Jeremy - Pearl Jam (1992)
Controversial for: Violent depiction of suicide
Pearl Jam released Jeremy after reading an article about a young boy who committed suicide in front of his class with a gun. The music video features a boy being taunted and bullied by his classmates, becoming increasingly depressed. The final scene was censored on MTV for it's graphic violence, showing his classmates covered in his blood, traumatized from what they just saw.
Like a Prayer - Madonna (1989)
Controversial for: KKK references
The Queen of Pop has been no stranger to controversy in her long career, but Like a Prayer still remains one of her most controversial videos to date. The video features Madonna witnessing a group of white men murdering a white girl, and a black man is wrongfully arrested. Seeking refuge, Madonna goes to a church, where she seems a crying black statue of a saint, which later transforms into the black man from earlier. The video also features Madonna singing in front of burning crosses (a well-known KKK ritual) and kissing the black saint. The video caused controversy all over the world, including the Vatican.
Closer - Nine Inch Nails (1994)
Controversial for: Imagery of explicit sexuality, animal cruelty, religion
While the song itself was controversial enough featuring lyrics such as "I want to fuck you like an animal", the music video for Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" was no different. This video features a monkey tied to a cross, a severed pig head on a spinning machine, and of course, Trent Reznor in S&M gear.
Lemon Incest - Serge & Charlotte Gainsbourg (1984)
Controversial for: Promoting pedophilia and incest
Some say the French have been known for their overt sexuality, but when French recording artist Serge Gainsbourg released this duet with his 13-year-old daughter Charlotte, this is a whole other category. While some may interpret the translated lyrics as being nothing more than an innocent duet between a father and child, the video gives a whole other meaning. While nothing particularly explicit is shown, I think we can all agree that a father should not be laying in bed without a shirt on, while his 13-year-old child wears nothing but a man's shirt. Regardless, Charlotte defends the video and the song. Umm...okay.
Turn the Page - Metallica (1998)
Controversial for: Prostitution, rape
Metallica's cover of this Bob Seger classic features adult film star Ginger Lynn as a single mom of a young girl trying to make ends meet. Living in a seedy motel, and working in a strip club during the day (while her daughter waits in the dressing room, trying on her accessories and brushing her hair in front of the mirror), and a prostitute by night. She brings home a man who then violently rapes her, while her daughter is in the other room. Aside from the violent rape scene, this video is perhaps more sad than controversial, but it is still enough to make somebody uncomfortable.
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