Some songs are not made to be controversial, but they come across that way. Others are created to be disruptive.
Baller Alert put together a list of ten songs that caused controversy. Check them out below.
Cardi B- WAP
Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion are not the first female artists to sing about sex, and they won’t be the last. “WAP” debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, but it immediately drew the ire of conservatives for the song’s overt sexuality. The video also received some backlash for Kylie Jenner’s appearance and featuring big cats.
Billy Holiday- Strange Fruit
Written by Abel Meeropol and recorded by Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit” is about protesting the lynching of Black people by white mobs. Some credit the slow, haunting song with shedding light on the topic of lynching and recognize it as a catalyst to the civil rights movement. The song’s controversial lyrics compare the victims to fruit hanging on trees.
Madonna- Papa Don’t Preach
No stranger to controversial songs, Madonna’s song about teen pregnancy seems tame by today’s standards but was a polarizing topic when the song was released in the 80s. The family planning field heavily criticized the track for its glamorization of teen pregnancy. At the same time, anti-abortion groups praised its anti-abortion message.
NWA- Fuck The Police
First gaining popularity in the late 80s as a protest song about police brutality and racial profiling, it is as relevant now as when it was released. The song has seen a resurgence in popularity, with social justice and police brutality at the forefront of Americans’ minds.
Prince- Sexy MF
The song and its refrain had to be edited for radio, the music video, and the U.S. versions of the album. Before his death in 2016, Prince reportedly stopped performing the song live altogether.
The Dido assisted third single from The Marshall Mathers LP tells the haunting tale of an obsessed fan who ties his pregnant girlfriend up, puts her in the trunk of the car, and drives drunk off a bridge. Despite its dark theme, “Stan” is widely considered one of Eminem’s best songs.
Kanye West- Famous
Kanye West is another artist that is no stranger to controversy, and dropping “Famous” renewed his ongoing feud with Taylor Swift. West claimed he got approval from the singer for the controversial lyrics about her, which she denied. Several months later, Kim Kardashian released a video seemingly showing that Swift was on board with the lyrics. However, a more extended version surfaced that showed West did not get Swift’s permission for the lyric she subsequently objected to.
Miley Cyrus- We Can’t Stop
Miley had left her Hannah Montana days behind and was transitioning into more of a grown-up image when “We Can’t Stop” was released. Some music fans had difficulty adjusting and were shocked and appalled by the singer’s reference to the drug Molly in the song. At first, the former Disney star denied the lyric, saying the listener can interpret whether she is saying “Miley” or “Molly.”
Body Count- Cop Killer
Long before Ice-T was arresting suspects on Law & Order: SVU, he made controversial songs like “Cop Killer” with his heavy metal band Body Count. The song, which is about being fed up with police brutality, drew much criticism from prominent politicians such as President George H.W. Bush, Vice President Dan Quayle, and Parents Music Resource Center founder Tipper Gore. The song was eventually pulled from Body Count’s debut album and released as a free single.
Robin Thicke- Blurred Lines
Robin Thicke’s massively popular single featuring Pharrell Williams and T.I. sparked controversy as soon as it was released. Critics of the song called the lyrics misogynistic and promoted date rape. Two versions of the video were released. One featured Emily Ratajkowski, Jessi M’Bengue, and Elle Evans walking around topless and a second version without nudity. The unrated version was pulled from YouTube before being re-added with an age restriction. And finally, the song was the center of a legal battle between Thicke and Williams and the family of the late Marvin Gaye for copyright infringement.