Meet the real life, human-powered Shazam

These electronic music know-it-alls are able to identify just about any song based off crackly bootlegs and drunken footage

These days, we’re fully acquainted with the wonders of technology. We’ve normalised our relationships with miraculous, life-saving apps. But there’s still something about Shazam and its ability to identify obscure ’60s psychedelia from a film soundtrack with the tap of a greasy thumb that’s just incredible.

But Shazam still runs into the odd hurdle. Tracks played in barmy pubs can get drowned out by drunken chatter and the clinking of glasses, and when subjected to thick, face-melting bass in a club, the app can falter when searching for a track ID. Let’s face it – there are still times when you’re desperate to identify a song but get nothing in return, only the constant sight of Shazam’s spinning wheel. Despite the app’s sprawling, ever-growing database of songs, it won’t always be able to pick up on obscure, often unreleased tracks.

That’s where The Identification of Music Group (IoMG) steps in. A closed community on Facebook of nearly 40,000 members at the time of writing, it brings together electronic music know-it-alls, joining forces for the noble cause of picking out hazy soundtracks from the previous Friday night.

It’s genuinely staggering just how much can be picked out from a bit of grainy, bass-submerged phone footage. Many users simply explain what they heard – phonetically describing a ‘wub’ or ’tchktchktchk’ – before getting their answer. Some tracks still go unidentified, perhaps because they’ll never be released or because two unknown cuts are being merged into one, but by and large IoMG can out-Shazam the trusted app.

The days of reaching for your phone before it’s too late are over. You no longer need to worry about drinking so much that you forget about the greatest song of all time. People are even using the group to pick out songs from footage they recorded years ago, convinced they’d go a lifetime without hearing the full track.

But like any community, there are rules. Whatever you do, don’t claim a track is Darude’s ‘Sandstorm’ – that’ll result in an instant ban. Don’t go insulting others’ music taste, or getting snarky because they can’t identify a song you knew about years back. Don’t be a dickhead, essentially. Easy enough.

There are other means of picking out little-known bangers, too. 1001tracklists lists all the songs played on high-profile DJ mixes – it’s an encyclopaedic hub of niche numbers and white labels aired by the likes of Floating Points and Nicolas Jaar on NTS residencies. Non-electronic heads flock to Reddit’s /NameThatSong subreddit for all their alternative and indie needs. Whatever the song, chances are you won’t go a lifetime without picking it out. It’s further proof that humans can outsmart apps, algorithms and anything else technology can throw at us. Robots aren’t taking over the world (yet).