Friday, February 11, 2022

Language and instrumental

Since we redesigned our site in 2018, we can also enter the language in which the songs are interpreted. Sometimes this is not so easy, because if a Japanese woman sings in French, you sometimes have to listen very carefully to recognize it. It gets more difficult with rare languages, and they don't even have to come from distant countries. Who of us knows what Corsican or Maltese sounds like? Sometimes the song title and Google Translate help to recognize it, but if the title is a first name, only a probability calculation helps.

If a song is tagged with a language, then it has almost always already been edited and completed by an editor, that is the case now for over 36 % of all song entries in the database. Most of the over 186,000 already checked songs are sung in English – that are over 116,000. German is represented with over 33,000 songs, then comes French with just over 15,000 songs and it goes down to Amharic with 2 and Umbundu with only one song entry. 17 other languages are in our database with two and 20 languages with only one entry – but that's just by the way.

Songs without a language, i. e. instrumental, make up almost 40,000 entries, the second largest category after English titles. And at this point, some users are often not sure whether the song is really instrumental, since voices can be heard. Yes, it is, because the human voice is also an instrument and if only syllables like "Uhuhuh" or "Dubdeedoobeedie" can be heard without any content being transported, then the song is "instrumental". A prime example of this is scat singing in jazz or gospel.

Something like a gray area is the case when the background choir warbles the song title every now and then. Here we have decided that this should also be instrumental, since the sung part is limited to the title but the essential part of the song is only played instrumentally. Only when whole text lines sound in the background, then the song is no longer instrumental and gets assigned a language.

Artificial languages like Esperanto (29 times in the database) or Volapük and Klingon (both not represented at all) can of course also get their language label. A very special species are the pseudo-languages, of which we have 46 songs in the database. These are onomatopoeic interpretations that sound like a language but don't convey any content. The best known example of this is perhaps "Ameno" by Era or "Bla Bla Bla" by Gigi D'Agostino. I have two really funny examples from this category to finish with: "Prisencólinensináinciúsol" by Adriano Celentano and "A Nonsense Song" by Charlie Chaplin.

Adriano Celentano, in the early 1970s, really wanted to write an English song lyric to go along with the spirit of the times. The problem: he didn't speak a single word of English! But in his nonchalant way he solved the problem by simply inventing lyrics that sounded almost like English. And this is the result.

In Charlie Chaplin's case, the reason for using pseudo-language was quite different. During the filming of "Modern Times" there was a scene where Charlie was supposed to dance and sing in a restaurant. A song with lyrics was written and rehearsed for this. But when the camera was already running, Chaplin had a total blackout and completely forgot the lyrics. Since he did not want to interrupt the recording, he ingeniously improvised and simply invented a text.

In retrospect, he himself liked the scene so much that he used it as it is and even produced and inserted another take in which his partner calls out to him from the dressing room: "Sing! Never mind the words." Since he was producer, director and leading actor in one person, there was no problem with that. You can watch the film scene here.

That's the end of this little excursion into the world of languages in songs and have fun with our site!


Sunday, November 28, 2021

Letter to an unknown user

Dear dot,

I have to call you like that, because you always leave only one . as eMail address in your tickets. Well, everyone is free to write to us anonymously, but if you flood us with tickets like you have been doing for a few weeks, you might as well make yourself known.

Of course we would like to process every ticket quickly and enter it into the database, but we are only a small group of editors (and most of them also have a time-consuming job) and are sometimes a bit overwhelmed by the flood of tickets (currently 77) in our inbox.

We would like to ask you about the one or other ticket, but we can't because we don't have an address. Therefore, we would like to ask you to out yourself to the editors. We don't bite (at least very, very seldom) and we don't give addresses to sneaky data collectors who then want to flood you with spam.

Much of what you sent is well researched and I think you have what it takes to work as an editor for COVER.INFO with the appropriate guidance. With the time you have spent on your tickets so far, that would be easy. I would like to ask you that. But it is not possible, because of – see above.

So far we only have the chance to work on your daily incoming tickets with pearls of sweat on our foreheads, with the hope in our hearts that you will make yourself known.

Think about it and write to


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

We are half-millionaires!

No, no – not financially, what should we do with so much money? Since October 11, 2021 11.00 p.m. we have 500,000 songs in our database! Especially in 2020 and 2021, thanks to our loyal followers and hard-working editors, the database has grown a lot, so that the database has now reached this number of songs which can be related to each other as original songs, cover and alternative versions, quotations, samples and medleys.

At the launch of the new version of our website in May 2018, there were just over 400,000 song entries that we transferred from the old system. Since that time, besides adding new songs, we have been in the process of reviewing and completing these old data. Almost 32 % of the total song collection has now been checked and provided with correct sources. 67,917 songs are originals, of which almost 52 % have already been checked.

Since the rebuild, there are also data sets for artists (performers and authors) in addition to the songs. There are currently 153,522 artist records in the database, of which almost 35 % are verified.

As you can see, despite the diligent work done so far, there is still a huge mountain of tasks left. Therefore we are grateful for every hint that brings errors or incomplete records to our attention. Please use our forms ("Report error / contribute")! 

At the bottom left of the song entry you will always find the date when the entry was created and when it was updated (except in the mobile view).  If you find a date before May 2018, this is a hint that the song entry has not been edited yet. If you send us a contribution with links to sources and YouTube videos for these songs, this is already a big relief for us and helps to improve the quality of the database.

So let's go for the next half million! We are looking forward to your feedback.

Meanwhile we are already working on a new software version to be able to present COVER.INFO in an improved design and functional range. This is also necessary because we can't get our compiler to work for the current program version.