A while ago, we ranked the hottest music videos of all time. But so much has happened since this article was last published, and we need to recognize a few more steamy music videos that have our jaws on the floor. We've added five more MV's to the ranking because they deserved recognition.

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13 of the Most Controversial Music Videos Ever

From Kanye West to Madonna, these gory and graphic clips got people talking — for better or for worse.

Photo by Gordon Cowie on Unsplash

Music videos are a perfect opportunity to expand the story of a song.

The best music videos can showcase killer choreography, Halloween-ready attire, or movie levels of cinematic gold; others can spark controversies, no matter how well-intended. Whether centered around copious bloodshed or near-pornographic nudity (sorry, Mom and Dad), there's one thing all controversial music videos have in common: They get people talking.

Here are 13 music videos released over the past 30-plus years that have sparked disputes. Watch at your own risk.

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Don't Worry, Miley Cyrus Is Still Freaky

With "Mother's Daughter," Miley Cyrus makes a pro-choice tribute to feminist punks.

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Anyone still concerned that Miley Cyrus might be reverting back to her squeaky-clean Southern roots can stop right now, because it's clear that Miley isn't going back to white dresses and fields of wildflowers anytime soon.

Her newest video, "Mother's Daughter," finds her celebrating feminism, freedom of choice, queerness, and gender fluidity. She spends most of the video rolling around in a skin-tight red leather bodysuit and calling herself nasty, evil, and a witch—all words traditionally used to denounce women who don't comply with patriarchal norms. "Don't f**k with my freedom," goes the refrain, and it's clear that Cyrus is deadly serious: She has a fanged genitals to prove it.

Miley Cyrus - Mother's Daughter (Official Video)www.youtube.com

Though her performance comes off as slightly trite and exaggerated, the video's strongest point is its lineup of diverse bodies, all in flattering and powerful positions. That's a refreshing change from the legions of slim, mostly white, heteronormative-looking backup dancers that have been constants in music videos since the dawn of MTV. Guest features include 11-year-old philanthropist Mari Copley, body-positive actress and model Angelina Duplisea, dancer and activist Mela Murder, non-binary professional skateboarder Lacey Baker, trans models Aaron Phillip and Casil McArthur, and Cyrus's own mother, Tish Cyrus.

Overall, the video is decidedly intersectional, not exclusively fixated on race, gender, or sexuality but rather concerned with tearing down the boundaries between them. Along with its diverse cast, it features an array of feminist messages, including "virginity is a social construct" and "my body my choice" flashing between clips, alongside "images of breastfeeding, C-sections, menstruation pads—everything [about the female body] that's supposed to carry some taboo, but we should be beyond that," in the words of the video's director, Alexandre Moors. This imagery and the video's overall concept were modeled after the punk aesthetics of pioneering feminist groups like Riot Grrrl and Guerrilla Girls.

miley cyrus mother's daughterImage via YouTube

"The video is about the woman's body—the right to own your own body and make it free from the male gaze, in any way shape and form," said Moors in an interview with the New York Times. "It's a broad message, and we're not trying to be dogmatic. But we're living in difficult times in America, and what I get from this video is that it injects a lot of energy and determination and the right fuel for the struggle."

Still, in an era where social justice equals profit, it's likely that we'll be seeing more and more pop stars (or rather, their marketing teams) cashing in on diversity and social awareness. Sometimes, that will lead to painfully manufactured flops like Taylor Swift's ill-advised "You Need to Calm Down," which used a demographic Swift was not a part of as an accessory, so that she could place herself at the helm of a phony brand of allyship.

On the other hand, Cyrus—who is actually bisexual and who has a long history of supporting LGBTQ+ causes—comes off as a bit more genuine in this video than Swift did, as she's not trying to speak out for groups that she doesn't belong to. She also puts her own body on the line, drawing "mixed reactions" for its "intense imagery," according to Fox, and seemingly promising that her commitment to radical feminism is not just an act.

However, what really needs to happen in this era of social-justice-as-branding is the elevation of voices who actually belong to marginalized demographics. After all, Miley Cyrus has done performed her fair share of cultural appropriation, picking up and dropping identities at will; perhaps she's found her niche in intersectional feminism, but time will tell.

In the end, it's great when stars support intersectionality and representation, but that doesn't make up for actually recognizing artists who don't belong to dominant identities (or who aren't backed up by massive corporate record deals).

On the other hand, in a nation that seems closer to Handmaid's Tale-levels of dystopia each day, any protest is better than nothing, right?


Bobby Long Channels Kathy Bates In New Video

The video for "Nautical," a single from new album, Sultans, sees Long in a grinningly macabre mood.

Despite an affable, flannel-clad exterior, singer Bobby Long has revealed, in a new video for his song, "Nautical," a twisted side.

Long, now based in New York, hails originally from Wigan, a large town just outside the former economic powerhouse of Manchester. Its a region known for nurturing fine musicians: The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Joy Division and New Order, The Buzzcocks, Oasis, The Fall and The Verve are all associated with northern England's largest city.

A lot of what the above-mentioned groups have given the world is, mostly, variations of post-punk – a noticeable contrast with Long, whose music is a few shades lighter. His new album, Sultans, while less folky than its predecessors, still carries the upbeat mood of his previous work. Undercutting the album's generally sunny vibe, though, is the unsettling video for "Nautical," a languid seductive track that's one part Marvin Gaye and one part Dan Auerbach.

Bobby Long: "Nautical" (Official Music Video) - Sultans Album Out Nowwww.youtube.com

The video's narrative bears a strong resemblance to Stephen King's novel, Misery, wherein a novelist is held captive by an obsessed fan - only in this iteration, it's Long who plays the crazed kidnapper; the object of his adoration is Jack Dawson, Long's real-life friend and the producer of Sultans. As the down-tempo track — all ride cymbal and underwater electric piano — spools out lazily, we see Long incapacitate the hapless Dawson with an injection from a syringe. He wakes to find himself chained up inside a sparsely lit, filthy trailer, whose interior could be described as "serial killer chic."

An increasingly frantic opera of captivity follows as Long, dressed like a dumpy 1980s Silicon Valley programmer in a button shirt, vest, pleated slacks and coke-bottle glasses, "encourages" the frightened Dawson to perform, thrusting a guitar into his trembling hands; a species of concert is eventually put on in front of an audience of mannequins, spookily arranged in the amber, swirling dust of the trailer.

As Long explained to Billboard.com, the "Nautical" video came from his interest in puncturing the somber image he'd thus far cultivated as a folk-oriented singer-songwriter. A story featuring forced injection, abduction, and psychotic fixation may seem an unconventional way to do that, but the video is only macabre-light — Long's wholesome persona remains firmly intact. Perhaps, in the end, Long couldn't bring himself to pantomime doing anything too extreme to his longtime friend and collaborator (like re-enacting Misery's leg-breaking scene, for instance), even for the sake of art.

Say what you will about his commitment to the role of deranged abductor: Long's dedication to his own art is inarguable. Sultan is a lovingly crafted album that rattles pleasantly with the fuzz and jangle of guitar, the shimmer of keyboard, the thump of room-microphoned drums, and Long's soulful croon, that never slides into the overly earnest or insipid.


Matt Fink lives and works in Brooklyn. For more of his work go to organgrind.com.

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