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    10 Artists Who Showed True Courage by Changing Their Offensive Lyrics


    From ableism to homophobia, there are songs out there with wording that doesn’t mesh with today’s rules perspectives. Artists like Taylor Swift, Lizzo, and even Beyonce changed their lyrics to reflect those changes. Let’s take a look at the top 10 artists who changed their offensive lyrics.

    10. Paramore “Misery Business”

    While misogyny can rear its ugly head in all kinds of music, one song that has received some particularly heavy criticism is Paramore’s 2007 hit “Misery Business.” The single off the band’s second album Riot! is known for a particularly triggering line in the bridge.

    Original “Once a whore, you’re nothing more, I’m sorry that’ll never change”

    In recent years, she distanced herself from the song and even admitted she wouldn’t play it live anymore. Though at their first shows since returning from a hiatus with the release of their latest album, ‘This Is Why,’ they surprised fans by bringing back the song.

    Edited “Once a — you’re nothing more, I’m sorry that’ll never change”

    At the show, Williams spotted a young girl with space buns in the crowd and invited her up onstage for an encore performance of the song. The adorable fan kept up with her, jumping to the beat and proudly singing the lyrics. Afterward, Williams praised the little girl and gave her a big hug.

    9. Black Eyed Peas “Let’s Get It Started”

    The Black Eyed Peas’ 2004 single “Let’s Get It Started” was a massive hit and the first big hit of their career. It was also the first time a group performed at a Super Bowl halftime show before a regular concert audience. However, the original version was not very commercially friendly.

    Original “Let’s get retarded in here”

    They reworked the original “Let’s Get Retarded” into the more marketable “Let’s Get It Started” in 2004. They made the change after the NBA asked for a version of the track to use in their ad campaigns. It’s also possible that special needs organizations pressured The Black Eyed Peas into being more inclusive and sensitive.

    Edited “Let’s get it started in here”

    The new, “acceptable” version was a massive hit and helped them reach a wider audience than they might have otherwise. Since then they made sure to always be mindful of who they may offend, and what fans they may gain or lose.

    7. Dire Straits “Money for Nothing”

    In the ’80s, MTV was an important platform for bands to reach the masses. It was also a source of controversy for some artists who weren’t sure how to navigate the new medium. This was especially true for Dire Straits, whose frontman Mark Knopfler wanted his music to appeal to the new viewers on the network.

    Original “See the little f*ggot with the earring and the makeup?/ Yeah buddy that’s his own hair/ That little f*ggot got his own jet plane/ That little f*ggot, he’s a millionaire”

    “Money for Nothing” was the first single from the band’s 1985 album Brothers in Arms and was a huge hit. It topped the U.S. charts and stayed at the top for three weeks. It’s popularity is what garnered the attention and the pressure to make the lyrics more appropriate.

    Edited “See that little queenie with the earring and the makeup?/ Yeah buddy that’s his own hair/ That little boy got his own jet plane/ That little boy, he’s a millionaire”

    Knopfler wrote the song about rock star excess and what an easy life they have compared to real work. It features a guy who moves refrigerators complaining about his job while watching MTV, and some of the lyrics used a gay slur. That would definitely not fly today, but the song was a massive hit and is a great example of changing lyrics to stay relevant.

    6. Michael Jackson “They Don’t Care About Us”

    Even the King of Pop couldn’t get away with using lyrics that don’t agree with the changing world. The times changed and MJ took heed to the complaints of people offended by one of his hits. His songs often talked about sexism and homophobia to ableism and racial prejudice.

    Original “Jew me, sue me/ Everybody, do me/ Kick me, k–e me/ Don’t you black or white me”

    Jay-Z also received backlash in the past for his anti semitic lyrics. He mentioned in the past, “you ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America?” The line, like MJ’s lyrics, received criticism by the Anti-Defamation League for its preconceived notions about Jews.

    Edited “Do me, sue me/ Everybody, do me/ Kick me, [censored] me/ Don’t you black or white me”

    Though Michael censored his lyrics, he meant what he said in the song. His sentiment was that his black people go through many trials and tribulations. Throughout all their hardships, other groups of people show no signs of caring, let alone helping.

    4. Lana Del Rey “Ultraviolence”

    Lana Del Rey’s 2014 album, Ultraviolence, received widespread acclaim for its lyricism and production. She worked with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys to craft lush walls of sound that evoke her favorite cultural era. The songs are often moody and romantic, but with a tinge of darkness and inappropriate diction.

    Original “He hit me and it felt like a kiss”

    Del Rey often receives critiques for her perceived lack of empathy or attention to social issues. Her music compares to film noir, as she dresses in vintage style while shooting videos for her songs. She also posted “insensitive”  videos during the Black Lives Matter protests.

    She now avoids the line altogether in her concerts

    The posts showed uncensored faces and identifying features of people participating in the protests. Fans also criticized her for using coded language about being a “delicate” woman and dismissing female abuse. This was her attempt to play into stereotypes that paint white women as more feminine and fragile, allowing them to escape accountability more easily.

    3. Beyonce “Heated”

    The Queen Bey’s Renaissance album received praise by critics for its empowering message and celebration of black joy. The first single, “Heated,” has a sexy, sensual feel to it and is all about Beyonce embracing her power and sexuality. Though line in the song received predictable backlash for being ableist, using the word “spaz.”

    original “Spazzin’ on that ass/ Spaz on that ass”

    Many disability advocates consider spaz an ableist slur. The term refers to spasticity, a condition that can cause high muscle tone and lead to stiffness and even unpredictable muscle activity.

    The edited version is still undetermined after all this time, will she keep her promise?

    The term used to describe someone who has spastic cerebral palsy, is an incurable neurological disorder that causes muscle spasms. After criticism from disability campaigners, she announced that she will remove and replace the lyric. Since then, Beyonce has yet to give us an update.

    2. Lizzo “Grrrls”

    The plus sized rapper from Minnesota is known for her skin tight glitter onesies and anthems of self-love. She became the face of the “body positivity movement” thanks to her frame. The Grammy award winner speaks out against body shaming and regularly uses Black, trans, and curvy dancers on stage.

    Original “Hold my bag/ Do you see this shit? I’ma spaz”

    Her new album, Special, will also be the subject of an HBO documentary that chronicles what she considers to be a hard-earned rise to fame. It seems even the most beloved artists can run into trouble when they’re not careful with their lyrics. Like several high-profile singers, she had to change her tune in one of her songs.

    Edited “hold my bag/ do you see this shit? Hold me back”

    Lizzo is among the many artists who had to make changes to their lyrics to bring them up to par with modern society. She reworked her song “GRRRLs” after backlash about the use of an ableist slur in the original lyrics. Many fans were offended and called the lyrics insensitive.

    1. Taylor Swift “Picture to Burn”

    Swift often receives criticism for having the emotional maturity of a 15 year old girl. Her country-pop single “Picture to Burn” is an iconic track that showcases the messy emotions of a breakup.

    Original “So go and tell your friends that I’m obsessive and crazy/ That’s fine, I’ll tell mine you’re gay, by the way”

    Her lines in that song, like many lines today, were flagged by the LGBTQ community as homophobic. Despite the controversy, Swift still considers the song a classic and a key milestone of her career

    Edited “So go and tell your friends that I’m obsessive and crazy/ That’s fine, you won’t mind if I say, by the way”

    In fact, she recently covered the song for her AGT win. She used it as a great reminder that despite the controversies surrounding her, she’s not afraid to show her true colors. Many don’t like it but many also respect the authenticity.

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