More discussion of sort names

I’ve only started using sort names this year, when I made major changes in handling of my foobar music library and ever since I’ve been quite perplexed how tricky sorting can get. Here are some examples:

  1. Artist adopts a performance surname:

    • Benjamin Damage - MB sorting: Damage, Benjamin - legal name: Benjamin O’Shea
    • Charli XCX - MB sorting: Charli XCX - legal name: Charlotte Emma Aitchison
    • Laurel Halo - MB sorting: Halo, Laurel - birth name: Laurel Anne Chartow (current legal name: Ina Cube)
  2. Artist adopts a full name persona:

    • Sinjin Hawke - MB sorting: Hawke, Sinjin - legal name: Alan Stanley Soucy Brinsmead
  3. Artist turns the first name into performance surname and appends a new first name to it (!):

    • Tommy Genesis - MB sorting: Genesis, Tommy - legal name: Genesis Yasmine Mohanraj
  4. Artist adopts a new name that looks like a full name performance persona, but doesn’t really have to be one and there’s no way to find out:

    • D. Tiffany - MB sorting: Tiffany, D. - legal name: Sophie Sweetland

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Some of these sortings make sense, others not so much. And once in a while it’s really hard to tell whether a two word name is an artistic persona or just… two words that don’t mean anything.

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Just note: Examples how things are done are not necessarily examples for how things should be done. That’s what the guidelines are for.
Then again most of your examples are not (explicitly) covered by the guidelines.
From what I experienced the convention seems to be to sort names that look like legal names as though they were. That could explain why Charli XCX is sorted as Charli XCX, because “XCX” doesn’t look like a family name.

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Which leads to one of my edits in question that now I think was wrong: Edit #56898068 - MusicBrainz It’s exactly the same case as with Charli XCX; it’s just an acronym, not really a ‘new artistic surname’.

edit: Another example that I’ve just found: Ravyn Lenae - MusicBrainz

  • Ravyn Lenae - MB sorting Lenae, Ravyn - legal name: Ravyn Lenae Washington

IMO it shouldn’t be sorted, because these are just first and second names.

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Well as said above:

and there isn’t even a guideline for such cases.

But yeah, I wouldn’t have changed the sort name to “BDP, Harrison” there.

Here this guideline 1.a. could take effect: “Middle names and nicknames should be treated as a part of the given name.” So if the artist name only consists of parts of the given name they shouldn’t be sorted.

PS: Here the artist was added with the name already added - more than 2 years before the legal name was added - and then simply never changed.

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Yeah, of course. I’ve just listed out a few examples off the top of my head to show that more often than not I’m coming across difficult, outlier cases. By the time of this post, I noticed another three or four dubious examples.

edit: In any case, I reverted Harrison BDP ( and removed the sorting for Ravyn Lenae (

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A recent discussion on Janelle Monáe (similar case to Ravyn Lenae) can be found here. In that case we ended up keeping the sorting as “Monáe, Janelle”.

Like mentioned in the Janelle Monae discussion, when looking at sort names, you need to separate various types of names.

Los Campesinos (The Farmers) is a group. Los Angeles is a city.
Janelle Monae is an artist name, which is a different type of artist name than Charli XCX. Which is different than the legal names Janelle Monae Robinson and Charlotte Emma Aitchison.

I admit, that if I am dealing with a foreign artist, I do not know the language I will just repeat the name. Someone can fix it when they come around.


Oh, I didn’t know about this one.

That edit was only cancelled because I dnd’t care about that artist at all.
If it had been on of my artists I would have tried more because I don’t think it makes any sense to swap first names for sort name.

So, if I can find sufficient amount of examples where general public/official sources/music critics refer to an artist by his alias as if it were a surname, then I should change the sorting accordingly?

Quick example, a high profile singer/songwriter, King Krule (+many other aliases, legal name: Archy Ivan Marshall)

And here’s multiple articles where he’s being referred to as Mr. Krule:

Is this enough to pass the duck test? :stuck_out_tongue:

//personally I would never ever sort this name, knowing where it stems from (The Guardian interview: These days, Archy goes by the name of King Krule. “Imagine a king crawling through the city on his hands and knees,” he explains. “It’s aristocracy at the very bottom.”).

Being casually referred to as Ms Monae in a New York Times advertisement is hardly a proper name.
*Yes, I call them advertisements because most of these are pay-for-play/payola placements.

Brangelina for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Camelot when referring to the Kennedy family. tRump or Obummer for the two recent US Presidents. His Royal Doggness for Snoop Dogg.
These are hardly names.

Most artists (meaning more than 50%, from the beginning of time until 01/04/2019) are going to use “stage names” that follow the First/Last rule. John Smith is an easy to remember/spell name that replaces a birth name of Frederique von Huestenborg. Sorting it is simple - Smith, John. It is a first and last name that replaced a first and last name.

This is far different than some of the more recent urban names like Bank Roll Fresh, The Notorious B.I.G., and
Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

The stage name Janelle Monae, regardless of how similar it is to her legal name it is, is a first name last name.

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Taj Mahal - MB sorting: Mahal, Taj - legal name: Henry Saint Clair Fredericks

Surely he should be sorted as Taj Mahal? It doesn’t look like a first name, last name. Taj Mahal is a famous building in India.

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