Too Hot For MTV: Ten Controversial Music Videos That Got Banned

Given that Julianne Hough’s new video for "Is That So Wrong" got banned from MTV due to "being too revealing", we decided to look back at 10 videos that also got banned from the music network in the past (at least during daylight hours) -- four by Madonna alone!

  • Duran Duran, “Girls on Film” (1981)
  • Mötley Crüe, “Girls, Girls, Girls” (1987)

  • Madonna, “Like a Prayer” (1989)

    Now regarded as groundbreaking, when “Like a Prayer” made its TV debut, the country let out a collective gasp. Using Catholic iconography to tell the story of a black man wrongly accused of murdering a child, Madonna bears witness to the injustice in the video, and is later shown kissing the Saint on the mouth. Critics of the clip insisted Madonna was locking lips with a black Jesus, and the ensuing controversy cost her a national Pepsi promotion -- the commercial only aired once – but won her the MTV Viewer’s Choice Award that year.
  • Madonna, “Justify My Love” (1990)

    Never one to shy away from controversy, Madonna took MTV’s banning of her 1990 video for “Justify My Love” all the way to the bank, releasing it as the first-ever VHS video single (packaged in a plain black slip, to resemble other seedy videos). Racy even by Madonna’s standards, the video put sadomasochism, bisexuality and androgyny on full display, along with a host of explicit bedroom acts. The song did make its way onto broadcast, however, when ABC’s Nightline aired it along with a Madonna interview. Weeks later, it topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

  • Garth Brooks, “The Thunder Rolls” (1991)

  • Madonna, “Erotica” (1992)

    MTV aired Madonna’s post-“Justify My Love” video “Erotica” a total of three times, after which it pulled the sexually charged clip. Featuring cameos by Naomi Campbell, Isabella Rossellini, and Big Daddy Kane, the star is undoubtedly Madge as a masked dominatrix, in what are essentially scenes played out from her 1992 book, Sex. A more explicit version, containing full-frontal nudity, was released in Europe and Australia.

  • The Prodigy, Smack My Bitch Up (1997)
  • Enrique Iglesias, “Sad Eyes” (2000)

  • Madonna, "What It Feels Like For a Girl" (2001)

    Madonna as vigilante is the theme of this 2001 clip, directed by her then husband, filmmaker Guy Ritchie. Relegated to overnight play by MTV and VH1 due to its violent content, Madonna and an elderly accomplice launch into a massive crime spree in which they blow up a gas station, kill an innocent bystander and then commit suicide, all under the influence of pills and liquor.

  • M.I.A., “Born Free” (2010)

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