Ten Politically Incorrect Songs That Would Be Considered Offensive in 2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

Warning: if you're easily "triggered" (the buzz word of 2016) by songs about fat shaming, racism, school shootings, sexual assault, and more then best to click away NOW. Because I've just compiled, off the top of my head, ten songs from the 20th century that would be considered very politically incorrect and offensive by today's standards. In my honest opinion, most of these songs were just the artists having fun...no harm intended...but in today's overly PC society quite a few of them would cause an uproar.

"Too Fat Polka (She's Too Fat For Me)" by Arthur Godfrey (1947)

Growing up in a Polish-American family, I'm well acquainted with "Too Fat Polka" as it was a regular staple of the polka radio special my parents would listen to on the A.M. dial every Sunday. Back then the version that got regular play was by "America's Polka King" Frankie Yankovic and it was also played at the polka dances my parents used to go to when I was a kid. So it's safe to say it really didn't offend much people back in the day -- back when obesity was still so rare it wasn't attracting media attention. Yet, when I recently posted a link to Arthur Godfrey's version on a Facebook thread, my friend count dropped by one later that night. (Shrug.) 

"Too Fat Polka", although intended as a novelty record, reached #15 on the charts in 1947. Its success led to The Andrews Sisters cutting their own version while altering the lyrics to be from a woman's point of view. And while "the old redhead" -- as Godfrey was known -- was one of America's most popular radio and TV personalities during the 1940s and '50s, his tyrannical management skills and crude behavior became the stuff of Hollywood legend. Recording a song about fat shaming was the least of his sins. 

"Civilization (Bongo Bongo Bongo)" by The Andrew Sisters and Danny Kaye (1948)

This song wouldn't have even made this list if it weren't for the fact that shortly after it was released, Alan Clark -- a British member of Parliament -- supposedly referred to Africa as "Bongo Bongo Land." Clark denied that he meant anything derogatory by the term, saying that he was referring to the President of Gabon, Omar Bongo. As recently as 2013, the term was used yet again on camera by another member of Parliament, and this time thanks to the Internet, he got into hot water. Note to the British government: please simply refer to Africa as Africa and take the "bongo" out of it. 

"Fatty Fatty" by Bobby Rydell (1958)

So maybe Arthur Godfrey didn't dig fat chicks, but teen idol Bobby Rydell did, because his strange song "Fatty Fatty" tells of his love for a girl that weighs 365 ("one pound for every day of the year") and resembles a Sherman tank and elephant. Whatever floats your boat, buddy. The slowed down tuba to indicate rotundness is a nice touch. 

"Clementine" by Bobby Darin (1960)

Could it be my beloved Bobby D. was a fat shamer as well? Believe it -- "Clementine" is a take on "Oh My Darling, Clementine" with the subject being a North Carolina miner's daughter who weighed 299 pounds and drowns after her weight causes a bridge to "tremble and disassemble." The lyrics also compare her to a whale. The thing is, Bobby doesn't sound the least bit sorry about failing to rescue Clementine, which causes her untimely demise -- as evident by his bubble sound effects and gleeful "BYE!" at the end of the song.

"Wives and Lovers" by Jack Jones (1963)

I actually think the advice dished out in this Burt Bacharach/Hal David composition is quite sage: wives, be sure not to let yourselves go and stay attractive and flirty with your husband, lest he has an affair with one of the girls at the office. But, I know a lot of women -- especially feminists -- would work their panties into a wad over it today. I don't know how or why this was NEVER heard once in Mad Men; perhaps whoever was in charge of the soundtrack thought it would be too obvious? But c'mon, it would have been perfect for the series!

"If You Wanna Be Happy" by Jimmy Soul (1963) 

Jimmy Soul is more concerned about his wife cheating on him, so he picked himself an ugly one that will never stray. If her eyes don't match, take it from Jimmy Soul, she's a better catch. Plus, she sure can cook.

"Under My Thumb" by the Rolling Stones (1966)

I think most of my readers know by now that I love the Stones. I also love this song, even if it does make the hair on my arms bristle just a little bit. Again, the feminists would be burning this record in public (or whatever the modern-day equivalent is of destroying vinyl records is) had it been released today.

"Rape" by Peter Wyngarde (1970)

Lest the advertising censors come after me, I was wary about embedding this song into this post, so you'll have to Google it yourself. Without a doubt, this IS the most bizarrely offensive song I've ever heard in my life, so prepare your ears. Peter Wyngarde is an English-French actor best known for the British TV series Department S and Jason King. In 1970, he released an album of strange songs done in a spoken word style a la William Shatner. But where Shatner was having fun with innocent songs such as "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and "Mr. Tamborine Man," Wyngarde's collection included such curious tracks as "It's When I Touch You" and "Hippie and the Skinhead." "Rape" was actually issued as a single under the title, "Peter Wyngarde Commits Rape." Not only does he "sing" about the violent sexual crime (and sounds like a dog barking while doing it) but Wyngarde manages to insult just about every ethnic group that exists by vocalizing in gibberish and fake accents. This one really is offensive and inappropriate on so many levels and I have no more words for it. 

"Illegal Alien" by Genesis (1983)

How many Mexican stereotypes could Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, and Tony Banks of Genesis shoehorn into one song and music video? How about sombreros, ponchos, mustaches, drunkiness, laziness, sneakiness, and even prostitution? ("I've got a sister who'd be willing to oblige // She will do anything now to help me get to the outside" was omitted from the radio version of the song, as well as the music video.) The song is also sung by Collins in a fake Mexican accent. Ay, caramba! I'm sure the guys didn't mean anything derogatory by it (and it IS an addictive ear worm of a tune) but it would certainly never pass muster if released today.

"Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun" by Julie Brown (1984)

Remember when school shootings were just a bad joke and the subject of equally bad '80s songs? Yeah, how times have changed. 


  1. The Jimmy Soul song was one of the first ones I immediately thought of before I read the list. I think it's funny, and probably not meant to be taken seriously.

    1. With the exception of the "Rape" song, all of there songs were intended to be fun.

      However, in 2016 the world is full of people who wake up and ask themselves, "How can I be a professional victim today?"

      I saw a ridiculous article shared on Facebook that was published on Mode.com a few months ago...the author, a woman, made a list of vintage songs that she considered to be sexist. Among her targets were "Someone To Watch Over Me" and "Standing On The Corner." Gimme a break.

  2. So, you're not a feminist?

  3. I immediately thought if "If You Want to be Happy" also. However there were a couple that I was surprised didn't make the list: Brown Sugar by The Stones and Shake, Rattle, and Roll by Big Joe Turner. Otherwise good list!!


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