Google Just Made It Much Easier to Find Song Lyrics—Except the Ones Google Doesn't Know

When Doves Cry
This is what it sounds like / When Google tries [to help you find the lyrics of Prince's 1984 hit "When Doves Cry"]

You know the feeling: You're listening to the new Taylor Swift album and you can't figure out that one line about the "lonely Starbucks lovers" (hint: you're mishearing it), so you take to Google to hunt down the official lyrics sheet.

Google knows you're using it to find lyrics, and it wants to save you a click. That's why the search engine has begun displaying select lyrics at the top of its search results, instead of requiring users to click on to lyrics sites like AZLyrics, MetroLyrics and the discussion forum Here, for example, is what happens when you run a Google search for "who let the dogs out lyrics":

Who Let the Dogs Out
Who let the dogs out? Who! Who! Who!

A company spokeperson confirmed to Newsweek that it began rolling out the new feature last week. "There's a feeling you get when you turn to a song and you know that the words have two meanings," Google said in a goofy, Led Zeppelin-quoting statement. "Well it's whispered that now if you go search the tune, maybe Google will lead you to reason."

It's not the first time the search engine has tried to surpass outside links to answer your questions directly, Ask Jeeves-style. If you search "temperature in NYC," for instance, a weather box will quickly appear. Try typing in "madison square garden address" and your answer will arrive like so:

Madison Square Garden
Google knows the answer. Madison Square Garden

But song lyrics exist in a thornier legal space, thanks to the same copyright issues that have gotten some of those lyrics sites in trouble. In this case, Google is licensing the content and so far only showing lyrics for songs that have successfully been licensed from music publishers. (The results come with a link to read the full lyrics and purchase the song on Google Play, though it seems likely that users are often looking up lyrics to songs they already have.)

But what about the lyrics that Google can't figure out? For instance, try searching some of the famously indecipherable lyrics from R.E.M.'s 1983 debut Murmur and nothing shows up. Even Google has no idea what Michael Stipe is mumbling:

What happens when you search for R.E.M. lyrics.

That could be for licensing reasons, though the site has no trouble showing lyric results for "The One I Love" or "Fall On Me." (Those are clearer to make out, though the band refused to include a lyrics booklet with its albums until 1998's Up.)

Of course, as any Cocteau Twins listener knows, part of the fun of lyrics sites is trying to parse the real lyrics from the misheard gibberish. Beck fans have long argued about a single word in the chorus of "Girl," but Google thinks it can solve that mystery, too:

The lyrics to Beck's "Girl."

Until CD booklets come back into vogue, this might placate the lonely Starbucks lovers of the world.