Friday, July 29, 2011

Clear Channel Communications, And Some

Banned Songs: Part 3

Surprisingly, British cutie Lulu even had a banned song, however, the ban took place over two decades after the song's release in 1969. Performed by Lulu, "Boom Bang-a-Bang" was the UK entry to the Eurovision Song Contest 1969, and was a joint winner with entries from Spain, France, and the Netherlands. The song scored #2 on the UK singles charts and was a major hit throughout Europe. Although the lyrics are clearly about the singer's heart going "boom bang-a-bang" whenever her lover is near, the song was actually included on a blacklist of banned songs by the BBC during the Gulf War in 1991. Guess they were concerned the lyrics might be mistaken for gunfire? Anyway, here's the actual footage from the Eurovision contest.

On that note, I think I'll mention a few other songs from 1960s that were also blacklisted decades later. In 2001, Clear Channel Communications (the largest owner of U.S. radio stations) released an advisory list of songs which stations were to avoid playing immediately following the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
One of the 165 songs on that controversial list includes a classic by The Happenings, a pop music group known for recording cover versions of songs and making them better than the original. First recorded by The Tempos in 1959, "See You In September" became a huge hit for The Happenings in 1966, reaching #3 on the charts and selling over a million records. Although this song is clearly about two lovers saying goodbye for the summer (and has nothing to do with terrorism), it was suggested to be pulled from the airwaves after 9/11, probably because of 'September' in the title. Filmed at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, it's the good ol' days of wholesome entertainment.

(Denny) Zager & (Rick) Evans, a pop-rock duo from Nebraska, hold the distinct record for being the only act to achieve a #1 hit in both the U.S. and the UK, and then never had another chart single for the rest of their career. Released in 1969, "In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus)" claimed the #1 spot for six weeks, and struck a chord with millions of people as the song describes a nightmarish vision of the future as man's technology eventually destroys the human race. Written by Evans, and backed by a ominous, orchestral accompaniment, the song even references technologies and concepts that had not been brought up by the mainstream media at the time, such as robots, In vitro fertilization, and parents choosing the gender of their future children. It's interesting that Zager and Evan's psychedelic rock/space rock song was just another deemed inappropriate by the CCC following the September 11th attacks (maybe because the song's predictions are frighteningly realistic?).

Often thought of as a one-hit wonder, American singer-songwriter Norman Greenbaum is best known for "Spirit in the Sky," a psychedelic rock song ,that is among the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (I really need an acronym for that!). Selling two million copies after its release in 1969, this song hit #3 on the U.S. charts and #1 on the UK, Canadian, and Australian charts. Inspired by gospel music, Greenbaum included a Christian theme in the lyrics, even though he was/still is a practicing Jew. Remembered for its innovative, 'heavy' guitar intro, this song has been used in numerous films, TV shows and commercials. Guess you'll have to read between the lines as to why this tune was considered 'questionable' and added to the blacklist in 2001.

British Invasion duo Peter & Gordon had two songs on Clear Channel Communications' 'inappropriate' list including "A World Without Love" and "I Go to Pieces" (the latter featured during British Invasion Weeks at The '60s Beat). However, these guys had another hit song in the mid-1960s that caused a little controversy at the time, so I'm posting that one instead since it cracks me up. Released in the fall of 1966, "Lady Godiva" was banned by the mayor of Coventry, England, who felt the song was obscene. Back in the early 11th Century, Coventry was the hometown of the real Lady Godiva who, supposedly, rode naked through the streets to protest the oppressive taxes under her husband's rule. With Gordon on guitar and Peter on banjo, he's the classic duo performing another million-selling single.

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