DJ Rant: ‘Hide and Seek’ Song Titles on CDs

Missing song titles milk carton

I wish I created this slick pic, but I didn't.

All of you music listeners out there may or may not have ever experienced this issue like some of us disc jockeys.  Given the advent of the digital age, song titles are a cinch to find thanks to online databases, mp3 tags, and conscientious album rippers.  However, for those of us still taking a circular plastic object and sticking it into a piece of technology that may or may not be fussy, we could use a few simple comforts.

One of the things we CD folk take for granted tend to be what side is up.  I hate it when artists make both sides look like the data side.  Screw you, crafty twits.  Color a side, will you?  Then I don’t like it when the CD is positively stuck on those plastic teeth that keep the CD in the case/digipak.  Hey, if you want me to listen to the album could you at least make it -easy- to take it out of the case, meatheads?  But those kinds of things I can get around.  I can deal.

The one thing that I can’t stand as a DJ, no matter how relatively infrequent it tends to happen, is when the CD doesn’t display the song titles clearly.  You might think, no, this never happens.  Why would an artist ever make it difficult for a listener, never mind a DJ trying to promote their record, to find out what song is actually playing?  Why would they make it a mystery?  Simple.  They are dumb.

There is nothing worse when you’re about to go on the air and, after previewing a fantastic track, suddenly realize you don’t know what the name of the song is you’re about to play.  I admit this has happened a couple of times, where I assume that the track can be easily found and read because, pfff, that’s what you expect.  I have had to buy some time saying a few crafty bits about the band as I tear open the CD case, flip madly through the album booklet, search the back art on both sides, and take another quick look at the CD itself.  Since there a times when I have come up empty, I have sometimes declared the song name to be “Track #5″ while editing out a few choice words not fit for the air.  How great does “Hey, this is The New Cool Indie Band That Everyone Is Talking About with … Track #5.  ROCK!” sound on the air?  It sounds sucky.

So what kind of dastardly song labeling have I seen in my years as a DJ?   I have noticed discs where the artist playfully squishes all of the song titles in the clear rectangular spine of the case.  You know, that small visible area next to the album booklet where usually there is only a smidgen of insignificant back art showing.  Yeah, they fit twelve track names in there in very, very small type.  It’s as if they believe that their album art is so much more important than what the song titles are that they stick the titles in the discount bin of album space.  It’s a head scratcher.

Then there’s the artist that does not want the song titles on their album art at all and prefers to put them on the CD itself.  That’s cute, because how the heck is one supposed to know what the song is if the CD is spinning in the player?!  Are you supposed to play the song, stop the CD, look at the CD, make a remark like “Oh, that song was called ‘Dingbat Choices By Dingbats’.”, and then play the next track?  I can understand putting the titles on the CD and on the album art, but merely putting them on the CD is puzzling to me.

Finally, and the best of all, are the artists that just can’t be bothered with including song titles on their albums.  Oh yes, so brilliant.  This situation actually grates on all sorts of DJs, for those who truly care about reporting to listeners what just played will have to look on band websites or Allmusic.com to get the song titles they seek.  I, on the other hand, prefer to instead enact the creative spirit and make up my own song titles.  Hey, it’s more fun anyway.  It may even help the artist when I play “Song That Wails, Then Lays a Stinky Deuce”, “I Have a Secret:  This Song Sucks”, or “Yes, These Lyrics Were Written By Someone Who Was Lobotomized”.  For all I know a listener may totally want to buy that album with song titles that honest.  Too bad they won’t be able to quickly find the song on the album because, ha, there are no song titles suckers.

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