Necrophilia, drugs, murder, racism, Nazism, bestiality, sodomy, religious indoctrination and Satanism – just a handful of the controversial subjects touched upon in Gigwise's countdown of the 20 Most Controversial Songs Of All Time. Featuring Eminem, N.W.A., The Sex Pistols, Rage Against The Machine, Guns N' Roses, Prince and more, be warned some of it is definitely NSFW!
20. The Shamen: 'Ebeneezer Goode' â€“ The most controversial British number one of the 1990s due to its overt reference to new club drug ecstasy ("E's are good, E's are good, he's Ebeneezer Goode"), the track was banned by the BBC and made the Scottish dance collective the scourge of the tabloid press. Not content with just ecstasy, the track also references marijuana with the line â€œHas anyone got any Vera's - cockney rhyming slang for spliff skins from 'Vera Lynn(s)'. Somewhat ironically, 'Ebeneezer Goode' climbed to number one in the UK charts two weeks after its release while the BBC were running a drug's awareness week.
19. Guns N Roses': 'Used To Love Her' â€“ Just like The Smiths' 'Girlfriend In A Coma', the upbeat tune of Guns N' Roses' 1988 acoustic track starkly contrasts to its gritty content. Bluesy yet pop, the murderous track centres on the lines â€œI used to love her, but I had to kill herâ€ and â€œI had to put her six feet under but I can still hear her complain.â€ Axl Rose insisted the track was merely a joke, but this did little to thwart a barrage of perhaps understandable complaints from females.
18. Prince: 'Darling Nikki' â€“ While Lady Gaga and Britney Spears can spout overtly sexual lyrics with consequence nowadays, in the early eighties it was a different story. 'Darling Nikki' tells the story of a promiscuous â€œsex fiendâ€ who openly masturbates over magazines and has her wicked way with Prince (â€œI don't know what you done to me, but my body will never be the sameâ€). The lyrical content of the song partially prompted Al Gore's wife Tipper to form the Parents Music Resource Center who introduced the parental advisory sticker for albums. It was one of 15 songs, dubbed The Filthy Fifteen, initially targeted by Gore and co.
17. Rage Against The Machine: 'Killing In The Name' - An explosive aural annihilation of the injustices of American society, thanks to the recent UK Christmas number one campaign the expletive strewn 1992 anthem is as potent as ever. Lyrically cutting, singer Zach de la Rocha accuses the US security forces of being infiltrated by the Ku Klux Klan (â€œsome of those that work forces are the same that burn crossesâ€) as the track builds to an impossibly angry, euphoric climax of â€œfuck you I won't do what you tell me.â€ Hilariously, the climax has mistakenly been played on BBC Radio twice and in 2008 prompted complaints from parents when it was aired in an Asda supermarket.
16. XTC: 'Dear God' â€“ The title of the English New Wave outfit's biggest and most controversial hit was taken from a Christian children's book which singer Andy Partridge claims exploited its young readers. Duly, Partridge drafted in 8-year-old Jasmine Veillette to sing the opening a closing lines of the anti-religious track â€“ a moved that angered believers because of the explicit anti-God sentiments. Lyrically the song is direct, hitting out at the big man in the sky's supposed benevolence with each verse ending â€œDear God, I can't believe in youâ€. Upon its release in June 1987 many stores in the UK refused to stock the track fearing a religious backlash.
15. Marilyn Manson: 'Get Your Gunn' â€“ Marilyn Manson's first official single in 1994 set the precedent for the rest of the band's career. The song tells the graphic true story of the murder of physician Doctor David Dunne who was murdered by militant Christian and anti-abortionist Michael Griffin. Manson labelled the murder the â€œultimate hypocrisyâ€ and the brutal song lyrics reflect this: â€œGod damn your righteous hand / I eat innocent meat / The housewife I will beat / The prolife I will kill.â€ Three years later, of course, Manson would be accused of inspiring the Columbine Massacre by idiots desperate to point the finger.
14. Ozzy Osbourne: 'Suicide Solution' â€“ Lifted from the bumbling rocker's 1980 album 'Blizzard Of Ozz', 'Suicide Solution' only hit the headlines six years later when the parents of a teenager John McCollum took Osbourne to court claiming their son committed suicide while listening to the track. Ozzy was ultimately cleared in the case. Despite the connotations of the title, Osbourne and songwriter Bob Daisley claim the word â€œsolutionâ€ in the title means alcohol and not a means to an end. Osbourne himself was battling alcoholism at the time, while the death of AC/DC's Bon Scott at the hands of alcohol was also cited as an influence.
13. Thy Serpent: 'Christcrusher' - Secretive Finnish black metal outfit Thy Serpent released a hateful, ultra-controversial tirade against Christianity with their song 'Christcrusher' (lifted from the album of the same name) in 1998. Not just objectors to religion, it seems their loathing is much more deep rooted than that. They blast: 'I can't follow Jesus Christ, The biggest liar of the light, I don't need your fucking bread, Share that with the sheeps... Thousands of heathens were murdered, By Christian hands, And what they have told us, Bastards of Un-divine God, Lies, Lies, Lies.' Lovely stuff, then.
12. The Prodigy: 'Smack My Bitch Up' â€“ To say the Braintree massive ruffled a few feathers with their 1997 single would be a massive understatement. Despite the band claiming the lyrics meant â€œdoing anything intenselyâ€, feminist groups including the National Organization For Women accused The Prodigy of misogyny and encouraging violence against women. Banned (somewhat predictably) by the BBC airwaves, the band also released a Jonas Akerlund directed video which was banned almost universally, creating massive publicity in the tabloid press. In 1998, The Beastie Boys even asked The Prodigy to refrain from performing it at Reading Festival because of its â€œoffensiveâ€ lyrics.
11. The Sex Pistols: 'God Save The Queen' â€“ Released on the week of the Queen's Silver Jubilee in May 1977, The Sex Pistols' spitting, anti-establishment classic was the most notorious song of the decade. Highly controversial, the punk anthem labels the monarchy as a â€œfascist regimeâ€ and proclaims that Britain has â€œno futureâ€ - such lyrics that caused the BBC to ban it from its airwaves. Partially down to the BBC's censorship and the fact that a number of stores weren't selling the record, 'God Save The Queen' only reached number two in the UK singles chart behind Rod Stewart's weepy ballad 'I Don't Want To Talk About It'.
10. Beenie Man: 'Damn' â€“ The Jamaican star's sickening track proclaims â€œI'm dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays.â€ Such was the response the track caused, Beenie Man was banned from the 2004 MTV Music Video Awards and was stopped from entering the UK at Heathrow Airport in the same year. Facing a huge backlash, Beenie Man was forced to issue an apology, saying: â€œWhile my lyrics are very personal, I do not write them with the intent of purposefully hurting or maligning others, and I offer my sincerest apologies to those who might have been offended, threatened or hurt by my songs.â€ Gay rights groups dismissed the claims.
9. Slayer 'Angel Of Death' â€“ Written by guitarist Jeff Hanneman, 'Angel Of Death' depicts the crimes of Nazi physician Josef Mengele who tortured Jewish prisoners in World War II in so called 'human experiments'. Lyrically very graphic, the track partially caused Slayer's distributor Columbia Records to abandon the band and hence delayed the release of their debut album 'Reign Of Blood'. Despite being accused of being Nazi sympathisers by some, Hanneman defended the track saying: "I know why people misinterpret it â€“ it's because they get this kneeâ€“jerk reaction to it. When (critics) read the lyrics, there's nothing I put in the lyrics that says necessarily he was a bad man, because to me â€“ well, isn't that obvious? I shouldn't have to tell you that."
8. NWA: 'F*ck Tha Police' â€“ The gangster rap outfit's most notorious moment, 'Fuck tha Police' is an angst-ridden, inflammatory chastisement of police. Set in the context of a courtroom, the track highlights the conflict between black youths and police in the late eighties and most controversially claims that black police betrayed their race. Lines threatening violence ("A sucka in a uniform waitin' to get shot/by me, or anotha nigga" etc.) prompted the FBI to write a damning letter to NWA'a label Ruthless Records, while the rap collective were prohibited from performing the track at some venues.
7. Cannibal Corpse: 'Necrpedophile' â€“ The ultra-shocking American death metal outfit have written many songs about necrophilia (y'know, having sex with the dead) but none are more controversial than this. Choice lyrics read: â€œShe's already dead / I masturbate with her severed head.â€ Sick. Other necrophilia tracks in their armoury include 'I Cum Blood', 'Dismembered and Molested' and 'Gallery Of Suicide'. Despite the dubious subject matter, vocalist George 'Corpsegrinder' Fisher insists the songs are recorded in â€œgood faithâ€ and are â€œnot meant to offend necrophiliacs.â€ Maybe you should give up the brutal death metal genre George and take up a career as a comedian?!
6. Marduk: 'Jesus Christ... Sodomized' - Marduk singer Morgan Steinmeyer Hakansson formed the band in order to create the 'most blasphemous band in the world'. He isn't far off. The shocking 'Jesus Christ... Sodomized' says of the son of God: 'Eat his body, drink his blood and be a slave under the yoke of god, Piss on Christ and kill the priest, follow nature - praise the beast.' Charming. Disturbingly Marduk's lyrics have also dealt with Nazism, although the band vehemently deny they adhere to the German party's principles. Perhaps their most disturbing artwork is the above demo 'Fuck Me Jesus'.
5. Anti-Nowhere League: 'So What?' - As the song title suggests, punk outfit Anti-Nowhere League really don't give a f*ck. Choice obscene lyrics from the 1981 track include â€œI f*cked a sheep/I f*cked a goatâ€, â€œI've had the crabs, I've had the lice/I've had the clapâ€ and â€œI even f*cked a schoolgirl's tw*tâ€. The band claim the lyrics were derived form a conversation in a pub between two lame-brain's trying to out-do each other, yet this didn't British police from seizing every copy of the track under the Obscene Publications Act'.
4. Eminem: 'Kim' â€“ With Mr Mathers shouting in rage instead of rapping, the ultra-aggressive 'Kim' tells the macabre (and thankfully simulated) story of Eminem murdering his ex-wife Kim. Hurling abuse throughout, the track reaches its grisly climax with the sound of Em slitting his Kim's throat and the rapper screaming "Bleed, bitch! Bleed!". Shockingly, Kim witnessed Eminem perform the track at a Detroit gig with him acting out his murderous lines on a doll. She later tried to commit suicide by slitting her wrists, allegedly as a result of the performance, and sued Eminem for defamation for the gory depiction of her death.
3. Sizzla: 'Pump Up' â€“ One of three Jamaican reggae stars to feature on our countdown, Sizzla was barred from entering the UK in 2004 following a Scotland Yard investigation into his lyrics calling for the murder of homosexuals. Nowhere is this more evident than on 'Pump Up, which urges: â€œStep up inna front line / fire fi di man dem weh go ride man behind / Shot battybwoy, my big gun boomâ€. Sizzla clams he is against homosexuality on religious grounds and in direct response to the global criticisms (he was also barred from entering the US, Spain and Germany) he recorded 'Nah Apologise' on which he sings â€œRastaman don't apologize to no batty-boy.â€
2. Buju Banton: 'Boom Bye Bye' â€“ The Jamaican reggae musician has rightfully attracted fierce criticism for his homophobic lyrics and his 1988 song 'Boom By Bye' is the most shocking of the lot. Just 18-years-old when he recorded the track, Banton incites the murder of gay men, singing â€œBoom bye bye / Inna batty bwoy head / Rude bwoy no promote the nasty man / Dem haffi deadâ€. Two decades later in 2007 it was reported that Banton signed the Reggae Compassionate Act 'Stop Murder Music' which calls for censorship of murderous lyrics. However, Banton has denied he ever penned a deal.
1. Body Count: 'Cop Killer' - The 1992 song from metal/rap outfit Body Count attracted almost unprecedented controversy in America. Opening with the line 'I'd like to take a pig out in the car lot and shoot him in the mother-f*cking face', the song, allegedly recorded in reaction to police brutality, urges violent vengeance upon the force. President Bush denounced their record company Time-Warner (whose executives themselves received death threats over the track), while Vice President Dan Quayle and Al Gore's wife Tipper Gore also publicly condemned the track as 'obscene'. Some defended the track in the name of the First Amendment, however, concerned that the controversy was overshadowing the merits of the song, singer Ice T ultimately decided to withdraw the track.