Music videos as we know them today are a relatively new thing. Throwing a brief history check in here, with the arrival of sound-on-film in the 1920s, clips were played before a feature film in the form of musical shorts of vaudeville stars and other musicians (much better than our current cinema experience: 20 minutes of ads followed by another 20 minutes of trailers). In the 1940s soundies were created, three-minute films featuring music and dance, and were displayed in jukeboxes.
But it was the 60s which saw the proliferation of something more familiar for us these days, promotional clips and full-length films following The Beatles’ lead. TV networks created music programs in Australia -Countdown (1974-1987), Sounds (1974-80s)-; Britain – Top of the Pops (1964-2006); and America – Video Concert Hall (1979-80s) -. This eventually led to the launching of MTV on August 1, 1981, main responsible of the booming of the current music video industry.
MTV has gained fame over the years for its politically correct, prophylactic and sensitive censorship policy. I guess it’s really not worth the hassle when you have so many organised religious fanatics in the country but most of the uncut versions of such controversial have been shown at unsociable hours in MTV2, channel created in 1996.
MTV’s first video: The Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star (1979)
Controversy in music videos comes in various forms. It ranges from traditionally forbidden subjects (sex, nudity) to offensive views (racism, homophobia), without forgetting sensible subjects such as drug abuse, religion or violence. Sex and nudity are undoubtedly the most “popular” ones and the easier boundaries to break in the early years. For some of these videos the fuss created is business as usual these days, and a great way to illustrate how our society has incorporated these elements to our culture is by chronological order. I also tried to expand the boundary breaking adding related videos and incorporate different themes although a certain degree of overlapping is unavoidable. Please bear in mind that black metal and the like has been excluded from the list because they play in another league altogether.
I welcome comments telling me what video shattered your world and I will tell you mine in exchange. Just in case Stinkfist was not brilliant enough, guitarist Adam Jones comes up a kick-ass video surrounded by a H.R. Giger´s inspired atmosphere. Little secret though… I would have loved to see a video for H.
This article was first posted on February 25, 2013