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

David Fincher Talks 'Gone Girl,' Avoids Spoilers (Hooray!)

The director, whose previous work includes Fight Club and The Social Network, talks to NPR's Audie Cornish about the challenges of taking Gillian Flynn's intimate drama from the page to the screen.
NPR

From Kale To Pale Ale, A Love Of Bitter May Be In Your Genes

Researchers have found a gene that affects how strongly you experience bitter flavors. And those who aren't as sensitive eat about 200 more servings of vegetables per year.
NPR

Top Spending PAC Aims To Keep The Senate In Democratic Hands

Senate Majority PAC, run by allies of Senate Majority Leader Reid, is the top-spending superPAC in the midterm election season. Its donors are essentially a compilation of the party's big-donor base.
NPR

Tech Firms Chip Away At Credit Cards' Share Of Transactions

Companies including PayPal and Apple are competing to convince merchants and consumers to use their swipe-and-go mobile payment systems. Credit card breaches may speed up the use of digital wallets.

Leave a Comment

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