Six Famous Songs That Were Censored Or Banned

13 January 2018, 10:00

Holly Johnson Paul Rutherford Frankie Goes To Holl

On 13 January 1984, the BBC banned Frankie Goes To Hollywood's song Relax. Which other famous tracks were censored or forbidden? NSFW!

Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Relax

The Liverpool band's  debut single was issued by ZTT Records at the tail end of 1983 and got a bit of airplay, including an appearance on Channel 4's The Tube and BBC-1's Top Of The Pops. That was, until Radio 1 DJ and Pops presenter Mike Read realised that the song made quite a few thinly-veiled descriptions of sex... and quite possibly of the gay kind. OK, not so thinly-veiled - there was many mentions of the word "come" and the line "When you want to suck to it". Oo-er. Read announced he wouldn't be playing it and the BBC agreed with him - although jocks like David Jensen and John Peel still played it on their evening shows. The single, of course, went to No 1 a couple of weeks later and even appeared on the Christmas edition of Top Of The Pops. Won't someone think of the children!?

Sex Pistols - God Save The Queen 

John Lydon's rant against the fluffy daydream over the monarchy in an era of strikes, inflation and cuts was considered too near the knuckle to be the nation's No 1 hit in the Queen's Silver Jubilee week of June 1977, so (according to a long-standing rumour) the track was quietly "dropped" and Rod Stewart was allowed to ascend to the top of the chart instead.

Massive Attack - Unfinished Sympathy 

The Gulf War in 1991 caused a few nervous moments with some broadcasters, who pulled songs as innocuous as Walk Like An Egyptian in case they caused offence. Bristolian trip hop act Massive Attack had their name shortened to just Massive for a while to avoid any unpleasant associations with warfare.

The Prodigy - Smack My Bitch Up 

The title of the song - sampled from a 1989 song by Ultramagnetic MCs - still causes offence to this day, but it was Jonas Åkerlund's outrageous video that really ruffled feathers: drugs, sex, all kinds of excessive behaviour… and a twist in a tale.

Rage Against The Machine - Killing In The Name

Obviously the refrain of "Fuck you I won't do what you tell me" was unbroadcastable… apart from BBC Radio 5live, who asked the band to come into their studio to perform the song live when it made Christmas No 1 in 2009. They didn't perform the radio edit. Ooops.

Radiohead - Creep

Thom Yorke drops the f-bomb in the band's 1993 classic, but the band recorded a radio-friendly version for delicate listeners.