Remember when ‘controversial’ songs caused a newspaper storm and important people like Radio 1 DJ Mike Reed had aneurysms? Here are some that now seem clearly tame.
God Save the Queen – The Sex Pistol
It was probably banned by the BBC, possibly because of comparing the Queen to a ‘fascist regime’. Although the song ‘They Fooled You’ 25 years later can’t really be faulty. They were leaving marmalade sandwiches outside Buckingham Palace for an imaginary bear, for the sake of the f**k.
Baby One More Time – Britney Spears
The controversy was undoubtedly about 17-year-old Britney’s school girl outfit. Now it’s treated as just a pop classic, so you don’t have to hand yourself over to the police if you accidentally hear it in Asda.
Papa Don’t Preach – Madonna
The line ‘I’m keeping my baby’ caused a brief controversy. The British press was obsessed with teen pregnancy, and Madonna was apparently promoting reckless reproduction such that it was called you can’t get pregnant if you suck on a refresher.
Relax – Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Oddly devoid of sexual references other than the phrase ‘when you want to come’. The BBC banned it and Mike Reed called it ‘obscene’, but that is a massive tweet, as his song Ukip Calypso (sample song: ‘Illegal immigrants in every town’) later proved decisive.
White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
It’s strange that people were puzzled whether the lyrics were about drugs. Of course they were about f**king drugs. There are chestnuts, mushrooms and a hookah and it is unlikely that Grace Slick et al chose this children’s book at random. You will be hard pressed to find drug references a bear named Paddingtonunless ‘marmalade sandwich’ is deceptive slang for microdots.
Smack My Bitch Up – The Prodigio
An undeniably problematic track – on the one hand the title is horribly wrong, on the other it’s not like anyone considered it good relationship advice. The total storm surrounding its release died down, and now you probably listen to it happily during your school run.
Dear God – XTC
Of all the bands making bomb threats for a radio station, you don’t think of XTC. But when American Christians humbly heard the atheist song, they went absolutely insane. People who believed in a ruthless almighty deity were so incensed by an art-rock band from Swindon, whose only hit anyone now remembers is Sense Working Overtime.
F**k Tha Cops – NWA
The gangsta rap scare has long passed, and it looks like America’s police still dominate. Now you’re like listening to F**k Tha Police on a casual BBC4 documentary, with Joe Waite describing it as a classic.
Give Ireland Back to the Irish – Paul McCartney
Maca does not tell what to do with all the loyalists who do not want to give back to the Irish. Still, it’s little to expect a solution to centuries of political and sectarian conflict from the creator of the Frog Chorus, the sample song: ‘La La La/La La La La’.
Lemon Incest – Serge and Charlotte Gainsbourg
A little vague, but definitely controversial and somehow you have to respect Serge for doing a song about incest with your daughter. Although he probably apologizes to his countrymen for perpetuating the stereotype of an extremely oversexed French.