radio stations that do employ presenters but they're of the belief that their vacuous witterings are of greater import than information about the song they've just played.

The most Shazamed (I just made that verb up; I wasn't sure if it needed a double 'm') of all time is Dance Monkey by Tones And I which has been zapped nearly forty million times. It's sort of a backhanded compliment for the artist, really. On the one hand, tons and tons of people want to know what your song is and who it's by, while, on the other, none of your mates standing next to you could tell you who it was by in spite of its relentless ubiquity.

In the same way that nobody needs to ask anyone for the time anymore - unless it's as a preamble to a mugging - because we all carry a digital clock of some form or other almost everywhere we go, no-one needs to ask anyone what song's playing anymore because we have an app that negates the necessity.

Call me an old romantic but, I preferred things as they were before.

"Excuse me, madam, would you, by any chance, happen to know the name of this enchanting song?"

"Ah yes, that'll be Ace Of Spades by Motorhead, if I'm not mistaken. Lovely evening, isn't it, sir?..'