1 January

Pick a Day

Music History Events: Controversies

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March 16, 2019 "Old Town Road" by the rapper Lil Nas X makes the Country chart, but is removed the following week when Billboard declares it ineligible for the tally. The attention leads to a remix with Billy Ray Cyrus that goes to #1 on the genre-agnostic Hot 100.More

March 3, 2019 Undeterred by a lawsuit filed by Michael Jackson's estate, HBO airs the first part of the 4-hour documentary Leaving Neverland, leveling new accusations of child abuse at Jackson 10 years after his death. In the aftermath, many distance themselves from Jackson: The Simpsons pulls his episode, and some radio stations drop him from playlists.

November 29, 2016 Minneapolis-based musicians Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski flame a cultural debate about gender roles when they post a reinterpreted version of the Christmas song "Baby It's Cold Outside" with new lyrics: Instead of pressuring her to spend the night, the guy respects her decision to leave and helps her get home safely.More

June 24, 2016 Kanye West debuts the video for "Famous," which shows him in bed with nude likenesses of his wife Kim Kardashian, Donald Trump, Bill Cosby, Rihanna, and other celebrities and associates. West appears next to a likeness of Taylor Swift, who is derisively mentioned in the lyrics, "I made that bitch famous." West calls the video "a comment on fame."

November 24, 2015 The only copy of Wu-Tang Clan's new double album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin is sold at auction. The buyer is not Wu-Tang obsessive Quentin Tarantino as many hoped, but Martin Shkreli, a 32-year-old pharmaceutical executive notorious for buying a drug company and raising the price of their AIDS drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill.More

September 9, 2014 Who doesn't like a free gift? Apparently, about 500 million iTunes users who create an uproar when U2's latest album, Songs of Innocence, shows up sans charge and sans permission in their personal libraries.More

September 23, 2010 Katy Perry's appearance on Sesame Street is edited out after viewers complain about her revealing dress.More

July 5, 2008 Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" hits #1 in the US, where it stays for seven weeks. Perry's first chart-topper, it's a startling turnabout from just seven years earlier, when she was a gospel singer recording under her real name: Katy Hudson.More

September 21, 2004 Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), is denied entry into the United States when he shows up on a terrorist watch list, accused of funding terror groups.More

February 1, 2004 Justin Timberlake punctuates the Super Bowl halftime show by tearing away part of Janet Jackson's costume, revealing her right breast to a massive audience that quickly reaches for their TiVos for a replay. Both artists blame it on a "wardrobe malfunction," but while Jackson gets blacklisted, Timberlake is welcomed back by the music industry and the NFL after a series of apologies.More

December 28, 2003 Out on bail and awaiting trial on charges he molested a teenage boy, Michael Jackson proclaims his innocence on 60 Minutes, telling Ed Bradley, "I was outraged. I could never do something like that."

May 2, 2003 Dixie Chicks appear naked on the front cover of Entertainment Weekly, with slogans such "Traitors," "Hero," "Boycott," "Saddam's Angels" and "Proud Americans" printed across their bodies. The slogans represent the mixed reaction Dixie Chicks received following singer Natalie Maines' anti-George W. Bush comments.More

November 19, 2002 While greeting fans from a fifth-floor hotel balcony in Berlin, Michael Jackson shocks onlookers by dangling his newborn son Prince Michael II over the side of the railing.

September 14, 2001 Program directors at Clear Channel Communications, the largest owner of radio stations in the United States, begin circulating a list of songs that might be considered offensive in light of the September 11 attacks.More

July 11, 2000 The free Back 2 Basics Tour, sponsored by Napster, kicks off with a show in Detroit. The tour runs for 24 dates and features Limp Bizkit, Cypress Hill, and Cold. The bands take some heat within the industry for working with Napster, a file sharing service that allows users to download songs for free.

May 12, 2000 Following the launch of Metallica's legal case against the popular online file-sharing service Napster, Chuck D of Public Enemy and Lars Ulrich of Metallica appear on The Charlie Rose Show, where they debate whether MP3 downloading is a vehicle for piracy or a return of power to the people.More

September 15, 1998 Marilyn Manson release their third album, Mechanical Animals. Target, Walmart and some other retailers refuse to stock it because of the cover, which depicts the group's frontman in naked female form.More

June 24, 1997 Hours after shipping 100,000 copies of the Insane Clown Posse album The Great Milenko, the group's label, Hollywood Records (a Disney subsidiary), recalls the shipments over concerns about the "inappropriate" lyrics.More

January 31, 1993 With just 45 minutes to kickoff, Garth Brooks threatens to cancel his national anthem performance at Super Bowl XXVII when the NFL reneges on its promise to debut the video for his controversial protest anthem "We Shall Be Free."More

October 21, 1992 Madonna's book Sex is released. Everything about it is shocking: the $50 price, the Mylar wrapping, the metal covers, and especially the images inside.More

October 16, 1992 Sinéad O'Connor is booed when she takes the stage at Bobfest, a Bob Dylan tribute at Madison Square Garden. O'Connor had torn up a picture of the Pope 13 days earlier on Saturday Night Live, making her the most polarizing person in music. At Bobfest, she keeps going against the grain, scrapping her expected Dylan cover and shouting out a protest song instead.More

October 3, 1992 Sinéad O'Connor, famous for her hit song "Nothing Compares 2 U," goes way off script during her Saturday Night Live appearance, declaring "Fight the real enemy" and tearing up a picture of the Pope.More

August 20, 1992 Embroiled in controversy over his song "Cop Killer," Ice-T doubles down by appearing in a police uniform on the cover of Rolling Stone.More

May 29, 1992 Concerned that students are identifying with Freddie Mercury, who has recently died of AIDS, the principal at Sacred Heart School in Clifton, New Jersey, doesn't allow 8th graders to perform the Queen song "We Are The Champions" at their graduation ceremony. When students flood the radio station Z100 with requests for the song, it is re-released as a single.More

January 26, 1992 Presidential candidate Bill Clinton appears on the news program 60 Minutes with his wife, Hillary, who in response to a discussion about her husband's infidelity, says, "I'm not sitting here – some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette."More

November 14, 1991 Michael Jackson's "Black Or White" music video, directed by John Landis, debuts simultaneously on MTV, BET and Fox - a strategic move that marks his ascension to the pop throne. The 11-minute clip, however, lands Jackson in hot water with viewers who complain about his excessive crotch-grabbing and gratuitous displays of violence.More

December 3, 1990 Madonna appears on the news program Nightline, where she debuts her video for "Justify My Love," which MTV has refused to play. As the lascivious clip plays, Madonna provides commentary, answering questions from host Forrest Sawyer.More

November 19, 1990 The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences strips the 1989 Best New Artist Grammy from Milli Vanilli because Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan didn't actually sing on their debut album, "Girl You Know It's True." It is the first time a Grammy has ever been revoked.More

November 15, 1990 German producer Frank Farian admits that Milli Vanilli (Robert Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan) didn't actually sing on the album Girl You Know It's True. A scandal ensues and the duo are stripped of the Best New Artist Grammy.

November 6, 1990 Madonna releases "Justify My Love," which stirs controversy when MTV bans the video. The brouhaha piques interest in the song, which becomes her ninth #1 hit in the US.More

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