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iTunes ignores 'The' in song tags when sorting Apps
I was recently informed about an interesting, possibly undocumented iTunes feature. It turns out that iTunes will ignore a leading "the" in the artist ID3 tags when sorting, so it will sort all your songs by "The Beatles," for example, as if the artist was labeled as just "Beatles" and place them nicely in the B section, as opposed to the T section. So go ahead and name your bands correctly (they'll still display with "The" in front) and iTunes will handle the sorting properly.

Unfortunately this doesn't seem to work with the album tag.
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iTunes ignores 'The' in song tags when sorting | 15 comments | Create New Account
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I want more!
Authored by: jiclark on Dec 16, '02 11:47:17AM

I just wish iTunes was more intuitive about all naming conventions, though I don\'t know how it could work. Why can\'t \'Dave Matthews Band\' be listed under Matthews instead of Dave? Anyone else find this obnoxious, or figured out a way around the problem?


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I want more!
Authored by: Dephex Twin on Dec 16, '02 12:18:50PM

Seems like Dave Matthew's Band would be sorted under "D" in most music stores as well... but regardless of that, I don't see how you could expect the artists that are first + last name to be automatically sorted anyway. The app would have to somehow know if it was a person's first and last name, and not just any two words, or something that looks like a name, but is really just the group name (like, Luscious Jackson or Marcie Playground or Mr. T Experience), or something that is a person's name but doesn't look like it (Mazzy Star, Jello Biafra). Taking out a leading "the" is simple and is common practice.

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I want more!
Authored by: chabig on Dec 16, '02 01:01:15PM

I believe the ID3 spec contains a tag for sorting. So you could have Dave Mathews displayed as the artist, but you could make the sorting tag say "Mathews Dave." All we need is for iTunes to support this.


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I want more!
Authored by: stefb on Dec 16, '02 01:02:34PM
There is provision in the ID3 standard (the tagging mecanism for mp3, used by iTunes and others to store info in the mp3 files) to add a sort order for album, performer and song.

For this to work, iTunes should support these tags (and allow you to edit them), and they also should be supported by CDDB.

mp3rage ( supports some of them, I suppose.

From the website:

The 'Album sort order' frame defines a string which should be used
instead of the album name (TALB) for sorting purposes. E.g. an album
named "A Soundtrack" might preferably be sorted as "Soundtrack".

The 'Performer sort order' frame defines a string which should be
used instead of the performer (TPE2) for sorting purposes.

The 'Title sort order' frame defines a string which should be used
instead of the title (TIT2) for sorting purposes.

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Does not work in Swedish
Authored by: callefjant on Dec 16, '02 12:10:54PM

This does not work in iTunes 3.0.1 (b66), running in Swedish under OSX 10.1.5. Too bad, really, I certainly dislike to have songs by a band called just \"Band\"...

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Does not work in Swedish
Authored by: arru on Dec 18, '02 07:58:25PM
As you loyal OS X users should know, this problem (which may apply to other non-english localizations as well) can be remedied by just choosing Get info… on iTunes in the Finder and de-select the language (Swedish, for instance) that does not support this sort order. Then you will run the English version (or whatever your language preferences are!). Despite this problem, you really gotta love Apple for thinking of such a thing! Also check out the natural sort order feature mentioned earlier.

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Authored by: stefb on Dec 16, '02 12:13:11PM

And how will "The The" be sorted?

(I know... I wanted to be the first to post this!)

OK, it goes in my list between "The Style Council" and "Tom Jones".

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Authored by: Dephex Twin on Dec 16, '02 12:23:02PM

I have a bunch of German songs, and most of those groups start with "die" (which is the German plural "the"), and these groups are sorted like "the" as well. Also, I'm not using the German localized OS either. I don't know of any groups that start with the English word "die" (as in dead), but I imagine it might get treated like the German "the" as well.

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Script solution
Authored by: DougAdams on Dec 16, '02 03:36:13PM
We have a script, Artist "Last,First", which takes the first word of the Artist Name and attaches it with a comma at the end: "Die Fledermaus" is rendered as "Fledermaus,Die". Doug Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes

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Re: German
Authored by: Lloyd on Dec 22, '02 01:50:38PM

What about Madonna's "Die Another Day"?

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Re: German
Authored by: DougAdams on Dec 23, '02 07:21:51AM

Don't run the script on that one ;)

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iPod too
Authored by: mzajac on Dec 16, '02 03:40:06PM

I think this is a new feature in iTunes 3. Mine knows about "The" in English artists' names, but not about "Les" in Les Négresses Vertes.

In contrast, my iPod with software version 1.2.1 sorts artists ignoring "The" and "Les", in both English French names.

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no spanish support yet
Authored by: s_baldric on Dec 16, '02 04:06:06PM

the spanish the, 'Los' is treated like a proper name

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OT, but...
Authored by: natenate on Dec 16, '02 05:31:11PM

Don't even get me started on iTunes and iPod sorting conventions. iTunes
does it right: ``The" is ignored. And it doesn't screw around with foreign
analogs of ``The" (etc.) either.

However, my iPod will (for instance) sort ``De La Soul" right after
``La Monte Young" instead of right after ``David Bowie." The ``A" in
``A Tribe Called Quest" is ignored too. This pops-up about 15-20 times
out of the 300-odd artists on my iPod. Really very annoying.

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Authored by: GVCarroll on Dec 24, '02 09:17:18PM

If you want artists to show up correctly, such as Tori Amos being listed under A instead of T just do a batch rename to Amos, Tori. That's the only solution I've found. The only other way would have something built-in to iTunes to flag certain artists as individuals rather than bands.

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