Hack 102. 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)" by R.E.M. comes on the radio, are you and your friends prone to getting into near-violent arguments over what you think 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, 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 Firefox or Internet Explorer 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 21st century. It's time to start acting more like The Jetsons and less like The Flintstones; it's time to automate.
Two good lyric-hunting options available to Windows users are Canto Pod and EvilLyrics.
11.5.1. Canto Pod
Canto Pod (http://www.staylazy.net/canto; donateware), powered by Sharedlyrics.net, is a lyric-searching program for all flavors of Windows. On first launch of Canto Pod, you will 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 11-6.
Figure 11-6. 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 this time the Sharedlyrics.net database seems to be a bit sparse.
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 you check the box to install the iTunes plug-in during setup, as shown in Figure 11-7.
Figure 11-7. Checking the Plugin: Support for iTunes option when installing EvilLyrics
Immediately after installing the program, you are going to want to update the karaoke index by navigating to the preferences pane and selecting the Advanced tab shown in Figure 11-8. 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 dialog box.
Figure 11-8. Updating the Karaoke Index on 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 will automatically start searching for matches to the currently playing song. After conducting a search, as shown in Figure 11-9, you can launch the results in your web browser of choice to see if a timed karaoke version of the file is available and to see a rating of its timing by other users.
Figure 11-9. 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 the in-browser option, the information for the current search shows up in your browser, as shown in Figure 11-10.
Figure 11-10. Downloading the karaoke file
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, the lyrics should scroll along line by line, nicely in sync with the tune. Call all your friends over and throw a karaoke dinner party!
11.5.3. Hacking the Hack
Remember that if you have a third-generation iPod or later, you can simply save the lyrics to your favorite songs as plain-text files in your iPod's Notes folder for portable reading. 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, see iPod and iTunes Hacks by Hadley Stern (O'Reilly).
C. K. Sample III