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If there's one thing the music industry has become famous for, it's the sheer number of insane publicity stunts done by bands and singers who wanted to become famous, stay relevant, or get signed by a major record label. That is, after all, why there have been so many crazy scandals in the music industry.
Sometimes, the insane publicity stunts done by bands actually will work in a good way. Many publicity stunts ended up getting bands magazine exposure and record deals. Other times, the stunt public people see doesn't really go through, and turns into a botched mess. Either way, they're fun to think about, even if they aren't necessarily that wise for newer bands to copy.
"Tell us where to play, internet!"
One of the most insane publicity stunts done by bands and singers today is allowing the internet to decide whether their next concert would be. You see, back in the days before the internet, when music producers would run contests via magazines, people would give serious answers.
However, in the Age of the Internet, we should all realize that asking people where pop stars should perform might not end up with serious answers. After all, if there's one thing internet denizens love to do, it's trolling.
Similar publicity stunts almost landed Justin Bieber in North Korea - so most bands do not follow through. However, there was one notable exception to this rule involving a certain Latin rapper...
Pitbull, in conjunction with Walmart, decided to do a publicity stunt contest that would allow voters to tell him where he's performing. As you can imagine, the internet went crazy.
Comedy writer David Thorpe was one of those internet trolls who really didn't seem to like Pitbull's music. So, he decided that it'd be hilarious to send the singer to the middle of Alaska, at a Walmart that's famous for selling bear spray.
The publicity stunt, which was meant to promote an album by Pitbull as well as Walmart, ended up getting hijacked by Thorpe. The movement spread via sites like Something Awful as well as Twitter and a number of non-associated newsletter publications.
The #ExilePitbull hashtag went viral, and Pitbull got sent to Kodiak.
Believe it or not, Pitbull actually went there, performed, and seemed to be fine with it. He even invited Thorpe to meet him, took videos with local Native tribes, and joked about the viral disaster. So, even if this is one of the more insane publicity stunts done by bands, it's still a good one to follow through with.
At least, if you're Pitbull.
"Let's fake lesbianism!"
Back before the world got jaded, insane publicity stunts done by bands that had women in them would be to allude to lesbianism. In the US, this was often done subtly.
T.A.T.u got a huge amount of shock and scandal publicity in Russia thanks to their lesbian image. Magazines ended up praising them for promoting LGBTQ movements in homophobic Russia. Both band members were named as runners on the list of the "Top 100 Sexiest Girls" by Maxim Russia.
However, they got a huge amount of backlash in 2014 when one of the women admitted that the relationship was a fake publicity stunt to get more views, and that she would condemn her son if he ended up being gay.
Other women who have done similar "fan service" stunts in the music industry include Madonna (when she kissed Britney Spears), as well as Miley Cyrus (when she kissed a Victoria's Secret Angel).
Even today, this is one of the insane publicity stunts done by bands - simply because it's seen as trashy, and often cheapens the struggles that the LGBTQ community faces as a whole.
"Yo! Look at me wearing weird things."
Marilyn Manson. Lady Gaga. KISS.
What do all these singers have in common? Their looks. One of the most insane publicity stunts done by bands is creating bizarre, outlandish looks that become their band's trademark.
Would anyone really recognize Manson without the weird contact lenses and white-as-snow face? Would music publications even be able to differentiate Lady Gaga from another teen pop icon without her insane meat dress or space-age looks? Would anyone have even reviewed KISS if they were just a garage band?
We don't know, but what we do know is that this is a publicity stunt that often works. It's actually a branding trick. If you have a "unique look" that gets people talking, then your band will likely become way more recognizable - and therefore more marketable.
That being said, this is a publicity stunt that can cause some serious problems with safety. Those heels Gaga wears can't be easy to dance in, and there have been some cases in which musicians have had their clothing light on fire because of built-in pyrotechnics.
"Hey, I'm naked."
One of the most insane publicity stunts done by bands on a regular basis doesn't involve clothes. Rather, it involves them totally naked, or at least partially nude.
Rage Against the Machine got naked on camera as part of a nude protest after the Parents Music Resource Center kept criticizing them. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, on the other hand, just seemed to enjoy playing while wearing nothing but a "cock sock" in the early 90s.
Amy Winehouse performed naked for a cancer charity. Janis Joplin also was known for stripping down when she performed. Naked works, even if it's played out to pieces. That being said, it's still insane because rockers still get ejected from venues for getting naked onstage.
"I got booty bumped by Bruno."
Perhaps one of the most insane publicity stunts done by bands of the 2000s happened during the MTV Movie Awards. Sacha Baron Cohen, dressed as Bruno, was lowered down until he "accidentally" teabagged Eminem. The rapper, whose known for anger problems, got up and walked out of the theater.
It looked realistic, and it actually did get publicity going...until a writer came forth to say that it was all just a publicity stunt. Eminem immediately got panned by music publications as a "poser," but thankfully, his musical talent kept him afloat long enough for people to forget it.
"Lemme perform in public while not announcing who I am or where I'll be."
Perhaps one of the most pathetically insane publicity stunts done by bands is the "impromptu concert" performed in major metropolitan areas. The problem with this stunt is that almost no one will ever get signed by a music label while playing.
Moreover, if you're famous and no one notices that you're busking, you'll also get a pretty bruised ego. Such was the case with Brandy, who was recently spotted singing on the NYC subway. Rather than have fans squeal for her, Brandy ended up getting glares - with at least one person obviously hoping she'd shut up.
The band Badly Drawn Boy also was caught busking on city streets in London. They weren't even able to net 5 pounds! Ouch? Ouch. Needless to say, bands that tried to promote their work this way may want to rethink their strategy.
That being said, some bands managed to busk and get promoted that way. Elvis Costello busked near a CBS Records meeting, and got noticed that way. But, in the same breath, he ended up getting arrested for doing so.
"I'm a statue, not in a van, down by the river!"
Michael Jackson may have topped the charts of the most insane publicity stunts done by bands thanks to his collaboration with this record label at the time. Sony Records spent a jaw-dropping $30 million to create nine statues in the likeness of Michael Jackson.
Once one of the massive statue was completed, they sent it on a giant float down the River Thames in London. Eight others were displayed and floated elsewhere. The publicity stunt was to gain attention to Jackson's new album, "HIStory."
Overall, the publicity stunt backfired with many people thinking that it was a sign of Michael Jackson's egotism shining through. Music publications weren't impressed, either. Therefore, this might be one of the most costly publicity stunts ever made.