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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J.I. talks the meaning behind Hood Life Krisis | #HostedByDeascent [EP 6]

In the latest offering of #HostedByDeascent, Deascent finally sits down with J.I., one of the Big Apple's hottest up-and-coming emcees and a budding hip-hop sensation.

Based out of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the 18-year-old creative released his latest work, Hood Life Crisis Vol. 2, back in December to glowing reviews, and from there he's been on an unstoppable tear into 2020. "It was really just the hunger, that drive," J.I. said about his fast-paced creative output. "I was desperate. I was desperate to get out there and put pressure on people."

Check out the full interview below:

Hood Life Krisis Vol. 2


UK Band Sorry Are the Future of Indie Rock with "More"

It's the latest song from the band's upcoming debut album.

Sorry are tricky to pin down.

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Miley Cyrus Is Not a Queer Icon: Do Better

"I always thought I had to be gay, because I thought all guys were evil, but it's not true."

Miley Cyrus

Kobby Dagan

For those still celebrating Miley Cyrus as a queer icon, may we invite you to take a moment to reconsider.

Yes, she came out as pansexual and genderfluid in 2015, soon proving herself to be an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community by founding Happy Hippie foundation for homeless queer youth. Then, after ending her marriage to Liam Hemsworth, Cyrus briefly dated reality TV star Kaitlynn Carter before moving on to Cody Simpson, with whom she did an Instagram live on Sunday. Here's where things got...dicey, to say the least.

In the midst of the livestream, Cyrus stated, "There are good men out there, guys, don't give up. You don't have to be gay, there are good people with dicks out there, you've just got to find them," She said, while Simpson laughed. "You've got to find a dick that's not a dick, you know? I always thought I had to be gay, because I thought all guys were evil, but it's not true. There are good people out there that just happen to have dicks. I've only ever met one, and he's on this live."

Oof. Miley, honey, it's 2019! Twitter, of course, immediately popped the f*ck off.

Soon, Cyrus wielded a powerful, often misused celebrity weapon: the notes app apology.

So. There's a lot of toxicity to unpack here. Let's start with the easy part: Cyrus' implication that the only good man she has ever met is Cody Simpson. *Cue her father, brothers, and Liam Hemsworth giving the camera a long, Jim Halpert-esque look.* Misandry aside, Cyrus implied that 1.) Being queer is a choice. 2.) Dating men is always preferable to dating women, even if you're queer. 3.) Cyrus herself chose to date women because of a distrust for men, not necessarily an attraction to women. None of these things were addressed in her apology; in fact, she didn't even bother to claim that she misspoke or that it was meant as a joke. All she really did was re-enforce that men are sh*tty.

To be clear, for anyone still living in 1950, being queer is not a choice, dating within the LGBTQ+ community is not an exciting and temporary foray into counter-culture on your way to a heterosexual relationship, dating men as a bisexual/pansexual woman is not somehow inherently preferable to dating women, and you don't get to call yourself queer just because you find men annoying sometimes. Being queer is defined by being attracted to genders other than the opposite gender to your own, and again, it is NEVER a choice. Just a little bit louder for those of you in the back: BEING QUEER IS NEVER A CHOICE.

If you still aren't sure, here's some science for you: A 2019 study by Andrea Ganna, lead author and European Molecular Biology Laboratory group leader at the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Finland, said that while her study did not find a "gay gene," it revealed "there are a number of genetic variations that can influence sexual behavior." Essentially, the research reinforces that queerness is simply "a natural part of our diversity as a species." That means that women being attracted to women is not simply a matter of thinking "all guys were evil" and so resorting to women—it's a matter of bonafide, biological sexual attraction.

Please do better, Miley.


Is Future Problematic? A Look at One of Rap's Most Successful Misogynists

As the rapper’s latest baby mama drama unfolds, it’s time to hold Future accountable

Future - Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn Festival d'ete de Quebec - Jul 2018

Photo by Rmv/Shutterstock

Let's face it: It might be time to cancel Future.

Nayvadius Wilburn, otherwise known as the Atlanta trap icon Future, has historically had trouble taking personal responsibility for his actions.

For one, while he's always been frank about his battles with addiction, he's claimed to be (somehow) unaware of his music's influence on young kids.

Yet up-and-coming rapper Juice WRLD, who recorded a collaborative project with Future last year, admitted that the Atlanta rapper inspired him to start sipping cough syrup when he was in middle school. "When he told me that, I was like, 'Oh sh*t. What the f*ck have I done?" Future recently told Rolling Stone. "I didn't think I'd care about that stuff. Four years ago, I probably wouldn't have cared if he told me." Juice WRLD claimed Future "kind of apologized."

In a separate interview with Genius, Future admitted that he had actually stopped drinking cough syrup but remained mute on his sobriety out of fear that his fans would stop "loving him" if they knew he was sober. He mentioned that certain people in his inner circle pressured him to continue to use drugs and party. "The people around you are chasing the high so they want you to continue to chase that same high," he said.

Both the interviews came prior to the January release of his latest studio album, Future Hndrxx Presents: The WIZRD, and they seemed to represent a dramatic shift in tone for the rapper. However, listening to the album, that growth and sense of responsibility were suddenly absent. "I'm too rich to be sober," he sings on "Overdose," "got the whole world taking Xan's"; he turns a hint of regret into a braggadocio statement. He describes on "Unicorn Purp" how he's "on that purp like a unicorn."

But both fans and critics were rather forgiving of these discrepancies, suggesting that this album was the end of the old Future. "I think this is the ending of Future that we once knew," said Rory on The Joe Budden Podcast. "It did feel that way. I think the content is changing now."

But Budden wasn't as forgiving, reminding listeners of his other discrepancies.

After acknowledging the rapper's hypocritical attitude toward drug use, Budden went on to address other hypocrisies that Future's faced and failed to address. In an interview with Beats 1, Future claimed that his ex-wife, Ciara, introduced their kid to her new husband, Russel Wilson, before "she allowed Wilson and Future to meet." "He do exactly what she tell him to do," Future said, mentioning that Wilson should be a "man" and forbid Ciara from even mentioning his name in public. "If that was me, she couldn't even bring his name up. She know that. She couldn't even bring her exes' names up...don't give that sh*t no energy."

"Why does he keep telling us how everybody else should be behaving?" Budden said of the interview. "And all of it is to benefit him," his co-host Rory added. Budden went on to say that he doesn't respect Future as a man: "In real life, we ain't see no maturation from Future!" When asked for a response, Future said candidly, "I don't f*ck with Joe Budden." He added, "He got a badass bitch though."

The latter comment falls in line with how the rapper has historically objectified women.

He has historically denied culpability when it comes to mistreating his sexual partners. Future and Ciara have been at each other's throats since 2015 in what has been a very public post-breakup feud. The soon-to-be newlyweds called it quits after Ciara discovered that the rapper had been sleeping with his wardrobe consultant. Future denied the allegations, claiming he was the one to call it quits and that he just stuck it out because he felt embarrassed for her.

Since then, the two have had a tumultuous back and forth. Future has bad-mouthed his ex on social media multiple times, allegedly costing Ciara an endorsement deal in the process. Future's public airing out of his frustrations has also inspired fans to be equally vicious, continuously coming to the rapper's defense to attack Ciara and her new husband.

While Ciara and Future share custody of their kid together, the rapper has five additional baby mamas, with a sixth stepping forward this week. Eliza Reign, the latest to have a child by the rapper, alleged that she initially received death threats after deciding to keep the baby; and since the little girl's birth, she's been unable to get in contact with Future.

He's body-shamed and degraded his female fans.

Future's toxic behavior has hardly tainted his legacy as an artist, but there have been enough instances to warrant severe criticism. Back in March, rumors started to fly that Future wouldn't allow "fattie" women to enter a club he was performing at in Miami. He denied the allegations, saying, "I love all women." He additionally came under scrutiny in 2017 when he said on Twitter that his "kids gotta make a sacrifice" for having a superstar dad. The statement came a year after one of his baby mamas sued him for "emotional neglect" of their son, citing that the child has "emotional and behavioral issues" as a result of Future's bad parenting.

A few months after the release of WIZRD, Future announced the release of a surprise EP called SAVE ME. The EP, which critics have derided as his most thematically stifling, attempted to paint a more sympathetic narrative of the artist. "I only call you when I'm faded / Your arms around me, come and save me," he sings on "Xanax Damage," referring to his continued Xanax abuse. "I've been possessed, they wanna take my soul," he sings on "Love Thy Enemies." "Save my flesh, I'm in need of your love."

Future clearly sees himself as a creative martyr, as someone who's sacrificed his health and happiness in order to create great art and keep his fans. But even in his darkest and most vulnerable moments, obnoxious lyrics like, "I'm gettin' cocky, treat a good girl like she ran down / Catch an attitude I'ma go and f*ck your friend now," squash any empathy one could have for the 35-year-old. While he attempts to paint himself as a lost soul in need of guidance, the #MeToo movement has proven that misogynistic men will do anything to frame themselves as victims in order to ultimately direct attention away from those who have suffered as a result of their ignorance.

Future hasn't matured; he's just changed his narrative. In January, when asked for his opinion on the downfall of R. Kelly, Future said: "When you give things too much attention, they blow up...stop talking about it, it'll go away." That bit of advice seems to be Future's calling card, and while ignorance is clearly bliss in the Hip-Hop community, at what point are we going to start holding our favorite artists to a higher standard?

In the summer of 2017, I stood waiting to see Chance the Rapper perform at Boston Calling.

As the crowd poured in, three drunk and aggressive college students shoved past me. All three of them were draped in fraternity letters, with matching fitted snapbacks. "F**kin move!" one of them cursed as they plowed through, "I said all of you f**Kin' move!"

It was a dissonant moment of aggression considering who we were mutually waiting to see. Chancelor Johnathan Bennett has always been relentlessly optimistic in both his music and personal life, and I'm certain he would have been disappointed by the altercation had he witnessed it. But, as Chance took the stage and dove into "Angels" off 2016's Coloring Book, I was surprised to watch the three men emotionally sing along, arms wrapped around each other's shoulders. They screamed every word at the top of their lungs. They looked at each other with boarish appreciation. "Wear your halo like a hat, that's like the latest fashion! I got angels all around me they keep me surrounded!" At that moment, I understood the importance of an artist like Chance The Rapper.

As a member of the 2014 XXL Freshman Class, Chance rose alongside hard-hitting trap rappers like Lil Durk, Kevin Gates, Lil Bibby, and Vic Mensa. But unlike his colleagues, Chance's goofy demeanor, combined with his soulful and heartwarming lyrics about love and the glory of God, painted him as a different breed of artist. In short, Chance The Rapper had made jubilance cool. Even these three rude frat boys couldn't resist his charm. They were filled with childish glee.

This past March, Chance took to social media to tell the charming story of how he met his wife and recounted in touching detail how he slowly fell in love with her. The series of posts made national news and gave his fans a unique look into who Chance was as a person. It's rare for rappers to be so vulnerable; many of today's biggest rap stars tend to keep their fans at arm's length when it comes to their personal life.

As a result of this special relationship with fans, when The Big Day didn't release precisely at midnight, fans reacted as if they had been betrayed by a close friend. Then, around noon, it appeared out of nowhere. Chance fans immediately deemed the project a classic just from the setlist alone. The album is a staggering 22 tracks, with a wide breadth of features from Ari Lennox and Megan Thee Stallion to Death Cab For Cutie and Shawn Mendes. The Big Day appeared to be exactly what the title suggested.

But as Aesop once noted, "It is possible to have too much of a good thing," and The Big Day's relentless enthusiasm can be suffocating, at times even corny. "Hey there, lovely sister, won't you come home to your mister?" Chance mutters on the cringe-worthy "Let's Go On a Run." "I've got plans to hug and kiss ya, I've got plans to hug and hug and hug you!" Additionally, despite a well-placed feature from Ben Gibbard, "Do You Remember" tries too hard to evoke nostalgia. "Do you remember how when you were younger, the summers all lasted forever?" Gibbard sings. "Days disappeared into months, into years, hold that feeling forever." Yikes.

The Big Day succeeds when Chance loosens up and just has fun. "Handsome" is a playful bout of braggadocio, with Chance's exuberance oddly complementary to the lyrical prowess of Megan Thee Stallion. "Big Fish" is another endearing concoction of humor and swagger, with Chance casually rapping things like: "I swear my story just like Big Fish, I've seen hoes I was always just like 'Which? Which?'" At other moments, the optimism does strike chords. "I Got You (Always and Forever)" is whimsical and makes perfect use of Ari Lennox's pristine voice, and "Roo" is enjoyably impish: "I'll leave you inside the freezer and let you chill for the weekend, but forget over the weekend and come back inside in a month." As lethargic as the listener is by track 25, Chance's self-reflection on "Zanies and Fools" is a welcome look inward, with Chance and Nicki Minaj offering some of the strongest lyricism of their careers.

Given all that fans now know about Chance, every misstep made on The Big Day is easily forgivable. To believe Chance doesn't believe every single word he says would be a fallacy; at no point does the listener suspect Chance of being inauthentic. The Big Day is an imperative album in 2019, and while it doesn't strike every chord, its formidable number of features and overall runtime is a grand statement to the friends Chance cherishes most: his fans. "I really truly did this for y'all," Chance said during his album release party at Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. "As long as our relationship stays mutual, this can go on forever."

The Big Day