Spotify’s content filter fails to block explicit lyrics in dozens of hits

Admirers of Olivia Rodrigo, Eminem, and various music icons have encountered explicit lyrics on Spotify, despite their efforts to block such content.

Spotify frequently displays the original lyrics of songs, encompassing racial slurs and profanity, even when users opt for the clean ‘radio-friendly’ version.

The investigation uncovered numerous instances of this issue with popular tracks by artists such as Dua Lipa, The Weeknd, Drake, and Lil Nas X.

When approached for comment, Spotify declined. According to sources, Spotify acknowledges the problem and is actively working to resolve it.In response to parental concerns in 2018, Spotify implemented a system to manage explicit content, flagging such songs with an ‘E’ designation.

Users who wish to avoid explicit language can opt to block such content in their settings, with clean versions frequently provided as alternatives.

Nevertheless, the lyrics stored in Spotify’s database for many of these sanitized versions often mirror the original, resulting in explicit words being displayed to anyone viewing the lyrics.

At present, over one-third of the tracks featured in Spotify’s UK top 50 chart contain explicit lyrics, with half of them displaying explicit content when the clean edit is selected.

An investigation identified an additional 100 prominent tracks affected by this issue, some of which are part of children’s film soundtracks or appear on child-friendly playlists. These include:

Dua Lipa – IDGAF

Olivia Rodrigo – Bad Idea Right?

The Weeknd – Starboy

Drake – Nice for What

Kanye West – Gold Digger

Eminem (feat Juice Wrld) – Godzilla

Travis Scott – Goosebumps

Megan Thee Stallion feat Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign – Hot Girl Summer

Following notification from different angles, Spotify seemingly removed lyrics for a limited number of songs on Wednesday.

Furthermore, sourcesĀ  has uncovered that on desktops or laptops, individuals can still access explicit song lyrics, even when the tracks are blocked, by clicking on the track names from a search or artist profile page.

Spotify remains the world’s most popular music streaming service, boasting over 500 million users.

James Roach, known for his music under the alias Midlo and recognized for his contributions to the parenting platform Music Football Fatherhood, is a father to two children, one of whom is beginning to explore music independently.

Reflecting on this phase, he shares, “It’s something you don’t really think about until you have a child who’s of an age where they can actually start to comprehend and make sense of words and language.”

“My son is seven, soon to be eight. It’s only recently that this has become a concern because until now, he wouldn’t pay much attention to lyrics. But now that he’s discovering music he enjoys, and he can read proficiently.”

“Children often want to mimic their favorite artists and sing along to their songs, but the lyrics aren’t always crystal clear.”

“So, you find yourself searching online or using various platforms to decipher the exact words. I believe this exacerbates the issue because you’re actively seeking out the content, scrutinizing every word”.

According to Roach, who works as a producer, individuals uploading songs have the choice to provide varied lyrics for distinct versions of tracks. However, he suspects that some individuals opt for the “lazy” route, employing identical lyrics for both explicit and clean versions.

“It’s reasonable to assume that Spotify headquarters has established protocols,” he remarks. “It’s unexpected that they’re resorting to outsourcing.”

Spotify, along with several other music streaming platforms, obtains lyrics from a company named Musixmatch, which touts itself as “the largest repository of song lyrics globally, utilized by millions for instant time-synced lyrics.”

Musixmatch permits enthusiasts to contribute, rectify, or translate lyrics in return for “kudos.” The firm did not provide a response to a request for commentary.

Unlike movies and certain TV streaming platforms, the music industry lacks an age rating system to flag potentially unsuitable content.


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