The digital music revolution has meant that collectively we buy fewer and fewer physical albums every year. While everything has its advantages and disadvantages, one of the things I most enjoy when I’ve got a CD in my hands is reading the lyrics while I listen to a song. Whether I end up singing along out loud or just in my own head, squeezing every drop out of CD inserts is something I’ve done all my life.

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That’s why in this brave new digital world, apps for viewing song lyrics are totally essential in my daily life. Today I’m going to tell you about five Android apps where you can view the lyrics to whatever song is playing on your device.

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The world was a better place when you could view song lyrics on Spotify with the tap of a simple button. Real magic. Except, well, one day, the love died: Musixmatch broke up with Spotify and they went their separate ways, as they explained at the time on their blog. This left many of us crying as the match had been completely perfect. But as they say, whenever one door closes other ones open. Hence why I’m here today to analyze and compare different lyric-display apps. Let’s get to it.

Lyrics

The first thing that calls the attention on Lyrics (also known as “Lyrics for Android”) is that the app weighs almost nothing. A single megabyte is the size of this lyric-display app. And for its purposes Lyrics isn’t bad at all. It has quite a large database and its interface is super simple to use. A very clean and clear design.

One of the coolest things about this app is the huge number of compatible players and apps. I won’t take the time to enumerate all of them but here’s the full list on their website. It’s not all joy with this lyrics viewer, though, as I’ve discovered that the lyrics aren’t totally synced with the songs. Probably best to disable this option and view them separately. A minor evil, although in this regard it pales in comparison with the competition. [Download]

The good bit: Very lightweight. Compatible with lots of programs.

The bad bit: Sychronization with songs is not great.

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Genius

I don’t think anybody smack in the middle of the 21st century needs a description of Genius. It might be the most important song lyrics website in the world. A place where artists go to interact with users and comment on what the lyrics mean. Its Android app has all the same bells and whistles as the website and more. Its database is its greatest asset, including not just the song lyrics but also the different notes on the backstory for each track.

If you want to access the song you’re listening to, you just have to tap the button to make Genius detect it through your speaker, just like on Shazam. You’ll then be taken to the Genius database where you can view the lyrics and enjoy the track notes. That said, there’s no syching the lyrics with the music and reading in turn. Genius doesn’t go down that road. It also has its own player that lets you enjoy your selected song with its lyrics alongside. [Download]

The good bit: Big database. User and artist notes.

The bad bit: Doesn’t sync lyrics and music.

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Musixmatch

This app has been in the song lyric business longer than anybody – and you can tell. Musixmatch has a huge library and tons of features and its mission is to make viewing lyrics alongside the music is as perfect as possible. That’s why it has its own widget, “Floating Lyrics”, which appears when you listen to beats on your device and the lyrics are displayed automatically.

The syncing between lyrics and music is one of the coolest things about it, as you can read what’s playing at any time like in karoake. Reading or singing, depends on your tastes. You can also pick whether you want to view the translated lyrics as they’re available in several languages. Its compatibility with music apps is high and it works especially well with Spotify. Musixmatch can also tell you what song is playing and show you the lyrics to it. And it has postcards with song lyrics to share on your social networks. [Download]

The good bit: Super complete. Its own custom widget.

The bad bit: Small errors in detecting local bands.

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Shazam

The app that made detecting songs cool also has its own lyrics display. It’s rare for Shazam not to manage to detect the song playing at any given moment. When it does, you can view the lyrics to most tracks – though its strong point lies in slightly more poppy music. The good thing is that if it can’t find the lyrics, a simple tap to the screen lets you search for them on the Internet. And there it’s hard indeed not to find them. It’s not the most direct method but at least there’s an option to do it.

Shazam has a whole sack of possible actions. Every time it recognizes a song, besides seeing the lyrics you’ll also get the option to listen to the song on music apps like Spotify, Deezer, or Napster; view the official video if one is available; listen to songs from the same artist or related music…. It certainly has possibilities, although the important thing in this case – being able to view the lyrics – is just one more option, without standing out excessively for its quality. [Download]

The good bit: Lots of available options. An accessible option to do quick lyrics searches on Google.

The bad bit: The lyrics viewer is a bit rubbish.

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Lyrics Mania

This app is a very complete app as it quickly recognizes your local music archives and gives you simple access to them. The interface follows this direct line where you have content at hand. It also has dedicated support for Spotify, making it a good complement for that music app. (Speaking of which, don’t forget to check out our tricks for Spotify from a few days ago.)

Lyrics Mania has a ranking where you can view lyrics of the most-searched-for songs. Another odd addition is the fact that you can export song stanzas as if they were postcards. The problem we’ve found is that the external song recognition is not at all precise. Despite that fact, the application updates quite often so in some near future we might well have to retract their words. Hopefully that’s so. [Download]

The good bit: You can download the lyrics to view offline. A wide selection of lyrics.

The bad bit: The sound recognition messes up.

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Conclusions

Each of these five apps has is own small niche with features that distinguish it. If you’re looking for an app that takes up little space and is compatible with lots of apps, “Lyrics” is the best option. If on the contrary you want to find out all there is to know about the song you’re listening to, Genius is without question the option to pick. If we had to choose the most complete option, it would be Musixmatch. Its huge catalogue and diversity of options place it in first place if you’re looking for something more potent. That said, for legal reasons it can’t show the lyrics for certain popular groups and that’s where Lyrics Mania gets a point for being able to do so. Shazam does things its own way as its lyrics viewer is just one feature among many, but it’s perfect for people who don’t want a lyrics-only app. A real swamp of options, let’s be honest.

The best thing is that you weigh the pros and cons of each and pick your favorite. Options there are, now you just have to select the one that suits you best.

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