10 Of The Most Controversial Songs Of All Time
The music industry has always been plagued with controversy. Whether it is rock bands taking huge amounts of drugs and trashing hotel rooms or popstars exposing themselves in music videos, the industry has faced constant criticism from those who believe that they promote bad behavior. However, it isn’t just the artists themselves that can be controversial. Songs have huge potential to cause offense and ring alarm bells due to their content, meaning or even due to the accompanying music video. Many of the songs featured on this list have faced calls for censorship and some have even been banned.
Slayer – Angel of Death
Slayer has faced questions relating to supposed links to white supremacy and Nazi groups throughout their careers, with many believing that they are sympathetic to those causes. The lyrics of Angel of Death did little to ease these beliefs as they feature graphic details about the human experimentation carried out by the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. This content drew criticism and protests from Holocaust survivors and charity organizations.
Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Relax
Proving that banning something can actually make it more popular than ever before, the BBC catapulted Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s single Relax to No. 1 after DJ Mike Read refused to play the song. This prompted a total ban of the song on all BBC radio stations, yet this led to the song quickly growing in popularity as the public bought it to see what all the fuss was about.
Ozzy Osbourne – Suicide Solution
Ozzy Osbourne has also been mired in controversy ever since his first appearance in metal group Black Sabbath. His song Suicide Solution led to a great deal of criticism when it released as many felt that it was suggesting listeners commit suicide. However, the truth was that lyrics were referring to alcohol as a solution. This didn’t stop the parents of a boy who killed himself from filing a lawsuit against the singer, though it was eventually thrown out by the judge.
Madonna – Justify My Love
Madonna has never been a stranger to using sex to help sell records. She has appeared on stage kissing popstars such as Katy Perry and Britney Spears and many of her songs feature sexual imagery. The worse of these was Justify My Love, which was derided by parents and conservative groups that felt that the song shouldn’t contain so much graphic language relating to sex.
N.W.A. – Fu*k tha Police
N.W.A. were never afraid to speak up for causes that they believed in or protest against issues. Containing a number of inflammatory lyrics, Fu*k tha Police discussed the problems between black youth and police, especially in relation to brutality. The song was particularly criticized for its apparent support for the killing of police officers.
The Prodigy – Smack My B*tch Up
The Prodigy song Smack My B*tch Up was another that came under attack from the BBC when the corporation banned it from being played on the airwaves due to the strong and graphic lyrical content. The song included references to drugs, sex, and violence and was perceived to be misogynistic due to the title.
Guns N’ Roses – One in a Million
One of the first songs that Axl Rose wrote by himself, One in a Million, contained a number of antagonistic lyrics. These included apparent racist, homophobic and anti-police messages that many felt were inappropriate and a departure from the type of music the band had previously done. Rose later defended the content of the song, while other members of the band were critical of it and did not support the views represented in it.
Eminem – Kim
Eminem is another artist who has seen controversy throughout his career, ranging from his apparent dissing of other rappers to homophobic language used in some songs. Probably the most controversial was the record Kim. The song referenced his ex-wife who he has had a tumultuous relationship with and went into graphic detail about him violently killing her and some of her family members.
Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen
As the archetypal punk band it should come as no surprise that the Sex Pistols were often involved in contentious incidents. Their biggest moment of contention came with the release of God Save The Queen, a song that they claimed was a sympathetic ode to the working classes in the United Kingdom. Many others, though, felt that it was an assault on everything that Great Britain stood for and a direct attack on the Queen herself.
Ice-T – Cop Killer
Although Ice-T says that the song Cop Killer was meant as a protest song against police brutality, many others felt it was inciting people to riot and rise up against the police. This led to many organizations and officials campaigning to try to force Warner Bros. Records to withdraw the record. Some Law Enforcement agencies called for listeners to boycott Ice-T songs and merchandise as it would cause people to become violent.