For as there have been music videos, there have been artists pushing the limits of censorship on television. Even in today’s digital world with the seemingly “anything goes” policy when it comes to publishing content online, artists are still causing commotion by releasing controversial music videos. David Bowie learned that the hard way a year ago this month when his religious-themed video for his new song “The Next Day” was pulled down (and later reposted) on YouTube.
But during the height of the MTV-era, there were no shortage of artists who pushed bounds to see what they could and couldn’t get away with in music videos for their songs. From racy imagery, religious connotations, and more, the list of banned videos on TV is substantial. Now thanks to YouTube, these once previously banned music videos are now available for consumption at the click of a button.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane at five classic music videos that were once put on the banned list, but be warned, many of these videos are NSFW.
Queen “Body Language” (1982)
Filled with salacious shower scenes and steamy models getting hot and heavy wearing next to nothing, it’s no wonder Queen’s suggestive “Body Language” was deemed unsuitable for audiences on MTV. The “Body Language” video ultimately went down as the first ever music video to be banned on MTV.
The Kinks “Dead End Street (1966)
Filmed in black and white, The Kinks portrayed undertakers in one of the first true music videos ever created for the song “Dead End Street.” Unfortunately for The Kinks, the video was a dead end for broadcast on BBC, which banned the video for being in bad taste.
Billy Idol “Hot In The City” (1982)
The British punk-rocker created two different versions of the video – one in 1982 and the other in 1987, which MTV ultimately banned due to the sacrilegious scene of Idol’s girlfriend Perri Lister emerging bound to a cross. Cue to minute 3:10 to see the questionable content that forced MTV to ban the video.
Duran Duran “Girls On Film” (1981)
Just weeks before the official launch of MTV, Duran Duran filmed a racy music video to pair with their third single, but what they didn’t know was all the controversy it would cause. The raunchy video of wild mud-wrestling, models in skimpy outfits and suggestive scenes caused an uproar and was consequently banned from the BBC and heavily edited down for MTV airplay.
Madonna “Justify My Love” (1990)
No stranger to creating controversy, Madonna’s saucy single and equally as saucy music video “Justify My Love” was banned on MTV for containing “explicit imagery of sadomasochism, voyeurism, and bisexuality.” Not surprisingly, Madonna stands by the video, declaring it her favorite music video in 2013.