Is IBM Watson Better At Figuring Out Song Lyrics?

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Everyone loves the misheard lyrics videos. It is simply entertaining to see what other people come up with for song lyrics. Have you ever wondered would would be better at figuring out song lyrics between a professional transcriptionist and IBM Watson, the “smartest machine on earth”? When placed against each other, who would be the better party at hearing song lyrics correctly?

To figure it out, you need a few a cappella versions of each song so that IBM Watson would not get confused by the music behind the lyrics. Also, you have to be sure the professional transcriptionists promise, pinky-swear even, that they had not heard the songs before. They also couldn’t use Google to verify the words they heard. These were precautions taken to make sure that both the transcriptionists and IBM Watson were on the same level.

The challenge was broken into 4 parts. The first was to the Taylor Swift song “I Knew Your Were Trouble.” IBM Watson heard “I go” instead of “ago” in the lyrics of her song. He also heard “a loon” instead of “alone” and “then you say” instead of “in your sights.” Some of these were not even close. He made four errors and there were 6 words missing from the lyrics. The professional transcriptionist heard everything correctly. She made no errors and there were no words missing.

The second challenge was to the Van Halen song “Runnin’ with the Devil.” Again, IBM Watson made 9 errors and there were a total of 15 words missing. The professional transcriptionist made absolutely no errors and missed no words.

The trend continued with the third challenge which was with the Elton John song “Tiny Dancer.” IBM Watson heard “Blue gene bear bear yeah. Lazy lately yeah. Seamstress for the man.” That included 8 errors and there were 3 missing words. However, the professional transcriptionist heard the lyrics perfectly: “Blue-jeaned baby, LA lady, Seamstress for the band.”

The final challenge was to Brad Paisley’s song “Ticks.” It should come as no surprise now that there were 12 errors and 5 missing words from IBM Watson’s interpretation of the lyrics. Once again, the professional transcriptionists made no errors.

At the end of all of the challenges, there were hopes of getting some funny mondegreens, another term for the strange misheard lyrics, but IBM Watson was really all over the place and what he heard wasn’t that funny. At the same time, the professional transcriptionists made no mistakes at all and were basically excellent at their jobs. In the end, IBM Watson isn’t as smart as he claims to be. There are many improvements that need to be made to the system to work out these kinks.


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