Lil Nas X - ‘MONTERO (Call Me by Your Name)’
Oh boy, what better thing to do in the middle of a devastating global pandemic other than inspire wide-spread satanic panic! Lil Nas X released this spicy gem of a music video in early 2021. In an already polarizing time, the video received various reactions from all sorts of people. Many instantly became entranced by the sexed-up religious themes and instantly lost their minds.
“Satanic Panic” is a phenomenon that occurs every so often when something in mainstream media sparks fear of a sinister plot being pushed behind the scenes. The real meaning behind Lil Nas X’s video is an empowering message about his own sexuality and the scrutiny LGBTQ+ people receive from the religious community. However, not everyone can see past the pole-dancing to really understand his message.
Robin Thicke - ‘Blurred Lines’
Robin Thicke has a big… WHAT? Thicke’s music video for ‘Blurred Lines’ was more than scandalous; it was downright infamous! From lawsuits to naked models, this video went down in history for offending pretty much everyone. The music alone landed Robin Thicke in court with the family of Marvin Gaye.
However, despite the scandal the song sure was catchy and went on to give us even more ridiculous performances with none other than Miley Cyrus. Thus, the Miley Twerking meme was born! In all seriousness, Robin Thicke probably took this a bit too far. It really was pretty graphic to be such a commercial success. But if you don’t like it, avert your eyes man!
Cardi B. & Meghan Thee Stallion - ‘W.A.P.’
Who better to establish the power of feminine sexuality other than Cardi B. and Meghan Thee Stallion? The two unveiled their hot-girl-summer bop “W.A.P in 2020, shortly after mother’s everywhere were confiscating phones and covering eyes! The explicit song lyrics along with the extremely sexual themes of the music video sparked major controversy about how far is too far.
Cardi and Meghan couldn’t care less who likes it or who doesn’t, because they’re proud of their body-ody-odies! Both have been in many feuds on social media about the controversial music video. Cardi had this to say, “Parents are responsible on what their children listen too or see . . . I’m a very sexual person but not around my child just like every other parent should be.”
Lady Gaga - ‘Judas’
“Jesus is my virtue, and Judas is the demon I cling to…. I’m just a holy fool, oh baby he’s so cruel, but I’m still in love with Judas, baby.” There’s a recurring theme of religious lore and symbolism causing outrage among religious groups. In the video, Gaga plays Mary Magdalene and expresses how at the end of the day we must accept the “Judas” inside all of us and still strive for perfection.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Laurieann Gibson the director had this to say: “We don't touch on things that we have no right touching upon, but the inspiration and the soul and idea that out of your oppression, your darkness, your Judas, you can come into the marvelous light. So, it's about the inspiration and to never give up.”
Madonna - ‘Like a Prayer’
Burning crosses, religious references and sexual implications with a Christ-like figure were a bit too much for audiences everywhere in 1989. The music video for “Like a Prayer” was one of the original scandalous music videos to cause “Satanic Panic.” The song, along with the video was even condemned by the Vatican!
Despite the outrage, Madonna and the producer stand by the video to this day. Mary Lamber, the director of the video had this to say to The Rolling Stones: “Using burning crosses to reference racism to religion. Why not a Black Jesus? Why can't you imagine kissing him? I wanted to speak about ecstasy and to show the relationship between sexual and religious ecstasy.”
Marilyn Manson - '(s)Aint'
If there’s anything Marilyn Manson is known for, it's for sparking outrage with his outrageous persona. However, he took his avant-garde social commentary to a new (and rather disturbing) level in his 2003 music video for ‘(s)Aint’. The video is filled with offensive scenes, causing those who saw the video to be repulsed and confused about the point Manson was trying to make.
Manson, in his own words, described his role in the music video as a white-trash guy who drunkenly confuses his girlfriend’s son (who cross-dresses in women’s lingerie) for her. The entire video is unsettling, and definitely earns its spot as one of the most controversial videos of all time. We’re sure Manson is really satisfied with that.
The Prodigy - ‘Smack My B*tch Up’
Ahhh nothing makes you remember the ‘90s like grunge-techno and… well, drugs. In 1997, Jonas Åkerlund produced what would go on to be one of the most critically acclaimed dance videos of all time. ‘Smack My B*tch Up’ by The Podigy is seriously one of the most iconic dance-hits, and it’s the calling card of an entire era of nightlife.
The music video was shot in a revolutionary POV style and starts out as a walkthrough of a person getting ready for a night out. Within the first 60 seconds of the video, a certain powdery substance was ingested through a straw and that’s when the party gets started. The video was originally banned by MTV both in the states and across the pond, but it eventually earned Best Dance Video and Best Breakthrough Video from the network.
Nine Inch Nails - ‘Closer’
“You let me violate you. You let me desecrate you” it’s no shocker that this 1994 alternative grunge hit had households around the country SHOOK! The song itself is full of erotic themes and lyrics that would make anyone a little squeamish. But the music video? It’s absolutely filthy, and it sparked a lot of backlash from otherwise unsuspecting suburban Americans.
The music video for ‘Closer’ took grunge to a whole new level through excessive skin, feral animalistic urge, and possibly even a little satanic ritual. These days, it seems like just another Tuesday, but for the ‘90s this was all-out hedonism! It left everyone feeling...well, disturbed. In fact, this video was so infamous and iconic it’s been the influence for many others since - like Rihanna’s ‘Disturbia.’
Christina Aguilera - ‘Dirty’
Certainly, ahead of her time, Christina Aguilera has been and always will be an ever-evolving pop star. The music video for ‘Dirty’ proves just that by showing underground fetish communities and all around…. well, dirty things! Most people, at this point in time, thought bubble gum pop stars like Christina should act like nice girls, but she had other plans.
People didn’t quite know what to think about what was being shown in in her video. Before the rise of the internet, communities, and people like this were little known and definitely still taboo. Now-adays everyone knows someone who’s a furry! Regardless, the song and the video went on to become one of the most iconic of the era.
Miley Cyrus - ‘Wrecking Ball’
Miley’s not the sweet little Disney girl that was on all of our tv’s, and she made that very clear with ‘Wrecking Ball.’ Miley made quite the statement while swinging in (all nude) riding a wrecking ball. Artistically, it can be said that she was bearing it all for us - showing the vulnerability of her emotions through the song and video.
However, we’re pretty sure it was just an excuse to be naked. And to also set the stage for her very illustrious twerking career. This was the point that mothers everywhere yanked that Hannah Montana poster off their daughter’s wall and threw them in the garbage. You’d think that was a bad thing, however maybe this was the best way for Miley to separate herself from Hannah.
Nirvana - ‘Heart-Shaped Box’
Nihilism is defined as - the rejection of all religious and moral principles, in the belief that life is meaningless. That perfectly sums up the themes and visuals in the music video for ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ by Nirvana. It’s no secret that Nirvana takes a walk on the darker side, but they took it to an all-new extreme with this video.
The video focuses on a girl in an obscene outfit plucking unborn fetuses from trees. All the while, old men are dangling from crosses. It’s no surprise that those two central pieces of imagery would make people’s head spin. But to make it all worse, Kurt Kobain’s blank stare is shown all throughout adding to the sterile chilling vibe that the video gives off.
Pearl Jam - ‘Jeremy’
Based on a real life 1991 incident, the music video for ‘Jeremy’ was a twisted and ultimately miscommunicated story about an odd classmate that did the unspeakable - taking his life in front of his classmates. However, when the video hit screens on MTV viewers got it all twisted and illuminated an even larger issue in America.
Due to sloppy last-minute edits made by the network, the music video makes “Jeremy” out to be an active shooter, mowing down his classmates instead of taking his own life. The original imagery was too much for TV, however the way it was received by audiences everywhere shows another issue that’s on the minds of students. The band members were extremely unhappy with the way it all turned out, and they say it’s a large reason why Pearl Jam doesn’t do videos anymore.
Lady Gaga - ‘Born This Way’
Gaga has been ruffling feathers for her entire career, however she made one of the largest political statements in 2011 with the release of ‘Born This Way.’ The entire song was an inspirational anthem for LGBTQ+ rights and freedom of expression. Really, it was one of the first of its kind in mainstream music.
Despite the backlash, Gaga went on just fine. Largely because those offended by her music and statement of acceptance, probably weren’t a fan of her anyways! The song and video became the hallmark of her career and may be one of many reasons she is the pop-goddess she is today. Come to mother monster!
M.I.A. - ‘Born Free’
You may know M.I.A. for giving the entire world the finger at the 2012 Superbowl Halftime Show, but you may also know of her controversy-stricken music. The music video for ‘Born Free’ was directed by controversial French-Greek filmmaker Romain Gavras. The music video, at nine minutes long, features extremely graphic images of genocide.
The video received very polarized reviews; some being inspired, and others repulsed. The concept of the video features a world in which all red heads in the world were rounded up and slain (in extreme detail). The graphic imagery proved too much for comfort causing many sites to refuse to post it. YouTube even removed the video the day after it’s original release, only to reinstate it later.
Lady Gaga (Featuring R. Kelly) - ‘Do What U Want’
Trigger Warning: It’s no surprise that a music video featuring R. Kelly went down in infamy, however at the time no one knew that he would later be outed as a predator. The music video for “Do What U Want” was permanently blacklisted by Gaga for its ties to R. Kelly and producer, Terry Richardson.
TMZ released a minute of video footage from the original music video, showing just how sinister this video was considering the scandal that unfolded. The theme of the music video was apparently a doctor-patient scenario in which Gaga plays the patient and R. Kelly the doctor. R. Kelly can be heard saying, “Sounds like that medicine's starting to kick in” as he touches Gaga… then she passes out while the party rages around her.