Ever since Video Killed The Radio Star debuted on MTV over 30 years ago, music videos have became a huge canvas for artists to express their creativity but just in the same way that violent movies rile up the media and parents, so to can certain music videos. Some are odd yet creative while others are just plain weird and this list serves up mainly the latter.
Nirvana – Heart Shaped Box
It wouldn’t be a music controversy list without Nirvana now, would it? The first single off the band’s record In Utero came along with a music video that would be sure to creep out some of their mass following that they had accumulated thanks to their previous album Nevermind. Twisted Wizard of Oz imagery, crucifixion and a girl donning Klu-Klux Klan attire were all present in this video that received some surprising positive feedback from critics and helped the band to win two MTV Music Video Awards that year.
Pearl Jam – Jeremy
It’s hard to believe that the ever popular and influential Pearl Jam were relatively unknown at one point but in 1992 that was exactly the case. Their debut Ten was a slow mover but their third single Jeremy managed to gain a lot of attention due to the accompanying music video. Filmed by Mark Pellington, the powerful video is notoriously known for its re-enactment of an incident where a schoolboy shot himself in front of his class which led to the swift removal of the scene though blood can still be seen on the classmates clothes. The public attention that the video gained helped Pearl Jam to become mainstream rock stars overnight and the band haven’t looked back on it.
Eminem – Stan
Eminem isn’t one to shy away from controversy. Be it his sometimes violent, sexist and homophobic lyrics or being blamed for the suicide of a teenager, the rapper never seems to be out of the public eye. This wasn’t any different with the music video Stan which tells the tale of a deranged fan who commits suicide and was plagued with heavy censorship due to the violent language and scenes though this didn’t stop it becoming one of the best known music videos or one of Slim Shady’s best selling tracks.
Marilyn Manson – (s)AINT
Often called the most violent and controversial music video of them all, it should be no surprise that the artist in question is none other than heavy metal musician Marilyn Manson who’s been blamed by the media for inspiring the events of the Columbian High School Massacre due to his violent lyrics. Although the media clearly tried to use him as a scapegoat in this incident, the music video for his song (s)AINT was so violent and controversial that it was never broadcasted, most likely due to its dark, bloody and sex filled scenes that make up the video. These scenes include Manson self harming, masturbating and taking heroin.
MIA – Born Free
Possibly the most odd video on this list, the accompanying short film for the British rapper’s single Born Free depicts a genocide against Red Haired people and barely lasted a day on Youtube. Although it’s still available on some sites, it’s still pretty harrowing to see scenes reminiscent of the holocaust in a music video.
The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up
You could probably guess that this would be on the list from the title alone. Featuring scenes of drug taking, sex with hookers and female violence, it’s no surprise that this received backlash from feminists and was initially banned from TV though demand by fans saw MTV start to air the video late at night.
Korn – A.D.I.D.A.S
Seeing as the title stands for All Day I Dream About Sex, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that this one features some eyebrow raising scenes. This video full of vulgar lyrics contains post mortem pictures of the lead singer in woman’s clothes and body-bag dancing with no sports advertisement.
Tool – Prison Sex
Although it might be a relief to hear there’s no soap dropping scenes, this video for the band’s debut single is still incredibly creepy. The plot revolves around a white humanoid, almost robot like doll who goes catatonic when confronted by a larger black humanoid who proceeds to fondle him with a paintbrush. MTV quickly removed the video after a few viewings due to the symbolism of child abuse though the art direction was still applauded by critics.
Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy
Seeing as it’s appeared on various “100 Scariest Moments of TV” lists, it should be no surprise that this one is a bit creepy. Filmed in the same estate that Stanley Kubrick’s classic A Clockwork Orange was, the video includes a gang of small children with Richard D James’ face wreaking havoc while an evil spirit emerges who’s face is very much nightmare worthy.
Smashing Pumpkins – Try, Try, Try
The band had a very different approach to this video which only featured lead singer Corgan sitting in a chair while the video showed a sad tale about two homeless drug addicts who are soon to be parents. The video juxtaposes the upbeat music with graphic footage of a drug overdose, prostitution, and larceny and although there is a brief happy perfect family segment, this soon takes an extreme turn for the worst. No matter what ending you see, the video is still chilling and extremely moving.