36 MOST RIDICULOUSLY RACIST MOMENTS IN MUSIC

33. Phil Collins’ Mexican Accent

There’s nothing funnier than hearing an Englishman pretending to be a stupid foreigner… if you’re off to a Bernard Manning gig and the year is 1976. In which case you’d love Genesis’ Illegal Alien, which came with a video complete with sombreros and bushy moustaches and lyrics that cast Mexicans as lazy drunks, with a Wetback Collins offering up his sister for sex. Clearly aimed at the American market – you’d think they’d be offended Genesis assumed a song about unwanted Mexicans would strike a chord with them – but lo! It solidified Phil’s status as a rock god, unfathomably enough, garnering himself a massive following among the hip-hop contingency.

32. Adopting A Faux-Lilt Advert Black Man Accent Is Always A Hoot!

White people wanting to sound black isn’t racist. Embarrassing, yes, (Step forward Radio 1 DJ Tim Westwood), a bit sad (oh, Vanilla Ice) and usually in reverence (Ali Campbell of UB40), but then it takes on the ‘don’t they sound funny’ caricature which was the mainstay of the comedy circuit up until the mid-80s. We’re looking at you Paul McCartney on Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, 10cc and the cringe overload that is Dreadlock Holiday, Kinks’ Ray Davies, on Black Messiah (above) and the equally offensive Apeman, and, of course, Sting.

31. The Revelation That Freddie Mercury Was Actually Indian


freddie
During his lifetime, Farrokh Bulsara painted his origins in the exotic colours of a Persian from Zanzibar, never admitting he was born to Indian parents and spent his formative years in Bombay (Yes, his parent were living in Zanzibar when he was born and they were Parsis, but Parsis fled Persia for India well over 200 years ago – their surname comes from Bulsar, a town in Gujarat). The truth came out only after his death, which left many British Asians feeling betrayed, some even accusing him of internalised racism. But then Freddie never came out as gay either, and you couldn’t exactly call him a homophobe now could you?

30. Do They Know It’s Christmas?

Watch that video again. How many black artists are there? Out of the 40 singers as white as the cocaine Status Quo were passing around that day, you’ll find four. A medal if you can name any of them. With lyrics that an earnest sixth-former with no black friends would soon grow ashamed of, it clumped all of Africa as one big pathetic, needy place. Actually, Bob and Midge, lots of things grow there, there are loads of places where it snows, and the 380 million Christians in Africa know when it’s Christmas time, while the billions of Muslims and followers of traditional African religions don’t give a shit. And no, Bono. Tonight we won’t thank God it’s them starving to death instead of you.

29. When Pop Stars Dabble With Right-Wing Politics

They go all out in America, of course. From the Confederate Flag wrapped Lynyrd Skynyrd and the white pride outbursts by the likes of Phil Anselmo from Pantera, to Gene Simmons of Kiss ranting against ‘vile’ Muslims, and the ex-Metallica axeman Dave Mustaine claiming Obama staged the Sikh Temple shootings, US stars have no problem giving bigots their meme-able quotes. Even Johnny Ramone swore allegiance to the hard right, scoffing: ‘People drift towards liberalism at a young age, and I always hope they change when they see how the world really is.’ Over on this side of the pond, Spandau Ballet’s Tory Hadley, sorry, Tony, who took Morrissey’s attack on immigrants taking over England and just ran with it, thinks ‘we need Cameron to be more like Thatcher’, while Elton John once had Nigel Farage over for tea.

28. Axl Rose Bares His Soul


axl rose
Yeah, thanks for sharing, Axl. We’re sure there are things in our two-year-old’s Book Of Puzzles that won’t make much sense to you either. You know that Slash guy playing behind you? You do know underneath all that hair he’s black, right? Idiot. At the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards, Kurt Cobain spat on the keys of a piano set up for Axl Rose to play on because he considered the Guns ‘n Roses frontman to be a massive racist. Which brings us to…

27. Courtney Love


courtney
As well singling out a black member in the audience for daring to like rock, something she reiterated on the Roast Of Pamela Anderson by gobbing, ‘You black people only know about me because I was arrested’, she once mistook Jay-Z for a stagehand and asked him to fetch her a root beer. Other racist highlights includes the Hole song Nigger Of Your Dreams, blaming the heroin problem on Mexicans, and thinking it’s funny to shout ‘nigger! Say nigger!’ at concerts. Classy.

26. LL Cool J Attempting To Burst The Myth Country Music Isn’t Racist By Appearing On A Totally Racist Country Song

Ever since Johnny Rebel’s Nigger Hatin’ Me, country music has had a bad rap. LL Cool J made a worse rap by appearing on country boy Brad Paisley’s much ridiculed Accidental Racist. It starts off with Brad telling us he’s wearing a confederate flag t-shirt (the chosen garb of racist American rock fans), and whinging: ‘we’re still paying for mistakes that a bunch of folks made long before we came.’ Critics were quick to point out it’s not really the white man suffering the consequences, but then LL Cool J goes and dons his finest Uncle Tom suit by promising: ‘If you don’t judge my gold chains, I’ll forget the iron chains.’ And why LL Cool J anyway? Of all the hip-hop artists who’ve been vocal about racism, LL rapped about honeys, moneys and tokin’ on spliffs. So basically he was approached for no reason other than he was black. Tokin’ Black Guy, anyone?

25. Don’t Forget The Ginger Law

If Godwin’s Law decrees that any Internet conversation that goes long enough will lead to someone bringing up Hitler, we say any debate on racism will eventually lead to someone pointing out ginger people have it tough too. So it’s only fair we include this video, by the Sri Lankan born MIA, in the name of balance. Generally speaking, most songs about redheads are complimentary, from Dolly Parton’s Jolene to Valerie by the Zutons and Amy Winehouse, and it’s quite something that no one had noticed ‘ginger’ was an anagram of ‘nigger’ before comedian Tim Minchin pointed it out in Prejudice.

5 thoughts on “36 MOST RIDICULOUSLY RACIST MOMENTS IN MUSIC

  1. Jesus, someone needs to get out and smell the coffee a bit more.
    3/4’s of these at least are by no means racist.
    For example, dressing as an apache Indian may very well be a homage or a mark of respect.
    Meanwhile people are being killed in the name of religion every day. Get a grip!!!

    • Totally agree with you, man. The disclaimer is in the title ‘ridiculous’. Just chronicling the times people got their knickers in a twist over songs, in some cases with good reason, but in most cases, for ridiculous reasons.

  2. The MIA song/video is NOT racist. Did you bother looking into the why’s and wherefore’s of the video before you condemned it? It’s a protest song about the racist killings of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. The slaughter of red-headed people is a metaphor for being racist against people who are essentially no different from us–people from whom we are ultimately different from on a very superficial basis. I can agree with most of your points here, but you missed the boat on the Born Free video.

    • Agree. The ‘Ridiculous’ premise for the article was based on the reaction. A lot of people were up in arms about it, hence included. I hope I made it clear I don’t agree. Good heads up on Born Free… and cheers

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