New York, NY (Top40 Charts) Over the years, there have been music videos that caused worldwide uproar immediately they were released. YouTube has had to pull down some videos for being too graphic or too controversial. A few radio TV stations have refused to air some of the videos while some artists were forced to apologize for their content altogether.
Below we recap some of the most controversial and most shocking music videos that will make you question their right to have existed.
Born Free by M.I.A
Born free was a music video so shocking that YouTube temporarily pulled it down. The song describes a genocide for red-haired people as inspired by the extra-judicial killings of an ethnic group in Sri Lanka. To portray the gruesome murders, M.I.A filmed a video with similar violence. Men in military gear were filmed beating up and murdering red-haired people in the most explicit of ways.
The showcasing of a teenage ginger girl being shot in the head didn't really help as it led to widespread uproar around the world. Surprisingly, some people rated the music as a creative masterpiece but a majority of the artist's fans were highly critical of the video.
Lemon Incest by Serge Gainsbourg
Lemon Incest was a song performed to push musical boundaries and leave people talking about it for decades. For the most part, people still discuss the video that starred singer Serge Gainsbourg and his real daughter Charlotte in 1984.
Like many controversial songs, Lemon Incest was a hit in France, Gainsbourg's country of birth. However, the video shocked and angered many for its attempt to "normalize" pedophilia and incest. Charlotte was 13-year-old at the time and in one scene, she was pictured lying in bed with her father. The good thing, the song's lyrics talked everything about love but never actually doing it with a relative.
Smack My B**** Up by Prodigy
The song's title screams violence. The lyrics weren't welcomed by many women and the music video caused further controversy albeit with some success. When the music video was first released in 1997, the song split fans between those who loved it and those who really hated.
Expectedly, the music video features sex scenes, acts of violence, drug abuse and glorified drunk driving. Women rights groups quickly criticized the song for its objectification of women and the blatant portray of gender-based violence. Despite the violence, the song garnered four MTV Video Music Awards. It was later be voted as the most controversial song of all time in 2010.
Like a Prayer by Madonna Madonna is a legend to many pop music fans. Her ingenious lyrics and music videos that push societal expectations have elevated her into an icon. In 1989, however, Madonna released a music video so controversial that the Pope banned her from performing in Italy. She also lost her contract with Pepsi.
The song, Like a Prayer, is a mix of secular and gospel music where Madonna sings about being in love with God. The music videos feature the singer as a witness in a case where the Ku Klux Klan murdered a young girl. She's also featured idolizing and kissing the feet of a statue of a black man made to resemble Jesus.
With such themes, many religious groups boycotted for the video's ban. A lot of American families also criticized and stop buying Pepsi products after the company used the music video in an ad.
Lick by Cardi B
Cardi B's "Lick" featuring husband Offset of the Migos rap group appears like a regular Las Vegas-themed music video. The two are filmed having fun around the tables, enjoying liquor and gambling. As the video goes on, things turn for the worse as Cardi and her gang begin to rob the casino, breaking safes and fleeing with everything in them.
While many saw the video as a chance to enjoy casino games on sites like Casinopilot.co.uk, some fans criticized the video for its violent scenes. But considering the video featured very few violent scenes and leaned toward the thrills experienced in casinos, its criticism was minimal.
Jeremy by Pearl Jam
Inspired by the tragic death by suicide of a teenage boy in Texas, the song portrays the exact moment the teenager (Jeremy) shot himself in front of his classmates. Pearl Jam aimed to touch on the often shunned topic of suicide back then. And knowing a gruesome video depicting the murder would cause controversy, the rock band released two videos.
In the unedited video, Pearl Jam featured Jeremy being taunted by his classmates. As the video goes on, Jeremy gets frustrated and throws an apple at his teacher for doing nothing about the bullying. He then stands in front of his classmates, pulls out a gun and shoots himself through the mouth. Blood spatters all over the classroom to the horror of his teacher and classmates.
Because the video doesn't actually show Jeremy pulling the trigger and the next scene shows the blood spattered all over, some people initially thought Jeremy had shot his classmates. The music video caused lots of controversies. In fact, after two boys initiated a massacre at Columbine High School in 1999, one prosecutor for the case said they were inspired by Pearl Jam's music video.
Only by Nicki Minaj
The song "Only" by Nicki Minaj featured rappers Lil Wayne and Drake and singer Chris Brown. It peaked at number 12 on the Billboard 100 charts but caused a lot of controversy with its Nazi symbols. In the video, a man is filed lying in what appears to be a gas chamber. He's then taken to a torture room where Nicki is portrayed as a powerful military leader. Her name's initials are disguised to resemble swastika symbols and her Nazis have regalia with Nazi-like armbands. As expected, the video was criticized for its use of Nazi symbols. Drake was also called out for his involvement in the song despite being Jewish on his mother's side.
Musicians are known to push cultural boundaries with thought-provoking lyrics and creative videos. But sometimes their attempt to appear unique has shocked, angered and cost them a lot of fans. Luckily, many of the videos featured above ended up being commercially successful despite their shocking images.