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Strophes

I have a good ear for the English language, but most of the times when I’m listening to music I still want to know exactly what a song says. Unfortunately, for the past years I had to cope with poor solutions to check out a song’s lyrics on the Mac; even worse, all of those methods sported no kind of integration whatsoever with the services I use to listen to music on a daily basis. It’s not just about iTunes anymore: today, my library is on Rdio, new releases are streamed every Tuesday, and I may casually check out a YouTube video or two as I look for that old live set or creepy 80’s Italian music video. Music comes from multiple sources, yet there hasn’t been a single, integrated app that could help in displaying lyrics on the desktop without using ugly and ad-filled lyrics websites.

Developed by Italian Alfredo Delli Bovi, Strophes wants to be the beautiful Mac app that’s integrated with the music apps you’re already using.

Before I delve into the app’s feature set, though, it is worth mentioning how Strophes’ deep skeuomorphic roots will likely fence several users off as they will look at bits of torn paper and stitched leather in disbelief and utter despise for interfaces mimicking real life object. Personally, whilst I am not the biggest fan of Apple’s Calendar and Find My Friends, I recognize how, to most users, Strophes’ appeal lies in its strong resemblance to recent Apple trends and design patterns. In that regard, Strophes almost feels as the app Apple would create if they were to offer their take on displaying song lyrics, which is to say – Strophes is a natural fit for the Mac platform, and, more importantly, it just looks better than any other lyrics app I’ve tried.

Strophes works with a variety of music players, such as Rdio. The full list includes iTunes, Spotify, and Radium as well; through an optional Safari extension – which needs to be downloaded from Strophes’ website – you’ll also be able to load lyrics for videos playing on YouTube.com. Strophes is extremely simple in the way it works: it plugs directly into your active music player, checks for the song that’s playing, and displays lyrics inline fetching them off the Internet. The app uses a lyrics database to find lyrics, and it also displays album artworks and artists information above the actual lyrics. Strophes can control music players, too, but I prefer to keep The Iconfactory’s Take Five on my Mac for those playback and pausing duties. Strophes automatically loads another song as the music player changes, and, as far as features are concerned, it can also visualize an artist’s bio through last.fm integration, and translate lyrics.

In my tests, Strophes has been reliable. Working in tandem with Rdio, it only failed to find lyrics a couple of times; when it did, it provided a link to open lyrics in the web browser. Most of the times, the app loaded lyrics just fine and within seconds.

Strophes is, by far, the best lyrics app I have found on OS X, and it works with the apps I am already enjoying to listen to my music library. You can get Strophes at $4.99 on the Mac App Store.

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