Rock and roll history is littered with controversy. Some of the best examples come from the music itself.

Here’s a look at just five of rock’s most controversial songs.

  • Guns N' Roses - "One in a Million"

    Let’s just say it: “One in a Million” is a racist/homophobic/xenophobic mess that was controversial when released over three decades ago, and it’s gotten worse with age. It’s so bad that when GN’R Lies was included on the reissue of Appetite For Destruction in 2018, “One in a Million” was omitted. Considering its lyrics, which you can look up yourself, it’s understandable why.

  • The Kingsmen - "Louie Louie"

    Sure, we now know the song is about a guy on a ship trying to get back home to his girlfriend. However, the rumors that the slurred lyrics were intentional so they could cover up graphic depictions of sexual acts were so intense that the FBI launched an investigation into the song. This investigation lasted a whopping 31 months! After all that time, the Feds still couldn’t figure out what the late Jack Ely was singing.

  • The Crystals - "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)"

    Oof! It’s still pretty incredible this Gerry Goffin/Carole King song was written, much less recorded. Goffin and King wrote “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)” after finding out their babysitter/singer “Little Eva” Boyd was being physically abused by her boyfriend. Goffin and King asked why she put up his abuse, and Eva allegedly conveyed her boyfriend beat her out of love. Decades later, King expressed great regret in being associated with the song.

  • Nirvana - "Rape Me"

    On the surface, it’s completely understandable why a song like “Rape Me” would upset people. Kurt Cobain explained in a 1993 interview with Rolling Stone that the song is about a woman being raped, but essentially telling her rapist “what goes around, comes around.”

    “I’m a firm believer in karma, and that motherf—er is going to get what he deserves, eventually,” said Cobain. “That man will be caught, he’ll go to jail, and he’ll be raped. ‘So rape me, do it, get it over with. Because you’re gonna get it worse.'”

  • Sex Pistols - "God Save the Queen"

    The Sex Pistols called Queen Elizabeth II a fascist and just obliterated the House of Windsor in this punk classic. For added measure, the cover art of the single release featured an image of Queen Elizabeth II defaced. For obvious reasons, the song was banned by the BBC.

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