Offensive Music Videos That Were Never Released

Back in the heyday of MTV, music videos often stoked great controversy. Whether artists were using the medium to make a social statement or to test the boundaries of network television, many of the most memorable music videos of that era were designed to provoke. A small handful of music videos however, have been so offensive that they were denied an official release by their creators.

Lady Gaga attends Mark Ronson’s ‘Club Heartbreak’ | Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images for Absolut Elyx

‘Do What U Want’

Lady Gaga performs in Los Angeles, California | Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Lady Gaga shocked the world in 2013 when she made the decision to release a duet with R. Kelly, a man who had been accused of abusing many women. The fact that the song was risque only increased the controversy.

To direct the video, she sought out Terry Richardson, a prominent photographer who had also been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. Releasing this video could have prompted a greater backlash than anything Gaga has seen in her entire career. The singer ultimately decided against releasing the video, although a short snippet of it eventually leaked on the internet.

‘American Life’ by Madonna

Madonna in Tokyo, Japan | Photo by Jun Sato/WireImage

Madonna is often called the Queen of Pop, but she’s also the queen of controversial music videos. From the shocking intimacy of the “Justify My Love” video to the religious provocations of the “Like a Prayer” video, the Material Girl rarely has any compunctions with speaking her mind.

In the early 2000s, she finally made something that went a little too far, even by her own standards. During the early days of the Iraq War, the singer released a protest song titled “American Life.” The original video for the song included upsetting sequences of soldiers getting injured in combat.

Madonna ultimately decided that the video was too disturbing and she shot a second video; this second video is the only one which ever aired on television. The version of the video which made it to broadcast is shocking only in how inoffensive it is. It simply features the singer performing the song in front of numerous national flags.

For those who are curious (and who can stomach it), the original video can be viewed on YouTube. The Madonna of the early 1990s never would have censored herself, by the mid-2000s the singer had toned down her image and her art.

‘Looking Hot’ by No Doubt

No Doubt attend the 2003 Billboard Music Awards | Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

After Gwen Stefani’s solo career took off, the band that made her famous, No Doubt, was put on the back burner. Fans had to wait a full eleven years for the band’s sixth album. One of the singles from the album, “Looking Hot,” was an innocuous club track. The band decided to film a music video for the song with an Old West theme.

The band consulted experts on Native American history at the University of California in an attempt to make sure that the video was tasteful. In the video, Gwen Stefani played a Native American warrior. When the clip was released, critics decried the video’s casting –  as well as its portrayal of Native American culture – as offensive. The band pulled the video from YouTube and released a statement expressing regret for creating the video.

How to get help: In the U.S., call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to connect with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.