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Music is often controversial in modern society. Some music was considered simply offensive and inappropriate to society.
Below are the ten most controversial popular works created by humans. The works are arranged in chronological order, starting with those that were written or released in full earlier.
Opera "Parsifal", Richard Wagner. The premiere of this work took place on July 26, 1882. Many believe that it was thanks to Wagner that a revolution took place in classical music at the end of the 19th century. It is enough just to remember his masterpieces such as "Tristan and Isolde" or the tetralogy "Ring of the Nibelungen". The last completed work of the great composer was the opera Parsifal. The first sketches of it were made back in 1857, thus the whole work lasted a quarter of a century. The action itself is based on two stories. The first is the 13th century epic by Wolfram von Eschenbach "Parzival". It talked about the knights of King Arthur and their quest for the Holy Grail. The second story belongs to Chrétien de Troyes, this is a rather old record of the search for the same artifact.
What is controversial in this work? The fact is that Wagner was an outspoken and violent anti-Semite. He still remains one of the most controversial figures in classical music. Once he even wrote that the Jewish race was born as the enemy of purebred humanity and everything noble. The very same opera "Parsifal" is interpreted by many as the encouragement of racism and anti-Semitism. Perhaps the main controversial point in the work is that the main character (in fact, an Aryan hero) overcomes the intrigues and difficulties erected by the magician Klingsor. But he is interpreted as a typical Jewish stereotype. Another source of the scandal around this work was the composer's unwillingness to perform his work by persons of Jewish nationality. Wagner even went so far as to write to King Ludwig, the sponsor of the work, about his protest against the appointment of Hermann Levy of the Munich Opera as conductor to the premiere of Parsifal. Many critics doubt that Wagner deliberately placed racist material in his latest work. However, given the personal convictions of the composer and the character of Klingsor's character, the work remains rather controversial, generating a wave of discussions around itself.
Ballet "The Rite of Spring", Igor Stravinsky. The premiere of this work took place on May 29, 1913. In the history of ballet, the work of Igor Stravinsky is considered one of the most influential, but at the same time one of the most controversial. With its wild energy, "The Rite of Spring" literally blew up the rules of classical music. The ballet lasts only 33 minutes and is a reconstruction of a pagan ritual in Russia. As such, there is no plot; during the festival, a girl is chosen to play the role of a great mortal sacrifice so that spring arrives. Both the music and the dances themselves were revolutionary. They used complex rhythmic structures, dissonance and strange sounds. The choreography of the ballet, staged by the legendary Vaslav Nijinsky, challenged established norms. The body movements were sharp and abrupt, which was in direct conflict with the graceful and elegant forms of traditional ballet. The ballet was presented by Sergei Diaghilev, and the scenery was created by Nicholas Roerich himself.
Whole books have been written about how the music and choreography of The Rite of Spring revolutionized classical music and dance. However, at the time of the premiere, the work was received very poorly - it was simply booed. After all, the music and dances were too harsh and "wild", too overwhelming for the exquisite taste of the musical elite. The world was simply not ready for the release of such a work. The premiere took place at the theater on the Champs Elysees in Paris, the audience literally staged a riot. Just a few minutes after the start of the piece, some began to whistle. And there were those who supported Stravinsky and his work. The two camps literally started fighting right in the theater, while the ballet was still going on. The police were called, but by the time the second part began, they had already lost control of the situation. The noise from the audience was so intense that the dancers on stage were unable to hear the prompts. Nijinsky himself sat on the edge of the stage and shouted lines for the performers to hear. The reaction to the performances was so strong that the composer was forced to flee the theater before the end of the premiere. Although now "The Rite of Spring" is considered a masterpiece of music and classics, the work certainly went down in history as one of the most controversial in the history of classical music.
Strange Fruit song, Billie Holiday. The world heard this song in 1939. Strange Fruit is one of the most famous jazz standards of all time. This was facilitated by Billie Holiday, whose performance is considered a classic, and the composition itself has become her hallmark. The song addresses issues of racism in the American South. In particular, the practice of lynching African Americans is mentioned, likening them to "black fruits hanging from an ebony tree." The song is based on a poem by Abel Meerpol, a Jewish teacher from the Bronx. He, in turn, was inspired by photographs of lynching in 1930 in Indiana. After publication, the poem was set to music and became a kind of protest note that sounded in New York.
“Strange Fruit” was a groundbreaking song for its use of vivid pictures that immediately awakened the imagination and for recognizing the existence of racism in society. The work itself condemned him. Nevertheless, many feared that listeners in the South would take revenge on the creators of the hit. However, the biggest opposition was not the racists, but the anti-communists. The fact is that the author of the poem was a member of the American Communist Party. Abel Meerpol was the adoptive father of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed in 1953 for allegedly transferring the secrets of the atomic bomb to the USSR. And then accusations fell upon the creators that the song was ordered by the communists. As a result, "Strange Fruit" was even banned from being played on the radio. Yes, many clubs have banned this popular song. While Strange Fruit may not have been the first anti-racial violence song, it is rightfully considered one of the best and certainly the most scandalous.
Song "4'33" ", John Cage. The premiere of this composition took place on August 29, 1952. It was written by the American composer John Cage. The song itself is quite experimental and consists of three parts. The introduction takes 30 seconds of silence, the main part - 2 minutes 23 seconds of silence, then the conclusion follows - 40 seconds of even greater silence. All this action lasts exactly 4 minutes and 33 seconds. The avant-garde composer instructs musicians not to play their musicians for the entire length of the composition. Cage believes that the meaning of the work is that the audience should listen to the sounds of the environment during the performance, having come to a state of harmony with it. The main instruments of the song are the audience themselves and the world around them.
Fierce debates among musicologists have been going on around 4'33 for a long time. Can this composition be considered music at all? Many argue that the absence of music cannot in itself count as it. Others argue that Cage's creation pushed the very boundaries of understanding what music is. But since the work is rather structured, each of its parts has its own specific duration, and the song is created by the musician and the audience, then we can say that this is really a musical composition. Nevertheless, it remains a controversial work around which scientific and cultural discussions have been conducted for half a century.
The song "Louis, Louis" was originally performed by Richard Berry, then "The Kingsmen". This song was released in May 1963. It was originally written by Richard Berry in 1955. But a second life awaited her, which made a famous rock song from the composition, performed by many singers. The most famous version was performed by the Kingsmen group in 1963. During the recording of the song, they very boldly mixed rhythms, giving them the famous 1-2-3, 1-2, 1-2-3 beat, which then became part of the mass consciousness. The group's version also became famous for the fact that their presentation of the texts was almost completely incomprehensible.
Ironically, the obscure song that helped popularize the Kingsmen version also sparked a lot of controversy around it. According to rumors, the lyrics were actually about sex and contain profanity. And the indistinctness of their pronunciation was admitted on purpose so that no one would understand the true meaning of the song. Such disputes led to the fact that many radio stations generally chose to remove the scandalous song from the air. In Indiana, the song was personally banned by State Governor Matthew Welsh. The controversy reached its climax after the FBI attempted to decipher the texts. The investigation lasted for 31 months. Ironically, even the secret services were unable to decode the lyrics of the song. The song has become one of the clearest examples of the fear of the upcoming rock and roll culture. In the early 60s, conservatives tried to rebuff the new trend and introduce censorship of songs they did not understand.
Single "God Save the Queen", Sex Pistols. This composition was published on May 27, 1977. This single was only the second in the history of a famous punk band. However, the song was destined to become one of the most famous in the history of this direction. The song's title itself was taken directly from the UK anthem. At the same time, the single leads a direct attack on the British monarchy, directly calling it a fascist regime. The song itself managed to reach number two on the UK national radio chart. As a result, it became one of the most famous songs in rock history.
The single was released in the year of the 25th anniversary of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. "God Save the Queen" shocked the entire conservative English society. The song quickly became a punk anthem for British youth. The single was banned by the BBC and the Independent Broadcasting Committee, which operated independent local radio stations. It was the latter committee that made it impossible for the song to continue to be broadly exposed through the media. Although the song peaked at number two on the national charts, accusations were made that it was simply not allowed to climb to number one for political reasons. And the musicians themselves were attacked by fans of the British monarchy a month after the release of their scandalous hit. Although controversy and resentment over this song has subsided in recent years, God Save the Queen remains a cornerstone of British counter-culture. And on the day of the half-century anniversary of the Queen's reign, "Sex Pistols" even reissued their most famous hit.
Song "Darling Nikki", Prince. The song was part of the Prince's album Purple Raine, released on June 25, 1984. The rock song is about a sexy villain named Nikki who stops the singer in a hotel lobby and seduces him.
The lyrics of the song portray very explicit sexual images (I met her in the hotel lobby, masturbating with a magazine), which served as the basis for the scandal. The controversy surrounding Darling Nikki was a major factor in the subsequent founding in 1985 of the American public organization Parents Music Resource Center. It was created by 4 women, headed by the wife of Senator Gore. The organization argued that such music leads to the decay and destruction of the traditional American family. As a result, a whole list of 15 songs was compiled that are the most reprehensible from a moral point of view. The list of "Disgusting Fifteen" was headed by the song of the Prince. Thanks to the efforts of this organization, the concept of parental control emerged in the music industry, when warning stickers were placed on the covers of the most scandalous albums.
Single "Dear God", XTC. This composition saw the world on June 1, 1987. It was sung by the group XTC, performing in the genre "New Wave". The vocals of the song were performed by eight-year-old Jasmine Veliet, an acquaintance of producer Todd Rundgren. The texts are a direct appeal to God, who is accused of causing suffering to people. Each verse ends with the phrase "I can't believe in you." The song peaked at # 37 on the Billboard Rock Chart and # 99 on the UK Single Chart. The band's vocalist was inspired to write this song after reading a series of books on child exploitation.
Naturally, such texts provoked widespread indignation and resentment among the most conservative sections of society. Many shops refused to sell this single, many radio stations refused it. Hysteria was especially strong in the United States. One of the Florida radio stations that broadcast the song received threats of incendiary bombs. But the biggest controversy about the song erupted over an incident in Binghampton, New York. There, 18-year-old Gary Pullis stabbed the secretary right in the premises of his school, demanding that the song be played on the institution's internal radio. The teenager himself was later arrested.
"Fuck tha Police", N.W.A. On August 8, 1998, the debut album of the American hip-hop group N.W.A. He immediately became scandalous. The song "Fuck tha Police" stood out there. She protested against police brutality and racism by white cops towards blacks. The song appeared as a result of the tension that was present between the authorities and the urban youth. This was especially evident in the arrest of Rodney King and the ensuing riots in Los Angeles in 1992. Although the song was never released separately as a single, it became the hallmark of N.W.A., entering the list of the 500 best songs of all time according to Rolling Stone magazine. This hit peaked at number 416 there.
"Fuck tha Police" quickly became one of the most gangsta rap songs in history right after its release. With its incendiary and poignant lyrics, which sometimes even directly call for violence against the police, a heated debate arose around the song. The team itself was even prohibited from performing at many venues in the country. In addition, law enforcement turned their anger towards N.W.A. The FBI and the country's Secret Service sent letters to the label's record company expressing their displeasure with the song. Among other things, the composition was criticized as a source of real violence against police officers in life.
Song "Kim", Eminem. This song was part of Eminem's third album, Marshall Mathers LP. It went on sale on May 23, 2000. "Kim" is the singer's six-minute bunch of rage and hatred towards his ex-wife Kim Mathers. The song was based on Led Zeppelin's “When the Levee Breaks” and added an extra piano riff over it.Kim's story is told from Eminem's own point of view, about how he beat and then killed his ex-girlfriend after killing her husband and young child. The song ends abruptly with the singer's shouts "Die, bitch, die!" and dragging her body into the trunk of a car.
The song "Kim" was one of the most criticized, hated, and at the same time famous rap songs in history. She was condemned by politicians and parents for portraying domestic violence. Just a year after the release of Eminem's album, the famous Columbine High School Massacre took place. As a result, the song was censored after the murderer of a four-year-old boy referred to this particular song. "Kim" even took the singer to court after the real Kim Mathers tried to commit suicide after listening to the song in Detroit on July 7, 2000.