For all the talk in Linux circles about how it’s ideal if an application does one task, there is something nice about multipurpose applications. I love that Banshee (my music player), also allows me to download podcasts, stream Internet radio and manage my portable MP3 players. That it also has a music store and can play videos too is icing on the cake (even if I never use it to play videos). Still, there is something nice and pure about a single-purpose application. And it doesn’t get much simpler, nor more pure, than Lyrics.
In this case, the name of the application is a dead giveaway for what the application does. Fire up Lyrics, type in the name of an artist and song, and Lyrics goes to work, scouring the Internet until it finds the lyrics, and gives them to you.
To be honest, I’m not positive which lyrics databases Lyrics uses to find song lyrics. A program I just tried the other day, Guayadeque, had a “show lyrics” function, and it had seven different online databases it searched. For all I know, Lyrics uses some of those same seven, or could use a different one (or ones) entirely.
Actually, after giving it some thought, I downloaded the source code and it appears Lyrics is using Teksty.org, a Polish lyrics website. Regardless of the site being in Polish, I threw a bunch of different artists and songs, and it always returned the results I expected. And it’s not as if the language of the website matters much, anyway, since the lyrics I was looking for were all in English. I suppose this does perhaps mean it’s more likely foreign artists and songs would be there, as the site is based in Europe.
Now, why is Lyrics the application even necessary? There are dozens of websites you can search, and many music players have lyrics search functions, so why bother with a desktop application to perform the same search? Calling Lyrics a “necessary” program is possibly a stretch, but here’s why it is useful. I would keep Lyrics installed on my desktop for the same reason I keep a dictionary (that searches the Internet for definitions) installed on my computer. Convenience. Sure, I could fire up a web browser and go to Dictionary.com to look up the word, just as I could fire up a music player and look up song lyrics. But Lyrics cuts out that step of opening another program and THEN going to a dictionary or lyrics website. With Lyrics, it’s a single step, and therefore a lot more efficient.
At the moment, Lyrics is very stripped down and bare bones. You start it up, type in the artist and song you want lyrics for, and hit the Download button. Lyrics doesn’t download the lyrics to your desktop (that would be a nice feature, but one not implemented at the moment), but it does download them from the Web. It then displays the lyrics for you (unless it can’t find them, in which case it admits failure), and that’s it.
As I said, very simple, but for what it is, very well done. At the moment the Lyrics project is pretty new (it’s currently sitting at version 0.2.0), so more features and possibly more search engines are likely, but even without any additions, Lyrics is still a good example of a single-purpose program, and I like it.