Those who can sing, form bands. Those who can't, meddle.
Seventh Star was supposed to be Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi's first solo album, but pressure from his record label forced him to bill it as an album by "Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi."
Similarly, Black Sabbath's Paranoid album was supposed to be named War Pigs. It was changed by studio execs at the last minute because the song "Paranoid" had become a surprise hit, and because they felt the title could be interpreted as a reference to the Vietnam War.
Vol. 4 was going to be titled "Snowblind," but also was changed at the last moment due to the title being a cocaine reference. Additionally, the song "Snowblind" had to be re-recorded because of record company objections: In the original recording, every verse ended on a shout of "Cocaine!", but this was toned down to a single whisper of the word after the first verse note the whole song is about using cocaine, it's just that the rest of the lyrics are a little less blatant than that. On the back cover of Vol 4, they managed to sneak by a thank you to "the great COKE-cola company" though.
Frank Zappa suffered this during his early Mothers of Invention days. First of all, their name was changed from "The Mothers" because it was a slang term for "motherfuckers". Were Only In It For The Money suffered the most: the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band-parodying cover was relegated to the inner sleeve, even though Zappa had called The Beatles beforehand and gotten their approval. "Harry You're a Beast" had the verse "don't come in me" censored, as was the line "I will love the police as they kick the shit out of me" from "Who Needs the Peace Corps?". "Hot Poop" was their way of Getting Crap Past the Radar: taking the verse "Better look around before you say you don't care/Shut your fucking mouth 'bout the length of my hair/how would you survive/if you were alive/shitty little person?" from "Mother People" and backmasking it.
Even then, some editions have edited versions of "Hot Poop", in which the word "fucking" is snipped out entirely.
Berry Gordy and Motown were infamous for denying artistic freedom to their acts and interfering every step of the way. Two well-known defiance stories: Stevie Wonder threatened to leave Motown when his contract expired unless he got artistic freedom and improved royalties. Gordy initially rejected Marvin Gaye's song "What's Going On" as a single, but Marvin went on strike until Gordy agreed to release it. It was a #2 hit and led to demand for a similar album.
Like many musicians, Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) has had his share of disagreements with his record label, but the release of Year Zero brought with it new and exciting forms of Executive Meddling. Trent's viral marketing/Alternate Reality Game promoting the album was largely an independent effort between him and 42 Entertainment (yes, the company that made the I Love Bees ARG for Halo 2), where he purposely leaked tracks to the public; the RIAA reacted by prosecuting some of the people who posted these online. Additionally, Trent wanted to surprise the fans by pressing the CD with special thermal material that would make the disc a different color when it was removed from a heat-producing CD player; unfortunately, the marketing team got word of this and decided to advertise it as a special feature of the album, which spoiled the surprise. "Thermally reactive disc that changes color when you touch it!"
The thermal material has a bit more executive meddling to it, as they also hiked up the overseas price of the album $10 because of it, despite the fact that it cost almost nothing, and Trent paid the money for it out of his own pocket. This is commonly accepted to have been the final straw leading up to his going independent.
Tony Wilson's Factory label became known for a complete lack of Meddling, or sometimes Meddling that made things more bizarre than the artists would have liked. For instance, the album sleeve for Return of the Durutti Column by The Durutti Column was made out of sandpaper, "to destroy all your other records from the inside". They also went ahead with releasing Joy Division's Closer with the planned tombstone cover, despite the whole lead singer suicide thing.
Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson recorded a solo album in 1980, which featured Tull guitarist Martin Barre, new Tull bassist David Pegg, an unknown American drummer named Mark Craney, and "special guest" keyboardist/electric violinist Eddie Jobson (Roxy Music, U.K., Frank Zappa). Tull's label, Chrysalis Records, was going through financial troubles at the time, so they asked Ian to release it as a new Tull album to raise sales. The album was called A, as the tape boxes for Ian's album were marked "A" for "Anderson", and it led inadvertently to the sacking of three longtime Tull members. Some Tull fans were not pleased with the synthesizer sounds on the album, meant to be a break from Tull's folk-rock sound, nor the line-up changes, and a slightly more traditional sound was used for the band's follow-up, The Broadsword And The Beast. Anderson's true solo debut, the very electronic Walk Into Light, came out in 1983.
An almost certainly positive example comes from an RCA executive to replace the cover of "Round and Round" on David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust album. Is this where "It Ain't Easy" comes from? No, that was already going to be on there... in fact, the two were going to play back-to-back between "Moonage Daydream" and "Lady Stardust." That's right. Executive Meddling is is responsible for "Starman."
The Chad Mitchell Trio encountered this when attempting to release their version of Bob Dylan's Blowin' In The Wind as a single. An executive at their record company balked at this, saying that there had never been a hit song with the word 'deaths' in it. The song could remain on the album, but a single release was out of the question. Later on, Peter, Paul and Mary's recording of the song became a huge hit. The Chad Mitchell Trio, meanwhile, changed record companies, and their only mainstream hit after this was The Marvelous Toy, which still receives airplay on radio during the Christmas season.
Upon hearing The Clash's debut self-titled album, the suits at their American record label decided it had too much filler, and decided to remove 5 songs and replace them with some of the band's British singles like "Complete Control" and "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais". It is almost universally agreed by critics that this actually vastly improved the album, though some also note that adding in the mostly mid-tempo and more polished singles dilutes the UK version's Three Chords and the Truth feel a bit.
Another reason was because the execs decided said songs were too controversial, as there was a big panic over whether punk would make people rebel against the government, and obviously songs like "Cheat and Deny" were not really in keeping with what they wanted people to think of them, they probably considered "48 Hours" and "Protex Blue" to be drug references, and the single version of "White Riot" replaces the album version to be more marketable. It is puzzling that "Jail Guitar Doors" was included as the band reluctantly recorded it as a B Side. It also annoys people that that "I Fought The Law" is included because it was recorded after their second album, by which time their style was starting to change.
Their second album Give Em Enough Rope was released with a completely different font on the cover and the title of the last track "All The Young Punks (New Boots And Contacts) was changed to "That's No Way To Spend Your Youth", which is a really blatant change by the execs as its nothing like what The Clash would title a song.
Another good example: blur's single "Popscene" — now recognized as one of the first true Britpop singles — failed so poorly on the UK single charts that their label, Food Records, told the band to scrap their entire second album and write new songs including one surefire hit single. Upon hearing this version, the label told them to go back again and write another single-worthy song, this time targeted to American audiences. The resulting album was the critically adored Modern Life Is Rubbish and the two singles were "For Tomorrow" and "Chemical World", which remain two of their most critically acclaimed and popular songs.
Upon hearing their album Parklife, the head of Food Records proclaimed it to be "single-proof" and "unreleasable". The band and every other executive on the board believed that this would be the album of 1994. The head of the label thought that the album would bomb so horribly that shortly before its release he sold the label to SBK Records and retired to the British countryside. The album sold fantastically and made Blur massive stars in the UK. The band later lightly satirized their friend and former label-head with the first single from their next album, "Country House".
Even Blur's name kind of stems from executive meddling: The band started out billing themselves as Seymour (intended as a Shout-Out to the J.D. Sallinger story Seymour: An Introduction). Food Records wanted to sign the band, but disliked their name and asked them to pick from a label-selected list of band names, one of which was Blur.
In yet another example of Executive Meddling winding up to have positive endpoint, James Blunt gave 'Weird' Al permission to do a parody of "You're Beautiful". But after "You're Pitiful" was recorded, the executives at Atlantic Records — Blunt's label — told Al he couldn't release the song on his next album because they feared it would turn Blunt into "a one hit wonder" (Ironically, he has not had a Billboard Top 40 appearance in the US since). So instead he released it for free online, and performs it in concert. Part of said performance is wearing an "Atlantic Records Sucks" t-shirt. Yet, this still left his next record a bit short. Al went back to the recording studio and recorded "Do I Creep You Out" and "White and Nerdy". When released as a single, the latter song became the biggest hit in Al's three-decade-long career (and its video also takes a shot at the case, when he edits Wikipedia's entry for Atlantic Records...).
A less positive example of Executive Meddling in Weird Al's career was his label's insistence that Dare to Be Stupid have a Cyndi Lauper parody. Al disliked the resulting song ("Girls Just Want to Have Lunch"), and decided against including it on The Food Album.
In fact, one obvious factor about "Girls Just Want to Have Lunch" is that Al sings it as gratingly and sarcastically as possible.
The Food Album (along with The TV Album) were also both the result of executives wanting compilation albums. Although Weird Al didn't like the idea of The Food Album, he preferred it to the executive's original idea, Al Unplugged, which would have been a compilation of his songs, remixed to remove the electric instruments.
Executive Meddling was the reason Al wrote "Christmas at Ground Zero". They kept insisting he write a "Christmas-y" song for the holiday season. They eventually regretted it.
After the success of their 1999 pop-crossover megahit ballad "Amazed", Country music band Lonestar had big hits in the early 2000s with family-friendly, Tastes Like Diabetes songs such as "I'm Already There" and "My Front Porch Looking In", and were essentially forced to record more of the same. Whenever they tried something different, such as "Class Reunion", it tanked. After their last two albums for the label both failed to produce a hit, lead guitarist Michael Britt told CMT, "They started putting out a bunch of family-type songs. I think that really pigeonholed us. The majority of the band didn't really want to continue doing that same thing." BNA Records dropped them just before lead singer Richie McDonald went solo in 2007 — only to put out the same diabetes-inducing material for three years before returning in 2011.
Kmart and Walmart refused to sell the Nirvana album In Utero until new packaging that listed the track "Rape Me" as "Waif Me" was created. The cover art, which features anatomical drawings of a naked woman, was also changed. The only reason Kurt Cobain agreed to the changes was because when he was a kid, his family was poor and he was only able to buy music from K-Mart or Wal-Mart since there wasn't a record store in his hometown, and he empathised with kids in the same situation.
Eels were forced by their record label into licensing "Mr E's Beautiful Blues" for Road Trip, as well as doing a video for it that alternated between clips from the movie and scenes of vocalist E driving a van with most of the main cast as passengers. In his autobiography Things the Grandchlidren Should Know, E stated that while he'd already licensed songs for movies in the past, he was none too happy to have his music associated with "a frat boy movie" - for him the only enjoyable part of making the video was a brief scene where he pretended to beat up the cast members.
Not only that, they also forced him to include the track on the album "Daisies of the Galaxy." E felt like the song didn't fit the tone of the album, so he got his revenge by including it only as a hidden bonus track at the end.
Electric Six ended up reluctantly covering Queen's "Radio Ga Ga" on Seńor Smoke because the record company wanted them to use it as a single. Perhaps not coincidentally, they've only put cover songs on their albums a couple of more times since.
Devo's record label insisted that the "Post-Post Modern Man" video feature a Playboy model. Band member and director Jerry Casale found a tongue in cheek way to work her into the video concept he already had in mind — instead of just Devo getting lost driving through the desert, it became Devo getting lost driving through the desert while an increasingly miffed model waited all day for their return. Then, when the video didn't get picked up by MTV, the label decided the song itself was too electronic-based to appeal to a 90's audience. Thus, a different video, parodying home shopping channel programming, was made for a different mix of the song without the band's involvement.
Devo 2.0 was essentially a pre-teen Devo cover band marketed by Disney with a fair deal of input from Devo themselves, who mostly went along with the idea because it they thought it was just the right kind of ridiculous. A lot of the original songs had substantially rewritten lyrics due to executive meddling. Some were pretty reasonable things like excising a repeated reference to a gun in "Big Mess" or changing "Girl U Want" into "Boy U Want" and making it about an innocent crush rather than lust. Other changes were a little weirder — in one interview Jerry Casale said "That's Good" lost the completely inoffensive couplet "Life's a bee without the buzz / it's going good 'til you get stung" because someone was convinced they were trying to get a drug reference past the censors. Apparently they interpreted the lyrics as hip-hop slang and took them to mean "Life is a bitch when you're not high, so make sure that you don't get caught with drugs by the police".
The Beatles are one of the most notorious and sustained examples of this trope. It's said that the infamous "butcher" cover they did for Yesterday... and Today was because they (particularly John Lennon) objected to the way Capitol Records (their U.S. label) "butchered" their albums. (This Urban Legend has been debunked as it was part of a photo shoot for the cover of "Paperback Winter" ) Capitol's treatment of the Magical Mystery Tour double-EP (expanding it into an album) was so successful that it has replaced the double-EP version, even in the British market. The "butchering" did affect the Beatles very much, making them sign a contract with Capitol which said that all albums (excluding special cases, like Magical Mystery Tour and Hey Jude) should be exactly the same as the UK versions.
Famously, George Martin refused to let Ringo Starr — who had just replaced Pete Best as the band's drummer — play in the recording of the band's first single "Love Me Do"; having disapproved of Best's drumming, he wasn't willing to trust Starr blindly and they recorded the album with session drummer Andy White, Starr reduced to shaking a tambourine. Martin later relented and let Starr record a version with the band. The version with Starr was released as a single, and the version with White appears on the band's first album, Please Please Me.
EMI originally felt that "Revolution" was too distorted, and that buyers wouldn't enjoy hearing such a noisy mix. The Beatles objected, and half-won the battle - the mono mix is distorted, while the stereo mix is cleaner.
In a case of averted meddling, George Martin wanted their first single to be a song called "How Do You Do It?". The boys fought it all the way, insistent that they only wanted to do music they'd written themselves (with the exception of covers). When Martin persuaded them to do a run through of "How Do You Do It?", they did it with such little enthusiasm that Martin (to his credit) agreed to "Love Me Do" as the first single instead. He then tried to convince them to use "How Do You It?" as their second single, but finally set aside the song for good when he heard their retooled version of "Please Please Me". "How Do You Do It?" did go on to be a number #1 hit for Gerry and the Pacemakers.
A case from the 18th century: Mozart's Don Giovanni contains a deeply sad and lyrical soprano aria, which out of the blue ends in 9˝ bars of the most spectacular virtuoso coloratura imaginable. It seems like a hastily-tacked on display of virtuosity, and was condemned by critics as early as Berlioz as a crime against art. The reason is probably that the opera director demanded a virtuoso cadenza for his prima donna.
Rappers get this a lot. If it's too hardcore and or socio-political there's a good chance the album will be either shelved or retooled. Same goes for the music videos; ironically, videos with Stripperific models are OK.
Positive Executive Meddling rescued Simon and Garfunkel's career. After their first, all-acoustic album Wednesday Morning, 3 AM tanked hard upon its 1964 release, the duo split and Paul Simon moved to England. During this hiatus, the song "The Sounds of Silence" (note the plural) became popular among radio stations in Florida, while in general The Byrds had become popular as the pioneers of folk-rock, scoring hits with electric covers of Bob Dylan songs. In June 1965, producer Tom Wilson borrowed Dylan's backing band and had them overdub electric guitar, bass and drums over the original recording. The resulting single, "The Sound of Silence", entered the charts and became the duo's first #1 single. Simon accordingly returned to the USA and reunited with Garfunkel to resume their career.
Death Metal band Deicide was rushed by Roadrunner Records to release In Torment In Hell. Because of this, the album sounds insanely generic compared to the rest of their work. Some rumors have even floated around that the band made the album that average on purpose so they could finish up their contract with the label.
The initial master tapes of The Jimi Hendrix Experience's Are You Experienced? album were rejected by Reprise Records because it was thought that the feedback was unplanned distortion. The tapes were sent back to Reprise with a note explaining that the distortion was intentional and should not be corrected.
A positive example: When Swedish hair-metal band Europe wrote the song "The Final Countdown", they had no intention of releasing it as a single — they were just looking for a cool concert-opener. One suggestion from Epic Records later, "The Final Countdown" was the band's biggest hit single of their career.
Judas Priest were royally fucked by Gull Records, their first label. For the first album they were given a producer who dominated the sessions and cut all of the fan-favourite songs out. After they left the label after two albums, the record company then proceeded to release half a dozen compilations of these two albums to cash in after Priest became famous. They have also messed up the track order for Sad Wings of Destiny, hence the track named "Prelude" appearing in the middle of the album. Things are so bad that Judas Priest even have a section of their discography on their website warning the fans about them.
Aerosmith's "Janie's Got A Gun" originally contained the line "He raped an itty bitty baby," but Geffen Records requested that Steven Tyler change it to "He jacked an itty bitty baby."
Another case of executive meddling gone right: Tom Petty was persuaded by his producer Jimmy Iovine to re-record "Don't Do Me Like That," a song he had earlier recorded with his former band Mudcrutch, for his album Damn the Torpedoes. It became one of the biggest singles of his career.
Petty once fought Executive Meddling to hold the line on album prices. Miffed that MCA was increasing the list price of albums to $9.99, he threatened to rename Hard Promises"The $8.99 Album". MCA kept the album's price at $8.99.
Metallica considered naming its debut album Metal Up Your Ass, but the label vetoed. The eventual title, Kill 'Em All, comes from Cliff Burton's suggestion on what they should do to record distributors.
Liz Phair suffered heavily from this, having run out of money during the recording of her self-titled 2003 album. The execs refused to release her album unless she worked with the pop writing duo The Matrix (no, not that one), which produced her biggest Billboard hit, "Why Can't I?", which sounds almost nothing like the works that made her famous.
The so-called Loudness War (which reduces the audio quality of CD recordings) is largely caused by executive meddling, and often done against the will of the artists and mastering engineers.
Big Boi of Outkast fame was to release his first solo album Sir Lucius Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty as early as late 2008; however, Jive Records wasn't so sure the album would be able to sell. After having Big Boi rework the album once, and setting a 2009 release date, Jive once again decided they didn't like the album, telling Big Boi that his album was a "piece of art, and we don't know how to market that." Things took a turn for the worst when the executives suggested to Big Boi that he should make his own version of Lil Wayne's "Lollipop" so that they could sell the album. Big Boi packed up his things and left for Def Jam. To make things worse, Jive decided they won't let him carry over any tracks he did with group-member Andre 3000 to put on the album....so he's leaking them.
Country Music record label Curb Records has screwed over countless artists through its policy that lead-off singles have to hit top 20 on the country music charts before the album drops. Several artists on the label — even one-time A-listers like Jo Dee Messina — have had albums delayed for years or axed entirely because the singles didn't catch on.
One of the biggest victims was Amy Dalley, who had seven singles between 2003 and 2007, but no album. Three of them reached #27, #23 and #29, which nearly any other label would consider reasonable enough of a peak for a lead single from a new artist, but not Curb.
Steve Holy had modest success with the first 3 singles from his debut album, but stores were returning it to Curb because it wasn't selling. Even though he did get a dark-horse #1 with "Good Morning Beautiful" (from the soundtrack to the film Angel Eyes), it took until the song's second week at #1 (out of five) to re-release said album with "Good Morning Beautiful" added. He then released five singles between 2003 and 2006, also getting into the mid-20s twice, but he didn't get his second album out until "Brand New Girlfriend" reached #1 in 2007. After that, he had four more flops, got into the Top 20 with "Love Don't Run", then followed it up with more flops.
They didn't even treat their longtime flagship artist Tim McGraw with respect. He's had countless albums stalled since 2007 because his contract's running out, leading to shenanigans such as seven singles from Let It Go; a third Greatest Hits Album only one album after his last one; and a soundtrack single from Country Strong just to delay the lead-off single from the last album in his contract for a few more months. What's more, fans are almost unanimously displeased with the single releases, which have included total novelties like "Last Dollar (Fly Away)" and "It's a Business Doing Pleasure with You", weightless radio fodder like "Let It Go" and "Southern Voice", when there are plenty of better choices on each album.
Turned up to eleven in mid-2011: they sued him for turning in the final tracks for Emotional Traffic (the last album in his contract) too soon because they thought it was a "transparent attempt" to get out of his record deal. He countersued. And won. Once Emotional Traffic came out, he jumped ship for Big Machine Records. But even after he did, Curb wasn't done yet: First, they tried to launch a single titled "Right Back Atcha Babe" at the same time that Big Machine released the single "Truck Yeah" ("Truck" was a Top 10 hit, but "Babe" became his lowest peak since 1993). Then, following the release of his first Big Machine album Two Lanes of Freedom, Curb rush-released a hastily-made duets album with lots of padding.
Curb was completely unable to market or promote their small cache of alternative country artists, as artists in that genre are concerned less with singles for country radio (which rarely plays them) and more with albums. This is especially shown with their handling of Hank Williams III. Notably, Curb refused to release not one, not twonote This one they refused to release twice in different configurations!, but three of Hank III's albums due to claims the albums had objectionable or noncommercial content, all later released on other Curb imprints or independent labels. Hillbilly Joker was later released without Hank's permission after he left the label. No wonder he sometimes wears "fuck Curb" T-shirts at concerts.
Lyric Street Records was also guilty of this to a lesser extent, ignoring any act not named Rascal Flatts. They also shed a huge amount of artists in 2003-2004 (including Rushlow, Sonya Isaacs, Kevin Denney, Brian McComas, Deric Ruttannote who fared better in Canada, and Sawyer Brownnote who moved from Curb to Lyric Street, then back again, although their history with Curb seemed comparatively hassle-free, all of whom were only one or two singles into an album — in all but Rushlow and McComas' cases, the albums didn't even get released). They also had entire acts whom they didn't promote at all, including Lisa Shaffer, Ragsdalenote a brother-sister duo; the brother died not long after they left Lyric Street, and The Parks. Each got only one single (Lisa's being the only one to chart) and that was it.
MCA Records kicked William Lee Golden out of The Oak Ridge Boys in the late 1980s because they wanted the band to appeal to a younger audience, and they didn't think they could do that with someone with a long, flowing beard. He was replaced by Steve Sanders for 8 years before Golden finally re-joined.
The Mars Volta sort of dealt with this on Frances The Mute: They weren't expressly forbidden to make the "Cassandra Gemini" suite one thirty minute track, but were told that if they did, they'd only be paid for an EP, since the album would only have five tracks (despite the fact that it was 76 minutes long). Thus, the CD version of the album has the piece separated into 8 tracks, with track breaks that don't even correspond with the five subtitles given on the tracklisting. The version sold by iTunes and other online retailers still has it formatted as one track though, as does the vinyl version of the album.
Similarly, some long songs on King Crimson's earlier albums have "sub-headings" in their titles; for example, "The Court of the Crimson King including The Return of the Fire Witch and The Dance of the Puppets". According to Robert Fripp:
"The reason songs and pieces acquired separately titled sections, like 'The Return Of The Fire Witch' and 'The Dance Of The Puppets', was so the group would get paid full publishing royalties on our American record sales."
Nellie Mc Kay suffered from executive meddling with her first record label. She wanted to record a double album, but the label insisted on a shorter release. She was eventually allowed to record a double album provided she fronted her own money for the production. She has since started her own record label.
Avex, Ayumi Hamasaki's record company, tried to force her to release a greatest hits album, which she felt was premature. They also played up the supposed rivalry between Ayu and Utada Hikaru, in the interest of sales, which Ayu denied vehemently. She was none too pleased with the entire situation, as evidenced by her iconic choice of album art for A BEST.
Capitol Records meddled in The Beach Boys albums at least twice. The group was told that Pet Sounds needed an obvious hit, leading to the addition of "Sloop John B.," the only cover on the album, and the only track to break from the overall introspective mood. The Boys were later told to add "Good Vibrations" to Smiley Smile, despite the fact that it was already past its prime as a hit by that point, and it bore no relation to the stripped-down style of the album.
When the independent label Grass Records got sold, the new owners wanted to focus more on bands that would produce hit singles, so they wanted indie rockers The Wrens, their most popular band at the time, to sign a bigger contract and start recording much more commercial material: When they refused, not only were they dropped, but the two albums they'd made for the label were deleted. The Wrens did eventually find a new label and their first two albums would get reissued - Grass Records, meanwhile, turned into Wind-up Records, and did well for themselves by signing Creed, Seether and Evanescence.
Some stations were spamming Reba McEntire's "Somebody" late at night just to give it enough spins to get to #1 for a week (knocking Tim McGraw's monster hit "Live Like You Were Dying" out of the penthouse — it came back). After the same thing happened a few weeks later with Terri Clark's "Girls Lie Too", Billboard changed its chart methodology to make manipulation harder.
...but Big Machine Records has blatantly manipulated the Mediabase charts just to get the first three singles from Taylor Swift's Speak Now album to #1 there (they only got to #2, #3 and #2 on Billboard). This involved playing the song at the right times in the right markets.
Also done with Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now". Capitol manipulated it just right so Lady A could get 5 weeks at #1 on Billboard (which hadn't happened in well over a year) and Luke Bryan could get a #1 on Mediabase with "Do I" (it only got to #2 at Billboard).
The story behind this t-shirt◊: When Emilie Autumn was first trying to find a record deal, she had to talk with several record label executives, and every one of them invariably tried to rail her towards a more mainstream image. One of them was apparently so obnoxious and dismissive of anything she could say, Emilie allegedly abandoned the reunion to cool off and she came back after having write on the t-shirt she was wearing "Sorry, was I thinking again?". She eventually recorded her first albums under her own label, and between the first pieces of merch she sold was a replica of said tee.
Christina Aguilera and her fans are known for thinking this about her Bionic record. This is backed up by Lady Tron and Christina's other "indie" collaborator Goldfrapp both said that their tracks were ignored in the album track picking process. Ladytron only got a bonus track. This is unconfirmed, but possible.
Sophie B. Hawkins clashed dramatically with her record label while recording her album Timbre over the use of a banjo in the song "Lose Your Way." Sophie and the label parted ways after the album was released (to very little promotion) and ended up re-releasing it with new production closer to what she originally intended.
According to Jason Slater of Snake River Conspiracy, Reprise Records demanded that they produce a clean version of their debut album Sonic Jihad. This was a huge problem, as their first single "Vulcan" starts out with singer Tobey Torres screaming a four-letter obscenity beginning with "F" and making vulgar references throughout. In response, Slater made a version that censored the profanity as blatantly and jarringly as possible (such as loud bursts of distorted static).
Near the end of his tenure with Mercury, he was working on a new album, but label execs didn't like it. They chose only two songs off the would-be album, "Getcha Some" and "If a Man Answers", released both as singles off a Greatest Hits Album, and asked him to try again. When they didn't like the next two songs that he sent, either, Toby demanded out of his contract and took said songs to DreamWorks records. That label launched him with "When Love Fades", but when it bombed, he asked that it be pulled and replaced with a song that Mercury had rejected titled "How Do You Like Me Now?!" — a good move on his part, as that song was a six-week #1 smash, his first Top 40 pop hit, and the biggest country hit of 2000.
With his last several albums having all been on Show Dog-Universal Music (which he is president of), has insisted on withdrawing singles around their 15th week on the charts, regardless of position, just so he can get out one album per year. An average run to #1 on the country charts is closer to 20-25 weeks, and the A-listers can take 3 years between albums — he's shooting himself in the foot again and again. To be fair, at least his album releases are consistently praised by the critics. He finally stopped the revolving door in early 2013, only two singles into his Hope on the Rocks album, likely to focus on his daughter Krystal, who began her own singing career in 2013.
Britney was forced to change her video "Everytime" when record label executives found out that she wanted to do a video where she kills herself. So, instead of killing herself, she passes out and drowns due to a bump on the head, only to wake up at the end of the video. Your Mileage May Vary on whether the Britney at the end was the reincarnated Britney, though.
The Britney album was originally supposed to be titled Shock Your Mind and was supposed to have much edgier, darker songs...she actually had co-written all but one of the tracks for the album. The label was displeased, though, and long-time producer Max Martin was called in to sweeten the sound. Britney was displeased with the meddling, though, and the two clashed in the studio, which ultimately ended in the two not working together for several years.
They meddled yet AGAIN by completely shelving the unreleased album The Original Doll. Britney angered her label by going on radio station KIIS-FM and playing a rough draft of the lead single for the album, "Mona Lisa," and as a result the plug was pulled completely on the project. Many believe that the label simply didn't think the album was commercial enough to sell well, which was the true reason for the album being shelved.
Studio executives tried to do this with Rush, after the less than stellar sales of their third album, Caress of Steel. The label wanted shorter songs, with more ready to release singles. The band, sticking to their guns, recorded and released 2112 instead, which went on to become their breakthrough album.
Florence + the Machine's hit single "Rabbit Heart" exists because of this trope. She wrote this song because her company wanted an upbeat poppy track to introduce her onto the radio.
The Veronicas may have had to put "Someone Wake Me Up" instead of "Don't Say Goodbye" on their second album due to this trope.
Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates recorded his solo album, Sacred Songs, in 1977 which was planned to be released later that same year. When presented to the higher-ups at RCA, the company thought the album would alienate fans of Hall and Oates and shelved it indefinitely and when Hall tried to rerecord some songs for Robert Fripp's solo album Exposure, the company halted the move. It wasn't until a petition by fans and critics who wanted to hear the album that RCA relented and released it in 1980. Despite being well received, many people, including Fripp, who produced the album, feel that the three year delay severely dampened the impact the album could have had on the music scene at the time.
Hot Tuna was originally named Hot Shit, but RCA wouldn't hear of it.
Nazareth's song "Hair of the Dog" was originally named "Son of a Bitch," but A&M Records asked the band to change the title. Strange that the song's lyrics remained untouched.
John Mellencamp for much of his career had to deal with the fallout from Executive Meddling about his name: an early manager liked his music but thought his name was difficult, so his first album was released with his name given as "Johnny Cougar". It took him nearly fifteen years to make the change back, from Johnny Cougar to John Cougar to John Cougar Mellencamp, and finally to his own name.
In 1994, MCA re-tooled country trio McBride & the Ride, which originally consisted of Lead Bassist Terry McBride, drummer Billy Thomas, and guitarist Ray Herndon. McBride was relieved of his bassist duties, while the other two members were kicked out and replaced by a different lineup: Randy Frazier (bass), Keith Edwards (drums), Kenny Vaughan (guitar), Gary Morse (steel guitar) and Jeff Roach (keyboards). The band was also renamed Terry McBride & the Ride. Vaughan and Roach were quickly (less than a year) replaced by Bob Britt and Rick Gerken before MCA released the band's only "Terry McBride & the Ride" album. Even worse, McBride and Morse were the only band members who played on it, with studio musicians filling out the ranks! The album went nowhere and the band broke up.
In 2012, Clear Channel signed deals with various country music artists to spam their songs on their stations for a day to force them into really high debuts on Billboard (unlike most other genres, the country music charts are determined only from airplay — at least until October, when the existing airplay chart was split off, and the "main" chart began including non-country airplay and downloads like the Hot 100). The first song to get the Clear Channel treatment was Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw's duet "Feel Like a Rock Star", which debuted at #13 (the second-highest debut ever in the chart's history). However, the song absolutely bombed at radio, peaking at #11 a mere six weeks later. Clear Channel has since done this with Big & Rich's "That's Why I Pray", Zac Brown Band's "The Wind", Jason Aldean's "Take a Little Ride", Toby Keith's "I Like Girls That Drink Beer", Brad Paisley's "Southern Comfort Zone", and Darius Rucker's "True Believers", all of which got unnaturally high debuts in the mid-20s or low teens thanks to Clear Channel song-spamming. Of all these songs, the only ones which did not backfire were the ones by Aldean and Paisley — everyone else mentioned above failed to make Top 10.
And they did it again after the charts split. Since the airplay-only chart is still respected by country fans and DJs alike, its positions take precedence over the "new" country chart. Throughout 2013 and 2014, countless more song have gotten huge first-week debuts due to Clear Channel spamming. However, some of them have been a bit more successful than the 2012 batch. They've also taken it further and started spamming low-charting songs by lower-level artists to give them a shot in the arm. The first "victim" was Craig Campbell's early-2014 hit "Keep Them Kisses Comin'", which suddenly took a massive jump from #44 to #30 on a very slow chart week.
Delta Goodrem has been extremely unlucky with her recording companies. Her first single was a pop thing she didn't quite pull off (I Don't Care), 6 years later she releases a pop-rock-dance Genre Roulette Self-Titled Album which has many people questioning her sincerity on most of the songs and she abandoned her original style of singing for Celine Dion like singing, which turned off people who liked her first Mistaken Identity, Innocent Eyes way of singing, THEN 5 years later her album which her recording company had been sitting on for maybe year is finally being discussed at being released late 2012. Unlucky artist is unlucky.
Chicago, after releasing four consecutive albums of radio-friendly pop music and increasingly deviating away from their signature jazz-rock fusion roots, recorded an album called Stone of Sisyphus in 1992. the album was, in many ways, a return to those classic Chicago roots. As it contained no commercially-accessible radio hits, Warner Bros. Records chose not to release it. For nearly two decades, the band released a series of compilation albums instead of writing and recording new material. Finally, in 2008, "Stone of Sisyphus" was released on Rhino.
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe's proposed second album (with backing vocals by bassist Chris Squire), recorded in Montserrat in 1990-91, was incorporated with tracks recorded by the Los Angeles-based Yes (whose recordings would feature Jon Anderson's vocals), including unfinished demos by Yes guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Trevor Rabin, and a Chris Squire/Billy Sherwood collaboration to form an eight-man Yes lineup, so that Arista Recordscould sell more copies than an ABWH album could. A home-recorded acoustic guitar instrumental by Steve Howe and a Stick bass/electronic drum duet by Tony Levin and Bill Bruford were added to the album. With producer Johnathan Elias computer-editing the tracks and adding parts recorded by LA session musicians (unfortunately witout the input of Yes West or ABWH) in order to rush the album's release. The finished product was released as Union. It remains a controversial album and an album disliked by critics and Yes' members themselves.
Following Union 's failure, Yes' new label tried to reunite the Yes West lineup for Talk, hoping for 90125-type sales, but the label did not promote the album as it was folding at the time.
1996 brought the classic Anderson/Howe/Wakeman/Squire White lineup back for Keys To Ascension, but then Yes' management booked tour dates on top of Rick Wakeman's solo concerts, with he was contractually bound to and could not cancel. Wakeman would leave Yes before the tour began.
Singer-songwriter Michelle Branch was slated to release her first album with Reprise Records, Everything Comes and Goes, in November of 2009, with the lead single "Sooner or Later" released in June, two music videos produced by the summer, and full-length promo copies being sent to radio stations. Suddenly, all promotion for the album stopped, and it wasn't released on its scheduled date. After nearly a year, the album was shortened to a "Six Pak" EP and was quietly released in September 2010. Unsurprisingly, the EP tanked, failing to chart on the Billboard 200 altogether and only reaching #35 on the country albums chart.
Michelle seems to be going through the same phase right now with her current album, West Coast Time. Once again, the lead single, "Loud Music," was released in June of 2011, promo copies of the album (this time only six tracks, despite the album being full-length) were sent to radio stations, and a release date was scheduled for September 2011. At the end of 2012 there was no word on the album. Michelle has stated on Twitter that she has no idea when the album will be released, but began uploading songs from the album (including all six songs sent to radio stations) onto her Soundcloud account in August 2012, stated that she "finally figured out how to get new music to you guys and get back on the road" in October. West Coast Time was finally stated for release in Spring 2013, but no sign of it remains.
Possibly the ultimate positive example of the trope. As George Harrison and Jeff Lynne worked on GH's "Cloud Nine", they wanted to release "This Is Love" as one of the singles - and needed a B-side to it. Lynne suggested that Roy Orbison, with whom he was about to record next, could make a guest appearance. Long story short: the song was finally recorded by a stellar supergroup The Traveling Wilburys including Harrison, Lynne, Orbison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan and named "Handle With Care". When the Warner Bros. Records executives heard it, they rejected it outright - because they considered it too good to end up as a B-side. When the execs suggested that they would love to have an entire album recorded by the Wilburys, the guys responded with "Volume 1" - one of the most critically and commercially acclaimed recordings of the 1980s.
This happened to the band Live, and how. Guitarist Chad Taylor says their album V was never supposed to be released at all (they intended to release an album called Ecstatic Fanatic which was going to be dedicated to the fans). They then wanted "Overcome" from the same album to be released as a charity single for 9/11 victims. MCA said no to that. The meddling ended up leading to the band becoming Ed Kowalczyk and some other guys, and Ed eventually writing entire albums with minimal input from the rest of the band. It all went downhill from there.
Part of the reason for Van Halen parting ways with both original lead singer David Lee Roth and producer Ted Templeman was allegedly (at least according to interviews Eddie Van Halen gave not long after the split) Templeman's insistence on the band recording Cover Versions for hits (Ted feeling that covers were halfway to success anyway) and his and Roth's opposition to Eddie using synthesizers and writing more ballads. Eddie took over production of 1984, leading to a number one album and number one single with the synth-heavy "Jump", but Eddie by then had enough of not being able to do enough of what he wanted to do on Van Halen albums. When Roth wanted to do more touring in 1985 rather than record a new album (Ed didn't want to tour without new music to promote, along with spending more time working on a vanity film project rather than write new material, it proved to be the last straw.
Record executives at Chrysalis Records capitalized on the "sexy rocker chick" persona Pat Benatar cultivated in the early 1980's, along with the success she had with hard rock feminist anthems like "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and "Heartbreaker". Unknown to Pat or her bandmates, they published an ad for her Crimes Of Passion album using the front cover of her album, but with her tank top airbrushed off to make it look like she was topless. This infuriated Pat, who already had to deflect passes from chauvinistic radio DJs who offered to promote her music more often if she'd sleep with them. This was, of course, during the days when females in rock were less common than nowadays, and few if any had full control over their careers and images. Pat and her lead guitarist husband Neil Giraldo took control of all manner of her career from then on, and attempted to subvert her rocker chick persona by releasing the album Get Nervous with her in a straitjacket in a padded cell with frizzy hair, streaked makeup and wild eyes. Her success continued when she against went against her management's wishes and released the experimental, synth-heavy album Tropico, featuring Number One Power Ballad, "We Belong".
MCA Nashville was insistent on a "60 for 60" promotion to get George Strait's "Give It All We Got Tonight" to become his 60th #1 (on all charts, counting Billboard, Mediabase, and the defunct Gavin Report) despite a sluggish chart run. This resulted in alternate mixes being sent out, a spotlight on Bob Kingsley's Country Top 40, and rampant spamming of the song by various stations surveyed by Mediabase. They succeeded on Mediabase, whose charts are far more easily manipulated than Billboard. Because on a chart where just the gap between #5 and #1 is several thousand spins per week, a sudden jump to #1 all the way from #6 doesn't look remotely suspicious.
Motorhead was originally signed to United Artists and recorded what was supposed to be their debut album in the winter of 1975 - '76. UA was not convinced that the record had any commercial potential, and shelved its release; Phil Taylor, Motörhead's drummer at the time, even claims that the band kept getting barraged with excuses when they pressed the company about the delays. In December of 1976, they recorded a single for Stiff Records, but was halted by UA, despite the fact that UA wasn't doing jack squat to promote them. Motörhead might have broken up then and there, but the rise of Punk Rock and the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal proved favorable to the band's fortunes and were given an offer from Ted Carroll of Chiswick Records to let them record their self titled debut, which were rerecorded versions of the songs from the UA sessions.
Stephen Malkmus wanted to call his post-Pavement band The Jicks, but Matador Records resisted the idea, presumably thinking it'd be easier to promote the association with Pavement if he used his own name. Thus, what was meant to be the first album by the Jicks was released as a Self-Titled Album credited to Stephen Malkmus alone - as a nod to this, the CD version of the album had the word "Jicks" printed on the disc itself, while the vinyl has it printed in the inner sleeve. A compromise was made and all subsequent albums were credited to Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks note Except for Face The Truth, which Malkmus actually did consider a true solo album.
Following their breakthrough Progressive Metal albums Images and Words and Awake, Dream Theater planned to record a massive double-album. The record label, on the other hand, wanted something much more accessible and radio-friendly. The result was Falling into Infinity, which while not a bad album is still regarded as one of the band's lesser works.
The Guess Who came by their name via executive meddling, albeit indirectly: They were going by the name Chad Allan & the Expressions when the label decided to credit their 1965 single, "Shakin' All Over", to Guess Who? as a marketing ploy - The idea being that speculation over the song actually being a pseudonymous recording by more famous musicians would fuel sales and radio play. Whether or not the gimmick actually helped, "Shakin' All Over" ended up being their first hit, and DJ's kept announcing the song as being by Guess Who even after the ruse ended, so they effectively had to change their name.
Country Music singer James Bonamy had his debut single "Dog on a Toolbox" withdrawn after only a couple weeks because label execs believed that there were "too many dog songs", even though country songs about dogs are pretty much a Dead Unicorn Trope. As a result, there was some confusion over what his single was at the time, so a lot of stations were slow to add the followup "She's Got a Mind of Her Own", thus crippling its chart run.
Megadeth have suffered this on several occasions:
Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good originally used a cover design that was not what Mustaine intended. He was allegedly 'mortified' by it, and created a new cover for the remaster that was based on his original design. Also, These Boots was cut from reissues of their album because Lee Hazelwood objected to their lyric changes. Eventually he let them release it but only if the words were censored.
Youthanasia's producer Max Norman insisted that every song be 120bpm to ensure radio airplay. This did not happen with every song, but it was close. Executives at MTV thought the song A Tout La Monde was about suicide so did not play it even though the band and producer thought it was a sure-fire hit single.
Cryptic Writing's sessions involved producers Dan Huff and Bud Prager. Prager did not like the lyrics of Bullprick, Evil That's Within and Vortex, and made Mustaine change them. The former two were changed to FFF and Sin respectively, and the latter retained its name but had slightly different lyrics. Prager also convinced Mustaine to rework I'll Get Even into a far less angry song than originally planned. Prager also included strings on A Secret Place.
Risk was largely the result of Executive Meddling, and is considered a failure because of it. This again involving Prager. The inclusion of strings on Insomnia, the recording of Crush Em (which Prager thought would become a sports anthem), and the remixed version of Breadline are just three reasons. After this, Mustaine resolved never to work with Prager again.
The Greatest Hits collection Capitol Punishment was a contractual fulfillment by the band's label, which they didn't really want to release. They ended up including new songs Kill The King and Dread And The Fugitive Mind on it as new tracks. Whilst "Dread" would appear on Sanctuary's follow up album The World Needs A Hero, "Kill The King" had to remain an exclusive track to sell the album. Kill The King was however later reissued on several compilations.
The World Needs A Hero was meant to be the band's return to form, but received barely any promotion.
The System Has Failed was originally intended to be a Dave Mustaine solo album but the label wanted to call it Megadeth for marketing reasons. This turned out to be a good thing because it is considered their comeback, but it also annoyed Dave Ellefson (who wasn't part of the band) which meant it took him a few years to come back.
United Abominations was not intended to include A Tout La Monde (with Cristina Scabbia) - it was meant to be a B Side. The label saw it as a potential single that would appeal to a younger audience. The track ended up replacing the planned album track Black Swan, which was released as a pre-order bonus track and eventually rerecorded for their album Thirteen. In addition, Gears Of War was included on the album as it was popular, even though Mustaine intended to record it as a one off. Both tracks actually did raise Megadeth's profile somewhat and the album endeared them to a younger audience.
Thirteen's Millennium Of The Blind, Black Swan and New World Order were all new recordings of old non-album tracks that were rerecorded at the request of the producer. Deadly Nightshade was an old song that had not been recorded. The plan was to get the band back to their roots by reworking much older material. Also, Dave Ellefson returned to the band due to demand, which turned out to be a good thing.
Ludwig van Beethoven was annoyed that the publisher of his piano sonata in E-flat major, "Das Lebewohl" translated the title into French as "Les adieux." (It was published as a companion piece to, of all kinds of compositions, a sextet for two horns and string quartet.)
Red Hot Chili Peppers dealt with a bit of Executive Meddling during the recording sessions for Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The band wrote and recorded "The Greeting Song" at the request of producer Rick Rubin, who demanded that the album contain at least one song about "girls and cars". Singer Anthony Kiedis himself has gone on record to say that he isn't too fond of the song.
Ween's live compilation Paintin' the Town Brown was intended to be the first release by the band's vanity label Chocodog, which would be pressed in limited quantities and sold exclusively through an e-commerce site run by the band. Their label, Elektra, then took the album out of the band's hands and released it themselves. Thus, what was only meant to be heard by a small amount of diehard fans received a much wider release and became their first official Live Album.