I was flicking through the iTunes Store this morning and noticed something odd … some words in reviews and track titles had asterisks in them as though they were swear words (e.g. ‘b*ll*cks’). But they didn’t appear to be swear words. iTunes uses allmusic for the bulk of their album and single reviews, so luckily it’s possible to go back and ‘decode’ some of these words. They include: “porno”, “teen”, “cream”, “sexy”, “hot”. Strangely, variants like “sex”, “creamy”, “teenage” aren’t being censored. This seems to be a blanket effect on iTunes — Katy Perry’s current single “Hot ‘n’ Cold” is listed on the UK iTunes Store main page under ‘Top Songs’ as “H*t ‘n’ Cold’.
This seems to me to be really odd behaviour. They’ve done the same thing to some common swear words, but to censor “cream”? And it’s inconsistent to boot. Look at the review for Tenacious D’s eponymous album. The tracks “Fuck Her Gently” and “Cock Pushups” are censored with asterisks, but the title “Sex Supreme” in the review is not. The Roots’ track “Pussy Galore” has its title censored, but not the name of the band Pussy Galore.