And no, Justin Bieber is not on the list.
Racism in the real world is pretty straightforward (if we ignore the ‘religion isn’t a race so how can I be racist’ whining and general anti-semantic fuckwittery): when you hate someone with a different skin tone who belongs to a group that came from somewhere else, you are a racist. In music, where prejudice can be camouflaged by poetry, racism is often harder to pin-point. Some accusations included in this list are, true to the title, ridiculous. Many are subtle. But then they go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like…

36. Morrissey. Every Time He Opens His Mouth

It’s unthinkable to compile a list like this and not include our Stephen, so let’s get him out of the way early. The lyrics of his most contentious songs (Bengali in Platforms, Asian Rut and National Front Disco) can sort of be read as Mozza relating to the plight of those suffering racism rather than demonising the victim, and the whole Union Jack waving can sort of be seen as a precursor to Gerri Halliwell’s way more offensive dress, but there’s no getting away from him saying things like ‘England for the English’, and ‘reggae is an absolute total glorification of black supremacy’. Love Music Hate Racism refuse to accept donations from him. And admitting ‘I like Nigel Farage a great deal’ doesn’t really help.

35. Picking On The Chinese In General

Low-level racism towards the Chinese has long bubbled away in pop: from the ‘funky China men from funky Chinatown’ of Carl Douglas’ Kung Fu Fighting, to the daughter-selling jibes by Siouxsie Sioux in Hong Kong Garden, to the sado-racism porn of Iggy Pop and David Bowie’s China Girl. Modern pop stars like Miley Cyrus, country singer Toby Keith and Joe Jonas from the Jonas Brothers continue the tradition by pulling slanty eyes in photographs. It could be worse, though. They could be Turning Japanese.

34. The Misquotation Of Lauryn Hill

Word that Lauryn Hill hated her white fans spread like wildfire (which was how rumours spread before Twitter), only it wasn’t her words, but a caller on The Howard Stern Show claiming he’d heard her say something like that on MTV. MTV took too long to step forward to say, actually, she said nothing like that at all, but by then Lauryn, the first hip-hop artist to win the ‘Album of the Year’ Grammy, was left broken. The disillusionment set off a chain of meltdowns that meant The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, which sold over 19 million copies, was to be her only album. Last in the news a couple of years back for being in prison, something she blamed, bizarrely, on ‘reverse racism’.


  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

  3. You’ll side with Dylan on what? Being not racist in proclaiming that the Serbs – the only nation who waged wars with all their neighbors throughout history trying to wipe them all out and take their territory by force – are the true victims? I agree on that, that’s not racist. That’s just being a huge ignorant asshole with absolutely no respect for the victims of genocide and mass murders of non-serbian people throughout Croatia and Bosnia.

  4. You are fucking stupid if you think Bowie was racist.He has many anti racism and fascism songs and statements! Although Thin White Duke was a stage persona and still saying Adolf Hitler was the first rock star doesn’t equal to saying he was good. Whatever,do your research.

    • Missed the point, bro… the article is about “ridiculous” moments, and there was a massive controversy regarding his alleged allegiance to Nietzsche and fascism. That’s not my opinion, it was all over the papers. hence it’s inclusion. I happen to find it ridiculous, hence the title

  5. I’ve heard McCartney sing Obla di Obla da many times.
    I noticed the transvestite joke near the end of the song, but somehow managed to miss the racism.

  6. Just a quick note on Hong Kong Garden: the song was supposedly written from a disgust of the racist skinheads who would bully the Chinese staff in a Chinese takeout called Hong Kong Garden. Siouxsie has stated that she and friends felt powerless when the skinheads entered the takeaway and started bullying the staff. But you would only realise this if you know the backstory of the song, and I guess the song could at first glance worse racial stereotypes.

  7. Joy division & New Order members are/have always been totally racist. I think that’s why Peter Hook left the band. Peter looks much more left wing and Gillian, Stephen & Albrecht (sorry Bernard) didn’t like his leftwingness.

  8. I realize that a lot of these observations hold up over time, but the “No Pakistanis” version of Get Back is taken out of context. It was a protest song against the likes of Enoch Powell. See The Beatles Get Back for reference. Even in 2014 when you wrote this you could have done a little research and learned the truth. Sometimes you’ve got to put things in context.

  9. Roger Waters is not racist. He has criticised Israel foreign policy, and that does not make one racial. I had no idea Syd Barrett write racist lyrics but he was a musical non-entity anyway, since practically all the famous Floyd music came after he departed the band, with his brain fried.

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