Banned Music

Go to the Free Muse website for some up to date information about the banning and censoring of music and muscians around the world today. Free Muse is an independent, international organisation that documents cases of banning and censoring musicians, and advocates and defends freedom of expression for musicians and composers worldwide.


Pussy Riot!  

2013 Russia imprisions members of feminst rock group Pussy Riot.

To learn more about the group Pussy Riot and why some of its members were jailed in Russia, start by reading this article in the New York Times and this one in the New Yorker. Watch this interview with the Gardian. [youtube][/youtube]. For more details, articles and other information, go to Free Pussy Riot.


Banned in China August 2011

The Chinese government published a list of 100 songs that are banned from performance in China and from all websites. According to the Ministry of Culture, “Certain websites have been allowing users to play, listen to and download the listed songs…Such actions have disturbed the online music market order and endangered national cultural safety.”  Ministry guidelines require all imported digital music be translated into Chinese and submitted to the government before any online distribution is permitted. According to CNN:

“Top-selling Gaga leads the pack with more banned tracks than any other listed artist. Six songs from her last album “Born This Way” ran afoul with the authorities: “The Edge of Glory,” “Hair,” “Marry the Night,” “Americano,” “Judas” and “Bloody Mary.” The title track itself was already banned in a previous sweep.  Perry has two songs – “E.T.” and “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” – condemned, with Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)” and Britney Spears’ “Burning Up” rounding up the diva section.

Other Western titles include songs by British band Take That and Canadian rockers Simple Plan. Then there is “I Want It That Way,” a 12-year-old hit by Backstreet Boys.  The latest blacklist marks the third time the ministry has clamped down on foreign songs since it began regulating music on the Internet two years ago. Earlier casualties included songs by Avril Lavigne, Eminem, Kylie Minogue and Christina Aguilera.

The ministry requires all imported digital tracks to be translated into Chinese and filed with the government for approval before online distribution. It said in 2009 that such rules were aimed at addressing the issues of “poor taste and vulgar content.”

Here is a video of the offending Back Street Boys:


Banned from David Letterman

Ani DiFranco’s scheduled appearance on David Letterman, July 2001, was cancelled when she said she planned to sing “Subdivision” and refused to substitute a more “upbeat” song. Listen to her performance and then consider the questions below.

Read some of the commentary about this; you can also listen to an interview with DiFranco.

Is this song dangerous or troubling in some way? Should DiFranco have been banned from performing? Are there good reasons for restricting public access to certain kinds of music?


Banned in Iran

Now take a look at short clips/trailers from two recent films about banning music in Iran. The first is called, “Not an Illusion” a documentary written and directed by Torang Abedian about a young woman who aspires to sing rock music in Terhan. You can also read an interview with Abedian.

And here is the trailer for “No One Knows About Persian Cats” a Cannes Film Festival Special Award Winner about the indie music scene in Tehran:


More Music Banned in the US

Listen to this interview with Tao Rodriguez-Seeger about his experience being censored and as he says, being considered “dangerous.” What are your thoughts about his experience? What do you think about his comments about the role of the artist? About speech? About politics and art?

Of course Seeger’s grandfather, Pete Seeger, is one of the great American folk singers and activists. His Waist Deep in the Big Muddy is one of the classic anti-war songs, banned at one time.


Banning the National Anthem?

Goshen College in Indiana recently banned the National Anthem at sporting and other events because its lyrics “gloryfy war” and conflict with the college’s Christian, pacifust values. The president was charged to, “find an alternative to playing the National Anthem that fits with sports tradition, that honors country and that resonates with Goshen College’s core values and respects the views of diverse constituencies.”  Read more about this decision on the Goshen College website as well as the Press Release.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education, June 6, 2011:

“Fifteen months after Goshen College began allowing “The Star-Spangled Banner” to be played at sporting events, the institution’s board of directors has suspended the practice in response to complaints from students, faculty members, and alumni. The board of the Mennonite liberal-arts college has asked its president to come up with a song “that fits with sports tradition, that honors country, and that resonates with Goshen College’s core values and respects the views of diverse constituencies,” according to a press release. The Indiana college, which has a strong pacifist tradition, allowed the national anthem to be played at games starting last March in an effort to be more welcoming to opposing teams. But the decision sparked resistance from some who believe the hymn glorifies war and distracts from the college’s Christian values.”