Yahoo's recently launched music lyrics archive promises to be the granddaddy of all lyrics websites. By achieving the cooperation of major music labels, Yahoo's service has the potential to be accurate and comprehensive. The problem is that Yahoo's lyric archive is neither of these things. Spotty and thin, the archive even lacks lyrics by important lyrical masters such as Neil Young. Their coverage of independent artists is even lousier.
The most troubling aspect of the new service, however, is the censorship Yahoo has imposed over the lyrics. In a review of the archive, CBC arts writer Martin Morrow describes the lunacy best:
When Rocket Man comes to the line, “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids/In fact it’s cold as hell,” [Yahoo] gives us, “it’s cold as ****.” What? They’ve bleeped out “hell”? I hadn’t considered the lyrics might be censored…
OK, I appreciate that a widely used website might shy away from printing the F-word and the N-word, but come on, “hell”? And it gets worse. Did you know that one of Iggy Pop’s best-known songs is called **** for Life? Yes, “lust,” the driving force behind 90 per cent of all rock songs, dare not speak its name on Yahoo. I felt as if I’d stumbled upon some Twilight Zone website from the 1950s. What’s the deal, Ross?