Internet giant Yahoo and GraceNote have announced a new lyrics service integrated into Yahoo Music, enabling customers to search and view lyrics for hundreds of thousands of popular songs. The deal includes lyrics from nearly 100 music publishers, including the "big five" music labels (Warner Bros., EMI, Sony/ATV, Universal, and BMG), and marks one of the first ways Internet users can search and view accurate and legal song lyrics.
"Song lyrics are continually among the top 10 searches performed on major search engines," said Craig Palmer, Gracenote president and CEO, in a release, "though the results often provide consumers a frustrating experience filled with inconsistent and incomplete lyrics, and annoying pop-ups. With Gracenote and Yahoo, consumers will have access to the largest database of high quality lyrics linked directly to the rich album and artist content available throughout Yahoo Music."
Gracenote also powers track lookup services used by most major music applications, including iTunes, Winamp, and consumer electronics products from Philips, Sony, Panasonic, and other manufacturers. If you’ve inserted a music CD into your computer’s drive and had the track names and title magically appear, you’ve probably used Gracenote services. Gracenote began developing its lyrics service more than two years ago, with a goal similar to that of its audio CD lookup database: to provide an accurate and comprehensive database of song lyrics for consumers.
(And, yes, if you’re curious, most Web sites which offer song lyrics are doing so without permission and in violation of copyright. Many have received take-down notices or cease-and-desist letters from publishers, although a few have managed to get permission.)
"You mean Bob Dylan isn’t actually saying ‘The ants, my friend, are in a bowling pin?’" asks Ian Rogers, Yahoo Music’s general manager. "Finally, a free, legal and definitive way to settle a bet with the guy sitting next to you at the bar who is certain the Ramones’ most famous anthem declares, ‘I wanna piece of bacon.’"
Personally, we think that would take all the mystery out of pop music. It’s somehow better to believe songwriters might be real poets with bad intonation rather than knowing, definitively, what they think they’re singing.