The songs they tried to ban

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The songs they tried to ban

Body Count, 'Cop Killer' (1992). A brutal track about revenge on an abusive policeman, 'Cop Killer' caused outrage amongst the media and politicians, including George Bush Sr. It was argued that lyrics such as "Cop killer, fuck police brutality" helped spark riots in LA, which pushed law officials to campaign for Warner Bros to withdraw the album.

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The songs they tried to ban

Anti-Nowhere League, 'Streets of London/So What' (1981). After being prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act 1959, police seized all copies of the record from distributors and the record label itself. 'So What' contains the word fuck countless times, as well as references to drugs, bestiality and STIs. The confiscated stock was later destroyed. The song's power to shock was revived in 1996 when Metallica covered the song at the MTV Europe awards.

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The songs they tried to ban

Barry McGuire, 'Eve Of Destruction' (1965). Banned by many radio stations upon its initial release for the authority-baiting line "You're old enough to kill, but not for votin'", the anti-war ballad was then banned again by BBC Radio during George Bush Sr's invasion of Iraq in 1991, and then again by American media giant Clear Channel after 9/11.

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The songs they tried to ban

Carter USM, 'Bloodsport for All' (1991). This track, about racism and bullying in the British army, was another song that fell foul of BBC censorship following the outbreak of the Gulf War. The Beeb were concerned about offending the military by airing anti-establishment lyrics such as, "Lay down, play dead for Di and Fergie". Photo: PA Photos

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The songs they tried to ban

Crass, 'Penis Envy' (1980). Many large UK record stores refused to stock the British political punk act's music after one store in Cheadle was prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act for selling Crass albums. The 'News Of The World' deemed 'Penis Envy' "too obscene to print". The original album now sells for high prices to collectors.

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The songs they tried to ban

Frankie Goes To Hollywood, 'Relax' (1983). The BBC's most famous - and embarrassing - ban. Radio 1 DJ Mike Read pulled the song off air because of its "disgusting" sexual lyrics. The ban backfired as the song went on to become the seventh biggest selling single of all time. The intention had always been to shock: early adverts for the single featured frontman Holly Johnson wearing rubber gloves alongside the pun: 'All the nice boys love sea men'. Photo: PA Photos

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The songs they tried to ban

The Kingsmen, 'Louie Louie' (1963). The '60s garage-rock anthem, originally released by R&B artist Richard Berry, was banned by the governer of Indiana, Matthew E Welsh, due to allegedly indecent lyrics such as "I fuck my girl all kinds of ways" and "I felt my boner in her hair". These accusations led to an FBI investigation for violating obscenity laws - but no charges were brought.

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The songs they tried to ban

Paul McCartney and Wings, 'Hi Hi Hi' (1972). Banned by the BBC for its "suggestive" lyrics, "get you ready for my body gun" (later corrected by McCartney to "get you ready for my polygon", yeah, right) and a slight drug reference in "We're gonna get hi, hi, hi". Radio stations decided to give airtime to B-side 'C Moon' instead. Photo: PA Photos

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The songs they tried to ban

The Beatles, ‘Yesterday And Today’ (1966). Famously referred to as ‘The Butcher Cover’, 'Yesterday And Today' was only released in the US and Canada. The album cover featured the band smiling amidst the carnage of decapitated baby dolls and pieces of meat. After its release, record label Capitol tried to recall the thousands of already shipped records. Photo: PA Photos

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The songs they tried to ban

The Who, 'My Generation' (1965) The BBC initially refused to play ‘My Generation’ on air for fear of offending people who stuttered (“talking ‘bout my g-g-generation”). But when the song became an instant hit, the Beeb gave in and added the track to their playlist. Photo: PA Photos

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The songs they tried to ban

Rage Against The Machine - all songs. Within hours of the 9/11 tragedy, American radio executives, including those at Clear Channel, made a list of over 150 "lyrically questionable" songs, including all of political protesters RATM's. These songs were not technically banned - broadcasters were asked to "exercise restraint" when playing them. Signature track 'Killing In The Name' was played over speakers in ASDA, Preston, in 2008, prompting complaints from customers.

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The songs they tried to ban

The Strokes, 'New York City Cops' (2001). The New Yorkers self-censored the US version of 'Is This It' for fear of offending Americans in wake of 9/11. The lyric "they ain't too smart" in reference to New York police was thought too derogatory considering the tragic event, and the band re-released a "safe" version of the album in early October - minus 'New York City Cops'. Photo: Dean Chalkey

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The songs they tried to ban

Dead Kennedys, 'Frankenchrist' (1985). The third album, released by one of America's toughest political punks, 'Frankenchrist' held a poster of H.R. Giger's 'Penis Landscape' - a poster that depicts a lot of, ahem, genitals. This led to Jello Biafra's band being brought to trial for distributing harmful matter to minors, although the case was unsuccessful. Pic: Redferns

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The songs they tried to ban

Sex Pistols, ‘God Save The Queen’ (1977). Released during Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee, the controversial punk hit was banned by many TV, radio and retail chains, including the BBC. Lyrics “her fascist regime” and “There’s no future in England’s dreaming” caused uproar. One London shopkeeper was even charged under the Indecent Advertising Act 1899 for displaying the LP in his window. Photo: PA Photos

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The songs they tried to ban

Oasis, ‘Dig Out Your Soul’ (2008). Chinese authorities objected to Noel Gallagher’s involvement in a 1997 ‘Free Tibet’ concert which has led to the British band being banned from performing in China this April. Both shows scheduled for Beijing and Shanghai were cancelled as the government revoked the performance licenses and instructed ticket agencies to stop selling tickets immediately. Photo: Dean Chalkley

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The songs they tried to ban

Avril Lavigne, ‘The Best Damn Thing’ (2007) Islamists in Malaysia urged their government to cancel the pop-punk princess’ performance in Kuala Lumpur in August 2008, deeming her to be “too sexy” for them. “We don't want our people, our teenagers, influenced by her performance,” said party official Kamarulzaman Mohamed at the time. Despite an initial ban, the show went ahead as planned. Photo: PA Photos

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The songs they tried to ban

George Michael, 'I Want Your Sex' (1987). The former Wham! frontman's suggestive title lyric in this track led to a ban on many US and UK daytime radio stations. Despite Michael's intention of showing the beauty of monogamous sex in its racy video, MTV refused to air it before watershed believing it promoted promiscuity. Photo: PA Photos

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Added: 24 Mar 2009

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