A short while ago I met up with an old friend from university, and we went out for the evening for some discussion and the quaffing of several beverages. Sat in a smoky basement bar, supping pints of 80 shilling, my attention started to wander as my friend animatedly lamented the decline in fortune of his preferred football team. Enquiring as to the source of my distraction, I gestured towards the speaker on the far wall.

"What the hell is that song they're playing?" I asked.

Instead of replying, or attempting to bullshit that it may have been Talking Heads but he wasn't sure, he gave a thin smile and produced his mobile, pressed a few buttons before holding the device with the ear piece pointed towards the music. I sat and watched as his phone beeped to acknowledge the receipt of an incoming text message. My friend read the message, and after pausing to down his pint, announced;

"it's I Travel by Simple Minds. And it's your round."

Shazam is a service for mobile phones that identifies songs. Designed to settle arguments in bars and clubs, or just when you keeping missing the name of that song you keep hearing on the radio, Shazam requires to hear only 20 seconds or so of a song before it searches through it's database for a match. You can use Shazam by dialing 2580 on your mobile. The service costs 50p a time, and will work on all 4 of the major mobile networks in the UK. The service is not available outside the UK at present.

Shazam seems to have a fairly large library of songs stored away, and the text message with the name and artist of the song you query normally arrives within a minute or two of the original call. If they are unable to identify the song you are not charged, but receive an apologetic text. The only song I've found Shazam has been unable to identify so far was by Mogwai.

Despite their failings with Mogwai, the service seems to cope well with new and pre-release songs, and I'll expect it covers pretty much anything that gets in the charts. While finishing off this write-up I turned on the radio, in an unscientific attempt to see if Shazam could identify the first song I heard. Seconds later I received this text message:-

"SHAZAM tagged THE DARKNESS performing "Growing On Me". Go to www.shazam.com to buy the music, see a list of all your tags, & more."

Go to the website mentioned above for more information if you like, but its primary purpose seems to be to sell ringtones and other things you don't really need. 2580 is all you need to know, try it and wow your friends, before the mass-marketing takes off and we all get sick of the damn thing.