Soundspheremag’s ‘Top Ten Most Shocking Alternative Music Videos’

By May 15, 2011 October 9th, 2016 Features

We heard fans talk about how shocking the new Lady Gaga music video is (for the tune ‘Judas‘) and we couldn’t wait to check it out. After watching though, we were left with a sense of disappointment and thinking, “it really wasn’t that bad” and pondered to ourselves about some of the most shocking videos the music world has offered us in recent-ish years. That’s why we have come up with our list of the ‘Top Ten Most Shocking Alternative Music Videos’.


10] Nirvana- ‘Heart Shaped Box’

This will certainly be one of the most known videos on our list and of course, it has become a grunge classic around the world. The video starts off with the three band members in hospital watching over a man in a bed but then expands into a colourful world filled with strangeness. Starting off with an old man in a Santa hat on a cross and a young girl dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan reaching for human foetuses growing on a tree, it’s all too easy to see why this video made it here.

The chorus sees the band performing in this “wonderland” they have created while incorporating imagery from the classic ‘Wizard of Oz’. At one point during the video we see a large lady in a muscle suit with angel wings on her back, recreating the image seen on the front of the ‘In Utero’ album. The video was directed by Anton Corbijn and won two MTV Video Music Awards in 1994, for Best Alternative Video and Best Art Direction, however this was after Kurt’s death. It is rumoured that the young girl in the video is Brianne O`Conner, Kurt Cobain’s half sister. Although the girl in question does look like she is in the uniform of the Ku Klux Klan it could also be argued that she is wearing religious garments. The single reached number five in the UK Singles chart.

3] Rammstein – ‘Pussy’

This video in its full uncut version has been banned due to its full-frontal nudity, excessive drug use and self-mutilation. What else could we expect from the creative team of shock rocker Marilyn Manson and director Asia Argento? The video was shot in two days, at a hotel in Los Angeles. It starts off showing Manson cutting himself with a razor and then using the razor to separate cocaine on the bible. His nose then bursts open from the amount he has been snorting as we see a girl tied naked on a bed.


After a little sexual fornication we see Manson being injected with a substance before he ends up vomiting into a toilet. He then proceeds to masturbate in front a women, who he later discovers is actually a band member (Tim Skold) Manson described the music video as “an uncompromising look at me at my absolute lowest point, the point where I have to look up to see s**t.” The video also features Gidget Gein, a former Manson bassist and his then partner, Dita Von Teese.

8] Metallica – ‘Turn the Page’

This song is a cover of a Bob Seger track and has a video that follows the day of a woman working in the sex industry to provide for her daughter. We see the mother and her daughter getting ready for their day in the mirror showing the innocence of the daughter and the life experience of her mother. As the mum is getting ready to dance in a strip club we see her daughter backstage playing with her props as toys. When they get home the daughter falls to sleep and we see the woman go to prostitute herself. She brings a man home who starts to abuse her during sex as we see the daughter in the other room waking up. The daughter then joins her mum’s beat up body as the client leaves. Directed by Jonas Åkerlund and staring Ginger Lynn Allen as the prostitute and singer, in its uncut version, this one shows the dark world of the sex industry in its ugliest.

7] M.I.A – ‘Born Free’

What makes this such a good video is its ability to show the nature of prejudice. The start of this one has swat members with USA flags on their shoulders raiding an apartment block. Anyone who gets in their way is brutally beaten. When they reach the target, we naturally presume he has done something worthy of all this attention, however when they get him on the SWAT bus we realise it’s because he is ginger. In the world created by director Romain Gavras, there is a ginger genocide happening. The thing is, it isn’t played with any humour at all. We are forced to watch as the minorities are hunted and killed. After a child is shot in the head and we see bodies blow apart because of live mines, we can’t help but question the irrationality of genocide. YouTube helped give the video more media attention by banning it on grounds of graphic violence and language, as well as mild nudity. But nothing in this video is more shocking than the message it delivers with a punch: the fact that there are nations with higher powers who gather ethnic minorities and then destroy their personal liberties.


6] Pearl Jam – ‘Jeremy’

This video is an emotional story of a school boy who is being bullied at school and is ignored by his parents. The video directed by Mark Pellington feels like it is narrated by Eddie Vedder who takes us through the journey of the character, Jeremy. We see scenes where Jeremy is moving, but nobody around him is, as he tries to get noticed by his parents and also a snapshot of his classmates laughing at him. After Eddie Vader howls the final lyrics “Jeremy spoke in class today” we see him entering the classroom and brings out a gun. He places the barrel in his mouth and after a flash we see a still of his classmates covered in Jeremy’s blood. MTV had to ban the video due to its restrictions on violent imagery and re-edit the ending. The video won four MTV Video Music awards in 1993 including Best Video of the Year, Best Group Video, Best Metal/Hard Rock Video and Best Direction. The song reached 15 in the UK singles chart. Due to the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 MTV would rarely play the video for the immediate following years.

5] Dir En Grey – ‘Obscure’

Japan has released some of the best horror films in recent years. So it’s no surprise that the country which spawned these great gore fests would have a place on our music video list. We see bodies flailing around with no arms and legs, picking babies heads off trees and eating them, placing swords through heads and somebody eating their own heart. All of this combined with the image and heavy music of the band serves to create a disturbing and shocking music video. What’s not to like about topless Geishas performing oral sex on some strange fish like penis? GWAR would be proud. Okay, perhaps the intercourse with the fishy penis causing her to spew blood from her mouth was a little to far.

4] Cradle Of Filth – ‘Cradle To Enslave’

So, what makes a really shocking video? First of all, set it in a satanic church filled with deformed dwarfs in diapers and other such creatures. Then throw in a couple of genital piercings and slit some throats with a razor blade held in a lady’s mouth. If that’s not enough, extract some teeth, have a beheading and a little groping of dead boobs that are drenched in blood. Oh, and why not rip out the lead singer’s heart and force him to eat it – sure, Dir En Grey did that whole thing in ‘Obscure’, but this lot from Birmingham did it first. The most cringe-worthy moment for us was an excellent shot of four females playing their slit wrists with a violin bow. Beautiful, yet horrific. This was the first of Cradle Of Filth’s songs to have an accompanying video. The video was directed by Alex Chandon who later went on to make the film ‘Cradle Of Fear’ with Dani Filth as one of the lead roles. In it’s unedited form, the barrage of gory imagery and full-frontal nudity gives it a deserved spot on this list.

2] Nine Inch Nails – ‘Happiness In Slavery’

What’s the difference between a music video and hardcore porn? Rammstein have managed to blur that line here. The video starts off innocently enough with the band playing its heavy brand of industrial metal along with a few shots of females wearing very little. We are then introduced to each of the band members as their characters in the video. Till as the Playboy, Christoph as the CEO, Paul as the Cowboy, Oliver as Mr. Pain, Richard as the Partyboy, and Flake as heeshie. The video is fairly tame until the last minute when it turns in to no holes barred porn. At the climax of the video we see the band members ejaculate. We don’t think you will be seing this on TV before the watershed. The video was directed by Jonas Åkerlund and some of the band members did use body doubles for their sex scenes. The video was not allowed to be shown on the music channels, however it did receive 6.5 million views in one week on the internet.

1] The Prodigy – ‘Smack My Bitch Up’

When creating this list we expected to be using Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Closer’ music video as it’s the most recognisable NIN one which was originally banned, however when compiling this list we stumbled along this video and it made us cringe. It features performance artist Bob Flanagan who enters a room and strips down. He sits on a machine which locks him in by impaling his hands with metal spikes. It starts to tug at his skin as he reacts in both pain and pleasure. It then pulls at his penis and testicles as drills start going through his body. His body gets minced and is left in a pool on the floors for flowers to grow out of. After he is left in a bloody mess on the floor, we see Trent Reznor enter the room as the machine’s next victim. We challenge you to watch the video and see how much you wince at the testicle pull.

1] The Prodigy – ‘Smack My Bitch Up’

The master of shock music videos, Jonas Åkerlund gets his third video on this list. The song itself caused controversy with the lyrics. It was banned by the BBC and only played on Radio 1 with no lyrics, but the video sparked even more shock. It follows one person’s nightout from a first person perspective. The uncut video includes snorting cocain, fighting in a clubs, being abusive to women, injecting heroin, vomiting, alcohol abuse, vandalism, full frontal nudity, drunk driving and a sex scene. Perhaps the most shocking event though, happens at the end of the video when we find out it’s a woman we had been following the journey of. This twist makes the audience question why we presume it is a man? How do we stereotype men? And was all that happened okay because it was a woman? The US National Organization For Women, accused the video of encouraging violence towards women. Others, however, praised the video for showing that women can also be the abusers. Also to add more controversy to the song, the original artwork for the single featured a VW Beetle wrapped around a lamp post, however the band delayed the release date and changed the artwork due to the death of Princess Diana. At the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards it won Best Dance Video and Breakthrough Video.

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