The transition from music CDs to digital formats

For those of us who like to look up song lyrics, the transition from music CDs to digital formats has been less than perfect. Oftentimes one could just reference the tiny words printed in a CD's pamphlet insert. Now we must turn to lyrics websites, and that would be fantastic if not for the fact that most of them are borderline unusable. Pop-ups, distracting sidebar ads, calls to "Download this ringtone!" make these sites look like malware sanctuaries. While it would be wonderful to have an ad-free Wikipedia-style repository, "hosting an unauthorized lyrics site can get you in serious legal trouble."

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Still, if you're looking for a place to look up song lyrics, there are plenty of options out there. Below are my picks for go-to lyrics sites and ones to avoid.

The Best

SongMeanings*TOP PICK*

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

SongMeanings is a website where people can discuss their interpretations of song lyrics. But even without the discussions, it makes a decent website for looking up lyrics. Sure there are ads, but they don't dominate the pages like on many other sites. Some obvious thought has been put into layout, usability, and overall design. And it's one of the few lyrics websites that actually scales nicely to mobile devices. While you're there, take a look at the discussions they range from thoughtful to downright ridiculous!

Lyrics.com

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

You would think that with such a generic name, Lyrics.com would be the sketchiest lyrics website of them all. But it does really well in keeping things simple. Instead of a multitude of ads, lyrics are accompanied by suggestions for related songs and a music video. There's a healthy dose of whitespace. Songs, artists, and albums are displayed as a visual grid of images. However, a frustrating feature is the inability to copy lyrics text for some songs.

metrolyrics

Rating: 3 out of 5

Bold homepage visuals showcasing the latest music news assures that the site is kept up to date. Sometimes news articles relate to lyrics an interesting feature. The design is relatively clean, and there is a free mobile app. The fact that it has partnerships with Billboard and last.fm gives the site some legitimacy. The killer? The abundance of "Unfortunately, we don't have the lyrics for.." notifications.

The Worst

A-Z Lyrics Universe

Rating: 2 / 5

When doing a Google search for a song's lyrics, A-Z is usually one of the leading results. And that's very unfortunate.Oh, the purple! Oh, the default blue underlined links! This lyrics website a visual assault and a UX atrocity.The only merit is it's robustness. You're pretty much guaranteed to find any song here, so long as you let a search engine take you directly to what you're looking for.

Lyrics Freak

Rating: 1.5 / 5

Be careful where you click. Lyrics are walled in on all sides by ads with varying degrees of sketchiness. Its saving grace the lyrics themselves are made easily readable by a nice serif font and alternating lines of white and light grey.

Lyrics Mode

Rating: 1 / 5

Lyrics Mode combines the worst aspects of Lyrics Freak and A-Z Lyrics. Overwhelming ads? Check. Nightmarish usability and design? Yup, that too. Features that would seem cool, like an in-page lyric translator, appear to be broken. With all the noise, you're better off always browsing the mobile version of the site regardless of your screen size.

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Honourable Mentions

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Posted in Music Post Date 10/10/2015


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