Shazam, the earworm-identifying mobile app, is the rare piece of technology that has earned verb status, joining Google, microwave, and skateboard in our everyday speech dictionary. Companies compete to be the "Shazam for [non-music thing]." There's Shazam for movies, Shazam for paintings, and Shazam for bird sounds. (One article recently bragged there will soon be "Shazam for mosquitoes.") Last year, Jamie Foxx began hosting an interactive musical game show on FOX called Beat Shazam (where humans faced off against an all-knowing Shazam-bot). The song ID-ing service, founded in the pre-iPod era of 1999, has endured to become not just an asset of a night out, but an authority we call upon for instantaneous knowledge.
But what exactly do people Shazam? Unlike Netflix, another lexicon-busting service, Shazam isn't shy about sharing its data: In 2014, the company introduced the Hall of Fame, which ranks the biggest hits on the service. While the top 20 mostly consists of songs that have found success on radio and the Billboard charts, it also offers a bizarre study in the pop music that Shazam users probably heard in a clothing store. Let's take a closer look and see what we can learn from this all-knowing musical genie.