It is commonplace for some artists or music labels to produce explicit as well as censored versions by themselves sometimes even releasing alternative lyrics. They do this in most cases to comply with the rules set by different television and radio programs. Some stations decide to censor some musical content themselves using methods such as backmasking, resigning, repeating, resampling, skipping, bleeping, blanking, distorting, robovoicing, or disc scratching.
An early censorship on radio was of the music belonging to George Formby in the song ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’ (Cloonan, 2004, p.4). This was banned from BBC in the 1940s because of the ‘smutty lyrics’ even though his wife succeeded in changing the opinion of BBC. Another early censorship example is that of Billie Holiday’s ‘Love for Sale’ that was denied airplay by ABC radio in 1956 citing that the lyrics were about prostitution, but the song would soon be on radio again. ABC radio is the one that made Cole Porter change a lyric in Frank Sinatra’s hit song ‘I Get a Kick out Of You’. The line ‘I get no kick from cocaine’ was changed to ‘I get perfume from Spain’ in the cleaned-up version. A different example is the time Rolling Stones appeared on the show by Ed Sullivan and when asked to sing their hit song ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’, were requested to change the lyrics to ‘Let’s Spend Some Time Together’ in order for it to have consideration as more appropriate.
The case of censorship of music begs the question whether it is ever acceptable as a practice (Danezis and Anderson, 2004). From the few cases examined above and many more of such caliber, it seems that censorship is a phenomenon that is influenced by several motives, but mostly the societal norms and expectations seem to drive the act, as opposed to personal belief and standing. This is evident in cases where the media or ...
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