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Most people think about record releases in terms of albums being bought off iTunes, screaming fans, and of course, celebrity frontmen talking about their next epic concert tour. It's classic, and for the most part, that's exactly what major record releases are like.
Once in a while, though, you'll find a record release that seems to be made just to shake up everything around them. Whether it's due to the message it sends, or just the people singing it, the wrong record release can make everything topsy-turvy.
According to music historians, these are the most dangerous records ever released—and the ones that would make you wonder what the full ramifications could be.
Straight Outta Compton by N.W.A.
NWA was already not a popular group with the police, but when they release their 1988 smash hit album, Straight Outta Compton, things hit the wall. To date, it's considered to be one of the most incendiary albums in hip hop history, and for good reason.
The group released the album to discuss the race relation issues in the US, and many lines from their songs seemed to actively condone violence against the police. (You know, the whole, "Fuck the police," bit, for example.)
Both the FBI and the Secret Service had a talk with NWA over the lyrics, resulting in them being banned from performing in a number of cities.
Today, the album is a hip hop classic, and currently has a movie by the same title about the history of NWA. But, that doesn't mean it's not one of the most dangerous records ever released.
Had the Rodney King riots happened earlier, NWA would probably have been killed—and they never would have inspired some of the greatest hip hop acts of all time.
Hit 'Em Up by Tupac Shakur
Hit 'Em Up was one of the most dangerous records ever released, despite it being a single. The single, "Hit 'Em Up," is still considered to be one of the most vicious diss tracks ever made—and remains a tirade of the most downright scathing burns ever heard on a track.
The single, which was produced as a reaction to Tupac's perceived loss on the feud between East and West Coast rappers, pulled no punches. In fact, rumor has it that Tupac even hired the Notorious B.I.G's ex-wife, Faith Evans, to lay vocals on the track as a way to add burn.
That being said, the people who were dissed on the single probably wanted to kick his ass. In the 90s rap world, that is pretty darned lethal. Nowadays, the single is hard to find—but you can still dig the track thanks to All Eyez On Me.
Was it a heavy diss track? Of course. Tupac went hard; that's the man he was and always will be in hip hop history.
De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas by Mayhem
As bad as the 90s hip hop scene was when it came to violence, nothing that happened back then was anywhere close to the brutal insanity of some metal cliques out in Europe back then. (The metal scene isn't just about cool album art, ya know.)
Mayhem's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is one of the most dangerous records ever released because of the horrifying aftermath of said release. Though the record was being recorded for years, it took the Norwiegian death metal group until 1994 to publish it.
So, what made this album release dangerous? Well, here's a starter list as to why Mayhem lived up to their name before, during, and after its publication...
- One of the tracks to the album was designed to make people commit suicide. The drummer, Hellhammer, admitted this about the song "Freezing Moon."
- Then the lead vocalist, Dead, killed himself during the album creation. There's no certainty if it's because he listened to "Freezing Moon." What we do know is that he did it pretty brutally and wrote a note saying, "Excuse all the blood."
- The replacement lead bassist Vikernes was connected to three different church arsons. Because it's metal. Or mental. Mayhem may have mixed that up.
- Oh, and then the bassist ended up stabbing his bandmate Euronymous to death, shortly after the album was completed. Because also metal. Or possibly just mental.
By the time the band released the album, bassist Vikernes was behind bars, guitarist Euronymous was murdered, and Dead became surprisingly good at living up to his name.
That being said, this was one of the most dangerous albums ever released—but only if you were in the band, it seems. So far, no suicides have been linked to "Freezing Moon," aside from Dead's. Possibly.
Aux Armes Et Caetera by Serge Gainsbourg
Serge Gainsbourg teamed up with some of the biggest names in reggae to produce this album. Despite reggae's normally mellow vibe, it ended up being one of the most dangerous records ever released, due to the sheer number of death threats it's sparked.
The reason for the offense was a major gaffe on Gainsbourg's end of things; he had recorded a cover of the French national anthem as the title track. French people hated it because he changed the lyrics, others accused him of feeding anti-semitism with the song, and still more accused him of insulting the French Republic.
God Save the Queen by Sex Pistols
The Sex Pistols released God Save the Queen on the same day as the Queen of England's Silver Jubilee. Make no mistake about it—it was intentional; and the entire album was dedicated to talking about how the Queen sucked as a human being.
Johnny Rotten's scathing lyrics struck serious rage in England, where the royal family was held up as a national treasure. God Save the Queen apparently also struck a chord with many younger audiences, as the album ended up soaring to the 2nd place of the top charts—despite its official ban by the BBC.
Despite all the vitriol Rotten received, he stood by the album and it made history. (This is made kind of ironic, considering that Johnny Rotten is selling butter these days.)
Symphony No. 5 in D Minor by Dmitri Shostakovich
It's very hard to imagine that this was once one of the most dangerous records ever released. After all, Shostakovich's music is fairly old, and the record itself was first released in the late 1930s. However, the story behind Shostakovich's fifth symphony makes it insanely dangerous.
Composer Shostakovich lived in the middle of Stalinist Russia, right when the Great Purge was happening. He was already treading on thin ice with his plays and symphonies; and it had gotten to the point where authorities basically told him if Symphony No. 5 wasn't up to Communist standards, he'd be killed.
This album is the release that saved his life. Had anything been deemed "off" about it, he would have been killed within months.
Gloomy Sunday by Rezső Seress
Perhaps one of the darkest entries on this list is Gloomy Sunday, a single-song album that was released by Hungarian composer Rezső Seress in the 1930s. The song, which was known for its hauntingly dark sound and suicide-focused lyrics, quickly became known as the "Hungarian Suicide Song."
"Gloomy Sunday" was initially written about the increasingly ugly scene of 1930s Hungary. It later had lyrics added about a breakup (or suicide?) of a man's lover with a prayer for mercy. It seems dark, and to a point, there are a lot more songs like that.
If it were only for the lyrics or the melody, this wouldn't be an issue. There are plenty of sad songs out there. However, it seems like the album tends to get people thinking about offing themselves, too—and that's what's makes it such a dangerous song.
At the time of its release, news reports noted that around 19 suicides were attributed to the song. Seress ended up committing suicide years later, allegedly while listening to his own composition. That definitely would make it one of the most dangerous records ever released, wouldn't you think?
Spirit Of The Glen: Journey by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are literally a branch of the Scottish military, so you're probably wondering how they made one of the most dangerous records ever released. This branch of the Scottish guard is the official music-playing part of their military. The reason this album was so dangerous is that it was recorded in the middle of a war zone.
Yes, nothing quite says "dangerous" like potentially being blown up.
Cop Killer by Body Count
A lot of the most dangerous records ever released are on this list because they ticked off authorities, or had anti-police messages involved in them. Body Count's Cop Killer release was no exception to this rule. This particular album had police claiming that it flared up racial tension in the 80s.
Major political names like Tipper Gore, George Bush, and Dan Quayle all ended up having something to say. At the end of the day, the guys of Body Count got off the hook. Even so, it was a very close scrape for the hip hop group.
The Power in the Darkness by Tom Robinson Band
The Power in the Darkness was recorded at a time in UK history that basically forced this to become one of the most dangerous records ever released. At the time of its creation, being homosexual was barely even legal—with it actually being a crime only 11 years ago.
Almost all of the album was dedicated to calling out social hypocrisy of British society. The biggest offender they had? A song called "Glad to be Gay," which quickly became a rallying cry for the 1976 Gay Pride march.
My Way by Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra was the king of the Rat Pack, and one of the most celebrated singers of all time. He also was involved with some sketchy people, but that's not what made My Way one of the most dangerous records ever released.
Rather, it's what happened long after the record was released that made it so bad. Its titular single, "My Way," has become one of the most violent karaoke song titles in human history.
In the Philippines, people take singing karaoke seriously. "My Way" has caused so many disputes in the region that it has been blamed for dozens of killings.
Cops in the area even gave it its own category for crime; which in turn makes it one of the most dangerous albums—and songs—ever to hit the music scene. What's really eerie is that this isn't just a Philippines issue, either. Similar reports have happened in the UK and US, too.