Addicted to novelty since 2001

The Dirty World of Song Lyrics Sites

If you’ve ever googled song lyrics, then you know what Doc Searls is talking about:

Click on the top results and you’ll find that every one has a pop-up window, plus lots of other advertising jive. Of course, you can block those in your browser; but still, pop-up windows suck. They break the Web’s social contract, which says (among other things) that the publisher should not abuse the reader’s intentions. Nobody goes to a page saying “I want a pop-up window”.

These lyrics pages exist for a good (though bad) reason: most artists don’t publish their own lyrics. People want to see lyrics, however, so the advertising baiters publish the lyrics anyway. Copyright be damned.

Indeed, every third-party lyrics site is a nightmare of pop-ups and blaring banner ads. Doc doesn’t mention the other downside of all these lyric sites–incorrect lyrics and misspellings. I see them all the time. It’s conceivable that, because these sites copy each other, an incorrect lyric could eventually become the canonized version.

Interestingly, Bob Dylan has followed Doc’s advice, and his site owns the top spot for Dylan lyric searches both common and obscure.

4 Responses to “The Dirty World of Song Lyrics Sites”

  1. johnny0

    That’s why I always use the Google cached link instead of the live one…

    http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:livhhEBOqk0J:www.lyricsfreak.com/r/rolling%2Bstones/gimme%2Bshelter_20117862.html+lyrics+rolling+stones+gimme+shelter&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us

    Better yet, you can get Google to only display text by adding

    &strip=1

    to the end of that URL:

    http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:livhhEBOqk0J:www.lyricsfreak.com/r/rolling%2Bstones/gimme%2Bshelter_20117862.html+lyrics+rolling+stones+gimme+shelter&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&strip=1

    No pop-ups, no banner ads, all is good in the world.

    Better yet if musicians XML’d their lyrics (imagine time codes, chorus, etc…) and if iTunes could grab them like it does album art…

  2. N

    In addition beware of browser hijack attempts with these song lyric sites. Happy memories indeed of trolling through my registry!

    Good advice to use the Google cached link in first comment

  3. Ron Neville

    There’s a 80s song I was checking out today that I am thinking is a victim of this. The site claims it is artist approved, but I don’t think so.

    The song is “Let’s Put Our Love in Motion” by country singer Charly McClain. The line I remember is “I see the wanting in your eyes”. But every site I checked out is “I see the warning in your eyes” Granted, the way she pronounced it sounds a bit like that. Still I am thinking, one person must have once submitted it wrong, and it just kept getting copied that way. And if the site says “artist approved”, then why are they going to take anyone else’s word that the lyric is wrong?

    It’s the second line in, check it out and be the judge:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3pVPNgFDUo

    Word of warning! Not everything on the web is the truth. Don’t take it as gospel.

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