How to find a music video without knowing the name

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Aina Prat Blasi

It's such a frustrating situation that we've all experienced it at one time or another. You want to see a music video of that song you love… the one with that girl and boy lyrics… but you can't remember the name of the song! You're about to pull your hair out trying to remember what it's called! 

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If you've recorded the song, even if you don't know its name, you can use an app like Shazam, a popular tool that lets you identify a song by playing it, or a similar app. But if you're trying to find a music video and you don't have the song to play and can't remember its name, it sounds like you're out of luck!

Don't be afraid, because help is on the way. All you need is Google and this article. In this article, I'll show you how to use special search engine operators to find that music video - and it'll also greatly expand your understanding of how Google (and other search engines) do things, and making searches very powerful.

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The first step to narrowing your search is to establish what you know. Do you know the artist's name? Do you know the musical genre of the song? Do you know when the song first came out? 

More critically, do you know any text? If you know any of these things, even if you only remember a few words from the song, let's say half the work has been done by now.

You have two choices for conducting your search: one is to do a direct search on YouTube, and the other is to try to determine which song you are looking for on Google, and then go to YouTube to do a simple search once you get it. 

Since YouTube's search engine runs entirely on Google, these are one and the same. However, I recommend that you do the Google search because it will be easier to find information about the song rather than the song; with such a difficult search, these clues can lead you to the final answer.

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Your next step is to go to your search engine, both YouTube and Google, and start trying some basic searches. For this article, I'll walk you through an example search. Let's say the song we're looking for is Bon Jovi's “You Give Love A Bad Name”, but we don't remember the title or the artist. 

In fact, we only remember one sentence from the song: it has the words “an angel's smile”. Let's go to Google and type “an angel's smile” in the search box and see what we get.

Hey hey! Look, there are three songs with that title right at the top of the lists, along with 203 million other hits. OK, that's going to be easy to check - hit those links and see if they're our song!

Unfortunately, we checked all three of these songs, although they contain our lyrics, they are not the song we are looking for. We could look at the next Google results pages, but clearly "an angel's smile" matches too many songs. We will have to dig deeper.

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By combining the terms, you can tell Google that you have several related concepts that you would like to consider when you search. The combination operator is the comma, the "," character. 

For example, a search in the “Basilicata recipe book with green tomato recipes” will bring about 921.000 results, each of which will have some or all of those keywords. If you enclose the entire search string in quotes, Google will only give you those results that have that exact string (zero, if you're wondering). 

However, if you use “,” to combine the concepts, you can get a result list with connections to all three concept sets. Searching for “green tomato recipes, Basilicata, cookbook” tells Google more exactly what you are looking for and gives you better results.

In our search for the song an angel's smile, let's add some combined keywords that might help Google. You know the song you are looking for is rock and roll. 

And you think it probably came out in the 80s because you remember your dad singing it in the car all the time back then. Let's add those keywords and do a search on "an angel's smile, rock and roll, 80s".

And bam, here we go! It is the first search result. Telling Google the general time frame and genre really allows us to focus on what we're looking for. (You can leave the comma out and Google will do a great job of guessing which words go with which other words, but it's best to use the comma and explicitly break it.)

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Since YouTube is owned by Google, there are some advanced search engines you can use to find what you are looking for. Here are just a few.

BAND o ARTIST, partner: Type in band or artist name, then partner to narrow your search to official videos and filter fan videos.

ACTOR, film- Type the actor's name and movie to see clips, teasers, and even full movies on YouTube.

Notizie, live: Type in news, games, or anything else that interests you, then live to show live feeds for the topic in question.

SUBJECT - Type in a subject, movie, actor or whatever and then a time to filter. For example, “Politics, This Week” might provide a slightly more varied amount of footage than you'll find on television, especially if someone in your family is inclined to only rely on one network.

SUBJECT, HD or 4K: Type a subject, then format to filter non-HD or non-4K content. This works for 3D and will also work for VR or 360 content.

ARTIST, playlist: Type the artist and then playlist to compile or find an existing playlist for that artist. You can save or copy them if you plan to use them often.

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Search engines allow you to refine your search to specific names and narrow the results. They are surprisingly powerful when used correctly. Here are a few.

  • Close a hashtag: # video from the 90s.
  • Exclude words: add a '-', then 'female vocalists' to filter music videos featuring female singers.
  • Exact match only: Use the vowel signs "Give love a bad name" to specify those words only in the search.
  • Missing words / wildcard:  add "*" to search for the wild card, for example "Best * of all time".
  • OR: use OR to apply multiple filters " Rock for lacquer to hair O male singer O band or guitar Or give a bad name to love ”.
  • AND: use AND to tell Google to include items that match your entire list. "Bon Jovi an angel's smile and the 80s"
  • Group: use parentheses to group operators. "(1980 E Bon Jovi) an angel's smile"
  • Use relationships: use “related” to find additional information, “related: Bon Jovi”.

You should definitely be able to find a music video without knowing the name by using these directions!

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Further Reading:

  • Best free music download apps for Android
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  • How to add music to a video on iPhone
  • How to find someone on TikTok without knowing their username
  • How to add music to an Instagram post or story?
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