The Most Shocking & Disturbing Music Videos Of All Time

So Madonna has gone and made a controversial music video called “Girls Gone Wild,” directed by fashion power photogs Mert & Marcus. What’s so provocative about it that you need to enter you birthdate (psh) to watch it on YouTube?

…Dudes dancing. Dudes kind of rubbing on each other.

To this we say: what the shit? Banning used to mean something and–back in the day when music videos were shown on television–it had tangible consequences. Now, we’re sure “family activist” groups are worried that watching this Madonna video will turn you gay (which we’ve tried; it doesn’t work!), but there’s absolutely nothing edgy or frightening or upsetting here (or even interesting!). Let’s visit some music videos that really earned the shit storm they stirred up.

A note on watching these at work: don’t. Better safe than sorry. We don’t know know what kind of workplace you have, so we’re not going to speculate on the safety of watching each specific one. They’re controversial for myriad reasons (yes, some of the reasons are stupid) but there’s nudity, gore, violence and weird shit throughout. The slideshow itself, however, is safe for work.

Let’s begin!

And a note on banning: like we said, now that music videos don’t get played so much on television, “banning” doesn’t have the same illicit stigma it once did. The worst thing that can happen now is requiring viewers to enter their birthdate to watch it on YouTube or, worse, look for it somewhere else (like Vimeo). Which is to say, some of these weren’t technically “banned.”

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    • kit


      • superjack

        “Windowlicker” is disturbing purely because of Richard D James’ face.

      • superjack

        IE It’s disturbing on him, always.

    • Penny

      I was goth in high school, so I know the NIN and Tool videos well. The first time I saw “Happiness in Slavery,” though, I think I almost threw up.

      Maybe I’m squeemish. Maybe I don’t think music videos should have meat grinders.

    • Katie

      I literally got to the second to last slide and thought to myself “what, no Happiness In Slavery?”. And then there it was. Most disturbing thing ever, for sure.

      • Ashley Cardiff

        You have to save the most disturbing for last.

    • Lyle

      Why, Serge Gainsbourg, WHY??

    • Goth Kid

      What no Marilyn Manson? Where is “Coma White” or “(S)Aint”?? Okay, though, “Happiness In Slavery” is the most disturbed ever, by far.

    • Bean

      TheGloss is my favorite lady website because I get makeup tips and fashion news and DFA97/Bjork/Enrique Iglesias in one slideshow.

    • Ellen W.

      Didn’t MTV refuse to air Madonna’s Human Nature video for awhile? Boy does that look tame today.

      • Ashley Cardiff

        I know “Justify My Love” and “Like A Prayer” were banned in their day, but I did not know “Human Nature” was. I will google this now.

    • GentleMatt

      Great gallery. Some cherished memories, some new ones for me. But I’m not sure it’s pure coincidence, I found MOST music to go with these videos rather boring. It made watching the clips almost unbearable to me. I’m joking, but it seems to be the same phenomenon as that most songs with explicit lyrics sound musically like the themesong to some TV sitcom. Maybe it’s an attempt to make a point of the dichotomy, maybe it’s because nobody would bother with this crap if it wasn’t for the shock value. To me, however, it remains a disappointment to see a dark and gloomy video, with so much effort and detail invested to make that particular mood work, and then not find this aesthetic continued in the tonal domain. So thanks for including some exceptions to that rule as well.

    • Tania

      The monkey in the Closer video made me sad. It looks so upset all crucified. D:

    • Naomi

      Bob Flanagan (from the “Happiness in Slavery” vid) actually wrote a really fascinating book about how he suffered from MS and began using body modification and self-harm in his performance art as a means of transcending the every-day physical pain he experienced and the betrayal of his body that was beyond his control. Triggering like F*CK, but if you can handle it, a very worthy read.

      • Naomi

        Sorry, Cystic Fibrosis, not MS.

      • Katie

        Is it weird that I find him really hot?

    • Alexandra

      Hahahah when I saw Tool (rightfully so of course) on the list I asked myself which video. It seems we are on the same page here.