How To Find a Music Video without Knowing the Name
Just about everybody knows about Shazam, the popular tool that lets you identify a song by playing it, and there are similar apps that have the same functionality and do much the same thing. But what if you’re trying to find a music video, only you don’t have the song to play and you can’t remember its name? There are a lot of services that will listen to and identify a track. Shazam is the highest profile of these services, but Amazon’s Alexa and even Google can listen to and identify some songs. But if you don’t have the song to play and only a fraction of an image of it in your head–a remembered scene or the first few words of a chorus–how can you identify it? In this article, I’ll give you some tips on finding the video for a song even if it seems hopeless.
Identify a music video without knowing the name
This post assumes you have at least a fragment of a memory of a video or know a few lines from a song, but don’t know the name. You want to find a music video from your childhood, one you saw somewhere, or otherwise want to identify a music video without knowing the name. There are two basic approaches you can take: YouTube, or a search engine like Google.
The most obvious place to begin is YouTube. If your video exists anywhere, it exists here; you just have to find it.You can type anything into the search bar at the top and YouTube will generate some kind of return. It might not be accurate, depending on what information you can provide, but it will be somewhere to start.
For example, you could put any lyrics you know into the search bar and it may return the music video you want. If it has a catchy chorus or intro, type the words and see what happens.
If you don’t know the lyrics, you could browse by genre. Although, given the sheer volume of videos online, that may be too much like trying to find a needle in a haystack!
Advanced YouTube search
As YouTube is owned by Google, there are some advanced search operators you can use to find what you’re looking for. Here are just a few.
BAND or ARTIST, partner – Type the band or artist name and then partner to restrict the search to official videos and filter out fan videos.
ACTOR, movie – Type the actor’s name and movie to see clips, teasers, and even full movies on YouTube.
News, live – Type news, gaming, or whatever else you’re interested in, and then live to show live feeds of the subject in question.
SUBJECT, today – Type a subject, movie, actor, or whatever and then a time to filter by. For example, ‘Politics, this week’ might give a slightly more varied amount of footage than what you’ll find on the television, especially if anyone in your household is prone to only relying on one network.
SUBJECT, HD or 4K – Type a subject and then format to filter out non-HD or non-4K content. This works for 3D and will work for VR or 360 content, too.
ARTIST, playlist – Type the artist and then playlist to compile or find an existing playlist for that artist. You can save or copy them if you plan on using them often.
Combine operators – You can combine any of the above into a very specific search, if you want to. For example, if you were trying to find that music video without knowing the name, you could try, ‘Rock band, 1980s, You give love a bad name’. This would return a list of rock bands from the 1980s who had a song containing ‘You give love a bad name’.
Search engines index everything they can get their hands on, so unless the music video is restricted in your region, it should have been indexed at some point. Like the YouTube search above, you can use the search engine of your choice to find the name of that video with a little perseverance.
It pays to remember whatever you can about the video and use that in your search. Everyone knows how to use search engines so I won’t bore you with that here. Instead, I will show you a few advanced search operators you can use in Google to make life a little easier.
Search operators allow you to refine your search to specifics and narrow down the results. They are surprisingly powerful when used correctly. Here are a few of them.
- Search a hashtag – #videosfromthe90s.
- Exclude words – Add a ‘-‘, so ‘-female vocalists’ to filter out music videos with female singers.
- Exact match only – Use speech marks, “You give love a bad name” to specify those words only in search.
- Missing words/Wildcard – Add ‘*’ to search for wildcard, For example ‘The best * of all time’.
- Combine operators – Use OR to use multiple filters ‘Hairspray rock OR male singer OR band OR guitar OR give love a bad name’.
- Use relations – Use ‘related’ to find supplemental information, ‘related: Bon Jovi’.
You should definitely be able to find a music video without knowing the name with those!
(Alternatively, if you can remember a line or two of the lyrics with decent clarity, then you can type them in and the search engine will probably give you the title of the song, which you can then use to find the video on Youtube.)
Got any other ways to identify a music video without knowing the name? Any apps or services that can do it? Tell us about them below of you do!