10 hard rock and heavy metal music videos that got banned for the dumbest reasons

Screenshots from Slipknot's Spit It Out, Foo Fighters' Low and Soundgarden's Jesus Christ Pose
(Image credit: Press/YouTube)

There are so many iconic music videos that we remember fondly from growing up. However, when we think of the ones that captured the imagination the most, it was always the giddy thrill of the banned or heavily censored promo clip. Some of them – such as Nine Inch Nails’ disturbing Closer or Pearl Jam’s shocking, and shockingly effective, Jeremy – were pulled from TV quite understandably. Some, though, just caused a lot of confusion. Here are 10 videos that were blacklisted from the airwaves for very silly reasons.

Metal Hammer line break

Foo Fighters – Low (2003)

This clip for the third single off Foo FightersOne By One was reportedly supposed to be five minutes of Jack Black in drag. Eventually, Dave Grohl and the boys broadened the concept somewhat, making it about two truckers stuck alone with lots of booze and women’s clothing. The cross-dressing and implied sexuality were enough to give MTV cold feet over airing it, even though they’d previously broadcast far, far lewder stuff into America’s living rooms.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Warped (1995)

After a particularly dull shoot for this 1995 Chilis video, a bored Anthony Kiedis and Dave Navarro celebrated ending the day by sharing a spur-of-the-moment snog. Upon seeing the pair lock lips, Warner Bros told them to go re-shoot the entire thing. The band refused, even after some bizarre fan backlash on top. “If they couldn’t accept what we were doing, we didn’t need them anymore,” Kiedis commented.

Slipknot – Spit It Out (2000)

The second single from Slipknot’s debut album had a video that saw the band recreating scenes from Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror masterpiece The Shining. It’s something that the wimps at MTV didn’t like, immediately banning the video for “violent depictions”. Thing is, terrifying as The Shining may be, it’s not a gory movie, and Slipknot didn’t even recreate the bits that were – just lots of whiskey and tricycles. Get a grip.

Megadeth – In My Darkest Hour (1988) / A Tout Le Monde (1994)

The In My Darkest Hour clip is just shots of Megadeth playing live and recording in the studio, yet it was banned by MTV. It’s because the lyrics – particularly the line, “Things will be better when I’m dead and gone” – allegedly promoted suicide. The station had a similar gripe with A Tout Le Monde in 1994, despite the song actually being about dying while on bad terms with somebody.

Motörhead – Killed By Death (1984)

Lemmy raises all kinds of hell in the video for this 1984 Motörhead banger. He rides a motorcycle through a wall, gets kissed on the neck, is sentenced to the electric chair, then rockets out of his own grave on two wheels. That said, the footage is all rather tame, fun more than shocking, so it really didn’t deserve that MTV blacklisting for excessive violence. Grow up and cut loose.

Twisted Sister – Be Chrool to Your Scuel (1985)

Be Chrool To Your Scuel has a video where Dee Snider and Alice Cooper hang out eating people, featuring a school full of zombies designed by horror legend Tom Savini. Sounds like MTV had just cause to ban the 1985 Twisted Sister single, right? Well, the station deemed the clip “too gross” just three years after Michael Jackson’s infinitely darker and more horrifying Thriller came out. Pretty hypocritical, we say.

Soundgarden – Jesus Christ Pose (1991)

MTV banned this video because they found it to be blasphemous. Soundgarden also received a number of death threats whilst on their subsequent European tour. And the reason why is pretty fucking frivolous. Jesus Christ Pose is six minutes of people (as well as robots and vegetables, for some reason) adopting the crucifix position. Yeah, that’s it. In the 30-plus years since this song first came out, MTV have never played the full, uncensored version. 

Papa Roach – Last Resort (2000)

A decade after the Megadeth debacles, MTV hadn’t learned their lesson. Papa Roach’s smash hit single of 2000 is obviously there to give strength to those who need it, encouraging anyone out there who’s struggling to persevere. But the station just saw the words “cut”, “bleeding”, “die” and “suicide” in the lyrics and assumed this was Jacoby Shaddix actively encouraging his own audience to do themselves in. They ridiculously censored the entire thing in response.

Primus – Lacquer Head (1999)

The Fred Durst-directed clip for Primus’ Lacquer Head was banned by MTV for references to drugs. But, although this is typically mad Primus, the video is clearly a cautionary tale: the titular character Lacquer Head is a claymation teen who “huffs on too much gasoline”. It’s not actually advocating drug use, you lot, so what’s the problem? You didn’t ban the Grange Hill cast singing Just Say No, did you now? 

Sepultura – Arise (1991)

The video for the title track of Sepultura’s seminal 1991 album was banned by MTV for showing “apocalyptic religious imagery”. So it must have been pretty problematic, right? Not at all. As the Brazilian heavy metal standard-bearers plough through the song, a bunch of blokes in gas masks and nappies stand on crucifixes around them and… that’s it. Arise still became one of the greatest thrash albums ever, though, so the band won in the long term.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.

With contributions from