The 10 most controversial music videos (2023)

Sam Smith has found themselves at the centre of another controversy following the release oftheir raunchy music video.

The singer, 30, released the racy video for theirnew track I'm Not Here To Make Friendslast week, with critics calling for it to be age restricted on platforms such as YouTubedue to its controversial content.

Sam has seemingly brushed off the controversy surrounding the music video which shows them dancing alongside a large number of performers wearing corsets, suspenders and nipple tassels.

Sam's fans have been quick to leap to his defence by arguing that their music video is no different to plenty of other celebrated artists' offering.

From the likes ofMiley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball to Queen's I Want to Break Free there have been plenty of scandalous music videos released in recent years.

Take a look at 10 of the most controversial and complained about music videos.

They're Not The Only One: As Sam Smith faces backlash over their 'hyper-sexualised' music video to I'm Not Here To Make Friends we take a look at 10 other scandalous clips

Queen - I Want To Break Free (1984)

When I Want To Break Free was released in 1984, it proved to be an instant hit in the UK charts, reaching Number 3.

However it failed to chart successfully in the States, with the music video -a concept proposed by drummer Roger Taylor - believed to be to blame.

In the iconic music video the band members, Roger, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Fred Mandel all dressed in drag as they parodiedlong-running ITV soap opera Coronation Street.

While Brits were accustomed to drag performances in the Eighties, the same was not to be said across the pond, with Roger recalling:'MTV were very narrow-minded. It was Whitesnake, f***ing Whitesnake, and then another Whitesnake track.

'And they decided they didn't think that men in drag was 'rock' enough, I guess. So they didn't play the video.'

Brian added:'I remember being on the promo tour in the Midwest of America and people's faces turning ashen. And they would say, no, we can't play this. We can't possibly play this. You know, it looks homosexual...'

Iconic: In the iconic music video for Queen's I Want To Break Free band members all dressed in drag as they parodied long-running ITV soap opera Coronation Street

Madonna -Like a Prayer (1989)

WhileMadonna's Like a Prayer consistently tops lists of the best music videos of all time it caused outrage at the time.

In the video Madonna shelters in a church as she seeks the strength to come forward after witnessing an innocent black man arrested for the murder of a white woman.

(Video) Top 10 Most Controversial Music Videos

The video, directed by Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary), features burning crosses from the Ku Klux Klan and a dream sequence with Madonna romping with a black saint.

The day after the music video was released, The Vatican issued a statement condemning it while religious groups boycotted Pepsi for using the song in one of their commercials.

Madonna addressed the backlash on the music video's anniversary, sharing: '30 years ago today I released Like a Prayer and made a video that caused so much controversy because I kissed a black saint and danced in front of burning crosses,' she said.

'I also made a commercial with PEPSI that was banned because my video was seen as inappropriate. Happy Birthday to Me and Controversy.'

Nirvana - Heart-Shaped Box (1993)

Heart-Shaped Box was the final Nirvana music video filmed by Kurt Cobain before his suicide and proved to be the most controversial.

When the song was released Kurt claimed it was inspired by a television report about children suffering from cancer but there are several anti-abortion messages running throughout the video.

The video did not shy away from gruesome and controversial scenes, featuringan emaciated man on a crucifix wearing a Santa hat, as well as a woman dressed in a Klu Klux Klan outfit picking fetuses from a tree.

Kurt was pleased with the end result, saying that it came 'closer to what I've seen in my mind, to what I've envisioned, than any other video.'

Despite being condemnedby many the video was the number one most played music video on MTV in 1993.

It also won two MTV Video Music Awards in 1994, for Best Alternative Video and for Best Art Direction.

Religious imagery:Heart-Shaped Box was the final Nirvana music video filmed by Kurt Cobain before his suicide and proved to be the most controversial

The Prodigy - Smack My B***h Up (1997)

While The Prodigy were known for their controversial songs and videos, Smack My B***h Up pushed boundaries even further with its graphic depictions of sex,drug use and violence.

The video, filmed entirely in first-person perspective, depicts a drug-and-alcohol-fueled night out during which the protagonist attacks multiple men and sexually assaults several women.

The protagonist ends their night at a strip club before sleeping with one of strippers, as they pass out in front of a mirror it's revealed that the protagonist is also a woman.

MTV initially restricted the video to late-night rotation until pressure from groups such asthe US National Organization for Women saw it banned from the air.

(Video) Top 10 Most Controversial Songs Ever

The Prodigy hit back at claims the video and lyrics were encouraging violence towards women, claiming it was symbolism and saying: 'If they think that song is about smacking girlfriends up, then they're pretty brainless.'

Despite the controversy, the video was nominated for four awards in the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards, ultimately winning two: Best Dance Video and Breakthrough Video.

Intense:While The Prodigy were known for their controversial videos, Smack My B***h Up pushed boundaries even further with its graphic depictions of sex, drug use and violence

Eminem - Stan (2000)

Stan was one of Eminem's most famous tracks and told the story of Stan, a fan who looks up to Eminem's alter ego, Slim Shady.

Over four verses, however, Stan becomes disillusioned and his mental health deteriorates with tragic consequences, kidnapping his pregnant girlfriend then ultimately killing them both.

Dido played Eminem's romantic lead in the music video, which was heavily censored to create a 'clean' version that could be shown on TV.

In the video, Eminem holds his girlfriend hostage in the trunk of his car but the clean version removes scenes of her being gagged and bound.

Scenes of Eminem drinking vodka behind the wheel are also cut as is Dido's screams as the car plunges off the road into a river.

Stan was nominated for five gongs at the 2001MTV Video Music Awards:Video of the Year; Best Male Video; Best Rap Video; Best Direction in a Video; Best Cinematography.

Controversial:Dido played Eminem's romantic lead in the music video for Stan which was heavily censored to create a 'clean' version that could be shown on TV

Dirrty - Christina Aguilera (2002)

Aged 21 and after breaking free of her management, Christina Aguilera shocked the world when she released the provocative music video for Dirrty

The video saw her strip down to bottom-baring chaps as she writhed around in a boxing ring against shirtless men.

It was banned from TV in Thailand although not to do with the sexual nature butfrom a set of posters included in the background of the clip that advertised sex tourism in the country.

While it shocked audiences at the time Christina recently revealed she would have no issues showing her children the videobecause she wants to teach them that sex is a perfectly natural part of being human.

She also explained: 'Dirrty was extremely controversial at the time, but it would be nothing now. I hope I paved the way and helped set the ground rules that women can be any version of themselves they wanna be … and proud of it.'

Racy:Christina Aguilera shocked the world when she stripped down to bottom-baring chaps and writhed around in a boxing ring against shirtless men for the Dirrty video

(Video) Top 10 Banned Music Videos

Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams - Blurred Lines (2013)

Married singer Robin Thicke's single Blurred Lines caused outrage amongst women everywhere for its 'rapey' lyrics and video.

The openly sexist video for the track showed women prancing around wearing nothing but thongs as the fully dressed rappers ogle them and whisper 'I know you want it' in their ears.

The unrated version of the video was banned from YouTube for the obvious nudity, while a censored and no less offensive video remained.

Emily Ratajkowski featured as one of the nude models in the video and it launched her Hollywood career but she later described it as 'the bane of my existence.'

She later claimed to have been sexually assaulted on set, stating Robin had groped her bare breasts from behind while she believed him to be intoxicated. Robin called the allegations 'ridiculous.'

Controversial:Married singer Robin Thicke's single Blurred Lines caused outrage amongst women everywhere for its 'rapey' lyrics and video

Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball (2013)

Former Disney star darling shed her child star image once and for all when she stripped fully nude for her controversial Wrecking Ball video.

In the video, a nude Miley straddles a swinging wrecking ball, licks a sledgehammer and smashes up a few walls for good measure.

When it was released, the video got a staggering 12.3million views in just 24 hours on Vevo to become most viewed record.

The video came after Miley's now infamous VMA performance, which saw her parade around in a bra and knickers, whilst twerking (again) and performing some other obscure movements with a foam finger.

She later admitted that she regretted making the video, saying:'I'm never living that down. I will always be the naked girl on a wrecking ball.

'I just licked the sledgehammer. I should have thought how long that was going to follow me around. That's my worst nightmare - that being played at my funeral.'

Ballsy:Former Disney star darling shed her child star image once and for all when she stripped fully nude for her controversial Wrecking Ball video

(Video) 10 Most Controversial Songs of All Time

Kanye West - Famous (2016)

Kanye West is no stranger to controversy but he shocked fans with thebizarre and twisted video for Famous that featured an orgy of naked celebrities in bed together.

The visual showed the rapper with his then-wife Kim Kardashian naked and asleep, along with ten other celebs including Taylor Swift and Ray J.

A slow zoom out revealed their other bedmates to be Amber Rose, Caitlyn Jenner, Bill Cosby, George W. Bush, Donald Trump, Anna Wintour, Rihanna and Chris Brown, all snuggled up beside them in the enormous bed.

While all the men in the bed had their modesty protected by strategically placed legs and sheets, the ladies were afforded no such cover.

The video was negatively received on YouTube, gathering nearly 100,000 dislikes three days after being uploaded, which outweighed the number of likes.

The celebrities mocked up in the video also weren't impressed with Ray J revealing it had caused issues with his fiancée, while Taylor was said to be 'furious.'

Starkers:Kanye West shocked fans with the bizarre and twisted video for Famous that featured an orgy of naked celebrities in bed together, including himself and ex-wife Kim

Lil Nas X - Montero /Call Me by Your Name (2021)

As one of the few openly gay rappers in the industry, Lil Nas X is passionate about celebrating gay culture in his music videos.

However, while many commentators praisedMontero (Call Me by Your Name) for being 'unashamedly queer' itreceived criticism from conservative commentators in the United States, some of whom deemed it immoral or harmful to children.

In the video, the rapper rodea stripper pole to hell before giving Satan a lap dance.

South Dakota governor Kristi Noemi lashed out at Nas, saying 'This is outrageous, disgusting and perverted and on #PalmSunday no less.

'Somehow @lilnasx thinks that Satanic worship should be mainstream and normal. I don’t think there have been better candidates to cancel than LilNasX and these shoes.'

In response to criticism, Nas wrote on Twitter: 'There is a mass shooting every week that our government does nothing to stop. Me sliding down a CGI pole isn't what's destroying society.'

Dancing with the devil: The video for Montero (Call me By Your Name) caused outrage for depicting Lil Nas X giving the Devil a lap dance in the pits of hell

(Video) Top 10 Most DISTURBING Music Videos


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