Songs Banned on Radio in US

Violence, sex, drugs, politics, faith, and just downright loud noise were all justification for censorship of music. Singers are aimed out of dread of their power over audiences, whether mentioning the taboo subject matter, challenging government and commercialism or just disturbing the masses (intentionally or unintentionally).

What About the Songs Banned on Radio in US?

Music Censorship

Music Censorship

The mission of the American Civil Liberties Union (official website) is to defend the Bill of Rights, and it describes censorship as “the removal of ‘offensive’ phrases, pictures, or ideas.” By government-enforced regulation, or informally, through popular coercion, this censorship and prohibition of offensive material may be achieved systematically. In the United States, the Constitution forbids government-sanctioned censorship, but the most popular approach is by lobbying from public interest groups.


The First Amendment to the Constitution of 1791 states that Congress shall create no legislation respecting or banning the free practice of religion; or limiting the freedom of expression or of the press; or the right of the people to assemble freely and to seek redress of grievances from the government. This legally bans government censorship as a breach of free expression and the freedom to freely assemble for live performances.

FCC and The Radio Act

The Radio Act was passed in 1927 as a backdoor around the First Amendment, enabling government power of what can be transmitted on the air. However, by 1970, when a channel was fined for mentioning sex, it wasn’t used to impose a fine.
The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) (official website) was formed by Congress in 1934 to control communications. The FCC gets involved in the public broadcast of sexual material of music and has been active in music censorship since its inception.
Any of the instances of FCC music censorship include recording Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show (official website) from the waist up and compelling artists such as the Doors, the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles to alter lyrics in their songs that refer to sex and drugs.
In at least one case, owing to the progressive political viewpoints of the band, the FCC succeeded in censoring dissenting political views when they blacklisted a folk band, the Weavers.


The Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC)

As a way of establishing a social pressure community to censor songs, the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) was created in 1985. The PMRC was the pet project of many wives of lawmakers, who also seek funding from other pet causes. The PMRC started under the pretext of defending youth, but simply behaved without breaching the First Amendment as a means for the government to interfere.
The PMRC was not an official governmental entity, since the founders of the PMRC themselves were not generally government officials, but rather spouses who were “private citizens,” while they also had the influence and support of others who were.
The PMRC was responsible for developing the explicit music content labels and creating the sort of pressure of customer boycott that causes stores such as Walmart (official website) to stop selling uncensored content music.
Interestingly, others say these labels have also colossally soured and that artists with records bearing graphic music from the Parental Advisory label often see higher album sales than those without the label.

Reasons for Music Censorship

To exclude material that may be deemed unacceptable to the intended audience of an outlet, such as profanity or references to issues such as pornography and drug use, songs are also edited for transmission on radio and television. Usually, this is done to conform with the applicable broadcast legislation or rules of ethics and to make the songs more marketable to a mass audience.


Some listeners have voiced frustration with the editing of music for radio airplay, claiming that the creative dignity of the original recording is undermined, and urging listeners to look for new outlets, such as digital downloads, that are not subject to such censorship.


If the music is considered to be indecent to play in the aftermath of particular events, it may be dragged or downplayed by broadcasters, or even ban it. For example, the program managers of the radio corporation Clear Channel collated an internal list of “lyrically questionable” music after the September 11 attacks, which included various songs related to the war, death, destruction, flight, or New York City.

Legal Issues

In some cases, music and albums may be banned because of problems with copyright (related directly to sampling) and other legal issues. For example, after complaints from ABBA, for whom the music was sampled on the album without permission, the 1987 JAMs album (What the Fuck Is Going On?) was forced to withdraw from distribution.

Music Censorship – VGFacts Five Trivia Feat. Yungtown

Notable Examples: Songs that are Banned/Censored in the US

As unlikely as it may seem present, there was a period when you couldn’t say anything naughty on the record, not long ago. Actually, unless you were particularly clever about it, people couldn’t even suggest anything naughty. There is a long and colorful background of music censorship, but this act of suppression has often resulted in a creative resurgence. Here are some of the Notable Examples of music that are banned/censored in the US.
“Brown Eyed Girl,” Van Morrison (June 1967) Van Morrison Originally named “Brown Skinned Girl,” this rock masterpiece is about an interracial couple. The title was changed by Morrison because he thought it would make it more radio-friendly. Some stations banned the line’s song, “Making love in the green grass,” even then. An edited version, nevertheless, was eventually released, altering it to “laughin ‘and a-runnin’, hey, hey.”
“Strange Fruit,” Billie Holiday (1939) Billie Holiday This song was a poignant and strong portrayal of the tragedy of a lynching by Billie Holiday. Upon its launch in 1939, it was banned from U.S. radio for its heavy, grim content. This was an album that the audience desperately wanted to hear at the moment, as bleak as the lyrics were.
“LoveGame,” Lady Gaga (March 23, 2009) Lady Gaga For their highly provocative themes, particularly the iconic line, “I want to take a ride on your disco stick,” this nightclub success was banned on the radio. Gaga was of the view that the radio officials were too harsh on her, but acknowledged that the line was by no means meant to be subtle.
“God Only Knows,” The Beach Boys (July 11, 1966) Beach Boys In some parts of the U.S., this gentle, harmonious ballad from The Beach Boys’ most distinctive record, Pet Sounds, was prohibited for “blasphemy.” Even without any derogatory connotations, using the term “God” in an album was deemed inappropriate at the time.
“Juicy,” The Notorious B.I.G. (August 8, 1994) B.I.G. Another indication of how catastrophic incidents can cause censorship is Rapper Notorious B.I.G.‘s song “Juicy”. After the September 11 attacks, the lyric “time to get paid/blow up like world trade” was banned from the album.
“If U Seek Amy,” Britney Spears (March 10, 2009) Britney Spears The U.S. and the UK banned this notorious Britney‘s song whose chorus and title sound like “F-U-C-K me” when sung. U.S. radio stations changed the name to “If U See Amy” and BBC radio merely changed it to “Amy,” originally uncertain if the double entendre was really censorship content.
“Physical,” Olivia Newton John (September 1981) Olivia Newton John Upon its launch, “Physical” became immensely popular in the U.S. and the UK, but due to its explicit nature and censored lines such as “There’s nothing left to speak about unless it’s horizontally,” several radio stations banned Olivia‘s album.
“Imagine,” John Lennon (October 11, 1971) John Lennon John Lennon‘s peace ballad has been both respected and despised globally as another target of Clear Channel’s post-9/11 prohibitions. It was blamed by religious groups for the line “imagine that there’s no heaven,” but that did not deter it from topping charts and receiving universal critical acclaim.
“The Real Slim Shady,” Eminem (May 16, 2000) Eminem In June of 2001, the FCC fined Colorado Springs Radio (KKMG-FM) $7,000 for performing the altered version or clean version of this hit. Although no explicit language was used in this edition, the FCC imposed the fine because of the sexual imagery and themes of Eminem‘s single.
“Like a Prayer,” Madonna (March 3, 1989) Madonna The “Like a Prayer” of Madonna sparked huge outrage worldwide. The music video was criticized by the American Family Association and the Vatican for its potentially blasphemous imagery. The song was even opposed by religious organizations after it was featured in a Pepsi commercial. Pope John Paul II, meanwhile, urged people soon after the song’s publication to boycott Madonna’s gigs in Italy in 1990.


Is music censorship a violation of freedom of speech?

The First Amendment states explicitly that it is not necessary for the U.S. government to create a rule restricting freedom of speech. Supporters of pro-censorship argue that music is not contained in the First Amendment, nor that music is a speech. Freedom of expression requires freedom of speech and the right to express an opinion of one’s own.

When did music censorship begin?

In a single lifetime of tolerance, from 1855 to 1865, under the reign of Tsar Alexander II, censorship reforms were introduced. There has been a transition from pre-censorship law (arbitrarily deciding in detail what may or may not be allowed) to a punitive mechanism focused on legal liability. For instance, in 1907, several states in America implemented the first censorship order in the United States, allowing the police chief to review all films to decide if they should be placed on screens.

Can the government ban song lyrics?

Obscenity, theft, child pornography, speech fundamental to criminal activity, speech that incites immediate lawless behavior, speech that violates intellectual property law, actual threats, and commercial threats are forms of speech that are granted less or no protection by the First Amendment (and thus may be limited). This also applies to music censorship as we mentioned in the article. Specifically, there are various grounds where music might be banned or censored.

Why should music be censored?

For many reasons, adults from all over the world claim the music should be censored. One of the explanations is that the number of suicide attempts would be limited by music censorship. This is because there are quite a lot of songs that talk of someone or someone killing themselves.
Another explanation why people say music should be censored is that addiction to drugs and sex would be decreased. Many videos of viral songs have people doing drugs and having sex. Consequently, people assume that exposure to these activities would be minimized by censoring certain tracks. People also think the songs would get better with the consort ship of music.

The Weird History of Parental Advisory and The Music Industry