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iPod and iTunes Hacks by Hadley Stern

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Hack #53. Import Lyrics into iTunes and iPod

For all you karaoke-obsessed individuals, there are a number of ways to incorporate song lyrics into an iPod and iTunes workflow.

Whenever "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" by R.E.M. comes on the radio, are you and your friends prone to getting into near-violent arguments over what Michael Stipe is singing? Do you find yourself correcting your girlfriend when she is (incorrectly) singing along to songs in the car? Do you love to get drunk and serenade countless strangers at every karaoke event you trip across? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this hack is for you. I'm going to walk you through a few available options to bring lyrics into iTunes and your iPod.

Sure, you could launch Mozilla, Internet Explorer, or Safari and manually look up the lyrics to your favorite songs on Absolute Lyric (http://www.absolutelyric.com) or a similar site, but then again, it is the twenty-first century. It's time to start acting more like The Jetsons and less like The Flintstones; it's time to automate.

"Search for Lyrics on Google" [Hack #80] presents one way to search for lyrics automatically while using iTunes. This hack provides a few good alternatives for Windows users, as well as another option for Mac users.

On Windows

Two good lyric-hunting options available to Windows users are Canto Pod and EvilLyrics.

Canto Pod.

Canto Pod (http://www.staylazy.net/canto; donateware), powered by Sharedlyrics.net, is a lyric-searching program for all flavors of Windows (it will also run on any Mac running VirtualPC alongside a Windows-formatted iPod). On first launch of Canto Pod, you need to register for a free account with Sharedlyrics.net. After registering, you will be taken to a preferences pane where you select your iPod and enter your login name and password. After logging in, click Save, and you will be taken to the main Canto Pod page shown in Figure 4-8.

Canto Pod's main interface, searching for "Hello"

Figure 4-8. Canto Pod's main interface, searching for "Hello"

Once Canto Pod finds lyrics to your song in the Sharedlyrics.net database, you simply double-click the song you want, and Canto Pod uploads the lyrics to your iPod as a Contacts file. As an added bonus, it works with any generation of iPod. Unfortunately, however, at the time of this writing, the Sharedlyrics.net database seems to be a bit sparse.

EvilLyrics.

EvilLyrics (http://www.evillabs.sk/evillyrics/index.php; donateware), a Windows program that works with a variety of players, including iTunes, is probably the most comprehensive and best working of all the lyric-oriented programs I've seen. To use it, download and install the program. Make sure that you check the box to install the iTunes plug-in during setup, as shown in Figure 4-9.

Checking the Plugin: support for iTunes option when installing EvilLyrics

Figure 4-9. Checking the Plugin: support for iTunes option when installing EvilLyrics

Immediately after installing the program, you should update the karaoke index by navigating to the preferences pane and selecting the Advanced tab shown in Figure 4-10. Click the Update Index button and wait for a notice that the index has been updated. Click Apply and then OK to close the preferences pane.

Updating the Karaoke Index under the Advanced Preferences tab

Figure 4-10. Updating the Karaoke Index under the Advanced Preferences tab

The interface is simple. You can either type in a search, or simply start playing a song in your player of choice while EvilLyrics is open; it automatically starts searching for matches to the currently playing song. After conducting a search, as shown in Figure 4-11, you can launch the results in your web browser of choice to see if there is an available timed karaoke version of the file and to see a rating of its timing by other users.

EvilLyrics's main interface, after searching for "seven nation army"

Figure 4-11. EvilLyrics's main interface, after searching for "seven nation army"

From the web page, you simply click "Import into EvilLyrics" to download the karaoke file. If you click on the in-browser option, the information for the current search shows up in your browser, as shown in Figure 4-12.

Once the file loads in EvilLyrics, click the magnifying glass to launch a little window with the lyrics. If you click this button at the beginning of the song, they should scroll along line by line, nicely in sync with the tune. Call all your friends over and throw a karaoke dinner party!

Downloading the karaoke file

Figure 4-12. Downloading the karaoke file

On the Mac

Mac users have a couple lyric-searching options as well.

Google Lyric Search.

The first option for Mac users is to check out "Search for Lyrics on Google" [Hack #80] . After running through the hack, you'll have the Google Lyric Search AppleScript available from iTunes, as shown in Figure 4-13.

Beginning a search for the lyrics to the Beastie Boys' "Ch-Check It Out" with Google Lyric Search

Figure 4-13. Beginning a search for the lyrics to the Beastie Boys' "Ch-Check It Out" with Google Lyric Search

Figure 4-14 shows the results of the search initiated in Figure 4-13.

This script will send a Google search string to Safari and return a results page listing all the hits.

The search results from the Google Lyric Search–generated string for "lyrics Beastie Boys ChCheck It Out"

Figure 4-14. The search results from the Google Lyric Search–generated string for "lyrics Beastie Boys ChCheck It Out"

LyricTracker X.

Another option for Mac users is LyricTracker X (http://lyrictracker.com/main.php?action=x; $10). Lyric Tracker X lets you search the LyricTracker database for song lyrics. If you pay $10 for this piece of shareware, you also have the ability to upload the lyrics you choose to your iPod's Contacts files. However, this is entirely dependent upon the LyricTracker database containing the song lyrics for which you are searching (my search for "Ch-Check It Out" turned up empty).

The program also has an integrated chat feature for the LyricTracker community, an interface to submit lyrics, and a Most Requested Lyrics page. Figure 4-15 shows a successful search for Toad the Wet Sprocket, with the lyrics to "Pray Your Gods" opened up in the Query Results window, and a mouse-over of the button to upload the lyrics to your iPod.

Hacking the Hack

Mac and Windows users alike, remember that if you have a third- or fourth-generation iPod or iPod mini, you can simply save the lyrics to your favorite songs as plain-text files in your iPod's Notes folder for portable reading.

LyricTracker X's main menu, showing the Find Lyrics window, the Query Results window, and the Upload to iPod button selected in the individual song lyrics file

Figure 4-15. LyricTracker X's main menu, showing the Find Lyrics window, the Query Results window, and the Upload to iPod button selected in the individual song lyrics file

Consider including links to the song files on your iPod, so that you can pull up a song's lyrics on the iPod and click the link to begin playing that song as you read along. To find out how to create this type of link in your notes, read "Write Your Own iPod Book" [Hack #39] .

C. K. Sample III

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