Wednesday 22 January 2014

The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music

The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music: Johnny Cash doesn't give a fuck
Despite having mentally worked on this blog for a year or so now, one aspect continued to elude me: the perfect title. I knew the vibe I was looking for, but the term “fuck you” seemed to be the only all encompassing feeling I could wrap each entry in like a freezing cold blanket, and yet it still doesn’t give much of an indication as to what this article is about. Not to mention it isn’t exactly the most “Google friendly” search term now, is it?

I toyed with many alternatives. “Revenge” was close, but still didn’t quite cut it, because revenge insinuates conscious effort, a sober and purposeful plot to get back at someone in retaliation, which was not always the criteria here. I frantically turned to friends for a solution, and while the suggestions were plentiful (including The 15 Greatest 'Cattiness/ Spitefulness/ Nastiness/ Belittlement/ Bitchiness/ Sneakiness/ Sliminess/ Disrespectfulness/ Degradings/ Asshole-ness' in Music) none of it seemed right or really stuck.

Which is why, at risk of alienating you, my dearest reader, I went full circle and reverted back to my original description: The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music. Because that’s what it is! Those special moments throughout rock ‘n’ roll history where one musical act stuck up their middle finger at another opposing force, whether it be in bitter hatred or with a sly smile on their face and everywhere between. Sometimes it was passionately intentional, other times it was merely a by-product of apathy, but always ... always ... it was at the cost of another's reputation. And I suppose in the spirit of things, fuck you really. Give it a go:

The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music: 15. Richey Edwards vs. NME
15. Richey Edwards vs. NME
In 1995, one of the most consistent bands of our time, the Manic Street Preachers, lost a member. His name was Richey Edwards, and to say he was a little bit mental would hardly pay the man’s eccentricities and inner demons their due respects. He was permanently depressed, suffered from severe anorexia, depended on various forms of drugs, and found no greater joy than stubbing cigarettes out on and cutting up his own body. Which is exactly what this entry is about.

In an interview with NME, journalist Steve Lamacq confronted Richey as well as the rest of the Manics, questioning their authenticity and their true dedication to punk-rock ethics. Edwards did his best to try and convince Lamacq that the band were "for real," but eventually gave up and decided that actions speak louder than words. Apparently in record time, he pulled out his trusty razorblade from his pocket and carved the phrase “4 Real” into his arm. And I don’t even mean like, little scratches. These were full-on gouges, blood everywhere, the wound requiring 18 stitches to piece the mess back together, which you can marvel at here (probably NSFW, depending where you W). Needless to say, that shut the NME journalist right up. Fuck you, yes, fuck you.

This wasn't the end of Edwards’ erratic behaviour either, and as I mentioned in the first paragraph, three years later he completely disappeared off the face of the earth, never to be seen again. And despite the frequent ghost sightings since that incident, he was presumed dead on November the 23rd, 2008, at the glorious age of 27.

The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music: 14. The Beatles, Lennon vs. McCartney
14. Lennon vs. McCartney
As the most successful songwriting partnership of all time, this list would not be complete without some reference to these legends above legends. And it’s not without its merit either, as the break up of The Beatles and the aforementioned relationship came with all the bitterness one would expect from any such separation, complete with immaturity and exchanges of harsh words throughout. Except, like the true artists they were, they did it via the magic of song.

Interestingly enough, it starts with the usually placid McCartney on his 1971 classic album Ram, or more specifically, with the song Too Many People. In typical Macca fashion, it was hardly a dig, the line “Too many people preaching practices,” apparently aimed at Lennon’s own recently developed messiah complex, as well as the line “You took your lucky break and broke it in two,” as a stab at Yoko and John’s marriage, and the disintegration of The Beatles as a result.

Now, Mr Lennon being the vocal character he was, wouldn’t just let this slide, and hit back measurably harder on his Imagine album from the same year. The main offending song was called How Do You Sleep? and not a line shied away from some McCartney assault, the best of them including “Those freaks was right when they said you was dead” (in reference to the Paul is Dead conspiracy theory) and “The only thing you done was yesterday, and since you've gone you're just another day” (in reference to one of Paul’s most famous hits Yesterday, as well as his Another Day single). The fact that this song also featured George Harrison on slide guitar must have added extra salt to injury, and yet, the worst of it all was actually cut out. Originally the line “You probably pinched that bitch anyway” (in reference to to McCartney’s own claims that he wasn’t sure if he stole Yesterday himself, because it had come to him in a dream) was considered, as well as the much more explicit variation of “How do you sleep, you cunt?”

Of course, it was all fun and games, as the two had an on-and-off friendship right up until Lennon’s death in 1980, but this kind of behaviour has been called "the original musical beef", predating the common place of hip hop feuds in our modern age, which not only grants me the freedom to exclude all those obvious Nas vs. Jay-Z/N.W.A. vs. Ice Cube/Eminem vs. Insane Clown Posse troubles, but also leads me to conclude, once again, that The Beatles invented everything.

The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music: 13. Radiohead vs. The Music Industry
13. Radiohead vs. The Music Industry
In 2007, Radiohead found themselves in a pretty interesting position. Having fulfilled their six-album contract with EMI and coming out the other side as pretty much the hugest band in existence, one can only imagine the type of high-figure deals that would have been thrown at their faces. But (being the pretentious art wankers we know and love), they would not surrender to the temptation of rushing into decisions, and instead used their time to record a new album. An album which came to be known as In Rainbows.

"I like the people at our record company, but the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one. And, yes, it probably would give us some perverse pleasure to say 'Fuck You' to this decaying business model," Thom Yorke told Time Magazine. And saying "Fuck You", they did! Not only because the album's release was announced 10 days before the set date, but also because In Rainbows made industry history by utilising the Pay What You Want model, allowing fans to decide what they felt the music was worth, even if they felt it was worth nothing at all. Surprisingly, the experiment worked in their favour, the average price paid around £4 and not a cent of it going to anyone but the band. And even when the hardcopy retail version was released some time later, it went on to sell 44,602 copies in its first week despite the fact that everyone had already heard it, becoming the 10th independently distributed album to reach number 1 on the Billboard 200, ever.

People have gone so far as to call this moment “the day the music died” (in reference to that Holly/Valens/Richardson plane crash) and since then, many other artists have taken the same route whilst the rest of the world stood in stupor, confused as to what it all meant for the future of the industry. But personally, I still think Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme summed it up the best when he stated “You’re talking about one of the finest working bands in the world ... if you were in a band no one knew, that wouldn’t work so well.”

The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music: 12. Nirvana vs. MTV
12. Nirvana vs. MTV
Known as pretty much the most influential rock band of the 90s, I probably don’t need to tell you that Nirvana have sold 75 million copies worldwide despite only having three official studio albums, and that Kurt Cobain was hailed as the “voice of Generation X” before and even way after his premature 1994 death. I also probably don’t need to remind you that Cobain had a bit of a love-hate relationship with his fame, never quite feeling comfortable with his elevated platform and never fully interested in the commercial/corporate side of the music industry. Which is kind of what MTV represents really, and here they come.

Due to their popularity, the band were asked to perform at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards, with the blessing that they could play “whatever they wanted”. Naturally, this isn’t the smartest thing to tell a group fronted by an anti-establishment junkie, and the network quickly changed their tune when Kurt expressed his desire to play his aptly titled anti-rape song, Rape Me. Suddenly, MTV insisted that they rather perform their greatest hit Smells Like Teen Spirit, which upset the band deeply, so much so that even hours before the scheduled show, they refused to go on. However, fearing the effect this rebellion would have against their label-mates, they reached a compromise and offered to play their most recent single Lithium instead, to which everyone agreed in relief, and the execs were happy once more.

BUT NOT FOR LONG, for as soon as the band were introduced, Kurt started playing the opening chords of Rape Me anyway. MTV froze in shock, their fingers inches from cutting off the performance, seconds away from pushing the button, until Kurt abruptly stopped, and then started to play Lithium as per the agreement. It was "just to give them a little heart palpitation," Kurt confessed, a small but loud “Fuck You”, as if to stick tongues out of their little yellow smiley faces and say “nanana we’re Nirvananana, we fulfilled our contract and so you still need to pay us, but don’t ever tell us what to do.” Silly MTV.

The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music: 11. Pulp, Jarvis Cocker vs. Michael Jackson
11. Jarvis Cocker vs. Michael Jackson
Best known as the frontman for Britpop royalty Pulp, Jarvis Branson Cocker has done pretty well for himself, selling well over 10 million albums by himself and with his band, as well as educating the masses on how to live like common people. But as far as success goes, he doesn’t hold a sparkler to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, because ... well, who the fuck does? Still, this little fact didn’t intimidate the man in the slightest, as this story shall reveal after the following full stop.

The incident took place at the 1996 Brit Awards, where Jackson performed his hit single Earth Song whilst surrounded by crying children and a rabbi. Jarvis, being the devout Atheist he is, was offended by MJ’s portrayal of himself as a “Christ-like figure with the power of healing” and protested these actions by running onto the stage, slapping his bum and then lifting up his shirt, like High School all over again. This little stunt got Cocker detained and questioned for suspicion of assault, but he was ultimately released without charge. Which is to say, the real charge came with the mental Jacko fans who wanted to hang his head on the Neverland gates, forcing Jarvis to spend quite some time dodging crazy people in the street for the sake of his own life. At the same time, Noel Gallagher of Oasis stated that "Jarvis Cocker is a star" and should be awarded an MBE for the episode, so it’s kind of a marmite thing, really.

The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music: 10. The KLF vs. The Economy
10. The KLF vs. The Economy
Considered one of the most important groups in the British acid house movement, The KLF were weird. They vandalised billboards, they gave money to artists they considered to be “the worst”, they were obsessed with sheep imagery, they created fictional cults, and they burnt stuff. They burnt a load of stuff. They even publicly burnt all copies of their unsold debut album due to a copyright dispute with ABBA, which may have been enough to get them onto this list alone, but instead we have something far more insane for you...

It’s a long story, but summarised: in 1994, under their art moniker the K Foundation, the duo found that they had a million quid at their disposal from their massive hit single success. At first they considered using the money to fund struggling artists, but concluded that good art benefits from the struggle. They then had the epiphany that the money should be the art itself, and nailed the million bucks to a pine frame, only to be refused by every art gallery on the planet due to insurance complications. Frustrated, they decided to do the next most logical thing: burn the money, obviously. Furthermore, they felt that performing the act in public would lessen the impact, and settled on carrying out the deed in private, on the island of Jura. And off they went, the whole process taking over an hour to achieve, stacks of £50 notes crackling in flames and escaping up the chimney, charred British Sterling being discovered by fishermen for days afterwards. As if this wasn’t enough, they further added to the confusion by filming the action, but then destroyed all recorded evidence two days later, which provoked some to dismiss the story as fabricated. Luckily, the man behind the camera did manage to sneak out a copy unbeknownst to the band, and screenings to prove that fateful day have been taking place ever since.

As anyone would expect, the general reaction was one of disbelief. Hell, even the members of KLF themselves reportedly fell into a state of shock over the incident, and apparently haven’t been the same since. Regardless, they did defend their art vigorously in the media, and only in recent years have begun to express some regret over the whole ordeal. Uhm, you think? You burnt all your money! Not sure who actually fucked who on this one.

The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music: 09. Aphex Twin vs. The Lemonheads
09. Aphex Twin vs. The Lemonheads
Richard David James has many names, the most well known being Aphex Twin, the lesser known ones including AFX, Blue Calx, Bradley Strider, Caustic Window, Smojphace, GAK, Martin Tressider, Polygon Window, Power-Pill, Q-Chastic, Tahnaiya Russell, The Diceman, The Tuss, and Soit-P.P. He has been called "the most inventive and influential figure in contemporary electronic music" by The Guardian, and due to his elusive nature and devilish smile, quickly rose as the central character of many wonderful rumours.

Some claimed he never slept. Others claimed he only wrote music while he slept. It has been said that he's got hundreds upon hundreds of hours of unreleased music stored on his computer from week-long substance abuse fuelled binges, which is probably true. It has been said that he makes and modifies all of his equipment personally, which is also probably true. But regardless of wherever the line separating the man from the myth lies, the reputation had been born, and remix work began to pour in, every artist wanting a bit of Aphex flavour marinated on their own creations. And he complied, making a load of money by slicing up the original tracks so viciously that the end product was a completely unrecognisable song to the one it started with. And people ate it up.

This type of notoriety also came with some unique perks, and that’s what this entry is about. Commissioned to remix a Lemonheads’ song, Aphex agreed but then completely forgot about it, claiming "I didn't even bother listening to the song because I knew I'd hate it.” Only when a courier knocked on his door asking for the remix, did he remember he was supposed to be a professional musician. So, Richard being Richard, said “no problem,” walked upstairs, grabbed the nearest tape he could find and then handed it confidently to the mailman, as if it had anything to do with the Lemonheads single whatsoever. “Strangely, they never released it,” he told journalists. “They should've been honoured, I reckon. It would have sounded better than any rubbish song they wrote."

The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music: 08. Sinéad O'Connor vs. Pope John Paul II
08. Sinéad O'Connor vs. Pope John Paul II
Before she put on a bit of weight (which is fine, I don’t judge, padding is nice), aged a tad too quickly, deteriorated into a manic depressive state, begged men for anal, and attacked Miley Cyrus on the internet; Sinéad was the hottest bald chick on the block. Her debut album alone sold 2.5 million copies worldwide, and her Prince cover Nothing Compares 2 U is one of the biggest selling singles (82nd) of the 90s, being called nothing short of a classic by pretty much any journalist with a typewriter. So, yeah, she was rather famous back then, and it might have gone to her head a bit, because it’s around this time she gone and done what she gone and done.

During a 1992 performance on Saturday Night Live, O’Connor sang an a capella version of Bob Marley’s War, but focused on child abuse rather than the songs original protest against racism. Everything was going swimmingly, until the very end where Sinéad pulled a photo of Pope John Paul II out from her pocket, tore it in half, and then announced that everyone must “fight the real enemy,” before throwing the pieces into the camera lense. Everyone was stunned, including the SNL production team, the air evaporating out of the room instantaneously. Nobody cheered. Nobody booed. Nobody knew what to do whatsoever. But, of course, once everyone’s frozen blood started to pump into their brains again, it boiled, and the inevitable snowball backlash was quick to follow.

NBC received about a thousand calls of complaints. SNL host Joe Pesci apologised by taping the photo back together. Madonna said some pretty harsh things to anybody who would listen. But the worst reaction came two weeks later, when Sinéad was set to play at a Bob Dylan tribute concert. Upon walking onto the stage, she was greeted by a mass mixture of cheering and booing noises, so much so that the singer couldn’t even start the show. Instead, she ordered the band to shut up, got her mic turned up to full volume, and then screamed the War cover once again, looking into the crowd with fierce protest, and then bursting into tears before running off the stage.

In recent times, people have come to respect the bold move on her part, even SNL themselves calling it "a betrayal", but also "a serious expression of belief." O’Connor too has made peace with the reaction, recently responding to the question “would you change what you did?” with a resounding “Hell, no!” You go girl! *click click click*

The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music: 07. Jay-Z vs. Oasis, Noel Gallagher
07. Jay-Z vs. Oasis
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to fight night. In the right corner, we have one of the most financially successful hip hop artists of all time, holding 17 Grammy Awards and selling over 75 million records worldwide, consistently rated as one of the greatest rappers in history as well as the co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, it’s the people’s champion, the one, the only, Jay-Z. And in the left corner, we have the group who lead the 90s Britpop scene by its Fred Perry polo, selling 70 million albums worldwide and holding Guinness world records for their unprecedented run of 22 top 10 hits in the UK as well as being the most successful act in the UK between the years 1995 and 2005, spending a total of 765 weeks in the Top 75 singles and albums charts, it’s Britpop pioneers and tonight’s challengers, Oasis.

The story begins in 2008, with the Glastonbury announcement that Jay-Z would be the year’s headlining act. As a result, ticket sales slowed down dramatically, most likely owed to the typical rock crowd’s distaste at anything different touching their precious festival, and everyone had something or other to say on the subject. But nobody had more to say than the usually very polite and reserved Oasis brother, Noel Gallagher. He was quick to attack the move, stating "I'm sorry, but Jay-Z? No chance. Glastonbury has a tradition of guitar music and even when they throw the odd curve ball in on a Sunday night you go 'Kylie Minogue?' I don't know about it. But I'm not having hip hop at Glastonbury. It's wrong." Now, the Gallaghers have had their fair practice of high-profile arguments in the press, and they had got pretty good at it too, but one thing anyone should learn in the battle game is this: do not fuck with hip hop artists. Feuding is what they do.

Jay-Z graciously responded with "We don't play guitars, Noel, but hip hop has put in its work like any other form of music. This headline show is just a natural progression. Rap music is still evolving. We have to respect each other's genre of music and move forward," and we all thought that was that. But it hadn’t even begun. Instead, Hova played possum until the night of the big show, surprising everyone by walking onto the stage with a guitar after all, strumming the chords and singing Wonderwall to the mindblown crowd who sang along to every word, only to be abruptly interrupted when the band blasted into 99 Problems and completely destroyed any critics’ reservations. It was beautiful :’) So beautiful, in fact, that Noel was forced to admit defeat, eventually confessing “for the record, I like Jay-Z,” but it was too little, too late. Because Jay kept on going and going, including the line "That bloke from Oasis said I couldn’t play guitar, somebody should have told him I’m a fucking rock star," on his song Jockin' Jay-Z, and as a final nail in the coffin, announced that he would like to work with Liam when Oasis split. Burn, don’t fuck with the King.

The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music: 06. Danger Mouse vs. EMI
06. Danger Mouse vs. EMI
Brian Joseph Burton (better known as Danger Mouse) has become somewhat of a superpower in the production area, having churned out hits upon hits for such heavyweight names as Gnarls Barkley, Broken Bells, Beck, Norah Jones, Jack White, The Black Keys, and U2, to name (seriously) just a few. But where did it all begin?

The Grey Album! By taking the a cappella version of Jay-Z’s Black Album and mashing it up with The Beatles White Album, what started out as a little home project for Mr Mouse ended up propelling him into a much higher global consciousness. He never even intended it to go so viral, but it did, being praised by fans, critics, Jay-Z, and even Paul McCartney himself. However (as the copyright holder of all Beatles material) EMI held a different opinion. They saw the use of their cherished breadwinners as an infringement, ordering Danger Mouse as well as the retailer carriers to cease distribution of the album, which, as well all know, isn’t how things work these days.

In protest, online activists put together what was known as The Grey Tuesday on February the 24th, 2004, wherefore 24 hours, 170 websites hosted the album for free, going on to be downloaded some 100,000 times on that day alone. EMI naturally freaked, sent out a couple of cease and desist letters, but ultimately realised they couldn’t do shit about it.

Now, I reckon that story alone justifies this entries position, but that’s not it. Rather, the sweetest revenge came roughly a year later, when Damon Albarn from Blur fame heard The Grey Album and was so impressed that he hired Danger Mouse to produce Gorillaz' sophomore album, Demon Days. Gorillaz themselves were signed to Parlophone, which at the time, was a branch of EMI. So basically put, after freaking out and trying to choke Danger Mouse’s creativity, they were forced to hire and pay the man’s salary less than 12 months later. That had to sting a little.

The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music: 05. L7 vs. Reading Festival
05. L7 vs. Reading Festival
One of the most influential all-female riot grrrl bands of modern times was L7, known for their alternative grunge sound, fierce feminist attitudes and frequent dabbles in controversy. I mean, they may have never reached the success of their (male) 90s punk rock counterparts, but their message was massively supported by those very acts, such as Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, and Rage Against the Machine, going on to also appear on the soundtracks for Natural Born Killers, Tank Girl and GTA, so yeah, they had a name. Hell, even The Prodigy covered Fuel My Fire on Fat of the Land and Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic made a concert film about the band, which isn't bad for a bunch of girls.

However, the main subject of this entry is one nasty incident which took place at 1992’s Reading Festival. Their equipment wasn’t behaving which delayed their set, to which the drunk crowd started to get restless and threw mud at the band in objection to their impatience. Now, vocalist Donita Sparks does not take shit from anybody, let alone a ten thousand strong audience, and in protest to their protests, swiftly removed her tampon from her vagina, swung it above her head and launched it into the crowd along with the message "eat my used tampon, fuckers!" She has never apologised for the incident, and the absorbent material has been referred to as one of the "most unsanitary pieces of rock memorabilia in history". Regardless, it is yet to appear on eBay, believe me, I’ve looked.

The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music: 04. Marvin Gaye vs. His Ex-Wife, Anna Gordy Gaye
04. Marvin Gaye vs. His Ex-Wife
The Prince of Soul, Marvin Gaye, may have sold countless records and influenced pretty much everything you’ve ever heard, but holding on to money was not one of his fortes. Due to the purchasing of many houses, cars, and drugs, his financial situation hit an all time low in 1976, when his seventeen-years his senior wife, Anna Gordy Gaye, filed divorce after ten years of marriage. She cited infidelity as her main case, and considering Marvin Gaye had recently impregnated a girl ironically seventeen-years his junior, she may have had a point.

Gaye tried to hide, arrest warrants were issued, court cases followed, Marvin hardly ever showed up to them, and the whole fiasco lasted for over a year until they finally reached the following settlement: Anna would be paid off by the royalties from Gaye’s next album. And this is exactly what happened, except not exactly the way Anna had anticipated.

Aptly titled Here, My Dear, Marvin wanted to make an album which was “rushed, lazy” because “why should I break my neck when Anna was going to wind up with the money anyway?”. However, as it went on, the album turned into one of well-calculated revenge, fuelled by the passion and pain that comes with divorce, focusing his artistic bullets straight at Anna’s gut. “It'll be something she won't want to play and it'll be something she won't want the world to hear because I'm gonna tell the truth,” Marvin explained, ensuring that each and every penny she earned from his hard work stung with the pang of heartbreak. Even the artwork opened up into a Monopoly-like board game, titled Judgment, featuring a male’s hand hovering above musical equipment, and a female's hand hovering above such items as money, a house, a Mercedes, and a diamond ring. Ache, much?

When it was done, Marvin was surprisingly proud of the record, which is why he was so upset by rumours that he’d created an unlistenable and purposefully “bad” album to intentionally mess with his ex-wife’s funding. For indeed, it was very badly received at the time, often criticised as too "bizarre" and "un-commercial", going on to sell terribly by the man's standards. That said, time has been good to the record and it has slowly but surely gone on to top many best-of lists in recent decades, justifiably praised for the dark entity it is. Which is all fine and good, but what about Anna? Well, she got her money in the end. But she wasn’t happy. Job done then.

The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music: 03. Rage Against the Machine vs. The X Factor, Simon Cowell
03. Rage Against the Machine vs. The X Factor
Fed up with X Factor dominating the Xmas number one slot year after year, English DJ Jon Morter and his wife Tracy launched a Facebook group in 2009, encouraging us people to take the power back by purchasing Rage Against The Machine’s 1992 track Killing in the Name to defeat the evil Cowell machine and actually put something listenable on the radio for a change. This idea seemed to say what everyone was thinking and was so original, that it didn’t take long for the masses to jump on board, the group amassing 750,000 members in just a few weeks, including support from Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, and even little old me. And then, we bought. We bought and we bought and we bought until over 500,000 copies of the song had been acquired, becoming the “fastest-selling digital track in UK history,” according to the Guinness World Records, and successfully hitting the top slot, the first exclusively download-only single to top the Xmas number one in history.

We had done it. We had won. Guitarist Tom Morello called it "a wonderful dose of anarchy," and the band showed their appreciation by donating their sudden influx of cash to charity as well as playing a free “thank you” gig to 40,000 fans in Finsbury Park. BBC Radio 5Live allowed them to perform said track live on their show, but not before requesting nicely that the band censor the line “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me”, to which I’m sure the band noticed the irony of, and naturally complied gracefully, as one would imagine. But what I liked most about this whole campaign is that it was a once off magical thing, for while many like minded movements have been attempted since then, none have stuck, because we’d already achieved what we came to do. We showed them who truly is in control here, and with pride, that’s all we wanted.

The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music: 02. Pussy Riot vs. The Russian Government, Vladimir Putin
02. Pussy Riot vs. The Russian Government
Forming in 2011, it took this feminist punk protest group just over a year to become the most famous band in the world, leading this list as the most recent incident featured here. So much so, that I hardly feel the need to explain the story, because you already know the story, but just in case you’ve been living under some sort of a solid aggregate of minerals...

In protest to the reelection of Russian president Vladimir Putin, five of the Pussies jumped onto the altar of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior Church in Moscow, and performed a rendition of Bogoroditse Devo, Raduisya (retitled as Punk Prayer) to the relatively few witnesses, calling upon the Virgin Mary to get rid of Putin and using the roughly translated term "shit of the Lord" throughout. Of course, everyone knew what they were doing was naughty, but many praised the ladies’ strong stance, figuring it was empowering and courageous and justified and whatnot. In fact, everyone seemed to have the girls’ back, except for, of course, the Church and the government and other such types, all of whom were naturally less than impressed.

The girls were arrested under some blasphemy law, and it suddenly became a global issue about freedom of speech and women’s rights. They faced up to seven years imprisonment despite their not-guilty defence plea, and people saw this as a touch too drastic. Hunger strikes followed. Hundred people strong protests followed. An award winning documentary followed. And mass celebrity support followed, including such huge names as Die Antwoord, Julian Assange, Beastie Boys, Jarvis Cocker, Faith No More, Stephen Fry, Green Day, Courtney Love, Paul McCartney, Moby, Kate Nash. Yoko Ono, Pet Shop Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Patti Smith, Sting and Elijah Wood. Even Björk and Madonna went so far as to request a collaboration with the girls, to which they declined, stating “the only performances we’ll participate in are illegal ones. We refuse to perform as part of the capitalist system, at concerts where they sell tickets.” Good on ya, ladies!

Near the end of 2013, it was announced the girls would be released, and they weren’t very happy about this either. Was it because they felt Putin was pardoning them due to external pressure? Or was it because they actually quite enjoyed being the center of an attention which ignored how terrible their music was? You decide.

The 15 Greatest 'Fuck You's In Music: 01. Fleetwood Mac vs. Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham vs. Stevie Nicks
01. Fleetwood Mac vs. Fleetwood Mac
Very few stories (if any) start with the churning of such vicious interpersonal turmoil, only to result in the highest quality of butter anyone has ever tasted. After an eight year marriage, Fleetwood Mac members Christine McVie and John McVie had divorced, refusing to even talk to one another. Buckingham and Nicks’ on-off relationship had reached breaking point, every conversation concluding in bitter arguments. And fifth member Mick Fleetwood was going through some love troubles of his own, recently discovering that his wife had been sleeping with one of his “friends”.

And yet throughout all the emotional breakdowns of conversation, they somehow managed to deal with their pain through the music. Of course, that is not to say all was forgiven and forgotten in the middle of happy chords and upbeat drum beats, for, in reality, the complete opposite was taking place. Separately, the band would write hurtful songs about each other, detailing their own affairs and suffering in relation to their counterpart, and then (the biggest Fuck You of all) getting that very person to harmonise the lyrics with them. I mean, it’s one thing to tell someone how much they fucked you up by using your art, but then to force them to sing those exact same words you wrote about them, demanding they experience the feelings you’ve harboured against them, is surely one of the most insanest versions of musical revenge in history, and as a result, the very reason why this album remains so timelessly powerful.

To give you an idea of what I am going on about, here are some of my favourite examples of these vengeful lyrics:

“I ain't gonna miss you when you go. Been down so long, I've been tossed around enough, couldn't you just let me go down and do my stuff?” - Second Hand News

“Listen carefully to the sound of your loneliness, like a heartbeat drives you mad in the stillness of remembering what you had, and what you lost.” - Dreams

“She broke down and let me in. Made me see where I've been: Been down one time. Been down two times. I'm never going back again.” - Never Going Back Again

“Loving you isn't the right thing to do. How can I ever change things that I feel? If I could, maybe I'd give you my world. How can I when you won't take it from me?” - Go Your Own Way

“Tell me why everything turned around? Packing up, shacking up is all you wanna do.” - Go Your Own Way (Apparently Stevie was particularly upset over this one.)

“Damn your love. Damn your lies. And if you don't love me now, you will never love me again. I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain.” - The Chain

“Finally, baby, the truth has been told. Now you tell me that I'm crazy, that's nothing that I didn't know. Trying to survive. You say you love me, but you don't know. You got me rocking and a-reeling, oh.” - I Don't Want to Know

“If there's been a fool around, it's got to be me. Why are you right when I'm so wrong? I'm so weak but you're so strong. Everything you do is just alright, and I can't walk away from you, baby, if I tried.” - Oh Daddy

“Well, did she make you cry? Make you break down? Shatter your illusions of love? And is it over now?” - Gold Dust Woman

“I'll begin not to love you. Turn around, see me runnin'. I'll say I loved you years ago, tell myself you never loved me, no. And did you say she was pretty? And did you say that she loves you? Baby, I don't wanna know, oh no. And can you tell me was it worth it? Really, I don't wanna know. Time casts a spell on you, but you won't forget me. I know I could have loved you, but you would not let me.” - Silver Springs

Although, it’s not all bad, right? As Christine’s song You Make Loving Fun featured such affectionate lines as “Sweet wonderful you, you make me happy with the things you do,” and “you make loving fun, and I don't have to tell you that you're the only one.” Of course, this song was not directed at her ex-husband/bandmate John, but rather at Fleetwood Mac's lighting director, who she’d recently started fucking. Owch!

Regardless, the album went on to sell 45 fucking million copies worldwide and is often called the greatest album of all time—absolutely deserving of the title too. So I'm sure they were proud of each other somewhat, at least on a professional basis if nothing else, because if there is one thing I’ve learned about how to keep a relationship going, it’s money, and that's why the band still perform these 35 year old songs in concert to this very day.


This article is dedicated to Matt White. I shamelessly stole the above image designs right from under his own artistic hands, and for that, I am sorry. Time was against me! I'm only trying to get by here!