10 Best ’90s Songs That Radio Bleeped
Think waaay back — back to when Structure shirts, Z. Cavariccis and flip-up sunglasses were a la mode; Slick Willy was honking his sax on ‘Arsenio'; rocking a Discman was essential; and the radio was the go-to medium for musical discovery. Yes, the 1990s were dope, and the era’s highly eclectic musical mix was among the best we’ve experienced in the history of rock. That said, like most periods of out-of-control arts-driven cultural leaps forward, censorship ran rampant. Stuck-up adults and lawmakers, poisoned with ‘50s mentalities, set out to “fix” what kids were listening to. Some of the era’s best songs never aired in full on the radio. And we’ve collected the finest examples into this handy list of the 10 Best ’90s Songs that Radio Bleeped.
‘Lightning Crashes’ – Live
We’re not going to rage too long about Live and how little we care for the band itself, but this might be one of the stupidest censorship scenarios of all time. On some radio shows, the entire verse about the new mother’s “placenta [falling] to the floor” got cut out. This is Health Class 101, people! Seriously?
‘Teenage Dirtbag’ – Wheatus
‘Dirtbag’ is technically not a ‘90s song, but it fits so snugly into the era’s quirky mix that we couldn’t leave it off this list. Unfortunately, the year 2000 hadn’t yet fully embraced the word “dick,” which is expunged from the song’s second verse. Look how far we’ve come — “s—” and “asshole” are common words on basic cable.
‘Creep’ – Radiohead
We often forget that this song got the censorship treatment, because the bad word gets overlooked by that engine-starting chunk of distortion that Jonny Greenwood fires out of his guitar. “You’re so f—ing special” became “You’re so very special” all cleaned up. How so very British of them.
‘Semi-Charmed Life’ – Third Eye Blind
This song is one of those head-scratchers: Radio censors decided to muddle the song’s reference to “doing crystal meth” but not the one about the guy getting a blowjob. I guess that’s Bill Clinton’s legacy for you. (The song’s length was also shaved down dramatically for the radio.)
‘You Oughta Know’ – Alanis Morissette
This is one of our favorite radio-edit stories ever, because the song is apparently about Uncle Joey on ‘Full House.’ The line in question? “It was a slap in the face how quickly I was replaced / Are you thinking of me when you f— her?” Oh, Dave Coulier: We didn’t know you and little Davey had it in you!
‘Army’ – Ben Folds Five
One of the catchier songs on Ben Folds Five’s ‘Reinhold Messner,’ single ‘Army’ had a radio edit because of the fantastic F-rocket that Folds launches in the first line of the song: “Well, I thought about the army / dad said, ‘Son you’re f—in’ high.’” (The cleaned-up version has the much tamer “Dad said, ‘Son, you must be high.’”)
‘Jeremy’ – Pearl Jam
What a spooky-ass song ‘Jeremy’ is, given all of the recent school shootings. Remember the video of the kid that blows his brains out at the front of the classroom? Yeah, freaky. What is often forgotten is the bleep in the second verse: “Clearly I remember, picking on the boy / Seemed a harmless little f—.” The radio censors, however, did not bleep Jeremy “[biting] the recess lady’s breast.” How could we forget?
‘What I Got’ – Sublime
Things we found out about the late Bradley Nowell in this fun, little ditty: He (a) [has] “got a Dalmatian” (b) “can still get high” and (c) “can play the guitar like a [motherblankin’] riot.”
Tie Between ‘Closer’ and ‘Hurt’ – Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails are just so quintessentially ‘90s. And so is the edited line from ‘Closer': “I wanna [BLURP] you like an aniMALLLLLLLLLLL!” The correction in ‘Hurt’ wasn’t as obvious a bleep for radio as ‘Closer,’ but “I wear this crown of s—” didn’t make it past radio censors. In one of those gleaming moments of amazingness, Johnny Cash, who covered ‘Hurt’ in 2002, himself edited it to “I wear this crown of thorns,” which adds an altogether deeper layer than the original.
‘Longview’ – Green Day
This is one of our favorite bleeps in the Bleepin’ History of Bleeped Songs. “S—’ is taken out of the end of each pre-chorus, so all you hear is “iiiiiiiiiiiiiit.” And to add icing to the cake, the F-bomb gets clipped in the line about “masturbation [losing] its fun,” which could’ve easily been censored itself. I guess pocket polo isn’t as bad as the ‘ole F-word.