Entertainment and controversy go hand in hand. Some of the most prolific music managers will tell you that controversy has sometimes been good for the business as well. Several times, music companies have been accused of planting stories and creating controversies to create a buzz around one of their artists or songs. That doesn’t mean that all controversies are planted and created. Music and controversial music has been around since the forties, and the reasons have been very different. Even in the nineties, when we thought that everyone became more receptive of social taboos, we had several controversial songs. Here’s a list of some of the most controversial songs ever recorded.
- Goodbye Earl (Dixie Chicks)
Goodbye Earl was a Country song that released back in the late 1990s by Dennis Linde. By that time, we were more receptive of all the controveries you could think about, but some listeners thought thes song was about domestic violence. It didn’t help that the B Side of the album had a rendition of Stand By Your Man. The song wasn’t just infamous, it also reached number 13 of the Billboard Country Music Charts the year it was released. The song became more famous with the Dixie Chicks covered it. The song had violent themes, with two women planning to kill their abusive husbands.
- Stan (Eminem)
Stan by Eminem is one of his most controversial songs, and the lyrics straightaway talk about a man putting his girlfriend in the boot of a car and leaving here there to suffer. This song released in the nineties, when music was supposed to be fraught with controversy. MTV has run the video but has edited some of the sequences and lyrics from the final cut that aired. The video would have weirded out anyone who watched it the first couple of times, as it was about a fan who gives up his life, along with his pregnant girlfriend, while trying to meet Eminem, the popular singer. The song became such a pop reference that the term ‘Stan’ has become a colloquial term for a crazed fan.
- American Skin (Bruce Springsteen)
You wouldn’t think that Bruce Springsteen could ever court controversy, but even he did so with his song, American Skin. The song gained recognition after Springsteen commemorated George Zimmerman’s verdict with the song – and he performed at a few live performances after the death of Travor Martyn. This is a unique song, among all the controversial ones, because the song itself isn’t controversial – it doesn’t have any lyrics or a video that would raise controversy. It’s only that ‘The Boss’ decided to set up the song as an homage to Travyor Martin.
- Blurred Lines (Robin Thicke)
Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke was controversial because the audience thought that it trivialised rape and sexual assault. Thicke said that the song was about his former wife, and that’s what added an uptick to the controversy. Also the song opened to negative reviews, but it became one of the best selling singles of all time. The song became more controversial because of an urated video that had Robin Thicke and Pharrel WIlliams perform various sexual activity with female models. After a backlash, the videos were removed from the official website and Youtube removed those videos as well. Not just that, the song spelt trouble for Robin Thicke, as he was accused of copyright infringement later.
- We Can’t Stop (Miley Cyrus)
If you are making a song about recreational drug use, you will face controversy – but maybe Miley Cyrus didn’t get that memo. She released the song that was a little bit about house parties, summer fun and a lot about recreational drugs. The song also faced copyright infringement when a reggae star, Flourgon says that the song contains lyrics from his 1988 song, “We Run Things”. And in 2020, Flourgon won $300 million as a result of the lawsuit.
- Accidental Racist
Thank the Country audience that this didn’t become a more controversial song that it did. Brad Paisely, for some reason, coordianted with LL Cool J and brought out everything in a song in the wrong manner – right from the Confederate Flag to lyrics that comparred the gold chains of a rapper to the slave shackles that African Americans wore during the time of slavery.
- Famous (Kanye West)
This song really lit up some fires when it first released, and brought out the diss between Kanye West and Taylor Swift. The controversy erupted due to a lyric that announces Kanye made Taylor famous and then refers to Swift as ‘that bitch’. The shit hit the fan as the two powerhouses went back and forth and Taylor released the single ‘Look What You Made Me Do’.
- You Need to Calm Down
And now comes the Taylor Swift song that voiced her support for the LGBTQ+ community. The song has some lyrics that talks about and some footage of the music video does that as well. The gay community regards it as their anthem. According to Swift, the first verse is about trolls and cancel culture, the second is a about homophobes and the third is about people who try to bring down successful women.
These are the most controversial songs released in recent times. From sexual imagery to homophobe bashing, these music videos and songs had it all.
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