Remember when ‘controversial’ songs caused a tabloid storm and important people like Radio 1 DJ Mike Reid had aneurysms? Here are some that seem distinctly tame now.
God Save The Queen – The Sex Pistol
Predictably the BBC banned it, presumably because it likened the Queen to a ‘fascist regime’. However, 25 years later the song ‘They made you a moron’ can’t really be blamed. They were leaving marmalade sandwiches for an imaginary bear outside Buckingham Palace.
Baby One More Time – Britney Spears
The controversy was of course over 17-year-old Britney’s schoolgirl outfit. Now it’s just considered a pop classic, so you don’t have to hand yourself in to the police if you happen to hear it in Asda.
Daddy Don’t Preach – Madonna
The phrase ‘I’m keeping my baby’ caused some controversy. The British press was obsessed with teen pregnancy, and Madonna was clearly promoting flawless breeding, as if being told You Can’t Get Pregnant If You Suck on a refresher.
Relax – Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Strangely devoid of sexual references apart from the phrase ‘when you want to come’. The BBC banned it and Mike Reid called it ‘obscene’, but it’s a huge tweet, as his song Ukip Calypso (sample song: ‘Illegal immigrants in every town’) later proved conclusively.
White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
It’s strange that people are confused about whether the lyrics were about drugs. Of course they were about f**king drugs. There are pills, mushrooms and hookahs, and it’s unlikely that Grace Slick et al chose this children’s book at random. You’d be hard-pressed to find references to drugs in A bear named PaddingtonUnless ‘marmalade sandwich’ is confusing slang for microdots.
Smack My Bitch Up – The Prodigy
An undeniably problematic track – on the one hand the title is grossly inappropriate, on the other hand it’s not like anyone considered it as good relationship advice. The total firestorm surrounding its release has died down, and now you’re probably listening to it happily on the school run.
Dear God – XTC
Of all the bands that might issue a bomb threat to a radio station, you don’t think of XTC. But when American Christians heard meekly atheistic songs, they went absolutely nuts. Amusingly, believers in a merciless almighty deity were so rattled by an art-rock band from Swindon whose only hit anyone now remembers is Sense Working Overtime.
F**k Tha Police – NWA
The fear of gangsta rap is long gone, and it looks like America’s police are still up there. Now you’ll most love listening to F**k Tha Police on a cozy BBC4 documentary, with Joe Wei describing it as a classic.
Give Ireland Back the Irish – Paul McCartney
Macca does not address what to do with all those loyalists who do not want to return the Irish. Still, it’s a bit much to expect a solution to centuries of political and communal strife from the creator of the Frog Chorus, sample song: ‘La La La/ La La La La La’
Lemon Incest – Serge and Charlotte Gainsbourg
Slightly cheesy, but definitely controversial and somehow you have to respect the creator for making a song about adultery with his own daughter. Although he probably owes his countrymen an apology for perpetuating the stereotype of the horribly oversexed Frenchman.