'SongPop' - Best Android, iOS apps from 2012

Tools

SongPop

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SongPop 
(Developed by FreshPlanet)
Available for: iOSAndroid
Released: December
Price: $1.99, free

A latter-day Name That Tune for the smartphone set, SongPop is the freshest and most addictive mobile social game of 2012, an absolute must-have for anyone with even a passing interest in music.

Each SongPop session challenges players to correctly identify five original recordings culled from playlists spanning a variety of eras and genres, from Bach to The Beatles to Bieber. Alongside each clip, you're given four possible answers, and the player who correctly names the most tracks in the shortest period of time wins that round. It may sound simple--and sure, most anyone can distinguish Carly Simon from Carly Rae Jepsen in a matter of notes--but when the pressure's on and the clock is ticking, determining whether a Motown Sound flourish derives from a Smokey Robinson or Marvin Gaye record can be easier said than done.

You can play SongPop head-to-head against your Facebook friends or against random gamers. Both competitors select a playlist in each round, so identifying your strengths and their weaknesses is essential: For example, if your opponent consistently selects the Dubstep category, then counterpunching with Country Classics may be a sound strategy, assuming you know your Hank Williams from your Hank Locklin. Even the most encyclopedic music snob will find SongPop challenging, even humbling, because the game covers so much ground, digging up tracks you haven't heard in years, if at all--more than a mobile game, it's a roundabout tour through music history, and it's as endlessly re-playable as a classic pop song.