Home > Censorship, Music, Radio > Top 7 Most Interesting Radio Edits

Top 7 Most Interesting Radio Edits

Ever since the Janet Jackson Super Bowl Nip Slip incident, and the subsequent crack down by the FCC on anything that might be considered offensive, radio stations have had to go through their record collections with a fine-tooth comb to make sure all of the offensive language (and ideas, apparently) has been removed from their songs.

Clothes just don’t last as long these days. They don’t make things like they used to

George Carlin had a great bit on the seven words you cannot say on television. Well, since the mishap in 2004, I think the list has been expanded a little. (Actually, in his 1983 concert at Carnegie Hall, Carlin read over 200 additional words, he always was ahead of his time.) It’s a little crazy, because if you bleep the “uh” in fuck, and it comes out as “f-ck”, you brain just plugs in the missing sound. you know, unless you’ve never heard that word before.

I’m guessing most of us heard it for the first time when our Mother screamed it while giving birth.

But sometimes, they get creative in how they bleep the songs. And when I say creative, I mean they pretty much just do whatever they want, and I’m guessing, don’t care what the artist of the song has to say about it.  Also different radio stations do things differently. One radio station may just drop out the sound over an offensive word, while another radio station may bleep words that aren’t really that offensive, or, in some cases, remove whole lines from the song.  For example:

7. Alanis Morissette, You Oughta Know

This song only really has one word that needs to be cut.  The mother of all cuss words. So, what is a radio station to do? Well, you need to bleep it or drop it or something, but while they were in there, some radio stations decided to look around to see if anything else needed to be changed.  Here are the lyrics to the first part of this song:

I want you to know, that I’m happy for you
I wish nothing but the best for you both
An older version of me
Is she perverted like me
Would she go down on you in a theatre
Does she speak eloquently
And would she have your baby
I’m sure she’d make a really excellent mother

The lyrics alone don’t do the whole justice here. The way Morissette sings this, you begin to understand that this is a jilted lover who is just barely holding on to sanity.  But one local Cincinnati radio station (I’m sorry, I can’t remember which one it was) decided that the whole going down in a theatre concept was too risque.  The problem is you can’t bleep an entire line of a song.

Well, you can, but the results aren’t pretty…

So, how does the management of a radio station impose their cultural beliefs to remove an “offensive” act from a song, without bleeping the whole line, or screwing up the rhyming scheme of the song?  Easy, cut multiple lines until it all fits again.

I want you to know, that I’m happy for you
I wish nothing but the best for you both
An older version of me
Is she perverted like me
Would she go down on you in a theatre
Does she speak eloquently
And would she have your baby
I’m sure she’d make a really excellent mother

There. That’ll do it. They just bobbitized two lines from the song and saved humanity from an abstract description of an act that if you get the reference, probably isn’t going to be that offensive to you. If you don’t get it, well, that’s what Google is for.

Gotta love answers.com!

You know, while we’re on the subject of censoring ideas, rather than words, let’s look at:

6. Everlast, What it’s like

This song uses a relatively unique way to edit out words. They use a record scratch to obscure the word. It’s actually a pretty cool way to do it. But, I guess the people that did the censoring thought so, because, they censored a LOT of words in this song.  This song censors the following words:

Fuckin’, God, balls, whore, green, drugs, shit, shit

Okay, so, maybe three of those are legit. But, let’s not tell the ultra-conservatives that our radios are censoring “God”.  Oh, wait. It was in front of “damn”, so I guess that’s okay. It’s funny, you can say “God” and you can say “damn”, but you cannot say “God damn”, so if those two words appear together, which one do you think they’re going to cut?

Anyway, I get (well, as much as I “get” any of this) “fuckin'” and the two “shit”‘s, and I kind of get the God Damn, although, I think it’s crazy that two words separate are okay, but two together, not so much…

But, balls, whore, green and drugs?  I mean, the green line talks about smoking “the finest green”.

Until I started writing this, I assumed they were bleeping the word “weed”. Who knew, they just loved them some fine Salem Green Label Cigarettes?

Or, maybe green is supposed to be slang for some sort of drug. And then later, they actually bleep the word “drugs”, so maybe they just don’t want to play a song on the radio that glamorizes the use of drugs. Although, this song doesn’t really seem to be doing that. The stories told here are tragic. Plus, the same station that plays this radio edit, also plays a song called Let’s Go Smoke Some Pot.

So, I’m thinking there might be a double-standard here.

Balls? Again, they bleeped it here in a context that implies male genitalia, but then AC/DC has a song called Big Balls filled with double entendres using both meanings of the word to make 12-year-old boys snicker. (I know, I used to listen to it when I was 12…) So, I struggle with why they decided they needed to bleep it in this song. The line is actually:

And she sweared god damn if I find that man I’m cuttin’ off his balls

So, yeah, it’s a little graphic, but, historically, we’ve been okay with violence as a society more than with sex or language. You rarely hear of a movie being threatened with an NC-17 (or X) rating for violence. Anyway, the AC/DC song has lines like this:

My Balls Are Always Bouncing
To The Left And To The Right
It’s My Belief That My Big Balls
Should Be Held Every Night

But I think balls got cut simply because they were in there anyway, and figured, why not?

Then there is Whore. This word appears in the Bible… A lot! But, we don’t want to hear it on the radio? It’s a pretty common word, you hear it in a lot of songs, movies and TV shows. Seems like anoher overkill word.

Speaking of words that are in the Bible:

5. Nickelback, Rockstar

Rockstar has the word “asshole” in it. This word reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from a movie called From the Hip, staring Judd Nelson. At one point, one guy is suing another guy because the other guy hit the one guy. (got it?) Anyway, Judd Nelson’s character asks the guy being sued what he thinks of the guy that he hit. The guy calls the guy he hit an asshole. This causes an uproar, where he is told he’s not allowed to say that. Judd Nelson argues the point, and the other lawyer agrees that they should have a hearing on whether the word should be allowed. The Judge agrees, but limits it to “ass”, not “asshole”.

Anyway, the next scene has Judd Nelson behind a huge stack of books, including the Bible (presumably all with the word “ass” in them), and talks about how prevalent the word is.

Anyway, that really has nothing to do with Rockstar, except that it, coincidentally has the word “asshole” in it. So, what is an overzealous radio station censor to do to make this offensive song playable in the Post Janet Jackson FCC world? Well, that word asshole has to go. Most stations, just dropped the volume on the word and called it a day. But, you know, sometimes, we want to take it to the next level. After all, that microsecond of silence where the word “asshole” used to be can be distracting. How can we make it less distracting. I know, let’s dub another word over it. That way, it won’t be silent. But, we need to find a word that rhymes with the word from the previous line, otherwise it will just sound stupid.

So, they changed:

I wanna be great like Elvis without the tassels
Hire eight body guards that love to beat up assholes

to:

I wanna be great like Elvis without the tassels
Hire eight body guards that love to beat up assholes tassels

See what they did there? What rhymes better with tassels, than tassels? I guess no one really thought that it made no sense of all to hire body guards to beat up our Elvis tassels, but, you know, now we can play the song without that distracting drop in the sound where the bad word that will ruin our innocence is! Besides, it worked for Jim Morrison!

Although, there are also radio edits that predate Janet Jackson, by a LOT.

4. Charlie Daniels Band, The Devil Went Down to Georgia

This song really only had one problem phrase. And they actually recorded two versions of it. Back when it came out, one version played on AM, one played on FM, and the only difference is AM used the phrase “Son of a gun” and FM used “Son of a bitch”. But what’s interesting is that since the Janet Jackson debacle, I have been hearing “Son of a gun” on FM.

I’m not sure what they big deal here is. You hear the word bitch all over the place on radio and TV. Not sure why “Son of a Bitch” in this song is such a big deal.

Thing is, we’re referring to the DEVIL here!

Not this guy, he probably IS a son of a gun.

I mean, when I hear son of a gun, I think of Larry Tate congratulating Darren for closing the deal with the crappy advertising slogan that Sam’s Mom makes the client love. (Does she then go on and make the whole world love it, or does their advertising agency never have any repeat business?)

You convinced them that “not so fresh” is a great way to say “skanky”! Great job, you son of a gun!

It just doesn’t have the same meaning. It fits well poetically, but to call the Devil a son of a gun, makes it sound like you’re proud of him for getting his Wife pregnant.

Man, searching for that title, I would have thought porno, not cheesy romance novel…

And then there are the songs that were fine on the radio for decades until all the sudden they weren’t anymore. Songs like:

3. Pink Floyd, Money

Dark Side of the Moon came out in 1973. According to Wikipedia, it spent 741 consecutive weeks on the Billboard Top LP & Tapes chart, longer than any other album ever.  Money was the biggest hit on the album, and has been played countless times in the almost 40 years since its release.  This song has been played on the radio ALOT! And until 2004, the following lines played unedited:

Money
It’s a hit
Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit

Of course, now, the last 2 letters of the word is dropped, so it comes out as bullsh–. Whew.  After listening to this song for over 30 years, I am finally spared the offense of listening to the last two letters of that word.

You can even buy bullsh shirts now.

I know. Bullshit is a “bad” word. But, the song played for decades without anyone complaining. What suddenly changed? (I know what changed, that was a rhetorical question.) Penn and Teller have a TV show called Bullshit that runs on Showtime, where they can call it that, but everywhere else, they have to call it BS, or Bull**it or something like that. The whole thing is just a bunch of bullshit.

But speaking of unfortunate titles…

2. Cee Lo Green, Forget You/Fuck You

Probably my favorite radio mix comes from Cee Lo Green. He has this really cool song about a guy that is pissed off at a girl that won’t give him the time of day. He basically is telling the girl, that if you don’t like me, well, fuck you! The song has the word fuck in it a lot, and it could be bleeped every time, but it would really kind of ruin the song to listen to it that way. So, Cee Lo recorded a version of the song, where he replaces “fuck” with “forget”. And it really works! It’s actually a lot more fun to listen to the forget you version, than it would ever be to listen to a bleeped version. There is also a repeated line that says “ain’t that some shit”. And in the radio version, it is replaced with “ain’t that some sh”. Cee Lo Green played this song live at the grammy’s, paying tribute to an Elton John appearance on the Muppet Show

At least, I hope that was what he was doing.

He even had his own puppets, and the puppet backup singers repeated his “ain’t that some sh” line by putting their fingers up to their lips and making it “shhhhh”.  It was pretty cool.

This is one of the more creative ways to handle this, and it creates a separate work that is just as fun as the original song, and is able to be played safely on the radio.

When Cee Lo Green was musical guest on Saturday Night Live they did a (very dangerous) sketch using this same technique.

1. Pink, Fuckin’ Perfect

Like Cee Lo, Pink had to deal with the fact that she had a no no word in her song title. On iTunes, this song is called F**ckin’ Perfect. There are two versions. One with an EXPLICIT tag, and one without. But, if you listen to them, rather than have someone go back and drop out the cuss words, she re-recorded the song to omit the offensive word that appears 7 times in the song. She used different ways to cover the missing word.  For example:

Pretty, pretty please, don’t you ever, ever feel
Like you’re less than fuckin’ perfect.
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel like you’re nothing,
You’re fuckin’ perfect to me

Becomes:

Pretty, pretty please, don’t you ever, ever feel
Like you’re less than less than perfect.
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel like you’re nothing,
You are perfect to me

But as much as I liked Cee Lo’s solution to the problem, I feel like Pink’s solution is a little more of a cop out. I mean, why name a song Fuckin’ Perfect, and then record it without the word in there at all.  It’s a subtle distinction, but Cee Lo actually renamed the clean version of his song. It’s like it’s a completely different song. Pink, on the other hand, really didn’t do much more than a post production edit that just drops the offensive words would have done.

Honorable Mention: Konami’s Karaoke Revolution Glee for the Nintendo Wii

This game comes with a microphone and you can sing along with scenes from Glee and it scores kind of like Guitar Hero, except you are timing the words you sing and the pitch of the words for your score. One of the songs in the game is Yong MC’s Bust a Move. So, my kid’s got this game, and they wanted me to do a song, so I picked Bust a Move. To be honest, I never read the lyrics to this song before. So, I’m singing this song in front of my kids (no, there is no video of this event happening) and for the first time applying the lyrics in the song as they would be heard by my 13- and 9-year-old daughters. But the worst (or best, depending on how you look at it) is that they actually dropped out some words that, while not obscene, probably exceed the “Everyone 10+” rating the game had. The words were not in the vocals that were played, and on the lyric crawl at the bottom of the screen, there was just ________.

By now, you’re probably like, well, if you have kids, aren’t you glad they edit songs? Well, yeah, I kind of am, but the problem is, these edits don’t make the songs what I consider acceptable for my kids to listen to them. Even when listening to the radio with the kids in the car, I’m constantly running forward through the lyrics in my head to decide whether I need to bail to another station or not. And then there are the songs that they hear and like that, really have concepts in them that  I’d rather they not listen to. I’m more concerned about my daughters listening to Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream, than I am about the word “Bullshit” in Money. (Although, I guess going down on a boyfriend in a theatre is up there with the first category…) A couple of the verses in Teenage Dream:

Let’s go all the way tonight
No regrets, just love
We can dance, until we die
You and I, will be young forever

and

I’mma get your heart racing
In my skin tights jeans
Be your teenage dream tonight
Let you put your hands on me
In my skin tight jeans
Be your teenage dream tonight

Yeah, as the Father of 2 girls, that’ll keep me up at night way more than any of the seven deadly words.

What interesting/annoying/cool radio edits have you heard? Sound off in the comments.

Categories: Censorship, Music, Radio
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