Controversy and music videos seem to go hand in hand. From musicians exploring the dark side of human nature or pushing the envelope when it comes to religion, these 14 music videos certainly had us questioning their “artistic” elements, but we’ll let you be the judge.
Miley Cyrus: Wrecking Ball
As if Miley Cyrus’s questionable performance at the MTV Video Music Awards wasn’t enough to send most people into a tizzy, her video for “Wrecking Ball” sent the rest of the world over the edge. Featuring the 20-year-old songstress buckey nekkid straddling the video’s namesake and making out with a sledge hammer, “Wrecking Ball” is supposedly another attempt at showing off Miley’s more mature side. But, if you ask us, it seems to be just another instance of Miley being unable to differentiate actions that put space between her and her Disney days and actions that just make her seem desperate for attention.
Nelly: Tip Drill
Where do we begin with this one? Now, we love Nelly. We do. He’s adorable and that St. Louis swagger he brings to the table is much appreciated. However, when it comes to “Tip Drill,” even we have to draw the line. From the barely-clothed women rubbing each other down in the hot tub, to the ridiculously graphic butt jiggling in the camera, to the infamous credit card swipe in a video vixen’s booty, “Tip Drill” took objectifying and disrespecting women to a whole new level. While gyrating women in hop-hop videos weren’t exactly a rarity, particularly during the ’90s and 2000s, “Tip Drill” took it overboard. Severely overboard.
MIA: Born Free
Granted, gingers get lots of jokes hurled their way, but MIA’s ‘Born Free’ took it above and beyond some juvenile insults. Granted, MIA is certainly one for controversy, but this video may have pushed things a little too far over the edge. Military personnel are seen rounding up red heads only to take them to a deserted area and execute them, in startlingly graphic detail (the explosion scene still makes us cringe). Obviously the video is meant to show the ugliness of persecution — a worthy mission for a video — but we still wonder if MIA went too far.
Did this video go too far? Ehh, maybe not far enough?
Eminem’s roughly eight-minute long video for “Stan” raised more than a few eyebrows when it was released in 2000. The video features Eminem as a deranged and obsessed Slim Shady fan, and singer-songwriter Dido as his pregnant girlfriend. The video chronicles Stan’s descent into madness and ultimately the murder of himself and his girlfriend. While the song itself was meant to symbolize Eminem’s struggles with fame, it also raised a number of questions about the use of violence toward women in music videos as a means of creative expression. And of course Em’s volatile relationship with ex-wife Kim Mathers certainly didn’t help matters.
Robin Thicke: Blurred Lines
One of the summer’s biggest hits and most controversial music videos, Blurred Lines features three gorgeous women frolicking around with very little clothing (and absolutely no clothing in the unrated version) as Mr. Paula Patton sings some choice lyrics. While Robin and the gang claim the video is meant to be light-hearted and fun, many people were deeply offended by the objectification of the women featured. We don’t know about ya’ll but we have to stick by our guns in saying this was one hot number … and we certainly don’t think Robin Thicke was looking to insult anyone.
Robbie Williams: Rock DJ
Another video of the very nakey, very good looking man variety, British singer Robbie Williams let it all hang out in his video to 2000’s ‘Rock DJ’. Featuring Robbie on a platform surrounded by a bevy of roller-skating stunners, the video appears to be just a wonderful striptease. That is until Robbie begins to rip off his own flesh to feed what have got to be the world’s most beautiful cannibals. Not surprisingly, the video didn’t sit well with some who weren’t down with the flesh-eating themes.
Metallica: Turn The Page
A little controversy of the hard rock variety isn’t surprising, but we’d be remiss to not count Metallica’s Turn the Page” as one video that may have gone a little too far. Telling the story of a mother who works as a stripper and prost*tute, the video shows an even darker side of the sex industry, culminating in a shocking assault and rape of a woman while her daughter is just a room away. While the video succeeded in drawing a bit of shame to the objectification and exploitation of women, did “Turn The Page” go too far?
P. Diddy: Hate Me Now
Now, we have the say that while P. Diddy and Nas were incredible back in the day, “Hate Me Now” was so shamelessly trolling for controversy that we have to to include it on our countdown. From recreating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to P. Diddy’s tussle with Nas’s manager after the unrated version was mistakenly shown on MTV, everything having to do with “Hate Me Now” seemed steeped in controversy. And was it all really worth it? You be the judge.
Bjork: Pagan Poetry
There was no way we were getting through this list without throwing a little shade Bjork’s way. The Icelandic singer prides herself on being different and pushing the envelope. And push she did in the video to “Pagan Poetry.” From the explicit sex scenes presented to viewers in a highly stylized fashion to the images of flesh being pierced with needles, this video was all types of all over the place and we’re still not sure what the point was. We’re all down for creative expression, but this one may have just gone too far.
Master P: Gutta Time
When a music video comes with a warning label, you know you’re in store for quite a wild ride. Master P.’s “Gutta Time” shows the rapper and his friends battling the Ku K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.Klan K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.Klan on the basketball court. To this day we’re not really sure what the point of this was … and quite honestly, it may have just been controversy for controversy sake, but we’ll let you be the judge.
Christina Aguilera: Dirrty
Oh, how could any of us forgot the hot mess that was Christina Aguilera’s alter-ego, X-Tina. Following in the grand tradition of pop princesses skanking it up for the masses, Christina strapped on some booty revealing chaps, tricked out her hair in all manners of bad hair extensions and got down and dirty with her male back-up dancers for the aptly titled track, “Dirrty.” Though this video certainly isn’t the worst thing to come out of the 2000s, we have to admit that Christina really shot herself in the foot with this one. Your voice was what mattered, not what was underneath those skin-tight ensembles.
Fiona Apple: Criminal
Fiona Apple’s “Criminal,” to this day, remains one of music’s most controversial videos. But what’s interesting is that unlike many of the other songs on this list that relied on overtly uncomfortable messaging, Fiona’s was much more subtle. The video, with Fiona as its young leading lady, featured what many believed to be a kiddie Adult Videos-esque vibe. Needless to say, that didn’t exactly plop this video in most people’s good graces.
Erykah Badu: Window Seat
As if Erykah Badu stripping down unclothed as she goes for a leisurely stroll in Dallas wasn’t startling enough, her video for “Window Seat” culminates in what appears to be her murder near the site of JFK’s assassination. Needless to say that didn’t go over so well. While we love the song, we do agree the video may have gone a wee bit too far.