If you’re of a certain vintage, you’ll have fond memories of music television. Entire stations were dedicated to showing the accompanying videos for many of the hottest new songs: from simple performances, to those that challenged the medium with the likes of storytelling or appropriate imagery to heighten the song’s themes.
However, before the times of YouTube, channels such as MTV and VH1 had to be very mindful about the boundaries of what they showed. Powered by advertising partners in order to keep themselves on the air, they didn’t want to interrupt the flow of cash by upsetting the mega corporations that sent their cheques.
Will your sexy music video be at odds with this family friendly advertiser? Will your implications of violence upset the average suburban Mother? And don't you dare throw up that particular finger...!
As such many videos over the years have been dropped by these stations. Rather than fade into obscurity however, many have soared into the stuff of controversial legend. The word “banned” instinctively piques one’s curiosity. Why did this happen? And is there any way I can still see it?
The following music videos were victims to the censors and their concerns, whether it was founded or otherwise.
10. Queen - Body Language
The 1980s were a time of cutting edge and expressionism in all of the arts that we know today, perhaps none more so than music. The music video as a format was on the rise and people were experimenting with what they could do to sell their singles and pushing buttons is always an easy way to the top.
That’s not to say that Queen’s 1982 release Body Language is cheap or exploitative - in fact its scenes of sweaty skin in a dimly lit room are ideal for the sexy tone of the band’s funky dance track. Queen were never shy though and Body Language caused the band to get the honour of entering the Guinness Book of World Records for the “first music video banned by MTV”.
By today’s standards it’s really rather tame and the reason given as “nudity” is rather laughable now considering no erogenous bits nor bobs actually appear. But from the off, the whole affair has a torrid and steamy feel to it that occasionally crosses lines into homoerotic territory as the band strut around their sweating models in leather.
Body Language eventually found itself returning to the air later on the likes of VH1 Classic as sexuality in music videos rapidly became the norm and Body Language was no more daring than what had followed it.