Top 10 Most Controversial Albums



Top 10 Most Controversial Albums

VOICE OVER: Matt Campbell
Script written by George Pacheco

Don't be alarmed...they're just albums. Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Controversial Music Albums. For this list, we're going to be ranking the albums whose lyrical or conceptual content sparked controversy or outrage upon their original release.

Special thanks to our user KintaroMescaline for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at http://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest
Script written by George Pacheco

Top 10 Controversial Music Albums

Don't be alarmed...they're just albums. Welcome to, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Controversial Music Albums.

For this list, we're going to be ranking the albums whose lyrical or conceptual content sparked controversy or outrage upon their original release. We will be omitting albums-such as Jane's Addiction's "Ritual de lo Habitual" which featured mature album artwork. If you want to check out more controversial album covers, be sure to check out our video on that!

#10: "Like a Virgin" (1984)


There have been a bevy of influential artists out there, but very few can claim to single-handedly steering the fashion sense of teenage girls around the world. Madonna did just that in the wake of her sophomore album, Like a Virgin, in 1984. The album's major singles, which included "Material Girl," "Dress You Up" and the title track, were all smash hits, yet didn't land without some controversy, thanks to Madonna's racy image and sexualized live performances. News outlets across the globe all clamored for footage of the Material Girl writhing on stage, decked out in lace and embarking upon her career as a certified pop sensation.

#9: "Stained Class" (1978)
Judas Priest

The story behind Judas Priest's fourth album Stained Class is one mired in controversy, thanks to a lawsuit brought against the band by the families of two teenagers who engaged in a suicide pact after listening to "Better By You, Better Than Me." The boys' families claimed that the band inserted subliminal messages which said "Do It" behind frontman Rob Halford's vocal in the song, despite the fact that the song was in fact a cover of the band Spooky Tooth rather than a Judas Priest original. Still, the trial remains a tragic and truly controversial moment in hard rock history.

#8: "Tomb of the Mutilated" (1992)
Cannibal Corpse

Whew...where do we start? Maybe with the graphic, oft-censored cover art displaying two rotting corpses engaging in a sex act? Or maybe the fact that Cannibal Corpse were forbidden from performing tracks from their first three albums in countries like Germany? Then, of course, there's the band's appearance in "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective." Errr, wait...what? Jim Carrey's death metal fixation aside, the controversy behind Cannibal Corpse's third studio album continues to this day, and if you don’t believe us just take a look at the track listing.

#7: "The Marshall Mathers LP" (2000)

By the turn of the new millennium Eminem was no stranger to controversy, thanks to the unflinching realism presented on The Slim Shady LP in 1999. That backlash only increased when Eminem released the substantially darker and even more personal The Marshall Mathers LP, an album chock full of adult themes and extreme lyrical barbs which made its predecessor sound positively lightweight. An easy target for conservative politicians and parents alike, The Marshall Mathers LP shook up the entertainment world and essentially changed music censorship forever!

#6: "Fear of a Black Planet" (1990)
Public Enemy

Hip hop legends Public Enemy have always been considered some of the genre's most intelligent and politically active artists, but it was this very socially aware release which also made them targets of controversy. Classics like "911 is a Joke," "Burn Hollywood Burn" and "Fight the Power" were all huge hits, but the band's profile hit hard times when founding member Professor Griff began spouting anti-Semitic rhetoric during interviews. Griff's comments would lead to his eventual dismissal from the group, although Public Enemy's stance as one of hip-hop's elder statesmen would remain secure.

#5: "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols" (1977)
The Sex Pistols

Seeing Johnny Rotten today it might be hard to imagine the powder keg of fury unleashed by The Sex Pistols back in 1977, but at one point it seemed as if everyone was pissed at these British punks. Whether it was the band's entourage habitually sporting Nazi regalia or the fact that "God Save the Queen" took aim squarely England's Elizabeth II, the Pistols were never far from public ire. Frontman Johnny Rotten and crew would also be in a memorably tense television debut, where the band cussed out their host on live T.V., before eventually imploding in a blaze of self-destructive glory so fitting to their punk rock roots.

#4: "Mechanical Animals" (1998)
Marilyn Manson

There have been few hard rock and heavy metal artists that've captured the public spotlight quite like Marilyn Manson. By 1998, Manson's was a name that many parents loathed, so when it came time to release the album Mechanical Animals, detractors were on high alert. The studio effort’s artwork is striking in and of itself, but when people started to make connections between the album and the Columbine shootings of 1999, the band really came under fire. Despite all the buzz surrounding it, Manson’s image remained strong, with the following album Holy Wood even addressing the controversy head on.

#3: "Body Count" (1992)
Body Count

In the early '90s it was hard not to be aware of the controversy surrounding Body Count. The album raised ire and criticism almost immediately due to its aggressive lyrical content, but it was the album's closing track "Cop Killer" which caused the biggest media sensation. The song's confrontational stance on police violence was directly challenged in the media by actor and NRA spokesman Charlton Heston, with many others joining in the call for the album's censorship. Body Count's label would eventually reissue the album without "Cop Killer," ironically replacing it with "Freedom of Speech," a collaboration between Ice-T and Jello Biafra.

#2: "Rage Against the Machine" (1992)
Rage Against the Machine

The musical landscape of 1991 was a period of transition for hard rock and heavy metal, and this band stood out as representatives of change throughout the decade. Rage Against the Machine stood in strict defiance to both the hair metal excesses of the 1980s, as well as the emerging grunge movement of the time,and were steeped in political fire and fury. This sentiment, born from the protests of the 1960s and '70s, would serve as a source of controversy for the rap/metal band, as frontman Zack de la Rocha's pointed commentaries about world injustice and corruption would go on to define the band's enduring creative legacy.

Before we name our most controversial album, here are a few honorable, or some might say "dishonorable" mentions!

"G N’ R Lies" (1988)
Guns N’ Roses

"Sheik Yerbouti" (1979)
Frank Zappa

"W.A.S.P." (1984)

#1: "Straight Outta Compton" (1988)

The impact of N.W.A is impossible to overstate. The hip-hop landscape was very much a different place in 1988 before the group made their debut with Straight Outta Compton. The group were one of the progenitors of the Gangsta Rap genre, and gained sufficient controversy over the album's raw and frank lyrical content, which stood in strict contrast to the "dance and party" vibe associated with many rap acts of the time. Instead, "Straight Outta Compton" described a hard and violent life surrounded by drugs, gangs and police brutality, laying the groundwork for countless hip hop acts in its wake.

Did you agree with our list? Which music album do you think was the most controversial? For more in depth top 10 lists, published every day, please subscribe to!
While I agree with a lot of this list, this has the most egregious missing album: 2 Live Crew's "As Nasty As They Want To Be." It got pulled from stores and they got jailed for its content. It would be #1 on many peoples' lists.