Pride and profanity in band names and album titles

If an artist is going to use profanity in their name or album title, they should do it with pride. Not for any moral reason, but simply because trying to hide it creates problems with tagging and searching.

I'm sure it's just a lucky coincidence, but one day after the brilliantly profane George Carlin passed away, Slate published an article on profane band names.

I haven't heard any of these bands--I tend to avoid bands that appear to have put too much time into their names, thinking that they're trying to cover up bad music--but Psychedelic Horse**** intrigues me, especially since I've seen so many bands whose music fits that description perfectly. (Note: I have no idea what CNET's policy on swear words is, but I don't want to create extra work for the copy editors in case I guess wrong, so the asterisks are mine.)

Profane and proud: R.I.P. George Carlin. Wikimedia Commons

This brings to mind a problem I've had with a particular Neil Young song, the third track on his 1990 album Ragged Glory, which also appears on the live record Weld. On the back of both albums, the title appears as "F*!#in' Up." That's also the official title in the CDDB (formerly Gracenote) database that lets programs such as iTunes automatically populate fields with song information when you rip a CD.

I imagine Neil or his record company was trying to prevent underage listeners from stumbling across this word on the CD when flipping through the Neil Young section in record stores. But this creates a problem in the digital era: if you really want to hear that song, and you try to search by title, you have to remember the precise sequence of characters used to replace the letters--if you search on "F***in' Up" or use the real word, you'll get no results. The solution, of course, is to go into iTunes and change the file information so the real word is included.

The lesson: if you're going to use profanity in a band or song name, do it proudly.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Rosoff is an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, where he covers Microsoft's consumer products and corporate news. He's written about the technology industry since 1995, and reviewed the first Rio MP3 player for in 1998. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network. Disclosure. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattrosoff.


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