Posted at 9:00 AM Jan 21, 2009By Kenny Herzog
As we reported yesterday, Britney Spears was being rushed back into the emergency room. But this time it was her music studio and not a psychiatric ward, to do some last-minute surgery on her new single, "If You Seek Amy." Apparently, the title was subversively intended to sound like something a good deal naughtier when pronounced phonetically, sparking commercial radio's refusal to air the track, and thus its impending resurrection as the nonsensical "If You See Amy."
Of course, Mrs. Spears is just the latest in a long line of illustriously censored songs. This differs, of course, from a mere lyric being bleeped out, which would canvas nearly every hip-hop single of the last two decades; cover art being airbrushed, a la the Black Crowes' Amorica; or a song's complete and controversial removal from all pressings, as in the case of Body Count's "Cop Killer."
But the guiding forces are generally the same, and at their minimum incorporate the following: conservative media, righteous protest groups and puritanical retail chains. All of the above have upheld the time-honored tradition of illogically inciting teen-baiting scandal and sensationalism around something that would otherwise pass through the bowels of our cultural intake like a harmless blast of fiber.
So while there are no doubt several more worthy of inclusion, here are five risque, and subsequently retitled, songs that either awkwardly sapped the song of its original appeal, or in some cases just made us laugh at the stick up censor-happy advocates' asses.
5. Akon featuring Snoop Dogg, "I Wanna Fuck You"
Re-Titled As: "I Wanna Love You"
Degree Of Silliness: Absurd, But Understandable
Granted, if you're going to release a single that graphically refers to copulation, you're probably well-prepared to acquiesce and record a modified version. But "I Wanna Love You" presents a dual-edged dilemma: 1. Particularly when paired with the video, and for anyone familiar with either man's careers, it rings transparently disingenuous as a romantic offering. 2. It presents "love" in this instance as an action verb, and it ultimately winds up feeling as if its missing a double modifier, like perhaps a "make" before "love" and a "to" prior to "you" for clarification. Because to suggest "love" in its most sentimental form is both in blatant contrast to where Akon places emphasis on the lyrics and awkwardly juxtaposed against the content of the verses.
4. Crass, "Reality Asylum"
Re-Titled As: "The Sound Of Free Speech"
Degree Of Silliness: Silly In An Ominous Big Brother Kind Of Way
In 1978, punk upsetters Crass were releasing their Feeding Of The 5000 EP. Only problem was the pressing plant was offended by its Jesus-eviscerating lyrical content and refused to finish the job. So in a truly anarchist spirit that would be total anathema to most mainstream cowtowers, the boys simply filled the space with white noise, rechristening it (pun very much intended it) "The Sound Of Free Speech," an ironic fuck you to the bullying of opposing points of view that still resonates influentially today.
3. The Rolling Stones, "Let's Spend The Night Together"
Re-Titled As: "Let's Spend Some Time Together"
Degree Of Silliness: Very, But Handled With Wiseass Charm
The Stones weren't the only group given threatening ultimatums by Ed Sullivan (a certain Doors incident comes to mind). But it was no less ridiculous, in a Lucy and Desi sleeping in separate beds kind of way, that when they appeared on his variety show in 1967, the villainous host forced Mick Jagger to utter the titular refrain to "Let's Spend The Night Together" as the more innocuous (but oddly more suggestive), "Let's Spend Some Time Together." Jagger may not have had the Jim Morrison-esque cahones to ignore Sullivan's demands, but he also wasn't a showoffy acid-poet, and said a thousand words of rebellion with a simple eye-roll and near-guffaw.
2. Black Eyed Peas, "Let's Get Retarded"
Re-Titled As: "Let's Get It Started"
Degree Of Silliness: Dare We Say, Retarded
We here at NCDSUV are no great fans of recent Sucks recipient will.i.am. And while one has to cringe at the supposedly conscientious rapper's highly insensitive (and contradictory) appropriation of the word "retarded" as the focal point for a club anthem about individuality, I think it's safe to say the same culture that survived Katy Perry's "Ur So Gay" is capable of weathering an ultimately meaningless misstep by a middling MC.
1. Nirvana, "Rape Me"
Re-Titled As: "Waif Me"
Degree Of Silliness: 98 Degrees Of Silliness
Sure, Kurt Cobain's supposedly ironic anti-rape empowerment offering was lacking in real intellectual depth. But the kneejerk, and incredibly predictable, wave of preemptive panic it invoked in both radio and the supposedly egdy MTV (who disallowed Nirvana to perform the song at the Video Music Awards, although Cobain teased into "Lithium" with the song's opening lyrics anyway) was a low-point amidst an era that was otherwise breaking through walls of "hear-what-you-want-to-hear" that had been painstakingly erected by everyone from Ed Sullivan to Tipper Gore. But then it just got downright, well, retarded when Wal-Mart refused to stock the album, resulting in the song's (no-doubt intentionally on the part of the band) non-sequitir replacement.