Turn It Up

12 Songs That Were Yanked From the Radio


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In this era where seemingly anything goes when it comes to popular entertainment, it’s hard to believe that people get upset lyrics in a song. But music in particular has an ability to really infuriate people, which leads to hit songs getting pulled from the radio stations. To get you ready for the premiere of Eric Jonrosh’s banned masterpiece The Spoils Before Dying, check out a dozen tracks that got pulled from the airwaves for a variety of reasons.

12. “Girl Crush,” Little Big Town

Country radio is notorious for being conservative, but a song like “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town is certainly not worthy of all the hubbub it generated. The track, about a woman jealous of her ex- boyfriend’s new flame, was yanked from stations across the country because people interpreted the lyrics as advancing the “gay agenda.”

11. “Pumped Up Kicks,” Foster the People

It has to be hard to be a band in this situation –- Foster the People had a huge hit in 2011 with “Pumped Up Kicks,” a breezy summer jam about a troubled teen shooting up a school. But after the shocking attack at Sandy Hook Elementary, it didn’t seem wise to be bopping your heads along to lyrics like “you better run, better run, faster than my bullet” and many stations stopped playing it.

10. “Walk Like An Egyptian,” The Bangles

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, radio juggernaut Clear Channel published a massive list of songs that were “questionable” that it recommended DJs not play. Some of them made sense, but some, like the Bangles’ late-’80s hit “Walk Like An Egyptian,” were pretty perplexing. Some stations did go along with the list and blocked many of the songs from airplay for a time.

9. “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!,” Jerry Samuels

This absurd 1966 novelty record by Jerry Samuels (sung from the perspective of a mental institution inmate) hit #3 on the pop charts the year it was released and then dropped like a stone because DJs around the world feared (with good reason) that people would be offended. Interestingly enough, teenage fans of the track actually picketed radio stations in protest.

8. “With You,” Chris Brown

Sometimes it’s not a specific song that gets pulled from the radio but an artist’s entire body of work. In 2009, with domestic abuse allegations swirling around Chris Brown, Cleveland, Ohio station WAKS yanked all recordings by the artist from the airwaves, including his recent hit “With You.” It’s not certain exactly when they lifted the ban –- maybe after Brown finished his community service?

7. “Relax,” Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Liverpool New Wave band Frankie Goes To Hollywood got some BBC airplay behind their breakthrough single until a DJ noticed that the lyrics were almost entirely about gay sex. The Beeb pulled the track from airplay, but the damage was done and it shot to #1 on the charts without their support.

6. “If U Seek Amy,” Britney Spears

Before she pulled it together, Britney Spears’ post-Kevin Federline career was a sad and sordid plea for attention, and in 2009 she made a stab at radio controversy with the generic dance-pop tune “If U Seek Amy.” Sing the chorus fast enough and it sounds racy, of course, and the Parents Television Council raised a fuss and threatened stations who played it until Britney recorded a “clean” version.

5. “Money For Nothing,” Dire Straits

The Dire Straits hit probably most famous for its low-tech computer graphics video was pulled from the Canadian airwaves in 2011. This shouldn’t be surprising to anybody who’s actually listened to the lyrics, which contain an entire verse that could be construed as homophobic. Some Canadian stations protested the ban by playing the song on loop for an hour, which sounds like a fate worse than death.

4. “Travelin’ Soldier,” The Dixie Chicks

In 2003 the Dixie Chicks had the number one album on the charts, as well as the top single with “Travelin’ Soldier,” but stations around the country yanked them from the playlists after band member Natalie Maines had harsh words for George Bush and the war in Iraq.

3. “Come Again,” Au Pairs

Here’s another track that was yanked off the air by the BBC for sexual reasons. Post-punk pioneers the Au Pairs covered a number of edgy topics in their music, but “Come Again” -– about “orgasmic equality’ -– is a remarkably cold-hearted examination of the beast with two backs.

2. “Die Young,” Ke$ha

After the Newtown school shooting that we talked about earlier, another track that radio DJs shied away from playing was her recently-released single “Die Young.” The song’s title and lyrics just didn’t seem appropriate.

1. “Royals,” Lorde

Most of the reasons radio stations have given for pulling songs have been understandable, but let’s close this one out with a totally ludicrous case of sports-related censorship. In 2014, San Francisco radio station KFOG pulled Lorde’s “Royals” from the rotation because the New Zealand singer admitted to being inspired by a picture of Kansas City DH George Brett. The Royals were up against the Giants in the World Series, and San Francisco ended up taking it 4-3.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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