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  • Due to a mix of poor publicity and lack of desire to expand overseas. AKB48 and their sister groups are often seen as the source of all of the music industry's woes in Japan for social issues.
  • Although Ace of Base is still a respected name in their native Sweden, they received a great deal of unwanted attention when it was learned that band member Ulf Ekberg had dabbled in neo-Nazism in his youth. While Ekberg regards this phase as an Old Shame, it was still enough to get the entire band labeled as neo-Nazis and blacklisted from many radio stations.
  • Ryan Adams was hit with numerous sexual abuse accusations in 2019, including from his ex-wife Mandy Moore. It was also alleged that his P.R. team had strong-armed an unidentified publication into cutting part of an interview with another accuser, folk singer Phoebe Bridgers, where she detailed the abuse. Several radio stations immediately started dropping his work.
  • While All That Remains has a devoted fanbase, they've also faced a lot of criticism for frontman Phil LaBonte's outspoken right-wing views and general poor response to criticism.
  • American metalcore band As I Lay Dying is better known for the fact that frontman Tim Lambesis tried to hire a hitman to murder his ex-wife than for their music.
  • Iggy Azalea is much better known for the controversy over her cultural appropriation and making intolerant and homophobic remarks than she is for her music.
  • The 1944 song "Baby, It's Cold Outside" was a holiday favorite for several decades. Over time, however, it has suffered severe Values Dissonance, as changes in the social landscape make it sound more like it's about date rape — the line "Hey, what's in this drink?" (initially just referring to alcohol) becomes especially troubling.note  In 2018, a radio station in Cleveland agreed to stop playing the song entirely after a massive letter-writing campaign. This soon expanded into a nationwide conversation with numerous other stations holding polls about whether they should also stop playing the song. The majority of them ended up being against the ban.
  • Azealia Banks burst onto the music scene in 2011, when her debut single "212" earned critical raves and positioned her to be one of the next big things in hip hop. However, since then she's become far better known for her crass and confrontational behavior on social media and real-life violent incidents than she is for her music. Noteworthy incidents include her accusing Bill Cosby's alleged rape victims of lying, getting into feuds with numerous other artists, making more than a few deranged rants about race relations, publicly endorsing Donald Trump's incredibly controversial presidential campaign despite his deep unpopularity with the African-American community, continuing to work with Dr. Luke even after the Kesha lawsuit came out, throwing homophobic and racist slurs at anyone she got into fights with (notably former One Direction member Zayn Malik), getting into physical altercations with flight attendants twice, her concert in Dublin that ended with her spouting numerous anti-Irish remarks, and bleaching her skin. She's been kicked off at least three social media platforms, and her musical career has suffered as a result since no one wants to work with her or book her in concerts anymore.
  • Transgender DJ and model Munroe Bergdorf, already popular among the gay community for her music, had her popularity boosted when she became L'Oréal's first transgender model in 2016. Her career then took a huge hit when she made a long rant on Facebook against white people, profiling them as colonialists and racists, which many people found confusing due to her being biracial on her mother's side. This has cost her a large amount of respect from her fans and getting revoked from L'Oréal. Since then, she's become far more known for her controversial viewpoints about race, including saying the n-word multiple times on a TV interview to prove a point about double standards on racial slurs, which actually upset her black fans, than her music or modelling at all.
  • Christopher Nicholas Bertke, better known by his stage name "Pogo", rose to fame with his musical remixes of various sources of media, particularly early Disney films, on YouTube that consisted entirely of sound pieces from said media with little-to-no additional music or sound pieces added. That is, until Pogo revealed himself to be a virulent homophobe after posting a video where he openly declared that he hates gay people and was happy that the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, in which 49 people were murdered in a terrorist attack at an Orlando gay bar, happened. Pogo later tried to claim that the video was simply meant to be a "joke", but that really seems to have only made his case even worse.
  • In hindsight, it's become rather difficult to discuss much of David Bowie's 1976 album Station to Station without bringing up two major things surrounding it. The first is the gigantic Creator Breakdown Bowie suffered during its production; his cocaine addiction, which had been worsening at an exponential rate throughout the first half of the 1970s, had reached its peak at that point, resulting in a psychotic breakdown and Bowie having zero memory of the album's recording. The second element that's become tough to ignore is the album's central character, the Thin White Duke, specifically the fact that Bowie became Lost in Character while touring to support Station to Station and ended up making multiple pro-fascist statements — the exact opposite of his actual beliefs — on live television. The events shocked Bowie so much that they directly motivated him to head to Berlin to rehabilitate and refrain from adopting any more stage personas. Surprisingly enough, critics and fans all forgive him and agree Bowie was Lost in Character, rather than actually meaning his positive statements on fascism. The large amount of circumstantial evidence supporting the former interpretation (much of which is discussed on the main page for the album) probably helps in this case.
  • Black Metal is mostly associated with crimes committed by a few of its members. This was not helped by said members exaggerating their own acts. As noted by the book Lords of Chaos in reference to an article in Kerrang! magazine:
    Like it or not, however, the Kerrang! article was what brought Norwegian Black Metal to the rest of the world's attention. It probably meant the crimes would eternally overshadow the music, but it was undoubtedly the best piece of international P.R. the scene would ever receive.
  • The Black Crowes' 1994 album Amorica garnered significant controversy for its cover - a woman's bikini-clad crotch taken from the 1976 bicentennial issue of the pornography magazine Hustler. The band anticipated controversy with the cover but were flabbergasted that the pubic hair visible in the image was what people and retailers (like Kmart and Walmart) were offended by, not by it being an image of the American flag being worn as clothing, a piece of swimwear at that. The band relented by issuing an alternate cover featuring the American flag bikini against a black background. The album is now known mostly for the cover controversy than for the music on it.
  • While they're still relatively successful, British boy band Blue gained this reputation among Americans when one of its members, Lee Ryan, made an incredibly insensitive remark about the 9/11 attacks in an interview the following month, saying people were "blowing it out of proportion" and they should focus on saving the whales instead. To the credit of the other members, they did try to stop Ryan from digging them in deeper, but he ignored them. Following a swift and vicious backlash that cost them a record deal in the U.S., Ryan apologized for his remarks and donated to charities designed to support the families of the victims, but that gaffe (along with some others he made in the years since) still gets brought up in the media from time to time.
  • Although New Edition is regarded as a Cult Classic among the new jack swing genre, ask any regular person about member Bobby Brown and they will often bring up his turbulent marriage to Whitney Houston, which was plagued with cases of Domestic Abuse, as well as his extensive drug use and troubles with the law, and the many scandals surrounding his now late daughter Bobbi Kristina.
  • In the mid-2000s, Chris Brown seemed like he was going to be the next big male Pop superstar, complete with having a dream relationship with Rihanna. Then he savagely beat her up before the two of them were supposed to perform at the 2009 Grammys. Since then, he is mostly known for beating his girlfriend (and not really taking any real responsibility for it) and not being able to stay out of trouble with law enforcement.
  • Jackson Browne has never quite lived down the allegation that he was physically abusive to his ex-girlfriend Daryl Hannah. While the claim has never been proven and no charges were ever filed, it still continues to hang over him to this day.
  • Anita Bryant was a moderately successful singer in the 1960s, with four top 40 hits. The only thing most people remember her for today is her Save Our Children campaign against gay rights in Florida in the late 1970s. Her crusade effectively killed what was left of her entertainment career, with her career and crusade becoming the butt of many jokes throughout the remainder of the decade and into the early 1980s.
  • The Norwegian music project Burzum, while being popular among black metal fans, is also known for the fact that its creator, Varg Vikernes, is an outspoken homophobe, church burner and white supremacist who killed Mayhem band member Euronymous and claiming it was in self-defense, despite stabbing Euronymous twenty-three times.
  • The Jamaican music genre of Dancehall tends to be better known for the fact that many songs within the genre have massive homophobic lyrics,note  thanks to the severe Values Dissonance between Jamaica and most Western countries over LGBT rights, than the music and the artists itself.
  • To most people, the Dixie Chicks are known more for their feud with Toby Keith, and for getting completely blacklisted by country radio after lead singer Natalie Maines criticized then-President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq by saying she was ashamed to be from the same state as him, than most of their musical output. And even that is known mainly for the controversial "Goodbye Earl", interpreted by detractors as a glorification of murder, than by any of their actual hits.
  • Producer Dr. Luke is much better known for the accusations of sexually assaulting Kesha, and the ensuing legal battle with her, than for the music he produced. To be fair, Dr. Luke also gets hit with the flipside of this trope: his music is deliberately So Okay, It's Average, so it's not like there's anything one could remember about it. His preference for over-simplified pop is showcased not only by the clients that remained under his control — Katy Perry, Jessie J and Miley Cyrus amongst others — but by how Kesha's sound matured dramatically after Sony Music removed her from his oversight.
  • If Country Music singer Holly Dunn is remembered for anything other than her Signature Song "Daddy's Hands", then it's probably for her 1990 single "Maybe I Mean Yes". The song was the subject of controversy due to some Moral Guardians misconstruing its lyrics as condoning date rape ("When I say no I mean maybe, or maybe I mean yes") despite the song having nothing to do with such a subject. Dunn withdrew the song, but the damage to her career had already been done.
  • Eagles of Death Metal were already notable for being at the center of the deadly Bataclan bombing in 2015, but nowadays are more infamous for bassist Jesse Hughes' rant against the March for Our Lives student protests where he accused them of using the tragedy to seek attention. This hurt the band's popularity dearly and made Hughes widely hated outside of right-wing circles. He also accused the Bataclan security team of conspiring in the attack, and though he quickly apologized was hit with a lifetime ban when the club reopened a year later.
  • The remix of "Karate Chop" by Future and Lil Wayne, while managing to top the charts, is better known for a controversial line in the song where uses Emmett Till note  as a metaphor for "beating [a] pussy up".

  • Gary Glitter was once a famed glam rocker in the 1970s, with his mostly instrumental song "Rock and Roll, Part 2" been played as a popular cheering song at American sporting events for several decades. Nowadays, however, he is perhaps known only by the fact that he was arrested in 1997 for possession of child pornography, which was then followed by multiple scandals involving him sexually abusing minors. Not helped was his friendship with the disgraced Jimmy Savile, also infamous for similar reasons.
  • Henry Gross' song "Shannon", despite reaching number six on Billboard's Hot 100, is today best remembered for being requested by a man from Cincinnati as a Long-Distance Dedication to his dead dog Snuggles on the September 14, 1985 edition of American Top 40. Said Long-Distance Dedication came right after "Dare Me" by The Pointer Sisters, and Casey Kasem was unhappy about it, to say the least.
  • 25 ta Life is still a respected name in hardcore and most likely always will be, but the same cannot be said for Rick Healey, better known as "Rick ta Life". Never a particularly well-liked figure in the scene, he nonetheless earned some grudging respect for his work with the band. By the mid-2000s, however, Healey had become known for his unstable and erratic behavior and staggering array of scene beefs that he always seemed to be adding to, as well as being the reason why 25 ta Life had become a particularly extreme example of a Revolving Door Band. By the 2010s, Healey's work with 25 ta Life had long since been overshadowed by his behavior on social media; "Rick ta Life Memes" had become a legitimate and constantly-growing page on Facebook that also served to chronicle his beefs, and by the middle of the decade, he had two particularly major sources of infamy to his name: a live video where he played without a drummer to a crowd that was in the single digits, and associating with known boneheads and white supremacists, namely Tommy Dice and Josh "Hatchet" Steever. Furthermore, Healey had apparently formed a new band with members of multiple known far-right hardcore acts (including the aforementioned Steever of Empire Falls), which further ruined his name. While 25 ta Life has managed to restore their good name by drafting James "Stikman" Ismean (Fury of Five), Healey's own accomplishments have long since been buried, and while he is clearly mentally unwell and has been for some time, the amount of ridiculous drama that he has caused has erased whatever sympathy people may have been able to muster for him.
  • Most people know 6ix9ine, real name Daniel Hernandez, for his public feuds with other celebrities, multiple charges of sexual assault and domestic abuse against underage girls, his aggressive and often violent behavior, engaging in racketeering, and accusations of having planned on committing murder than the fact that he's even a musician at all.
  • This tends to be zigzagged with hip-hop artists. Sometimes they're overshadowed by controversy, other times they're fueled by it.
  • Fear of this was what caused Ice-T to remove "Cop Killer" from Body Count's debut album, Body Count as he felt that the controversy over its lyrical content had eclipsed its musical merits.
  • Ja Rule is likely better known these days for his top-level involvement in the notorious Fyre Festival than any of his music, and continuing to insist he had nothing to do with the massive fraud that got his partner Billy McFarland sent to prison, despite footage being unearthed of his participation in meetings where the fraud was openly discussed, including a nonsensical statement that it wasn't fraud but "false advertising."
  • Michael Jackson's career went through an interesting loop with this. From 1986 on, he became increasingly more notorious for controversial issues such as his facial plastic surgery, his ever-whitening skin color, his daft manchild behavior and accusations of child molestation brought against him more than once. It got to the point that he was basically a walking punchline for the last decades of his life. After he was put on trial for molesting a young boy in 2005 (he'd previously reached financial settlements with other accusers' families, and thus didn't go to trial in those cases), his public image got a change for the better. Radio stations started giving his music more airplay, critics started to focus on his musical legacy again, and after his death, he was literally beatified to the point that the same media who had hounded him for years now praised him as a musical genius, innovator and trendsetter. However, the child molestation accusations still lurked in the background, which culminated in the 2019 documentary Leaving Neverland bringing them back into the spotlight (that one accuser featured in it admitted that he had lied on the stand as a key witness for the defense in the 2005 trial really didn't help) and causing a massive reevaluation of and backlash towards Jackson, though this coming into conflict with his devoted Cult of Personality kept it from being as big as the R. Kelly backlash (see below).
  • Even people who aren't fans of R. Kelly know about his brief marriage to Aaliyah (who was fifteen at the time) and his arrest for urinating on an underage girl, and his subsequent acquittal despite the existence of video evidence, which many found to be a disgusting example of Screw the Rules, I Have Money!. While Kelly's career was slowly going down by the late 2010s,note  the bottom eventually fell out in 2019 following the release of the Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly, which showed evidence and accusations of him running a sex cult, his attempts to cover up his sexual abuse allegations, the backstory behind the trial, and having sexual affairs with women who tended to be underage. The success of the documentary saw Kelly lose virtually all of his remaining fans, with many of Kelly's collaborators (such as Lady Gaga, Jay-Z and Céline Dion), and many of those formerly close to him (his ex-wife Drea Lee and Sparkle) backing up the documentary and regretting working with him publicly, a search warrant was issued for his manager in Georgia, and RCA Records dropped him publicly. Ultimately, Kelly ended up being charged with 10 accounts of sexual abuse. He also didn’t help things by going on a violent, hyperbolic rant in the middle of being interviewed by Gayle King (and at the same time made King a Memetic Badass for just calmly sitting there and not appearing the slightest bit flustered).
  • Kesha's 2012 song "Die Young" is today primarily remembered for the fact that it was released shortly before the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Because of this, several radio stations temporarily banned the song because they feared the title would remind listeners of the twenty children who "died young" that day. This, despite the fact that the song wasn't even about dying young.
  • Britpop band Kula Shaker is better remembered for the controversy that destroyed their career than their psychedelic/Indian-influenced sixties-revivalist music. Already unpopular with critics thanks to their relatively unhip influences and suspicions that they owed their career to their lead singer Crispian Mills being the son of the actress Hayley Mills, things went completely pear-shaped when Mills enthusiastically discussed his hope that the swastika would be reclaimed for its positive mystical meanings during an interview. Some research then discovered that Mills' previous band, The Objects of Desire, had included a former member of the National Front, who was Mills' mother's boyfriend at the time and had played at a conspiracy theory conference in London that had also featured notorious Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites among the speakers. This was enough to get Mills branded irretrievably as a neo-Nazi, and the band's career stopped dead.
  • The music video for Lady Gaga's "Do What U Want" is noted for its violent and sexual content, which would ordinarily be par the course for Gaga's repertoire... were it not for the fact that the video guest starred R. Kelly and was directed by fashion photographer Terry Richardson, both of whom have been accused of sex crimes, and includes a scene where Kelly's character gropes Gaga's. Their involvement was overwhelmingly criticized as being in poor taste, especially as Gaga is known for her activism for gay rights and rape victims, causing many to label her a hypocrite for being willing to work with Kelly and Richardson; the video was eventually scrapped, but not before footage of it was leaked via TMZ. Lady Gaga herself regards the song as an Old Shame, calling it an example of how "explicitly twisted" her mind was at the time and vowed to have the song removed from iTunes and all other streaming services following the release of Surviving R. Kelly, a documentary detailing Kelly's crimes.
  • Tracy Lawrence had several entanglements over the years that shaped his career for better or worse. Before his debut album dropped in fall 1991, he survived getting shot four times in an attempted robbery at a Nashville hotel; this incident gave him tons of publicity right out of the gate, and was likely instrumental in the massive success of his debut single "Sticks and Stones". In 1994, he was charged with reckless endangerment after allegedly opening fire on some teenagers who chased him down a freeway, but the charges were later dropped when most of the allegations were proven to be exaggerated, and the impact on his career was negligible. But the final straw came in 1997 when he was charged with beating his then-wife after a concert in Las Vegas, which proved to be a Creator Killer: his then-current single took a nose-dive on the charts, he was ordered to pay $500 to a women's shelter, and Atlantic Records supposedly put a temporary recording ban on him (although Lawrence denied this), and he was absent from the charts for nearly two years. He had a few brief comebacks since then but never returned to his former status.
  • While Rod Lauren is remembered for his One-Hit Wonder "If I Had a Girl" and for his role in The Crawling Hand, in the Philippines, he is far more remembered for the suspected murder of his wife Nida Blanca in 2001.
  • Jerry Lee Lewis, known for "Great Balls of Fire" among other songs, was considered a serious competitor to Elvis Presley at his peak. Nowadays, he's probably best remembered for marrying his thirteen-year-old cousin and a persistent rumor that he tried to settle his rivalry with Elvis by hiring a guy to kill him.
  • Around The '50s and The '60s, Liberace was once a famed pianist whose popularity played in part with his Camp status, being The Moral Substitute to rock 'n' roll, and a teen idol. Today, he is known less for his music and instead is mostly mocked, especially by the LGBT community, for the fact that he was very adamant in claiming he was not gay, despite a lot of evidence pointing to the contrary.
  • American experimental Black Metal band Liturgy are well known for their bizarre and somewhat divisive sound, but probably even more well known for frontman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix's bizarre manifesto for the band, which basically posits the band as a philosophical opposite to normal black metal and uses a ton of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness to do so, which got the band a ton of backlash from black metal fans as being a bunch of pretentious hipsters.
  • Lorde is still a popular singer, but her 2017 decision to cancel a concert in Tel Aviv due to growing political tensions and an article that labeled her as a "bigot" also got the brunt of many pro-Israel commentators.
  • If you're not a devoted fan of Lostprophets, most likely the only thing you know about the band is that its lead singer Ian Watkins was convicted for child molestation and attempted rape of two infants.

  • Malevolent Creation is still a reasonably big name in death metal, but while many people believe that they have been treading water musically for a while, the general consensus as to why they're not a bigger name even after all these years (aside from some label issues that genuinely were not their fault) is the fact that Phil Fasciana and Jason Blachowicz have both become infamous for racist and homophobic comments (and, in Phil's case, a story where he claimed to have foiled a robbery while going to buy chocolate milk and accidentally killed a dude that was quickly proven to be Blatant Lies by Fort Lauderdale police even as he still vehemently insisted that it happened) and general jerkass behavior. While they have multiple albums that are still regarded as classics, most metal fans know them less for the music and more for the drama and generally idiotic and childish behavior that has surrounded them for a while now.
  • Notorious criminal Charles Manson and his cult, The Manson Family, have caused some songs to gain unwanted notoriety. For instance, numerous songs of The White Album by The Beatles inspired him and his cult to go killing under the belief many of these songs were advocating a race war. They even wrote the song titles on the walls, smeared with the blood of their victims. Similarly the track "Never Learn Not to Love" from The Beach Boys' 20/20 has gained notoriety because it was written by Manson only a couple of months before he was arrested. Not to mention the fact that Manson himself used to be a hippie folk musician before starting the cult is usually forgotten about aside from history buffs.
  • Marilyn Manson was one of the most controversial artists in the 1990s, and their music and stage act resulted in everything from protests at concerts to being blamed for the Columbine massacre. Even rock stations were hesitant to play their music at the height of their popularity. Nowadays, outside of their fanbase, more people know the group for the reputation than for any of their actual music. After several years of quiet, the band once again made headlines in the late 2010s when the eponymous frontman and bassist Twiggy Ramirez were implicated in the Weinstein Effect scandal (with Ramirez leaving the band), giving evidence that the band's monstrous, violent stage persona may not entirely be an act.
  • Maroon 5 agreed to play the halftime show at Super Bowl LIII after numerous other acts had refused due to the ongoing controversy over football players' protests by kneeling during the national anthem. Then it was made worse when their press conference about the event was cancelled at the last minute, implying the NFL was worried they'd say something untoward about it.
  • Mayhem are also quite controversial for the actions of Jan Axel Blomberg, who is best known for his rampant homophobia, even as going far as to honoring another metal musician by stabbing a gay man to death.
  • In late 2017, Melanie Martinez's reputation was derailed when former friend Timothy Heller accused her of sexually assaulting her, which has resulted in Martinez losing most of her fans.
  • The career of Country Music singer Mindy McCready, best known for the 1996 hit "Guys Do It All the Time", seems to have been overshadowed by her rather troubled personal life. This includes her many attempts at suicide, arrests, an alleged underaged affair with baseball player Roger Clemens, and successfully dying of suicide in 2013.
  • Milli Vanilli were once one of the most popular bands in the world. However, their career was obliterated by the revelation that frontmen Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan didn't sing a note on any of their songs and instead, their music was sung by a band from native Germany, who had a better understanding of English than the duo. The resulting scandal made their music forgotten about or airbrushed out of the media, and they're now regarded as a joke.
  • Morrissey of The Smiths (who are otherwise considered one of the best '80s Indie Pop bands) is far better known for his viewpoints (particularly his strict vegetarianism and views on race and nationality, alongside his polarizing opinions about musicians) than his music. This has made him a very polarizing figure, even among fans of The Smiths.
  • Ted Nugent has become better known for his far-right political views, especially his rabid advocacy of gun rights, his virulent racism, and his sexual pursuits of underage girls than for his music.
  • Yoko Ono has been the subject of hate and derision by many Beatle fans for supposedly causing the split of The Beatles and turning John Lennon's music into too many unenjoyable experimental, pointless, too politically heavy-handed and/or Yoko obsessive songs. And that's not mentioning her incomprehensible avant-garde art, let alone her One-Woman Wail singing. All these aspects have made her perhaps the most recognizable Avant Garde Music artist of all time, but not the most popular by any length. In old age, she is getting a bit more recognition for her work, but the controversy stays. A special case in point is Lennon and Yoko's debut album, Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins, which caused scandal because it featured them both fully frontal naked on the album cover. This aspect completely overshadowed the actual content of the record, which is basically experimental noise. Even today it is far better known for the nudity on the cover than the recording itself.
  • Brad Paisley's 2013 album Wheelhouse reached #1 on Top Country Albums and produced two big country hits in "Southern Comfort Zone" and "Beat This Summer". But the general public remembers it solely for the album cut "Accidental Racist", a duet with LL Cool J that bore a misguided message about black vs. white struggles, and was critically panned for its ham-fisted and offensive lyrics.
  • Katy Perry's first episode as a regular judge in the American Idol revival was overshadowed by the moment when she kissed a 19-year-old male hopeful, who was quite uncomfortable after that.
  • The Russian Shock Rock girl group Pussy Riot was virtually unknown in the West until two of its members were imprisoned on a vaguely-defined "hooliganism" charge and were reportedly treated quite badly inside; many felt the true motive behind the arrest was an attempt by the government to silence their gay rights activism.
  • The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky is universally praised for being a milestone in classical music and music in general. Yet the infamous story of the riots during its premier will forever remain associated with the piece.
  • It's difficult to bring up "Rock N Roll Nigger" by Patti Smith, despite being one of her most known hits, due to its problematic title and the fact that the song's subject revolves around the word being another word for "rebel" or "outsider".
  • Rocko's hit song "U.O.E.N.O.", featuring Future and Rick Ross, is probably better known for the line sung by Ross that was believed to condone date rape ("Put molly all in her champagne/She ain't even know it/I took her home and enjoyed that/she didn't even know it"). This caused Reebok to dump Ross as a spokesperson, the cancellation of a concert, and his lyric usually censored out of the song.
  • The Rolling Stones are an odd case in that, while it can hardly be said that any controversy overshadowed their career, their concert at Altamont in 1969 is best known for one concertgoer being stabbed to death by a member of the Hells Angels (who were acting at security) while the Stones were playing (immortalized in the climactic penultimate verse of American Pie) that for anything else that the Stones did at the concert. It goes to the point that not only do some accounts imply that the Stones were the sole band at the concert when actually there were various acts,note  but also that there were three additional deaths (through accidental ones).note 

  • Scorpions' 1976 album Virgin Killer became more known for the original album cover (featuring a naked young girl in a sexual pose with her genitalia covered by shattered glass) that then-guitarist Uli Jon Roth looks back at as an Old Shame. Even when the band ended up recalling it and replacing it with a portrait of themselves, the controversy surrounding the original cover has obscured any of the album's musical merits.
  • Sex Pistols:
    • The band as a whole is mostly known for trying to play "God Save the Queen" from a barge during the Queen's Jubilee after being prohibited from playing the song on land. Much of the bad press was intentional. As was the bad press they received for "Belsen Was a Gas", which was more of the offensive variety.
    • For individual members, there was Sid Vicious, who is more well-known both back then and today for his rebellious attitude, his severe drug dependency, his many run-ins with the law (most infamously the alleged murder of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen) and his death from a drug overdose at the age of 21.
  • The music videos to Sia's "Chandelier" and especially "Elastic Heart" are this. While they're catchy songs in their own right, many people are unnerved by Maddie Ziegler (who was twelve years old at the time) doing interpretive dance in a flesh-toned leotard. The latter received controversy for having Shia LaBeouf in a cage with Ziegler, who was also wearing light toned shorts and no shirt. There is an interpretation that "Elastic Heart"'s music video is about a father and daughter, either with the daughter trying to help her father with mental illness (or drug abuse) or a single father dealing with his daughter becoming a teenager. However, there's still a huge amount of controversy about it.
  • Pretty much all discussion about the 2014 U2 album Songs of Innocence revolved around its distribution method, in which it was automatically added to all Apple users' libraries — and thus, for owners who have automatic downloads switched on, immediately downloaded to their devices without their consent. To this day, you'd be hard-pressed to find an opinion on the album's musical quality from anyone other than professional reviewers, with most people instead arguing whether it was creepy for Apple to tamper with their customers' music libraries, or whether complaining about receiving a free album is the epitome of First World Problems.
  • The Thai Boy Band Slur is regarded as a pretty average boy band back home. Ask any Westerner that's even aware of their existence on the other hand and what springs to mind for them would be "the boy band that dressed up as Adolf Hitler in a music video":
    John Oliver: That is misjudged just from a marketing standpoint. How are teenage girls supposed to pick a favorite boy band member if all of them are the bad boy?!
  • Musician and actor Jussie Smollett (of Empire fame) is best known for allegedly staging a racist/Homophobic Hate Crime against himself due to a salary dispute with the show's producers, leading to his subsequent arrest in Chicago. The fact that Smollett claimed that the two people who attacked him were Donald Trump supporters didn't help matters, leading to outright condemnation from both Trump supporters for smearing them all by association and Trump detractors for casting doubt on actual hate crimes. Although Smollett and some of his family and friends have argued that he is innocent and that the Chicago Police Department is lying, even the anti-Trump crowd who were most sympathetic to him at first have long conceded that the hate crime was faked, and while Smollett could be able to continue his career, it is unknown if he could recover from the controversy surrounding him.
  • Sneaker Pimps are primarily known for two things - their popular album Becoming X (which spawned two hit singles, most notably "6 Underground"), and the controversial decision to replace lead singer Kelli Ali with guitarist Chris Corner.
  • Producer and songwriter Phil Spector is less known for his work in the music industry than for his history of erratic, violent behavior and the fact that he was convicted for the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson in 2009.
  • 1990s country music singer Doug Supernaw seems to be known almost entirely for his 1993 song "Reno", which got horrible reception in the city of Reno, Nevada for using the city as a metaphor for a "heartless" former lover. That and being institutionalized in 2007.
  • Taylor Swift is still a popular artist, but she slowly started to delve into controversy in 2017. Her deal with Ticketmaster for her 2017 "Reputation" tour became infamous after it was announced that fans could buy merchandise to get a closer seating, which many people have seen as a cash scam (though it was explained as an attempt to keep said tickets away from scalpers and robo-purchasers who buy the tickets then mark them up to ridiculous prices). The same year, Swift was exposed as explicitly allowing Kanye West to publicly insult her in an attempt to regain her image as The Woobie after West notoriously interrupting her acceptance speech and saying Beyoncé should have won back at the 2009 VMAs. Swift's next song, "Look What You Made Me Do", and her Reputation album as a whole, was rejected by many who saw the album as an attempt to steer into her new "bad girl" reputation and ditch her roots, not to mention her feud with Katy Perry that started with "Bad Blood", though that was finally squashed in May 2018.
  • Robin Thicke's musical career died due to his massive 2013 hit song "Blurred Lines" coming off as more than just a little sleazy with regards to sexual consent (a popular Tumblr post featured rape survivors holding up cards with their rapists' quotes on them that eerily echoed the song's lyrics). It only got worse when stories began to emerge that Thicke's Handsome Lech persona wasn't entirely an act and his wife, actress Paula Patton, left him after pictures of him groping a girl in an elevator surfaced, and then he was sued by Marvin Gaye's estate for copying one of Gaye's songs for "Blurred Lines", with Gaye's estate winning the lawsuit. Since then, Thicke's many attempts to get his career back up off the ground have been utter flops and his name is more synonymous with "that rapey song" than anything else.
  • Ike Turner was once famous for being one of the pioneers of rock and roll (his early 1950s tune "Rocket 88" is widely considered to be one of the first singles in the genre) and was well known for his string of 1960s hits songs with his wife Tina Turner. However, his career was tarnished in the 1970s when Tina divorced him and revealed that he had been frequently violent towards her, earning him a permanent reputation as a wife-beater. When Tina's biopic What's Love Got to Do with It was released, it only made Ike, who was finishing his prison sentence, a complete pariah among the music community. Nowadays, while Tina has gone onto being one of the most acclaimed singers of her time, it is unlikely that Ike's solo career will ever be associated with anything but his treatment of Tina.
  • The One-Hit Wonder song "867-5309/Jenny" by Tommy Tutone became best known for having wreaked havoc on all the poor souls who actually had that phone number, enduring endless prank calls until many asked to have it changed.
  • Many Viking Metal bands and other musicians inspired by Norse Mythology have had to deal with the fact that their music inevitably attracts a Periphery Demographic of Neo-Nazis, homophobes and other racists, usually to the band members' great irritation and alienating music fans. This can even extend onto the band members themselves being this demographic.
  • Lithuanian House Music DJ Ten Walls gained popularity for his song "Walking With Elephants", which peaked at #6 on the UK charts and seemed to be poised to become a well-received DJ in his own right... only to then shoot himself in the foot with a homophobic post on his Facebook page where he equated homosexuality to pedophilia and called LGBT people "a different breed". Aside from the blatant bigotry, the post was especially (and somewhat ironically) problematic due to Electronic Music's long history of being one of the most LGBT-friendly music genres. Festivals that previously booked him dropped him like a hot potato, his agency fired him, and Walls' name became mud thanks to the controversy. Since then, he's apologized for the post and came out with a new album (featuring a transgender singer on some of the songs), but to say Walls has an uphill climb ahead of him would be an understatement at the least.
  • Richard Wagner: Another example of a composer who is widely seen as important, innovative and influential, yet also notorious for his anti-Semitism. His case isn't helped by the fact that so many Nazi members, including Adolf Hitler, adored his operas. This is the main reason why his work is banned from being performed in Israel.
  • Though Kanye West's reputation was never exactly spotless, in early-to-mid 2018, he attracted backlash after posting several pro-Trump tweets along with a picture of himself wearing Trump's controversial "Make America Great Again" cap, which is a deep problem as the heavily black rap community is heavily overwhelmingly anti-Trump. To make matters worse, he then made comments implying that he considered slavery a choice, suggested the abolishment of the 13th amendment, which abolished slavery, and a cringe-worthy meeting with Trump in the Oval Office. This caused even those who tolerated West to turn their backs on him. Not helping matters was his announcement, which predates the aforementioned events, that he plans on running for president in either 2020 or 2024.
  • Chely Wright's "The Bumper of My SUV" is known mainly for the controversy over members of her fan club were calling in requests for the song, and posing as friends and family of military members in doing so.


  • Any music artist whose concert becomes the site of a serious accident or acts of violence. Notable examples (besides The Rolling Stones at Altamont example above) include Great White at the Station nightclub in 2003, Sugarland at the Indiana State Fair, Eagles of Death Metal during the Paris terrorist bombings, Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena, and Jason Aldean at the October 2017 Las Vegas country music festival shooting. Several people have actually blamed the artists themselves for the tragedies.


Example of: