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‘Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead” driving up charts
The BBC banned it on the grounds of “gross bad taste,” and some stores refused to stock it, to the delight of the punk band, whose anti-establishment credentials were cemented by the controversy.
It remains one of the most famous songs never to reach No. 1 on the charts. It hit No. 2, but was kept from the top spot by Rod Stewart’s “I Don’t Want to Talk About It.”
Punk fans sensed a conspiracy, and debate still rages over whether the Pistols’ song really did reach No. 1.
BUOYED BY A BAN
In 1984, BBC DJ Mike Read pulled the plug on “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood midway through its first broadcast, calling the thumping, lyrically suggestive song obscene.
Though it wasn’t officially banned, the BBC did not play it. The controversy helped push the song by a then-unknown band up the charts, where it stayed in the No. 1 spot for five weeks.
CENSORS AND SENSIBILITIES
While the moral panics of past eras can seem ridiculous, this week’s Thatcher controversy shows that the central issue — which is worse, censorship or causing offense? — is both complex and unresolved.
In 2007, the BBC censored the Christmas song “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues, which was first released 20 years earlier, by dubbing out an anti-gay slur. Some listeners were outraged, but others, including gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, said the BBC had been right to remove the word.
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