If you thought all this nonsense about ‘British values’ was whack, then you ought to try living in Russia. Not content to just repress anyone’s sexuality that isn’t the common or garden variety according to the gospel of Vladimir Putin, now the prez is taking his new puritanism to vertiginous heights by banning profanity from the arts. The words for ‘cunt’, ‘cock’, ‘whore’ and ‘to fuck’ have been excluded from music, film, theatre, books, magazines, blogs, and any other media you might care to mention, in an attempt to purify the Russian language (foreign words – especially English ones – are banned too).
Records, DVDs etc, containing naughty talk are now being sold in plastic-packaging with labels warning of corruptibility. It does make you wonder what music would be like here if someone slapped a ban on certain words because they might damage the “national and spiritual identity” of our nation. It’s the kind of totalitarian nonsense that might make you want to form a band and call it Pussy Riot. Or just celebrate 10 tunes that would sound rather different if stripped of all their obscenity.
Rage Against the Machine – ‘Killing in the Name’
The searing rage in Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name’ was powerful enough on release in 1992, and when it was re-released 17 years later as the angry anthem that would displace the hegemony of The X Factor Christmas no.1, it was as though the incubation period had made it even more furious still. “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me!” spat Zac de la Rocha over and over again like a loon. If Zac had said ‘fiddlesticks to you’ then one suspects the impact would have been greatly reduced.
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – ‘Stagger Lee’
‘Stagger Lee’ is a traditional American folk song, but it didn’t stop the Bad Seeds leaving their indelible mark on it with plenty of profanity and more besides, and on no track does the singer get more into the dastardly mind of a killer with more hilarity than on this live Murder Ballads favourite. “I’m a bad motherfucker, don’t you know,” drawls Cave as the incarnation of the twisted killer, “and I’ll crawl over fifty good pussies just to get one fat boy’s asshole”. Charmed I’m sure.
The Notorious B.I.G. – ‘One More Chance’
Where would hip hop be without a bit of controversy? For instance, what was the Notorious B.I.G. packing? “So recognise the dick size in these Karl Kani jeans,” he boasts during ‘One More Chance’, “I’m in thirteens, know what I mean?” Not really. The track, taken from the late, legendary MC’s 1994 album ‘Ready to Die’, is utterly filthy, and all the better for it. So that’s why they called him Biggie.
The Libertines – ‘What a Waster’
“What a waster, what a fucking waster / you pissed it all up the wall,” sang the Libs on their first single and breakthrough hit, before throwing in a well-timed “two bob cunt”. Would this tune lose some of its magic where the swears not there? While we’re here, who the titular waster is we’re not sure, though if it’s Pete Doherty is picking them up for Dionysian excesses then someone’s definitely got problems.
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Adam Green – ‘Bluebirds’
The louche madhatter of Croonsville was probably not writing about Cardiff City on this delightful ditty, but then what he was actually going on about it’s not that easy to decipher. “And I don’t go out for lunch,” sings Adam sweetly, “and I don’t go out for cunts,” he also sings, not sweetly at all! And he looked like such a nice boy as well.
Peaches – ‘Fuck the Pain Away’
Peaches’ raw electroclash classic wouldn’t have resonated so hard with nihilistic clubbers if she’d been singing “fornicate the pain away”, and it wouldn’t have fitted properly either. The word “fornicate” wouldn’t have fitted properly, what did you think I was talking about, a dick? You should wash your mind out with soap and water.
Pixies – ‘U-Mass’
Black Francis’ frat boy anthem about his time at the University of Massachusetts includes many a choice cut from hedonistic student antics. “Oh kiss me cunt,” he beseeches, “oh kiss me cock”. It’s educational apparently, and it’ll probably not surprise you that Frank was majoring in Anthropology at the time.
Björk – ‘Alarm Call’
The most alarming thing about this song – taken from Björk’s fourth album Homogenic – is the line that comes out of the nowhere like a haymaker from a violent cockney who’s a bit Brahms and Liszt: “I’m no fucking buddhist, but this is enlightenment,” she wails, and everyone goes quiet. No meditation necessary for ol’ Gudmundsdóttir, no Herman Hess, no giving up everything like a nonce, Björk fuckin’ boshed it, just like that. Nirvana mate, it’s fackin’ cushty.
Azealia Banks – ‘212’
Swearing is not only big and clever, it’s also great fun and really, really cool. If you don’t believe me then you’ve probably forgotten all about ‘212’, the coolest track of 2011, performed by former cool list topper Azealia Banks, who swears like a schooner full of drunken navvies. “Imma ruin you cunt,” was just one of the saucy verses from Yung Rapunxel’s epic and now seemingly – only – classic.
Lil Jon ft. Ice Cube – ‘Real Nigga Roll Call’
It’s the sweariest track in history apparently, with 295 words that could be deemed offensive by someone somewhere, according to the Guinness Book of Records. Jack White, if you’re reading this, then consider the gauntlet officially thrown down…