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Broadcasters do their best to keep us away from obscenity, profanity, and the like. That’s why a number of popular songs have been thrown out to the banned list. Though accessing banned songs is already super easy today with the help of the internet, it’s still worth looking back the list of top banned songs and the reasons for their banishment.
10. My Generation – The Who
Banning songs started to widely sprout in the 1960s. It was then when the music industry started teeming with loads of controversies, given the bunch of broadcasters ran by people born in the ‘20s with rather stiff morals. The band the Who somehow loved upsetting those traditional BBC folks. Their song “My Generation” oozed a rebellious message that teens loved and parents loathed.
9. Strange Fruit – Billie Holliday
This is one of the earliest banned songs of all time– as early as 1939. The subject of the song tackled an account of lynching black people in the Deep South. It was a strange and disturbing song that also bravely tapped the issue of racial segregation.
8. Lola – The Kinks
Lola is actually a radio-friendly song, and there’s nothing explicit or disturbing about it. Nonetheless, it earned a temporary ban because of mentioning a popular brand name in one of its lines– “Where they drink champagne and it tastes just like Coca-Cola”. BBC is a highly non-commercial station, and so Lola was debarred.
7. Paper Planes – M.I.A.
This is a modern song released in 2007 that was banned due to its lyrical content. The lyrics seemingly imply support for Tamil cause, an anti-Sinhalese effort. The use of the Tamil Tigers symbol and other elements of the song are said to support terrorism.
6. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – Beatles
The song’s gist is a father singing about a picture of his son. The issue is that the father is a popular drug user and the picture’s initials are that of a psychedelic drug. The title of the song is said to be a smart mnemonic for the drug LSD. This drug reference was the main reason for the ban. The song’s lyrical content also has details about the band’s experience on drug experimentation.
5. Relax – Frankie Goes to Hollywood
It was DJ Mike Read, from Radio 1 fm, who first noticed the sexual imagery of the song. The DJ overtly objected its saucy artwork and content. The DJ refused to play the song on the chart rundown. Instead of wiping out the song, the objection led it to the number one spot for 5 straight weeks.
4. Je T’aime…Moi non plus – Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin
This is another song that’s believed to be too sexy. The song was recorded by Gainsbourg and his girlfriend Brigette Bardot. The first version of the song had Birkin’s suggestive heavy breathing which caused rumors about possible lewd goings-on when they recorded the song. Because of the bad publicity, it managed to reach the top spot.
3. Tell Laura I Love Her – Ray Peterson
This is a rather morbid song, featuring the story of Laura and her boyfriend Tommy who died in a crash while trying to win cash for her engagement ring. Tommy sang the whole chorus in his dying breath. Despite being banned, the song inspired similar morbid entries like “Leader of the Pack” and “Teen Angel”.
2. God Save the Queen – Sex Pistols
Many bands go extra careful to avoid getting their music dismissed. But Sex Pistols just flaunted a song that’s a sure ticket to the banned list. The band swore on live TV and explicitly talked about the fascist regime of the Queen in her Silver Jubilee year.
1. Smack My Bitch Up – Prodigy
The title is enough to get it censored. The song implies approval of domestic violence and is overtly offensive to women. The themes of drugs, sex, and violence were also made explicit.
These are the top songs who intentionally or unintentionally made it to the banned list. As you can see, music has evolved nowadays, and what was morally unacceptable by the conservative society then is now a trend and a common thing in the modern years.