Hey, I Know That One: How SongPop Got Millions Of Players Naming That Tune | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Hey, I Know That One: How SongPop Got Millions Of Players Naming That Tune

Play associated audio

Today, four million people all over the world will log on to Facebook — or take out their phones — and play SongPop. This summer, it's become the fastest growing social game on Facebook, taking a run at old standards such as Farmville and Words with Friends.

Here's how it works: You pick a category like "Funk" or "Classic Rock." It plays you a little bit of a song and lists four titles or artists that might be what you're hearing. When I played "Today's Hits," my choices were the songs "Cowboys and Angels," "I Never Had," "Whistle" and "Dev." You race against a friend to pick the right one.

Music critic Rashod Ollison of the Virginian-Pilot just started playing SongPop Thursday. For him, the appeal is partly about how the game connects Facebook friends and music from back in the day. (And, really, for people of a certain age, Facebook is all about connecting with old friends you don't have much in common with anymore except the music you used to listen to anyway.)

It brought him right back to the '80s, when he and his friends would watch all kinds of MTV videos while waiting for Michael Jackson or Prince to come on. So when he played SongPop this morning, one of the first things he did was click on "'80s Pop."

"Whod've thunk it? I know that Whitesnake song," he laughs. "And I liked it."

When you take the addicting power of the music and add the addicting power of Facebook, you've got a speedball of an online game. And speed is partly what hooks players in. SongPop moves incredibly quickly and keeps delivering fast, constant hits of familiarity.

But technology writer Stephanie Humphrey says that the sense of competition is a bit of an illusion.

"You're not actually technically playing against the person in real time, which was a surprise to me," she said. Your opponent's times are actually prerecorded.

About a month ago, 22-year-old Dana Fraser was introduced to the game by an obsessed coworker. She got obsessed, too, and they played all the time. She laughingly declines to specify just how much time they spent.

But now, she says, she's played SongPop so often she started getting the same songs over and over. As with any other little online game, she says there's a point when the fun just wears off.

"It just starts to feel like an obligation that you have to answer these people. It's your turn, and they send you pokes and that kind of stuff." She says she's got a bunch of old games she never plays piled up her phone, and SongPop is now one of them. Think of them as being a little like cassette tapes piled up in the attic.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'One Of Us' Examines The Damaged Inner Terrain Of Norwegian Mass Shooter

Journalist Asne Seierstad chronicles the 2011 shooting massacre in her country in her latest book. Critic Maureen Corrigan calls the work "engrossing, important and undeniably difficult to read."
NPR

'Tales' Of Pig Intelligence, Factory Farming And Humane Bacon

Journalist Barry Estabrook wanted to know more about the animal and its journey from the farm to his plate. In a new book, he explores the dichotomies of the industry that's raising our pork chops.
WAMU 88.5

Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille Faces Two Primary Challengers

Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille is being challenged in a Democratic primary by former Mayor Kerry Donley, who says Euille has taken too long to accomplish construction of the Potomac Yard Metro, and Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg, who has support from voters who disagree with the scale of the controversial waterfront development.
NPR

As Emoji Spread Beyond Texts, Many Remain [Confounded Face] [Interrobang]

There's a growing tendency to bring the tiny hieroglyphs off of phones, but not everyone is fluent. New takes on emoji integration suggest misunderstanding may be remedied with universal translation.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.