"Explicit" vs "Clean" tags/identification

Would the be any change of having a “flag” (like a check box perhaps, similar to how “Videos” recordings are identified) for Explicit vs “Clean” versions of a song/recording?

Now, i’m sure one could argue on what basis would you class a recording as Clean, which might be a valid point. Personally, i would say many online music providers flag songs as Clean or Explicit, so that would be what i would base it on.

You could even have such a “flag” on entire albums (releases) as some albums have been released in Clean and Explicit versions for some time now.

This could be used by tagging tools (like Picard) to add the appropriate tag to recordings when tagging.


You’d be interested in a ticket I made for this : https://tickets.metabrainz.org/browse/STYLE-891


None of the records I have is affected by this concept so if there is any change it must not mean that I would have to do any extra action to categorise my music into clean or explicit.
I had in fact never heard of clean/explicit (I’m 40+) before MB, it seems only used in the USA.
Note for others like me: “clean” in fact means “censored” (you can talk about guns and everything but not say arse hole).


It’s an american thing that started at the end of the 80s…

If you want to get some background on how it all started (and the birth of the Parental Advisory logo :P), watch theses
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fO-KzW1YXw (part I)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2QYCV0hQII (part II)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4n9xf0HJTs (part III)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1_dl3ROH7E (part IV)

It’s because of Al Gore ex-wife :stuck_out_tongue: and the PMRC :slight_smile:


That sticker just means the good version.


Please feel free to whip me with a wet noodle but isn’t this subject moot? It would seem to me that each of us currently has their own opinion of naughty and nice. I would also think we each control what we have in our library. In my case, I have children and grandchildren that play my tunes so I do not have any naughty stuff.

I have not seen a music/video player that automatically requires a password for playing “inappropriate” content. If someone wants control over explicit content, can’t they just create a separate music file on their device that requires a password? I think (rationally on occasion) having some kind of visual content indicator next to an album, track or video is unnecessary. I don’t agree that having a “red flag” next to a song will keep little Johnny from playing it. I choose what I want in my library, I am my own censor.


That’s the daft side of censorship. The red flag tell’s little Johnny that there is a better version out there and he will now actively seek it out because of that flag.

MB should certainly not be categorising music. And already the (disambiguration) is used for (radio edit) or (explicit) in those very few occasions it is relevant.

Not sure what the OPs use is of Musicbrainz, but if it is Picard it would be able to set a script to spot the “USA Censored” versions. It wouldn’t take much to catch a few of those words and flag them in a different way.

On my shelf I have 1990s Enimen and Gun n’ Roses albums with these stickers on. I always saw them as a way for the record company to make a marketing fuss with their releases and sell more copies.

The important point is - MB should not have this as a user settable flag. Too many different opinions here. I don’t want a “naughty words” flag set on my Crass albums. Censorship is a personal thing and would cause some big arguments.


The point of the explicit/clean “flag” on recordings and releases is to prevent editors from merging them together, so you can see stuff like https://musicbrainz.org/release/3ec0e59a-7878-41c9-9fc1-86ecc24e5bd2 having separate recordings.

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With all due respect, I thought that’s what disambiguation was supposed to do. If some eds don’t pay attention to that, a flag will make no difference. Inexperience will always drive a high percentage of erroneous edits. Closely followed by carelessness, then by just not caring and finally making a Boo Boo because it’s 3 A.M. and you’re sleepy. You and most editors would not make such an edit as you have referenced because of your skills and knowledge. IMHO.


@culinko that release group shows what I mean about this being a gimmick for the marketing people. What’s that - at least four different editions there for the “true fans” to purchase?

As @Llama_lover points out - if someone can’t see a LOUD (BRACKETED) note about the difference then they won’t bother checking a hidden flag. Some merging addicts barely even check the track lengths.

Would an AcoustID pick up these censored versions? How much tends to get chopped out? If it is anything of note then isn’t the AcoustID going to help slow down those merging addicts.

And this really is a US only thing. Not exactly world wide. I know the odd (radio edit) pops up on UK singles, but it is usually on that same single alongside the normal version. This is why I’d fight to avoid it applied everywhere as it doesn’t make sense in the majority of recordings.

Edit: you don’t know how hard it is for me to not swear like a trooper in this post. People start talking about censorship around me I want to let rip. LOL. but I am staying civilised as I know everyone at MB is civilised.:rofl::speak_no_evil:


quote IvanDobsky…this is really a US only thing.

It was adopted by the BPI in 2011.

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What I meant was - the US use is as a clear marketing thing. Brought in by someone who used the daft “think of the children” excuse while not seeing the game that was being played by the labels.

I do agree that is appears in the UK. As I mentioned, there are some UK singles that get a (radio edit) to be all fluffy for BBC Radio One. This is a small percentage though. By far not a majority.

Still a gimmick. Frankie Goes To Hollywood would never have got their success if they didn’t get Relax “banned” by the BBC.

(Trying to make sure you know I am thinking fluffy here and not agressive… just listening to Crass for the last two hours has me bouncing a bit too much now… hehe :rofl:)

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The same can be said about video recordings, yet we have a setting that adds a nice little icon to them

I honestly have no idea why are so many of you opposed to this feature. The only affected releases/recordings would be the ones that are either explicit or clean. We could even have a relationship linking the two, e.g. “recording1 is a clean version of a recording2”. This could help other people chase down their preferred versions, for example I have some downloaded tracks from back in the day and it would be great to know which versions they are and whether the explicit versions even exist. I personally hate any form of censorship and I know some of the songs I have do have bleeps in them or even have changed lyrics, and I also know some of them don’t have explicit versions at all, but it would be great to easily find out the ones that do if we had such feature.

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I’m afraid that this would lead to too many negatives. Someone would have to be responsible for determining what is explicit and what is not, along with all the hundreds of grey areas. (Probably more than 50 shades). Just who would do it and what would be the basis? Call it what you will, it will eventually boil down to a form of censorship. MusicBrainz does not sell nor store music, we do. Trying to place a “flag” on a track or album would have to be determined on an individual basis. Who will check the millions of these?

For those who really need to know if an alternate clean or explicit track or album exists, they can easily research it for themselves and flag it for their own personal use. Right now, think about how a simple thing like genre is determined and what it means or doesn’t mean to each individual user.

In the wrong hands, we would be forced into classifications that we do not want, need or even agree to. As Mother Mary said to John, Paul, George and Ringo, "Let it be!"

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Nobody would do it. It can be sourced from website data.

Like here you can see which tracks are marked as explicit and which aren’t.

You can see marked songs like that on other services like iTunes, Spotify, etc.


Doesn’t sound like a bad idea (I wouldn’t use the feature, but I think some editors here are assuming that all of their music would suddenly be marked with red flags or something - I’m assuming it would be an optional feature to use in your tagging scripts).

That said I think it potentially create ‘yet another field’ to fill in MB, and probably wouldn’t be filled out enough to make it useful?


I not often edit releases I don’t have but when I come across such releases when doing some recording cleanup, I do use the disambiguation comment, following what that Itune page says (release and appropriate recordings get an explicit comment and the matching other release and its recordings release get a clean comment).

I’m happy with comments because it does not need localisation (always USA releases → English OK) and this way we avoid the appearance of a field that will be useless to the majority but yet they would see this unknown field and would likely fill it in while they shouldn’t, just because it’s here before their eyes.

Explicit / Clean comments

  • English OK
  • Avoid confusion displaying an unknown field to the majority of editors who don’t need it

Exactly like @Lotheric said, whether the release or recording is explicit/clean can be sourced, there won’t be any decisions made by editors, not even by mb staff. The Parental Advisory logo linked above that appears on the cover art is just one of the sources that can confirm that the release and its recordings are the explicit versions.

As for “yet another field to fill in mb”, that is not necessarily true as well. We could just use tags (we have special tags for genres, why not have explicit/clean tags?) as well as the recording-recording relationship I mentioned in my previous reply. We could also have release-release relationship but it could be a hard time to find the “correct source”.


This seems like the most logical answer to me. It also makes the data immediately available to the user without the need to change MP3 \ FLAC etc tagging specifications.

There are some official and commonly used tags. If Explicit joins those then you have a quick and very workable solution to this issue.

A “new field” in MB is one thing… but that would mean new version of Picard to be released. And then whatever software is being used as a player will also have to be “explicit flag aware”. It will be months and more likely years away from being completed.

Have you seen the TODO list for ideas for MB and Picard? It is looooooooooooooooooong…

A simple search for ( tag == explicit ) gives the quickest solution to this issue without loosing precious developer time.


I still think that the (disambiguation) field is the best place for this as it is so much more visible there. It also fits the way remixes and versions are usually handled.


Meanwhile on the UK side… a track that has a (radio edit) does not always mean it has been edited due to naughty words. Sometimes a Radio Edit is done for time reasons.

For this there could just be a simple TXXX tag. I just created a tag called “SOMENEWTAG” in Mp3Tag and Picard can read it without any issues: https://i.imgur.com/mHjx6UT.png. It just doesn’t fetch any info from mb for this tag at the moment. Yes, we would need a new Picard version for filling this tag with the mb data but the support of a new tag is not the most difficult thing to add. As for the music player side, foobar2000 reads this TXXX tag without any issues as well. I can even display it nicely within the skin if I add the necessary code (which is basically “$meta(somenewtag)” and a bunch of coordinates): https://i.imgur.com/kCCK9Q6.png. Having a designated tag is much easier than searching for the Explicit/Clean text in the release comment tag.