Musicians are human too, you know. If 2014 has reminded us of anything it’s that the leading lights of rock and pop aren’t immune to the odd blunder. Take the below 20 artists, for example, who may well look back on these controversial and often hilarious flashpoints from the last 12 months with their heads in their hands…
Kasabian have the honour of making the list of clangers twice. First, they printed a load of t-shirts to mark their headline performance at Glastonbury with the wrong date: the merch mistakenly claimed they’d topped the bill at Worthy Farm on June 28, rather than the 29th. “At least we turned up on the right day,” said Tom Meighan.
And then, in November, they accidentally projected an image on stage during a gig in Glasgow which read “London is full of cunts”. Guitarist Serge Pizzorno said: “We were all shocked and certainly didn’t mean to offend anyone. The production team fucked up. There were supposed to be photos of mundane objects in that section but instead I turned around and couldn’t believe my eyes.”
Foul play! Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg was reprimanded by the FA for breaching rules that dictate match officials must travel to and from games with their assistants. Clattenburg, though, had other ideas: he snubbed the rule so he could watch Ed Sheeran play in Newcastle and subsequently got dropped from referring his next match.
Staind frontman Aaron Lewis was left embarrassed in October after he was invited to sing the US national anthem at a 2014 World Series baseball match – but forgot the lyrics to ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’. “All I can say is I’m sorry and ask for the nation’s forgiveness,” said Lewis afterwards. “I am completely torn up about what happened. America is the greatest country in the world.”
Some pop fans will buy anything, eh? Taylor Swift’s record label accidentally uploaded eight seconds of static to iTunes instead of a snippet of her single – but the ‘release’ was so popular it ended up topping the iTunes chart in Canada, anyway.
Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith infuriated Brazilian fans when he simulated wiping his backside with a replica shirt from soccer team Flamengo during a drum clinic. Supporters were so irate they issued death threats, prompting Smith to admit: “I want to apologize for my inappropriate antics at the drum clinic, my joke about team rivalries went too far. Flamenco fans, I'm sorry."
Was there a more spectacularly ill-judged move in 2014 than Macklemore's decision to dress up as a ‘Jewish stereotype’ at a gig? It went down so badly he had to apologise for perceived anti-Semitism. Oh dear.
Boris Johnson put his foot in it when he claimed that London – and not Liverpool – was really responsible for launching The Beatles’ career. The mayor of Liverpool – and lots of its citizens – weren’t best impressed with Johnson’s faux-pas, with politician Joe Anderson describing his comments as “beyond ludricous”. “It’s another embarrassing gaffe by him,” he added.
Lady Gaga’s no stranger to head-turning theatrics, but critics felt she took it a bit too far at SXSW in March. The singer was strapped onto a giant spitroast and simulated sexual intercourse with artist Millie Brown, before Brown vomited green liquid onto Gaga. Demi Lovato slammed their performance for glamorising eating disorders, but Gaga insisted it was all “art in its purest form”.
A fact-checking lesson for Billy Bragg now, who condemned Taylor Swift for ‘selling her soul’ to Google. Bragg suggested Swift had signed a deal to help launch their streaming service YouTube Music Key only for Taylor’s representatives to rubbish his claims. “I now realise that I was mistaken in this assumption and wish to apologise to Swift for questioning her motives,” backtracked Billy.
To play one Foo Fighters track containing swearwords is unfortunate, but to play two is careless. And yet Radio 1 broadcast the Foos’ ‘Something For Nothing’, which contains two uses of the f-word, on both November 6 and November 7. “The presenters apologised after the record was broadcast, and we are very sorry for any offence caused.”
Poor MØ. Her appearance on SNL with Iggy Azeala was so torrid that she felt moved to write a letter of apology afterwards, blaming her awkward performance and out-of-sync vocals on technical faults. “"It pains me and I'm SO sad today. But life goes on… I'm not perfect, never claimed to be, don't want to be, but yeah, sometimes it sucks to be an anti-hero,” she wrote.
NOFX’s Fat Mike reacted angrily when fan Alex Medak invaded the stage and tried to put his arm around him. The frontman attacked Medak, but the pair quickly made it up on Twitter. “Thanks for the KO Mike, didn’t hurt too much. Soz for creepin up on you.” “I’m sorry too Alex,” responded the singer. “If you go to the show on Friday I’ll buy you a beer. Just don’t throw it at me alright?”
Not everyone’s quite so repentant for their actions. Crooner Rod Stewart was sued by a fan for allegedly breaking his nose with a football at a gig in 2012. Asked for a response, Stewart eschewed a bog-standard apology. “Well, it’s a contact sport,” he shrugged, echoing the words of many a hard-man footballer over the years.
Amnesty's Belgian branch went for some attention-grabbing images in their campaign against torture. It featured famous figures, their faces bruised and battered, spouting unlikely opinions, including Iggy Pop declaring ‘Justin Bieber is the future of rock’n’roll’. One catch: they hadn’t asked Iggy’s permission to use his Photoshopped image and hastily apologised when Pop took exception.
Ah, Kanye. We can always count on you for a media slip-up. And so it proved in July, when the rapper was booed at his Wireless set for a Shakespearian-like rant during his song ‘Halfway’, during which he touched upon his wife Kim Kardashian, criticised sports brand Nike and ended by discussing his self-confidence. Choice quote: "FUCK MY FACE!"
Bono had egg on his face in November when he felt forced to apologise for flooding everyone’s iPods with the new U2 LP. “Oops. I’m sorry about that,” he said when asked by a fan to never team up with Apple again. “Drop of megalomania, touch of generosity, dash of self-promotion.” Only five per cent of iTunes users actually chose to download the album, mind…
This year saw the growing outcry over the use of Native American war bonnets as fashion accessories – Glastonbury recently restricted their sale following an online petition. Pharrell, unfortunately, appeared on the front of Elle wearing one, prompting online outrage and the Twitter hashtag #nothappy. He apologised, saying “"I respect and honor every kind of race, background and culture.”
Madonna got her year off to a strange start after she posted a photo of her son brandishing a battle of gin online. The only snag? Rocco’s just 13-years-old. After she was criticised for promoting underage boozing, Madge fired back: “No one was drinking we were just having fun! Calm down and get a sense of humour!”
Getting on Trent Reznor’s bad side seems like a very unsafe idea, but in January the Grammy Awards risked the Nine Inch Nails man’s wrath when they cut short his set to make way for an advert break. “A heartfelt FUCK YOU guys,” fired Reznor on Twitter, prompting a grovelling apology from the award’s organisers.
Last but not least: 50 Cent, who was the subject of ridicule after throwing what has got to be the worst pitch in baseball history. Stopwhatever you're doing and relive the moment in all its glory right now. Maybe stick to rapping, hey Fiddy?