Everyone was excited about Queen Bey‘s long-awaited comeback. However, things haven’t entirely gone to plan. The highly anticipated release of Beyonce’s new album, Renaissance, was swiftly followed by disappointment as a result of an offensive lyric. Although, it appears Bey is not alone when it comes to having songs with offensive or derogatory lyrics.
The song ‘Heated’ from Beyonce‘s new album contains an offensive ableist slur. This caused outrage and upset from fans and those within the disabled community. The offensive lyric is a slur used to describe those with Cerebral Palsy, a condition that impacts muscle control and movement.
Scope, a leading disability charity in the UK, tweeted its reaction to the lyrics.
It has since been announced that the lyric has been removed from the song and the album. Although it does make you question why Beyonce chose to include the lyric in the first place.
However, it seems that plenty of other stars have also faced controversy regarding their choice of lyrics:
Following the release of her song “GRRRLS” last month, Lizzo also received backlash for one of its lyrics. Interestingly, the song contained the same ableist slur in Beyonce’s song ‘Heated’. Lizzo immediately apologized, saying that she “unintentionally” included the “harmful word” in her song. This resulted in her re-recording and releasing the song again, with many praising her swift action. Despite this, it’s still disappointing that two such prominent women in the music industry chose to include the same slur in their lyrics.
Lana Del Rey
Lana’s song “Ultraviolence” contains some controversial lyrics within the opening verse that are repeated throughout the song. Although no slurs are mentioned in the 2014 hit, Lana sings “he hit me and it felt like a kiss”. Clearly referencing a toxic relationship, the lyric can be seen to glorify physical violence. This only helps to romanticize toxic and abusive relationships. It also adds to the normalization of experiencing physical violence in relationships, as the lyrics are sung so casually. The lyrics were never changed or removed. However, Lana chose not to sing the lyrics when performing the song in concert, so as to not encourage them in front of her audience.
The Rolling Stones
The iconic British band’s famous hit “Brown Sugar” reached number 1 in the US and number 2 in the UK in 1971. Only recently has the controversy of the song’s lyrics come to light. The hit immediately opens with a reference to slavery: “Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields”. This is shortly followed by “Hear him whip the women, just around midnight”. This lyric is particularly offensive towards black women and the black community, who suffered years of oppression at the hands of slaveowners. The song does not improve, only adding to its distasteful and crass lyrics: “Brown sugar, just like a black girl should, yeah”. As a result, the band has stopped performing the song, despite its popularity when it was released. Perhaps the band may have finally recognized the offensiveness of some of their lyrics and just how out of place they feel in today’s society.
From this list, it’s clear that offensive lyrics have been around for quite some time. However, it seems that they aren’t just a thing of the past, with many modern stars also facing controversy for their songs. Let’s hope that other artists can learn from these mistakes and write lyrics that everyone can enjoy.