Brownface, Racial Slurs and Incest: Yesteryear's Pop Music Would Be Super Offensive Today

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"Illegal Alien" video, featuring Genesis in brownface - YOUTUBE.COM
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  • "Illegal Alien" video, featuring Genesis in brownface

In the dark ages of American pop culture (a long time ago, like 1989), musicians didn't check themselves before wrecking themselves with misogynistic, racist and downright chilling songs. The cringe-inducing songs on this playlist contain just about every PC no no, making us wonder whether they would ever see the light of day on mainstream radio in 2016. Blatant drug references and explicit sexual lyrics don't apply, 'cause that shit's not going anywhere. Listener beware, you (and your ears) are about to be offended by yesteryear's pop music. 

Genesis, "Illegal Alien"

This year saw the rise of reality star-turned-presidential-candidate Donald Trump and his infamous stance against Mexican Americans. But, in his defense (not that he deserves it), he never threw on a fake bushy mustache and a sombrero like Phil Collins and crew. With a name that'd make any modern American blush with embarrassment, "Illegal Alien" goes full-on racist, as it tackles every Hispanic stereotype that exists, topped off with Collins singing with a faux Mexican accent. These days, the Alamo historian seems like the most unoffensive rocker ever. But as with everything, trust no one. 

Devo, "Mongoloid"

Although "Mongoloid" is supposed to be a satire on the de-evolution of American culture, there's no way getting past the fact that the word once used as an offensive term for Down's Syndrome. As the innovators of nerd rock, Devo likley had the purest intentions, but lyrics like "One chromosome too many" make the song more at home on 4chan's NSFW forum than mainstream radio. But no matter how awful it may seem, "Mongoloid" is still a banger. Oh the woes of being socially conscious...

The Vapors, "Turning Japanese"

Although the Vapors claim that their one-hit wonder "Turning Japanese" isn't about masturbation, and even if it's not, the theory will always stick. Masturbation is, in the words of Wikipedia, "the act causing the man to squint and therefore resemble a Japanese person's eyes." Pretty offensive to both the Japanese and masturbation enthusiasts everywhere. 

Violent Femmes, "Black Girls"

As brilliant as their self-titled debut was, Violent Femmes never struck gold again. "Black Girls" is one of their most strangely offensive efforts, and this is coming from a band who've made a name out of sexual frustration and a song about having your way after getting a girl drunk and high. There's nothing wrong with liking "black girls, oh so much more than the white girls" but things get messy when a "faggot white boy" comes along. It ends with a Christian sentiment that'll have you begging to hear "Blister in the Sun" (a song about masturbation) again for the millionth time. 

Rolling Stones, "Brown Sugar"

Originally called "Black Pussy," the success of 1969's "Brown Sugar" still leaves a strange taste, and it ain't a sweet one. The idea of folks singing and dancing to a song about the slave trade, torture and cunnilingus is bizarre enough, but when "sex symbol" Mick Jagger sings “Brown Sugar, how come you taste so good? / Ah, got me feelin' now for brown sugar, just like a black girl should” ...well, shit gets creepy and sexist. Only in the '60s.
Beastie Boys, "Girls"

This little number is so offensive, the Beastie Boys actually had to publicly apologize for it. Way before Buddhism and feminism changed their lives, the Beasties were pretty much the go-to rap group for frat boys everywhere. While "Fight for Your Right" was harmless, "Girls" collectively pissed off the whole third-wave feminist movement. Ironic, considering one-third of the boys, Ad-Rock, is married to riot-grrrl queen and Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna.

Guns N' Roses, "One in a Million"

We all know that Axl Rose is an asshole. Don't believe me? Listen to "One in a Million," solely written by Rose. Referring to himself as a "small town white boy," Rose sings over a folksy acoustic guitar "With Police and Niggers, that's right, Get out of my way" and "Immigrants and faggots, They make no sense to me." Perhaps bad boy Axl was trying to be edgy with his "brutal honesty," but instead sounds like a racist and homophobic douchebag. But is anyone surprised?

John Lennon, "Woman is the Nigger of the World"

Even though the song itself is a feminist protest anthem with good intentions, the N-word in the title will always scream "Das Racist." Lennon seems like the kind of guy who says the taboo word and thinks it's groovy because his black friends say its "cool." The avant-garde Beatle really dropped the bomb on this one.

George Michael, "Father Figure"

Way before it was deemed "sexy" to call a sexual partner "daddy," George Michael wrote a chilling song about a daddy-daughter relationship. After declaring that he's banging his girl, he seductively sings:

To be bold and naked
At your side
(baby)
I will be your father figure
(oh baby)
Put your tiny hand in mine
(I'd love to)
I will be your preacher teacher
(be your daddy)

Yikes.

Prince, "Sister"

Of all rockers to sing about incest, the Purple One seemingly doesn't rank high on a potential government watch list. But goddamn, "Sister" might be more screwed than all of the songs on this list combined. Not wanting to speak ill of the recently deceased, hopefully Prince was just wanting to blow our minds, especially when he declared "Incest is everything it’s said to be." He also attributes his sex symbol status to said "sister" when he sings "She’s the reason for my, uh, sexuality." The full lyrics can be found here




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