“Hey, what’s the name of that one song? You know, the one with the fly-girls dancing, and it was sampled in the other song about a snake or something?”
This is how my best friend’s mind works. And, if you can guess from this mumbo-jumbo that the song was “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot, you’re a certifiable musical genius.
But, most of us need a bit more help than that to find a song or music video that you saw once somewhere or that’s buried deep in your memory. But luckily, there are a few different ways I can recommend for how to find a music video by describing it. Here are five of the best.
- Google It (lyrics and descriptions).
- Search on YouTube (lyrics, descriptions, advanced searches).
- Use a Song Identifier App (tune).
- Community Song Identification Groups (tune, lyrics, descriptions).
- Search Discographies (artist name).
Well, yeah, duh! But how do you Google a video when you can’t remember the name or artist? The answer is that Google knows a whole lot more about songs and videos than just this basic information.
First off, do you remember any of the lyrics?
Even if you can only snatch the tiniest snippet from the depths of your memory, Google might still be able to point you in the right direction. They don’t even have to be right. Check out this example.
I typed “it was a cold night lyrics” into Google. Wrong! But it still found me the video for “Warm on a Cold Night” by Honne.
Just remember that it will help to include the word “lyrics” if that’s what you’re searching for. That will help eliminate things like poetry, literature, non-fiction, reports, etc.
You can’t remember any lyrics…
Instead, you remember flashes of images from the video; never fear. You can write a short description like this.
I wrote “music video with treadmills” in Google, and right away, it gave me “Here We Go Again” by OK Go. Perfect! In this case, include the words “video” or “music video” for a better chance of finding a music video on Google.
You have to give Google something to work with. “That video with that girl” is not going to get you anywhere in your search. That’s because it’s just too general. But, if you remember, she was wearing a wedding dress that was short in the front, that’s a bit better.
I did an image search to jog my memory for “music video short wedding dress.” I eventually found out that, oh yeah, I was thinking of that classic “November Rain” video by Guns ‘n’ Roses.
You know the one with Stephanie Seymour walking down the aisle, and then Slash plays a solo on Axl Rose’s piano and…
You get the idea…
If you can remember words, try searching for lyrics on Google. If you can remember images, then do an image search. You’ll be surprised how well Google can read your mind.
Search on YouTube
Again, duh! I’m sure that’s the first place you went to. And, if you’re reading this article, chances are pretty good that you didn’t find what you wanted. But that may be because you weren’t putting in all the right information.
YouTube is the best place to search for both fresh hit videos and obscure, old, and terrible videos also. You might have something in mind that made you blow cereal out your nose when you first saw it 20 years ago – it’s probably on YouTube.
But, how to find a music video by describing it if you don’t know the name of the song or the artist?
First of all…
Use the same strategies as you did with Google. After all, Google owns YouTube and powers its search engine. But, your chances will improve when you use Advanced Search Options to find music videos on YouTube. Rather than a whole load of unrelated junk.
These options allow you to choose the video type, size, duration, date of upload, and even features like location. You can find all these options under the heading “Filters” once you put in your initial search.
Check this out…
I couldn’t remember the name of this song, but the video was funny and stuck in my head. I put “music video pink, blue neon spandex” into the YouTube search bar, and presto! On the first page of my search results, I found the song I was thinking of – “Light Switch” by Charlie Puth.
Use a Song Identifier App
Can you remember at least a little bit of the song’s melody? Can you at least sort of carry a tune? If the answer to both of these questions is a resounding “Uh, maybe?” then you could be in luck.
When the lyrics and the description of the visuals in the video escape you or aren’t enough to solve your mystery, there’s still the tune.
There are several “song identifier,” “song identification,” or “music recognition” apps out there for both Apple and Android systems. You’ve probably heard of Shazaam, which has been out for ages and still works great.
But, Shazaam only works to identify real versions of songs. So, you’d need to play the song you’re looking for in order for Shazaam to tell you what song it is.
That’s not what you need…
SoundHound is another app for both iOS and Android that does all the same things as Shazaam. But, it has one extra feature that’s going to make all the difference for you.
You can use its “Search A Song” function and hold down the mic button while you hum or even whistle 10-15 seconds of the song. It can analyze your tune and get you a match to the song you’re looking for.
Sure, it could be a long shot. And, if you can’t carry a tune to save your life, this isn’t the option for you. But, if you have a good ear and pretty good pitch, why not give it a shot?
Community Song Identification Groups
I think you should try your best with those first three options. But, if you exhaust all of these resources and you still can’t figure out which music video or song is rolling around in your head, try bringing it to a community.
They say that two heads are better than one. And in this case, you can take advantage of hundreds or thousands of heads working on your problem. Furthermore, the more tricky and obscure your problem is, the more interesting some people will find the challenge of identifying your song.
Who to get in contact with…
There are lots of social media groups out there, like Identification of Music (IOM) group on Facebook. You can also try on dedicated websites like WatZatSong, where you can make an account and post audio clips, lyrics, or descriptions of what you remember from the video.
Most people in these groups appreciate and enjoy a challenge, and that’s why they try to ID songs based on the tiniest shreds of information. But, remember they’re doing it for fun and to be helpful, and they’re not getting paid.
This last way to find a music video that you can’t remember the name of depends on you knowing the name of the artist(s) on that track. Some artists have huge portfolios, and their old or more obscure material can be hard to find.
But if you know their name, you can search through their discography. This should be a complete list of the songs they’ve ever put out. If you look up the artist on resources like Wikipedia, there’s usually a whole separate section for Music Videos listing all the vids they’ve put out as well.
This will at least give you all the possibilities to look through. The next thing to do is to go to YouTube and start searching through the band’s or artist’s videos until you find the right one.
Remember Your Dreams
I’m not saying that you dreamed it. No, I would never suggest such a thing. But, you know, it is possible, isn’t it? I mean, music videos have a certain dreamlike quality to them already. It would probably be possible to dream up scenes that seem like a music video. That’s all I’m saying.
But, in the end, if you can’t find any evidence of the images and tunes you’ve got in your head, maybe that’s the universe telling you something. Maybe that’s YOUR video to make!?
Looking for New or Old Music?
We can help with that. Take a look at our detailed articles on How To Find New Music, How to Find Similar Songs Based on Ones You Like, YouTube Music vs Spotify, Spotify vs Pandora, and Apple Music vs Spotify for more useful information.
And once you find your jams, you need to hear them. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, the Best Bass Earbuds, the Best Headphones for Music, and the Best Headphones Under $200 you can buy in 2023.
How to Find a Music Video by Describing It – Conclusion
There now, we’ve seen that a) you’re not alone and b) that there are a whole lot of different ways to find the name of a video or song. You might know the artist’s name, and that’s a huge leg up.
But, if not, and you only have snatches of lyrics, a bit of the tune, or specific images in your head, there’s still hope.
Try out the big search engines, attempt humming to an app, or look to a community to leverage other people’s expertise. One way or the other, if this music video exists (and again, I’m not saying you made it up), you’ll find it eventually.
Until next time, happy hunting and listening.