Who’s Better at Figuring Out Lyrics

The human mind truly is amazing. The amount of information it can process and store is unlike anything else on the planet. However, many human minds have come together to build IBM Watson. This is a super computer that has appeared on the game show Jeopardy as well as working in other information elements. This because IBM Watson basically is an information machine. It can listen to a question and formulate almost always a correct answer. But does that work with music? Can Watson figure out what song lyrics are from or who sings it? There’s only one way to tell, and the best way to figure it out is through a good old fashion lyric contest.

The First Song the testers broke out of the band came from Taylor Swift, titled “I Knew You Were Trouble.” They had IBM Watson and a professional transcriptionist produce several frames of lyrics. Now, both were successful in creating the general meaning of the song, but Watson confused a few of the terms, changed some of the tenses and even altered the meaning of a few words. Due to the way certain words are pronounced by Taylor, Watson had four overall errors where the transcriptionist didn’t have any.

Now, one song doesn’t really mean anything. It might just have been a bit of a blip on the radar. Due to this, The testers decided to compare several other songs as well. This included Van Halen’s Runnin with the Devil, Brad Paisley’s Ticks and Elton John’s Tiny Dancer. In total, the professional transcriptionists did not have a single error in the three other songs. IBM Watson, on the other hand, had 29 errors, not including words missing.

So what does this mean? Well, it means a few things. For starters, it does mean that professional transcriptionists who are trained to listen and to produce what they hear through typing are significantly better than a computer system. It is not to say they do not make mistakes, they just have the capability of staying up with what is being said and by also using their knowledge of accents and word meanings to produce the sentences accurately. IBM Watson did not have these lyrics stored inside of its memory banks, nor could it use the Internet to automatically provide accurate lyrics. Had those been allowed it would have without question answered everything 100 percent accurately. However, for the time being, computers, especially without the aid of the Internet, simply are no match for the human brain, and for individuals and professionals who need assistance with transcription, it is better to go with the trained professional over an offered computer system.


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