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Monday, August 1, 2011

MTV at 30: The Top 10 Most Controversial Music Videos (NSFW)

Posted By on Mon, Aug 1, 2011 at 8:20 AM

VIA FLICKR

As MTV celebrates its 30th birthday, it seems poised for a calm middle-aged life in a nice neighborhood, where it can safely raise Jersey Shore and Teen Mom into even more reliable moneymakers. But it wasn't always that way: Before it gave up on music, MTV swept through American households by breaking adventurous music videos from bands that would come to define an era. More interesting than those videos, though, are the ones that didn't get shown, or at least pissed everyone off afterward.

Narrowing the dozens if not hundreds of worthy competitors for this list down to 10 was, admittedly, difficult and somewhat arbitrary. Who's to say that raunchy sex is more controversial than disturbing violence? Further, a video that made the world lose its shit in 1989 probably wouldn't even raise an eyebrow today.

With all that in mind, hit the jump to see the 10 craziest, most controversial videos ever made. If we left out your depraved favorite, post it in the comments.

10. 2 Live Crew -- "Me So Horny" (1989)

Music, TV, and sex seem like a three-way that has existed forever, but the reality is that it took videos in the late '80s and early '90s like this one to really tie the knot. There are scores of others that played with the same themes -- George Michael's "I Want Your Sex" from 1987 and Madonna's "Justify My Love" from 1990, to name just a few.

We chose this one because, characteristic of 2 Live Crew, it doesn't mess around -- every aspect of this video is explicitly and unabashedly about sex and hooking up. In order to get its video on MTV, the group created an alternative version with slightly less skin. We have videos like "Me So Horny" to thank (or blame, depending on your perspective) for imitators like Eric Prydz's steamy "Call on Me" workout-themed video.

As a side note, a judge declared the album As Nasty as They Wanna Be to be obscene in the wake of this song's success, which predictably gave a boost to sales. For awhile, clerks caught selling the album were arrested. The courts later determined it not to be obscene.

9. Pearl Jam -- "Jeremy" (1992)

Pearl Jam devotees know that "Jeremy" is based on the real story of Jeremy Delle, who killed himself in front of his sophomore class at school. The video dramatizes the torment of the song's Jeremy and culminates in his suicide -- Jeremy puts a gun in his mouth and the video goes black. The next shot is of his terrified classmates, completely still and covered in blood. The edited version shown on MTV does not actually depict the gun.

The video won several MTV Video Music Awards, but the band didn't make another video until 1998's "Do the Evolution." In 1996, a middle schooler shot several of his classmates, and his lawyer argued that the "Jeremy" video inspired his actions.

Pearl Jam - Jeremy (Uncensored Version)
Get More: Pearl Jam - Jeremy (Uncensored Version)

8. Marilyn Manson -- "Coma White" (1999)

Though this video doesn't feature any blood, and it's not even close to the craziest one by Manson (keep reading!), it features a reenactment of the JFK assassination, with Manson playing Kennedy. The video debuted in September 1999, just two months after the death of JFK Jr. If that wasn't bad enough, the country was still reeling from April's Columbine massacre, which many blamed on Manson's music. Damn.

7. Nine Inch Nails -- "Closer" (1994)

Anyone who lived in the '90s knows how this song goes and why the lyrics alone could get this video into trouble. Add a naked woman, a monkey on a crucifix, S&M gear, and a decapitated pig head, and you've got yourself one doozy of a video.

6. Sigur Ros -- "Viorar Vel Til Loftarasa" (2001)

Shock value isn't the only way to create a controversy. This video by Sigur Ros depicts a romance between two boys, culminating in a kiss after one of them scores a big goal in a soccer game. At seven minutes, the video is tender and sad, detailing the protagonist's father's repeated attempts to "correct" what he sees as his son's feminine behavior, like his affection for playing with dolls. The video ends with the father violently breaking up the boys' kiss in front of friends and family. It doesn't help that the entire thing is in slow motion.

5. Eminem -- "Stan" (2002)

As a song, "Stan" is devastating and disturbing because it is at once terrifying and completely believable, the unintended consequence of Eminem's enormous fame. This video brings the song vividly to life, showing Stan's mounting obsession, insanity, and violence, along with the tragedy he leaves behind.

The edited version shown on MTV cuts out footage of Stan's wife bound and gagged in his car, plus other moments too edgy for TV.

4. Justice -- "Stress" (2008)

Shit is getting real. In this video -- which was never intended to be aired on TV -- troublemakers dressed in Justice jackets run amok in Paris, beating up hapless passersby, vandalizing property, and setting a car on fire. The action is staged with actors rather than random victims, but watch it and see if you can help feeling totally convinced.

The video premiered on Kanye West's website and provoked immediate controversy, both in France and around the world -- in large part because all of the hooligans are black or Middle Eastern. Be sure to catch the quick highlight at 4:53, when the kids turn on the radio to hear Justice's hit "D.A.N.C.E." and then angrily kick the radio until it breaks.

3. Prodigy -- "Smack My Bitch Up" (1997)

In 2002, MTV named this video the most controversial of all time, and we can see why. Shot from the perspective of the main character, the video depicts a pretty average night on the town -- pretty average if you generally get wasted, shoot up heroin, get even more wasted, assault random people and prostitutes, and then sleep with one at the end of the night before passing out.

The twist at the end is fairly well-known by now, but we won't spoil it for you -- watch to find out.

2. Marilyn Manson -- "(s)AINT" (2004)

This video is so nuts that Manson's label refused to air it in the U.S. It's probably easier to say which sins it doesn't have, but we'll give it a shot anyway -- Manson cuts himself with a razor, snorts cocaine, masturbates, engages in S&M, and has sex with a fully nude woman.

The video is bloody and graphic, so watch it only if you're feeling brave.

1. Madonna -- "Like a Prayer" (1989)

No nudity or blood here, but Madonna didn't need them to turn the world on its head. Toying with (at least) two of society's classic taboos, Madonna has sex with an African-American man on a church pew. To add a little extra fuel to the fire (literally), she also sings in front of a field of burning crosses.

That plus all the other crazy stuff in this video proved enough to piss off pretty much everyone, even the Pope (again, literally), who declared that Madonna could not step foot in Italy.

At the time, Madonna had just starred in a huge Pepsi commercial; outraged Christian groups called for boycotts against Pepsi, which eventually relented and dropped its sponsorship of the pop star.

We doubt this video would create that kind of backlash today, but Madonna must have known what she was getting into. And for that, mad props.

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Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, follow Dean Schaffer @deans55, and like us at Facebook.com/SFAllShookDown.

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