Seeing that it's Good Friday, and there are rumors that noted blaspheme Lady Gaga may release the video to her pseudo-controversial "Judas" this Easter weekend, Popdust has gone and compiled a list of artists who dared to deploy/exploit that most sacred item of religious iconography—the cross. Check out the top 10 music videos, album covers, photo shoots and movie clips that appropriate the cross for fashion, provocation and good old-fashioned titillation.
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10. Britney Spears' Publicity Photo with a Priest
Britney took this picture in 2007 of her sitting on a priest's lap while wearing a cross as part of the Blackout photo shoot. Bill Donohue, president of the New York-based Catholic League, was not amused, calling the picture a "bottom of the barrel" stunt and claiming it as evidence that "this girl is crashing."
9. Ozzy Osbourne's Blizzard of Ozz album cover
Metal god Ozzy Osbourne, always a fan of the cross in videos, photos and live performances, most memorably wielded the symbol on the cover to 1981's multi-platinum-selling Blizzard of Ozz album. Ozzy first adopted the cross in 1969, when he asked his steel-worker father to make he and his Black Sabbath bandmates crosses to prevent against a hex that a group of satanists had allegedly put on them.
8. Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box" Video
Nirvana played in front of a cross in their memorable video for 1993's modern rock hit "Heart-Shaped Box." The Anton Corbijn-directed clip also features an old man climbing on top of the cross and being pecked at by crows while wearing a Santa hat, which is almost certainly symbolic of something.
7. George Michael's Faith Cover
Ever the conflicted Christian, George Michael rocked the cross earring better than anyone since Madonna on the cover to his diamond-selling 1987 album Faith. Michael eventually took out the earring, but continued to wear a cross in public appearances well into the 21st century.
6. "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" (From Monty Python's Life of Brian)
A field of crucified tunesmiths sing the bitterly ironic (and super-catchy) "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" in the final scene of 1979's Monty Python's Life of Brian. Backlash around the movie's supposed blasphemy led European advertisements for the movie to declare it "so funny that it was banned in Norway!"
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5. Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction Cover
For the cover of their enormously successful 1987 debut album Appetite for Destruction, Guns N' Roses enlisted famous cartoonist Robert Williams, who originally depicted a "robotic rapist about to be punished by a metal avenger." When that was deemed too much by several retail stores, Williams instead drew up a cross graphic for the cover, with skull representations of each of the five members adorning its four points and intersection.
4. Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" Video
It's a testament to the truly stunning collection of miscellaneous creepy shit collected by Trent Reznor and director Mark Romanek for Nine Inch Nails' 1994 video "Closer" that you might not even notice the shot (at the 3:40 mark) of a monkey tied to a cross the first time or two you see it. Still, even amidst the scarabs, disembodied pig heads and S&M garb, the image of a monkey tied to a miniature cross stands out. (In a jesus-is-savior.com article decrying christian rockers DC Talk for hiring an ex-NIN director to helm one of their videos, the writer asks "Have you seen the "ultra-blasphemous" video "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails? It shows a monkey crucified on a cross!")
3. Lady Gaga's "Judas" Single Cover.
Revealed in an old episode of Lady Gaga's video blog GagaVision, the cover art for Gaga's upcoming "Judas" single depicts a cross with a heart in the middle, appropriate for the song's central lyrical theme of being in love with Jesus' betrayer. The cover is likely just the tip of the iceberg for the controversy that the song and its still yet-to-premiere video are likely to generate, with Bill Donahue (him again!) already denouncing the clip as a stunt. "Lady Gaga tries to continue to shock Catholics and Christians in general," he says of the video. "she dresses as a nun ... she swallows the rosary. She has now morphed into a caricature of herself."
2. Nas and Puff Daddy's "Hate Me Now" Video
Nas caught a lot of heat for the video for 1999's "Hate Me Now," which depicted he and collaborator Puff Daddy being crucified. None were more upset about the incident than Puffy himself, who was so incensed that the scenes with he on the cross were not excised from the broadcast edit of the video that he supposedly stormed Nas' office, striking his manager Steve Stoute over the head with a champagne bottle. A disclaimer was added to the video's intro, stating that Nas "believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and this video is in no way a depiction of his life or death".
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1. Madonna's "Like a Prayer" Video
In addition to wearing a cross necklace, singing with a church choir and even making love to a black jesus statue come to life, Madonna courted controversy in her 1989 video for "Like a Prayer" by singing in front of a field of burning crosses. The video, directed by Mary Lambert, caused such a stir that Pepsi ended up dropping Madonna from their "Prayer"-featuring ad campaign, though they still paid the singer her $5 million fee. It was hardly Madge's first or last flirtation with the symbol, as she wore cross earrings for much of her early career, and sang from a cross during performances on her 2006 Confessions tour.
Any good blasphemes that we missed? Be sure to let our heathen asses know about them in the comments section.