How heavy metal and Satan gave us this sticker

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How heavy metal and Satan gave us this sticker 5
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Heavy metal and Satan played a role in the introduction of the explicit lyrics sticker.


The explicit lyrics sticker is one of the most recognizable images in American music. Its placement on an album cover signifies you’re going to hear something for adult ears only, and it’s an image we often take for granted. The story behind how we got that sticker is bonkers, to say the least.

The very public discussion around the advisory label involved the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), a group led by the wives of Washington politicians and a few musicians including Frank Zappa, Dee Snider, and John Denver.

While the PMRC’s involvement was allegedly sparked by some raunchy lyrics from Prince’s 1984 album Purple Rain, the debate over rock lyrics had been infiltrating American culture and politics for a decade. The driving force behind that debate was the rise of heavy metal, a genre that saw explosive popularity with the launch of MTV in 1981, and the growing influence of the religious right, who saw rock music as a powerful threat to Christianity.



Some songs don't just stick in your head, they change the music world forever. Join Estelle Caswell on a musical journey to discover the stories behind your favorite songs.

A number of sources went into the research of this piece including Eric Nuzum’s book
Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America

Note: The headline for this video has been updated since publishing.
Previous headline: The devilish history of the explicit lyrics sticker



💬 Comments on the video
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The US government shaming anyone for a lack of morals is the most ironic thing I’ve ever heard

Author — Zoot jitsu

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Isn't it funny how this Parental Advisory sticker is a graphic design aesthetic now?

Author — VO-Motion

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I feel like this is the equivalent of the parents that got mad because they took their kids to see Deadpool.

Author — Mikee 1234444

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Soon they’re gonna say “Lofi hip hop is the devil in disguise” or something

Author — Cyan

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History is repeating itself again, the whole thing in the past with “music is causing violence in America.” is the same thing with “video games are causing violence in America.” Why not blame yourself America?

Author — rozey peyton

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"I bought the Purple Rain album for our eleven year old." ..Sounds like a personal problem.

Author — Cmdr Riotz

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When John Denver defends heavy metal...you’ve lost.

Author — Paul Choi

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R/entitledparents ”I BOUGHT A SONG ALBUM FROM A R RATED MOVIE AND PLAYED IT TO MY CHILDREN AND SUED THE MAKERS OF THE ALBUM FOR ’SATANIC LYRICS’”

Author — Vek

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"Look at my child. She was screaming with joy when she saw Kiss. They must be brain washing her." They very popular, what do you expect. And also, weren't you the one who screamed with joy when you saw Elvis Presley?

Author — Dovark

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if 6ix 9ine was alive back then, he would be burnt alive.

Author — Daniel Rojas

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"Some of them are even... *looks around* ....homosexual's" *GASP*

Author — Andi

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Annnnd, the "Explicit Sticker" that was put onto albums just made the sales skyrocket. Nothing makes a 14-year-old boy want to buy a record more than already knowing it is somewhat controversial.

Author — EazyEColi

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Now these are the “MEGA KAREN”. Please don’t be like this.

Author — DadJoke Trademark

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Conservatives: liberals get offended by everything!
Also conservatives:

Author — Ewan McInerney

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Kids: are happy

Parents: Wait, that’s illegal

Author — Rexy

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As an atheist, hearing the "Occult" being a category made me laugh. America is so religious, haha.

Author — Dan

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So politicians are lecturing others on morals. Oh, the irony!

This world really needs a reset.

Author — Small Fry

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Young males: I'm depressed cause adults put too much pressure but at least I got my music
Adult: oh no young males are depressed it got to be that music

Author — Marek Kluba

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I love how 3 wives of DC politicians were acting like the watchdogs of morality when their husbands were some of the most immoral crooks in the country.

Author — Jamison S

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They went from "I want to see the manager" to "I want to see the government"

Author — Arttective