14 most controversial moments in music

  1. (presented by e talk)

    Elvis shakes his pelvis (1956)

    He's the man that changed the face of music forever, but however much the teens of the day adored him, the establishment was suspicious of what they deemed his lascivious ways. The New York Times is reported to have stated that "when Presley executes his bumps and grinds, it must be remembered ... that even the twelve-year-old's ... curiosity may be over-stimulated."

    While another renowned publication wrote that popular music "has reached its lowest depths in the 'grunt and groin' antics of one Elvis Presley."

    Some called his actions "sexual self-gratification on stage" and "a strip-tease with clothes on" while one state judge went so far as to call Presley a "savage," threatening to arrest him if he shook his body while performing in his jurisdiction.

    Jerry Lee Lewis marries his cousin (December 12th, 1957)

    The musician's questionable personal life was hidden from the public until 1958 when reporters finally learned that the then-23-year-old had married Myra Gale Brown, his thirteen-year-old second cousin twice removed.

    The public response to the revelation became so intense it forced Lee Lewis to cancel the balance of his tour for the year. And as a result of his nefarious nuptials Lee Lewis was all but dispatched the to the trash heap of music history.

    John Lennon says "More popular than Jesus." (March 4th, 1966)

    Lennon, while being interviewed for the London Evening Standard by a friend made a flippant comment that would eventually become one of his most unforgettable:

    "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink.... I don't know what will go first, rock 'n' roll or Christianity. We're more popular than Jesus now. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me."

    Despite its inflammatory nature, the piece ran to little fanfare until five months later when an American teen rag caught wind of the remarks and put part of it on the cover of its current issue.

    A firestorm of protest erupted across the American South and Midwest and conservative groups staged public burnings of Beatles records and memorabilia.

    In a fitting response to the inane outcry, the Beatles allegedly retorted, "They've got to buy them first before they burn 'em."

    Jim Morrison says "higher" on "The Ed Sullivan Show" (September 17th, 1967)

    As The Doors prepared for their critical appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1967 they were approached by the CBS network censors demanding that Morrison change the lyrics to "Light My Fire" by altering the line, "Girl, we couldn't get much higher" to, "Girl, we couldn't get much better." However, Morrison sang the original line, and on live television with no delay.

    Reportedly, Sullivan was incensed and refused to shake hands with any of the band. Legend tells that the band was told they would never do "The Ed Sullivan Show" again and Morrison replied, "So what? We just did the Ed Sullivan Show."​
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  2. Hells Angels murder at the Rolling Stones Concert (December 6th, 1969)

    Rock 'N Roll legend says that members of the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang were hired to be security at the Rolling Stones' Free Concert in Altamont,held on December 6th, 1969. ​

    At the event there were four deaths, the most infamous being that of Meredith Hunter. Hunter was an 18-year-old man who became embroiled in an altercation with some bikers and then drew a gun upon them. To this day no one knows if he pulled the gun before or after he was stabbed. ​

    Meredith was stabbed five times in total and kicked to death during the Rolling Stones' performance. His death was recorded on film by cameras shooting the film Gimme Shelter, which shows the event as the Stones performed "Under My Thumb."

    Guns N' Roses releases "One in a Million" (November 30th, 1988)

    On the "GNR Lies" EP, the lyrics to the song "One in a Million" outraged many different groups, which lead to accuastions of homophobia and racism being directed towards singer and song scribe Axl Rose.

    The song used the word "f---ts", and suggested that the target of his rage was spreading "some f----n' disease." It also led to the band's exclusion from an AIDS benefit for the Gay Men's Health Crisis at Radio City Music Hall.

    In response to the accusations, Rose stated he was "pro-heterosexual" and didn't "understand homosexuals," saying a man had once tried to rape him.

    Madonna releases the video for "Like a Prayer" (1989)

    The video for Madonna's "Like a Prayer," in which a black man who comes to the aid of a white woman is falsely arrested for a crime, unleashed a firestorm of controversy for its heretic imagery of many Catholic symbols, including the stigmata.

    The video was deemed blasphemous by the Catholic Church for its blend of symbolism and eroticism. Although the video's intent was anti-racism, Madonna was lambasted for her use of burning crosses and "making out" with Jesus.

    Milli Vanilli is outed as lip-syncers in (1990)

    The rumors had swirled around Showbiz and in the popular consciousness for some time, but finally, in 1990, Milli Vanilli became the subject of a press conference.

    At the event it was announced that the winners of that year's "Best New Artist" award had their prize revoked for misrepresenting their contributions to their own music; it had been discovered that the group's members Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan, had not performed any of the vocals on their album.

    Eventually a class-action suit was filed, and those who had purchased "Girl You Know It's True" were entitled to a rebate to compensate for the fraud. At their zenith Milli Vanilli had sold ten million albums and scored five Top Five singles (including three Number Ones) hits.

    2 Live Crew's "As Nasty as They Wanna Be" is banned (1990)

    The 2 Live Crew album "As Nasty As They Wanna Be" was the rap group's biggest hit. The success of this record owed much to its lead single "Me So Horny," which was a song was based upon a quote from a prostitute in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket.

    Activist groups felt that the "Parental Advisory" sticker was an insufficient warning to naive buyers and wouldn't adequately prepare them for what they would hear once they slipped the CD into their walkmans.

    At it most intense, the controversy surrounding its release saw Florida law dubbing the album as "obscene," with records stores being warned that selling the album might result in prosecution.

    Eventually, the furour surrounding the release resulted in the arrest of three members of 2 Live Crew after they performed some material from the album at a live performance. They were acquitted soon thereafter. ​

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  3. Sinead O'Connor rips up the big guy on SNL (October 3rd, 1992)

    Following her performance of Bob Marley's "War" on "Saturday Night live" - a perforance she intended as a protest over the sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church by changing the word "racism" to "child abuse" -O'Connor presented a photo of Pope John Paul II to the crowd and audiences at home. She then proceeded to tear up the photo into pieces while saying "fight the real enemy."​

    NBC's switchboard was quickly flooded with complaints and to this day the network refuses to allow the footage to be rebroadcast. While the public was divided by the event, reaction to O'Connor's action was generally not sympathetic. Some choose to destroy her records and many radio stations refused her airplay.

    Ice-T releases "Cop Killer" on "Body Count's self titled debut to the chagrin of Tipper Gore (March 31st, 1992)

    The song, which writer and performer Ice-T called a "protest record" was written in 1990, but was partially influenced by the song "Psycho Killer" by the Talking Heads. Ice-T has said the song was a protest to the habitual brutality of the police in America and a cry for reform.

    Despite this progressive sentiment and its protection under the band's First Amendment rights it drew criticism from politicians at the highest level; Vice President Dan Quayle branded "Cop Killer" as "obscene" and President George H.W. Bush publicly denounced any record company that would release such a product.

    Ice -T later Relented and had the song removed from later releases of the album.

    Britney kisses Madonna who kisses Christina on the MTV Music Video Awards (August 28, 2003)

    The 2003 MTV VMA's kicked off on a titillating and unforgettable note. After a then-svelte Britney Spears and a pre-preggers Christina Aguilera performed Madonna's classic "Like a Virgin," in a manner reminiscent of Madge's 1984 performance at the same event 20 years prior, Madonna hit the stage to deliver her new song 'Hollywood."

    Midway through the performance she engaged in a tongue-laded kiss with both Britney and Christina.

    While the establishment was temporarily shocked and the image was front page headlines the world over the following morning, the furour was short-lived.

    Dixie Chicks speak out against Dubya (March 10, 2003)

    During the preamble to the invasion of Iraq, and hot off their Grammy Award success, the Dixie Chicks held a concert in London, England. Towards the end of the show the band introduced their song "Travelin' Soldier." During this banter, Natalie Maines, a Texas native, rattled off an off the cuff remark that contain the statement, "we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas."

    The comment angered country music fans and resulted in a huge financial hit to the band. What followed were a boycott of the Chicks' music and the loss of their sponsor, Lipton.

    The "Wardrobe Malfunction' (Februray 1st, 2004) ​

    As sports fans and families alike gathered round the television for the 2004 Super Bowl Half-Time show - a normally-tepid event that had become a lame ode to musicians of yesteryear - they were treated to something extra special.

    The performance featured many suggestive dance moves by performers Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, but just as the song reached its final line, "I'm gonna have you naked by the end of this song," Timberlake ripped off a part of Jackson's costume, revealing her right breast (adorned with a large, sun-shaped nipple shield, no less).

    In the immediate aftermath, CBS cut to an aerial view of the stadium, but was unable to do so before the image was beamed around the world. Many considered this indecent exposure, and conservative activists and lobby groups were outraged. The Federal Communications Commission received an unprecedented number of complaints and vowed to investigate what has since become known as the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" incident, or "Nipplegate."

    There's a couple of paradoxes worth noting regarding the incident: Jackson's career took a serious decline, and she was compelled to publicly apologize while Timberlake seemingly made off unscathed; audiences in Canada were treated to the same sexy shenanigans yet lodged, reportedly, less than 100 complaints with the Broadcast Standards Council, whereas in the US the FCC received hundreds of thousands. Go figure.

    Since 2004 the Half-Time show has become an even more egregiously tame affair.

    Former Dixie fans were encouraged to bring their CDs to a demonstration where they would be crushed by a bulldozer. The hatred of the Chicks became so intense in some circles that they even received death threats and feared for their safety. ​
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