1 January

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Music History Events: Controversies

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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."

May 4, 2016 After Donald Trump's campaign plays "Start Me Up" following his victory speech celebrating his path to the Republican nomination, The Rolling Stones ask him to stop, joining several other artists in decrying his use of their songs.More

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

November 22, 2009 At the American Music Awards, Adam Lambert makes a statement with a lascivious performance of his debut single, "For Your Entertainment," where he drops a smooch on his (male) keyboard player.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

April 27, 2008 A nearly naked photo of 15-year-old Miley Cyrus makes the entertainment news when it appears in Vanity Fair. Shot by Annie Leibovitz, the photo is more tasteful than scandalous, revealing Miley's back but not much else. Cyrus, under contract with Disney, later claims she was coerced into taking the photo.

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

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

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

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.

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.

August 24, 1990 Sinéad O'Connor refuses to perform at the Garden State Arts Center in New Jersey until they agree not to play the US national anthem before the show.More

June 6, 1990 The 2 Live Crew album As Nasty As They Wanna Be becomes the first album declared legally obscene when Federal District Judge Jose Gonzalez rules that the album violates community obscenity standards in three south Florida counties: Broward, Dade, and Palm Beach.More

July 21, 1989 Performing on the Club MTV tour at a stop in Bristol, Connecticut, Milli Vanilli's tracks go screwy when they try to lip-synch to the song "Girl You Know It's True." As the line "girl you know it's..." repeats over and over, the duo panic and scurry off stage. It is later revealed that they didn't sing on their album.More

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