Prime Time Of Your Life

Top 10 Banned Dance Tunes and Videos

Written by lmercedes

January 29, 2011 4:08 pm

It’s no secret that dance music has a bit of an association with drug culture. As an international institution, the BBC has a responsibility to give a fair reflection of the society in which we live, which means unbiased reporting in the news, or playing the most popular tunes on the radio. Unfortunately the worlds of rave and license fee-paid broadcasting aren’t the best bedfellows. Many acid house artists fell foul of Auntie Beeb, as she in the late ’80s and early ’90s banished from the airwaves the play of anything that was seen to condone taking drugs.

Luckily for us her attempts were feeble, with many considering a ban on their wares a badge of honour. For those with controversial videos, a move to post-watershed in MTV offered some caché. Today Maxumi counts down the best of the banned, the finest of the forbidden, the top of the taboo in dance music. Because if someone doesn’t want you to see it, it’s bound to be really good. Come get your rocks off.

10) Lil Louis – French Kiss (1989)

It may have been banned by the BBC for its liberal use of “Heavy breathing” on the breakdown, though the real bone of contention here should be the paedo-fodder video. Exactly whose bright idea was it to dress kids up in grown-up clothes and have them dancing around to the sound of a lady having a very intense orgasm? Hello? Social Services?

9) M.I.A – Sunshowers (2004)

Maya Arulpragasam’s mouth has got her into a fair bit of trouble throughout her musical career. This single from her debut album Arular pricked a few ears in the U.S. Government, landing her briefly on the American Homeland Security Risk list in 2006. The reason? The lyric: “you wanna go? You wanna winna war? Like PLO, I don’t surrendo” was considered threatening. The video was banned by MTV after she refused to remove it from the song.

8) E-Zee Possee – Everything Starts With An E (1990)

Promoted by Boy George’s label More Protein, “Everything Starts With an E” managed to chart at number 15 on the UK singles chart in the year following the second summer of love, despite Radio 1’s ban on playing it, and a very questionable Jamaican accent courtesy of MC Kinky.

7) Basement Jaxx – U Don’t Know Me (2006)

In this case on this one, the tune’s tame enough, it’s the video that got MTV into a bit of a tizz. Following (who is presumably) a lookalike of the Queen on a debauched night away from the palace where she -gasp!- grabs a lap dancer’s bum, the channel thoughtfully opted to ban any daytime broadcast of the video, which is of course when Her Majesty is most likely tuning into MTV.

6) KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal (1991)

Years before they peed everyone off for burning £1M in cash for art’s sake in 1994, The KLF found themselves under Auntie’s big red pen of censorship for a detail in one of their songs that anyone else might not have noticed. The machine gun fire heard at the beginning of the “Live at the S.S.L.” version of “3 A.M. Eternal” was deemed inappropriate at the time of its release during the Gulf War, so an edited version was broadcast instead. They got their own back during a Brits performance in the following year when KLF main man Bill Drummond fired blanks from an automatic weapon over the heads of the audience. Take that, censorship.

5) Daft Punk – The Prime Time Of Your Life (2006)

This isn’t one for the squeamish. Banned for its disturbing imagery, this provocative video for a single off Daft Punk’s more politically-inclined album Human After All was directed by Tony Garner, who most recently created the visceral arm-cutty effects in Danny Boyle’s acclaimed survival flick 127 Hours. Garner was also responsible for developing the duo’s robot heads (look out for them in the news report in the video) and holds the honour of being the first zombie to crawl out of a grave in MJ’s Thriller video. Can’t say the dude’s not versatile.

4) Aphex Twin – Windowlicker (1999)

This modern masterpiece is the work of director Chris Cunningham, also responsible for the warped face Playstation adverts of the early noughties. A disturbing send-up of pimps ‘n’ hoes-style hip-hop videos, Windowlicker was restricted from broadcast before watershed for its “shocking images” which basically told the world that ladies, if you must be half-naked and grinding in a music video, you make damn sure you have a pretty face.

Just in case you were wondering whether that was in fact Richard D. James dancing with the umbrella, it’s actually Britney Spears choreographer and X Factor “creative director” Brian Friedman. We kid you not.

3) D-Mob – We Call It Acieed (1988)

By the late ‘80s acid had become a byword for “evil” with the redtops daily reporting exaggerated stories of its horrendous effects on a decaying youth. Always one for exercising social decency the Beeb banned any play of any tune that was acid-related. However this one, notable for its sheer ballsiness, still managed to reach number 3 on the charts with its cry of “Acieeeeeed! Acieeeeeed!” Get right on one matey.

2) The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode (1992)

By ’92 the BBC had decided that the idea of having a hand in spawning a generation of rabblers shouting “Es are good, Es are good” was just too much for them, banning all radio play of this single by Mr. C’s collective The Shamen. Fat load of good it did though. The tune reached number 1 for four weeks, deliciously so over the network’s drug awareness week.

1) The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up (1997)

Barred from play on the radio and attracting criticism from feminist groups, “Smack My Bitch Up” was controversial both for its explicit video, directed by Jonas Åkerlund, and its seemingly misogynist lyrics. The Prodigy countered, stating the phrase is a euphemism for taking care of business, or “doing something intensely”. On the World Service the track was referred to as “Smack”, which we’re not sure is much better.

What do you reckon? Anything we missed off? Let us know in the Comments box below. And if your need for Top 10ery has not been satisfied, do stop by our Top 10 Plain Wrong Record Covers.


Leonie Mercedes

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