10 Controversial Classic Alternative Tunes
Political Correctness – it’s all around us and you cannot escape its stifling grip.
I remember going to Disneyland as a child and riding the Pirates of the Caribbean ride with my parents and seeing the historically correct “Auction! Take a wench for a bride!”, thinking nothing of it being offensive because it was a part of history.
When I took a solo trip to California many years later, I rode the same ride and the auction part was removed because it was no longer politically correct.
It had a woman chasing a pirate with a rolling-pin instead. I was upset by this move on Disney’s part – the wench auction was a part of culture and history!
What a shame to remove something because it’s not àpropos by current standards! Don’t even get me started on the ban of Disney’s Song of the South!
By our standards today, The Munster’s shouldn’t be shown on TV – think about all the racial slurs and backward thinking that show had in it. Actually, watch any TV show from the 1960s or ’70s and you’ll see topics, phrases and more that would make people rant and rave today.
What about the censoring and re-writes of Tom & Jerry and Looney Tunes cartoons because they promote violence and racism?
Watch any Our Gang or Little Rascals lately on TV, not on the internet or YouTube? I didn’t think so…
How did we become so backward in our thinking that we feel the need to blatantly deny that things like racism or inequality actually existed in our world by censoring or changing them?
Let me hop off my soapbox now and get to the point of my post…
The late 1970s into the 1980s produced a lot of chart-topping post-punk and new wave artists, some of who are still popular and relevant today.
My mixtape playlist this time around features controversial classic alternative songs that raised a few eyebrows when they were released, but nonetheless became hits.
Today, these same songs would be highly censored, flagged as super controversial, or even banned from the airwaves if they were released today.
Just imagine the controversy each artist would endure today, with social media and internet exposure.
And now, let the controversial classic alternative playlist begin…
10. Sex Pistols – God Save the Queen
This was a controversial tune in England the moment it came out, during the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. The BBC and Independent Broadcasting Authority banned God Save the Queen, but it still topped the NME chart.
I believe if this song came out today, the ban would once again happen, and the Sex Pistols would be tagged as enemies of The State and maybe even arrested for domestic terrorism.
“God save the queen / She ain’t no human being / There is no future / In England’s dreaming”
9. XTC – Dear God
Another controversial song, released in 1987, because of its lyrics, blaming God for the state of the world and a blatant statement of non-belief. This song nonetheless went to #37 in the US charts.
Today, the religious evangelical right would throw stones at XTC for their powerful lyrics and make examples of them, labeling the band as “anti-Christian” and blasphemous.
Don’t believe me? Keep reading…
“You’re always letting us humans down / The wars you bring, the babes you drown / Those lost at sea and never found / And it’s the same the whole world ’round / The hurt I see helps to compound / The Father, Son and Holy Ghost / Is just somebody’s unholy hoax”
8. The Boomtown Rats – I Don’t Like Mondays
Bob Geldof, the lead singer of The Boomtown Rats, wrote this tune after hearing about the school shooting in San Diego in early 1979 and the reason (then) 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer gave was “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.” This song spent 4 weeks on the UK charts at #1 in 1979.
In the light of all the school shootings our country has seen in the past twenty-five years, this song would most definitely be flagged, if not completely banned by today’s standards.
“All the playing’s stopped in the playground now / She wants to play with her toys a while. / And school’s out early and soon we’ll be learning / And the lesson today is how to die.”
7. Depeche Mode – Blasphemous Rumours
One of Depeche Mode’s most loved classic songs from 1984 talks of suicide, accidental death and once again, anger at God for allowing such sad events to happen in life.
I’m certain that along with the zealous religious right, the mental health community would also jump on the train to censor or even ban this song (and video) from being played.
“I don’t want to start / Any blasphemous rumours / But I think that God’s / Got a sick sense of humour / And when I die / I expect to find Him laughing”
6. The Waitresses – I Know What Boys Like
This post-punk/new wave from Akron, Ohio first released this song in 1980, but it didn’t see commercial success until 1982 when it hit the Billboard hot 100 and Top Tracks charts.
A seemingly innocent, perky and catchy tune, I Know What Boys Like would come under fire today by those who blame women for the ways they act, dress and carry themselves as the major cause of rape in this country. These slut-shaming idiots would cite this song as a woman “asking for it.”
“I make them want me / I like to tease them / They want to touch me / I never let them.”
5. Josie Cotton – Johnny are you Queer?
Another innocent tune from 1980, first performed live by The Go-Go’s, but released and made popular by Josie Cotton, this song brings a guys sexuality into question. Of course, when this song came out, it was under fire for being so open and promoting homosexuality.
With all the social advancements we’ve made, sadly, I believe this song would come under fire just as it did in the early 1980s.
“Oh, why are you so weird, boy? / Johnny are you queer boy? / When I make a play / You’re pushing me away / Johnny are you queer?”
Now we get to the highly controversial tunes…
4. The Dead Milkmen – Takin’ Retards to the Zoo
This very short song (The Dead Milkmen’s specialty) appeared on their 1985 album Big Lizard in My Backyard. I never thought it to be offensive growing up, just a fun little ditty on one of my favorite The Dead Milkmen albums.
Today the description “retard” is no longer an acceptable term. This song would most definitely be banned and The Dead Milkmen shunned. They have a bunch of other tunes that would fall under controversial, but I chose this one.
I still love to hear this song because it makes me laugh. I guess that makes me insensitive. Oh well.
“Load ’em on a bus just for laughs / Down a winding road stepping on the gas / Down a winding road just daydreaming / Down a winding road with the retards screaming”
3. Oingo Boingo – Little Girls
I love this song, I must admit. Knowing that Danny Elfman wrote it in jest and he was “out to offend everybody”, makes me laugh. This song was somewhat controversial and even banned in Canada for its lyrics and video – those facts alone just add to its appeal, for me.
Oh yes, this song would come under major controversy if it were released today – just think about it. Danny Elfman would be a social pariah for writing something so politically incorrect.
I still laugh when I hear this song on Sirius XM 1st Wave because of how completely inappropriate it is, but I also sing along because it’s Oingo Boingo and Danny Elfman is a musical genius.
Deal with it.
“Oh, oh, oh I love little girls / They make me feel so good / I love, little girls / They make me feel so, bad”
2. Julie Brown – The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun
This 1984 song was Julie Brown’s tribute/parody to 1950’s teen angst and tragedy songs and came out over 10 years before school shootings (sadly) became a regular occurrence in American life.
I don’t think I need to go into why this song would be banned from everywhere if it were released today – it’s DEFINITELY a controversial classic alternative tune!
“Everybody run, the Homecoming Queen has got a gun! / Debi’s smiling, and waving her gun / Picking off cheerleaders one by one / Oh! Buffy’s pom-poms just blew to bits / Oh no, Misty’s head just did the splits! / My best friend is on a shooting spree / Stop it, Debi, you’re embarrassing me! / How could you do what you just did / Are you having a really bad period?”
1. The Cure – Killing an Arab
Probably one of the most controversial classic alternative songs ever released, Killing an Arab was The Cure’s first single and appeared on the 1979 album, Three Imaginary Boys.
The Cure had to place stickers on their Standing on a Beach album release in 1986 as a compromise from pulling the album completely from the shelves. Robert Smith and Elektra also requested that radio stations stop playing the song to avoid any further problems.
The stickers read as follows:
“The song KILLING AN ARAB has absolutely no racist overtones whatsoever. It is a song which decries the existence of all prejudice and consequent violence. The Cure condemns its use in furthering anti-Arab feeling.”
Today, you might hear this song played live at a Cure concert, but with the lyrics changed to “Kissing an Arab”.
Selling out? No. Just Robert combating the obvious ignorance some out there have in spades.
Did I miss any controversial classic alternative songs? Let me know!
7 Thoughts to “10 Controversial Classic Alternative Tunes”
I’m not sure if you would consider this classic alternative but the first one that came to mind for me was Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
I almost had a top 15, and that was going to be in it… although today there are much worse songs about sex on the airwaves! 😉 Thanks for reading!
Oooo that’s a good one! Thanks! 🙂
I don’t know those particular Dead Milkmen or Cure songs, but what an awesome list! Some of my favorite songs from my high school years here… 🙂
Oh yeah! I’ll have to remember that for a 90’s list! Thanks! 🤩