The 20 most shocking music videos of all time
Erykah Badu – Window Seat
Window Seat sees Badu gradually shedding clothes until there’s nothing left to shed. It all ends with her apparent murder near Dealey Plaza, the infamous spot of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. While the end result has the nudity blurred out, this wasn’t a closed film set. Badu and co. were doing it “guerrilla style” in the real locations, while surprised onlookers gaped or shouted her down. “Her contingency plan was to get arrested,” said the video’s director Chike.
Aphex Twin – Windowlicker
Windowlicker demands applause firstly due to the number of swear words it manages to squeeze in. In the four minute opening sequence, there are no less than 127 uses of profanity – that’s an average of more than one cuss word every two seconds! While it may have been the foul language that cost Windowlicker (which is a parody of gangster hip-hop videos) the opportunity to be televised before 9pm, it’s the infamous image of a horrifically deformed, monstrous head atop a woman’s body that assured the clip its notoriety. Chris Cunningham, you’ve done it again.
Klaxons – Twin Flames
Klaxons’ Twin Flames brings a whole new meaning to NSFW, as a group of naked, freakishly conjoined bodies get it on in a David Lych-esque orgy. The original version of the clip only lasted a few minutes before being pulled from YouTube, and all that remains is an edited down cut – but the full shebang lives on via Vimeo. Heed our NSFW warning though. If you thought The Human Centipede was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Justice – Stress
If Justice set out to cause a stir with the video for Stress, they got their wish and then some. Directed by Romain-Gavras, Stress follows a marauding gang (with the Justice cross emblazoned on their jackets) as they smash up cars, assault passers-by, toss Molotov cocktails and generally behave very badly.
“The idea was to make a really violent video to match the music,” Romain-Gavras put it to Interview magazine. “It’s shot in a realistic way. Lots of people thought it was true.”
Lots of people took offense, too, with major music channels refusing to play it on grounds of racism and violence. The video owes much to classic French film La Haine, which also painted a bleak picture of disenfranchised ‘yoof.
Rihanna & Calvin Harris – We Found Love
A pill-popping, Doc Marten-wearing, home-tattooing, heroin-chic Rihanna got a lot of attention with her new clip for We Found Love featuring Calvin Harris. The hubbub wasn’t only due to the pop-star’s confronting portrayal of junkie-dom, but also speculation that the clip was an ode to her relationship with her abusive ex, Chris Brown.
Eminem – Stan
Eminem used to be one of the most controversial figures in music, and his track Stan whipped the public to the peak of their anti-Slim Shady hysteria.
The controversy was understandable – Stan told the story of an obsessed fan putting his pregnant girlfriend in the boot of a car and driving them both off the edge of a cliff. The MTV ‘clean’ version of the song is so extremely cut down that the third verse may as well not exist, and even the full 8:15 long version still has lines like “shut up bitch”, “screaming in the trunk” and “if she suffocates, she’ll suffer more, then she’ll die too” bleeped out. Just in case you were wondering.