Shazam Crap Shoot

Name a better app than Shazam? The best apps feel like magic. When I was working on Uber we used to always tell the story of the first time you used Uber. It was magic. Holy shit, that’s my car, it’s coming round the corner. Holy shit. Seems dumb now but it was magic, some voodoo shit.

Same with Shazam. I could probably google ‘how does Shazam work’ but I choose not to. I choose to believe in magic. Ever since I’ve had an Iphone I’ve had Shazam. If you’re a music nerd — or an adventurist — then it’s a must.

Since lockdown I have been listening to a lot of mixes. Really discovering new music has been the only good thing about the lockdown. I make a point of having decent speakers on my desk, not wearing headphones. So when I hear a nice new tune I Shazam it.

At no point in the last decade did I ever think that Shazam got it wrong.

But, but, what if the machines do get it wrong?

Every now and then I will Shazam a song I know well, just to remind me to play it. Like when Sean Johnstone drops Living on the Ceiling by Blancmange in his excellent ALFOS Emergency Broadcast Sessions, but for the most part I am Shazaming songs that I don’t know. So when it comes back with a result I always took it for granted that it was the right song. Because I didn’t know any better and the stuff I listen to is normally quite obscure.

However the other day I Shazammed a song on an Andrew Weatherall mix and I got back a song by Mousse T. I was about to go about my business thinking that, well maybe, Mousse T did do a few obscure dub tracks that Mr Weatherall found but then I just thought, ‘nah’. He wouldn’t do that.

So I shazammed again and a different track came back. This time by SONNS and Phil Kieran. Much more likely. And upon checking You Tube, very much the right track. And very much a nice piece of dub chug. #drugchug I believe the kids call it.

So, fine. I got it right.

But how about all the other times I Shazammed over the last 10 years. I never checked I merely assumed.

What if I have been listening to imposter tunes all that time? I realize this is not the most pressing concern at this moment as we face the prospect of a thousand people dying every day here in the UK and an armed coup in the US but I can’t help it if it chills me to the core.




The Boltzmann Brain is a theory in physics that proposes that due to the infinite nature of the universe it is likely that there is another brain exactly the same, down to every last thought, as yours somewhere out there. These are daily briefings for that brain.

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