Kanye West’s “Monster” And 5 Other ‘Controversial’ Music Videos That Were Banned

BY Dora Abena Dzaka October 31, 2023 12:20 PM EDT
Photo Credit: Kanye West @ MoMA Wikimedia Commons

Music videos have been an integral part of the song and album listening experience for many years. Prior to MTV’s launch, musicians had been performing live on television for several decades. The idea of a stylized music video—which resembles a short film—was not well-known.

MTV has faced criticism for its censorship during its 40 years of broadcasting. When MTV first debuted in 1981, its goal was to draw in a sizable youthful audience interested in pop culture.

But it is also infamous for bleeping words, showing only edited versions of some videos, relegating explicit videos to late-night airing, and occasionally outright prohibiting videos. It was, therefore, easy to forget that the commotion surrounding MTV censorship led to some really great music moments.

Here are the top 7 music videos that were banned from being aired due to some controversies.

Monster – Kanye West

One of the most controversial musicians today is Kanye West. Many viewers found Monster’s horror-themed music video to be too much to handle when it first came out. It was subsequently removed from YouTube, and shortly after, West removed it completely from his channel. Although Nicki Minaj’s performance in the music video and her verse on the song were highly praised, the video could not be saved.

S&M – Rihanna

This video is impeccable in its ability to be awful. With songs like Rude Boy, Rihanna had already been pushing the boundaries, but S&M is still her most explicit release. It seems a new example of the title is demonstrated every second, from using duct tape creatively to cracking a whip. The music video for S&M was not only outlawed in eleven nations, but viewers had to verify their age on YouTube before they could go on to watch it.

We Found Love – Rihanna

Unaffected by the backlash, Rihanna stirred things up once more with a short film for We Found Love, which was outlawed in France due to its portrayal of drug and domestic abuse.

Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke

The Blurred Lines music video drew a lot of flak for objectifying women when it was first released. It was believed that the video promoted a misogynistic, non-consensual, and disrespectful message. Many also claimed that the song’s lyrics were endorsing the culture of rape. Soon after it was posted, YouTube removed the uncensored version of the video. In spite of the controversy, or maybe even because of it, Blurred Lines became a huge song.

Juicy – The Notorious B.I.G.

The song Juicy by rapper Notorious B.I.G., is another illustration of how tragic events can lead to censorship. Following the September 11 attacks, the lyrics “time to get paid/blow up like the World Trade” were taken out of the song. The phrase “blow up” was originally used in this line to refer to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and was slang for achieving sudden and unexpected fame.

Strange Fruit – Billie Holiday

This song captured Billie Holiday’s horror at being lynched. When it was first released in 1939, its strong, macabre content led to its ban from American radio. Even though the song’s lyrics were depressing, at the time it was released, the public really needed to hear it. Due to the song’s prostitution-related lyrics, ABC Radio declined to play Billie Holiday’s 1965 hit song Love for Sale, which resulted in further music censorship.