GraceNote CDDB and French titles

Posted by Pierre Igot in: iTunes, Music, Technology
May 12th, 2004 • 11:52 pm

This one has been annoying me for a while. As you know, when you need the track list for a CD, iTunes offers the option to look it up in GraceNote’s CDDB database. It’s usually much faster than having to enter all the information yourself manually.

The problem is that the CDDB is extremely poor when it comes to French-language CD titles. (I can’t speak for other languages, but if the way they butcher French is in any way representative, the news is probably just as bad.)

For example, I have a CD single of “Sentiment nouveau” by Jean-Louis Murat. I insert it in my Mac’s CD player, it mounts on the desktop and in iTunes as an “Audio CD” with generic track names, and I then ask iTunes to look up the track list. And this is what CDDB has:

Jean-Louis Murat / Sentiment Nouveau

Track Title

1. Sentiment Nouveau
2. Noel A La Maison
3. A Woman On My Mind
4. Maitresse
5. Jeune Pluie Sur Le Chardon

Eek. Obviously accented characters are not supported. But the worst part is that each and every word in song titles has an initial capital. This is, simply put, totally wrong. It’s only correct for track #2, which obviously has an English title.

Now, it could be that the mistake was made by the person who submitted the track list in the first place. The trouble with that theory is that I experience the same problem with each and every track list of French titles that I might look up in the CDDB. Which leads me to suspect that this is a systemic problem in the CDDB. It probably has built-in routines that automatically capitalize the first letter of each and every word submitted.

I’ve tried submitting corrected versions to the CDDB — but it has no effect.

The only solution for French CDs, if you want correct titles, is to enter them manually. For the record, the track list above should read:

1. Sentiment nouveau
2. Noël à la maison
3. A Woman On My Mind
4. Maîtresse
5. Jeune pluie sur le chardon

That’s the way it’s printed on the sleeve.

In other words, the CDDB and iTunes’s commands are pretty much useless for French albums.

2 Responses to “GraceNote CDDB and French titles”

  1. Derek says:


    The problem exists beyond the French titling!

    In titles, internal English prepositions shorter than 5 letters are not properly supposed to begin with a capital letter in.

    “A Woman on My Mind.”

    Also, internal articles should not be capitalized.

    I suspect that it’s just easier to capitalize EVERYTHING, regardless of the rules.


  2. Pierre Igot says:

    Yes, I see what you mean — although you have to admit that English usage is pretty unpredictable when it comes to not capitalizing prepositions and articles. There are the rules, and then there are the practices. :-)

    I guess what really pisses me off is that no one seems to care. GraceNote doesn’t seem to care, and Apple endorses GraceNote by including it in the iTunes interface. At least includes some French entries that are not capitalized, such as this one. So it looks as if at least they don’t automatically capitalize every word in everything that’s submitted to them.

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