Ever since music has been broadcasted on mainstream radio stations there always has been a level of censorship that the powers that be impose on lyrics. Now whether an unelected body has the right to prevent certain songs to be played is another issue entirely but here are some of the best ever banned songs that went onto big things and became worldwide hits.
Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Relax
Radio 1 in the UK was the first radio station to ban Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, perhaps DJ Mike Read panicked when he realized what the song was all about and was afraid of losing his job. But the very fact he yanked the disc off the decks before it was finished was probably the greatest mistake ever made by a radio DJ.
Relax spent fifty-two weeks in the Top 75 UK charts, and showed that by trying to suppress the song, Read had actually created an unprecedented aura about it and the band. Other private stations soon jumped on this mistake and placed the track on their top-ten playlists. The rest as they say is history and Frankie Goes to Hollywood had a string of further hits after Relax.
Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus – Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin
This famous French pop song managed to upset just about everybody from religious leaders to Radio moguls all over the world, including the Pope. It took great relish that it was supposed to depict in song two people making love, and certainly some of the graphic noises that Jane Birkin produced left nothing to the imagination.
The two actors were just performing as their trade had taught them as they were actors. And so they delivered a performance that was not just believable but made the listener think they were a voyeur, and slightly embarrass them. But since the song was made back in 1969, society has lightened up considerably concerning censorship and Je T’aime Non Plus now actually is the soundtrack that features in a Marks and Spencer advertisement.
Love to Love You Baby – Donna Summer
Disco diva Donna Summer managed to surpass even Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin when she released Love to Love You Baby in 1975. Nearly every radio station in the UK and America banned this record as it was basically the sound of Summer reaching sexual climax.
But what the airways considered inappropriate the nightclubs and discos lapped up, and the song became an anthem among club goers in every American and British disco. Record sales boomed and Donna Summer had a huge hit on her hands.
Since the original release there have been many remixes and the track is used by many DJ’s even today to mix into modern records. It made Donna Summer a huge star despite the controversy at the time, as somebody once said there is no such thing as bad publicity. The common factor that seems to link these songs is that they became huge hits even after being banned from airplay. Perhaps radio stations should not act as world censors, after all nobody has appointed them as such.