In the upsetting scenes of the bushfire catastrophe, Australian commercial radio networks are pulling back on songs that could potentially upset listeners.
A spokesperson for its parent company Southern Cross Austereo said, “Out of respect for the devastation impacting so much of our community, we have removed any songs that could be considered insensitive or in poor taste across both the Hit and Triple M networks nationally.”
Hit and Triple M didn’t reveal which songs had been pulled.
But a quick ring-around of music execs identified these 25 could well fit into their respective formats, even if they’re not specifically about the harmful effect of fire.
Note: The following list was created from conversations with industry figures around which songs could be monitored and is unofficial.
‘This House Is On Fire’ – AC/DC (1983)
‘Just Like Fire’ – Pink (2016)
‘Fight Fire With Fire ‘ – Metallica (1984)
‘Set Fire to the Rain’ – Adele (2011)
‘Never See The Rain’ – Tones & I (2019)
‘Beds Are Burning’ – Midnight Oil (1987)
‘Firestarter’ – The Prodigy (1996)
‘This Wheel’s on Fire’ – Bob Dylan & The Band (1967)
‘Firework’ – Katy Perry (2010)
‘Get Out Of The House’ – Boom Crash Opera (1980)
‘Horror Movie (Right There On My TV’ – Skyhooks (1975
‘Burn’ – Ellie Goulding (2013)
‘Sleep Now In The Fire’ – Rage Against The Machine (1999)
‘Fire Meets Gasoline’ – Sia (2015)
‘The Reaper’ – Chainsmokers & Amy Shark (2019)
‘Death To My Hometown’ – Bruce Springsteen (2011)
‘Burning Down The House’ – Talking Heads (1983)
‘Smoke From A Distant Fire’ – The Sanford Townsend Band (1977)
‘Rooms On Fire’ – Stevie Nicks (1989)
‘Smoke On The Water’ – Deep Purple (1972)
‘Burning Sky’ – Bad Company (1977)
Ashes To Ashes – David Bowie (1980)
‘Fire And Rain’ – James Taylor (1970)
Fire Water Burn – Bloodhound Gang (1997)
‘House Of Fire’ — Alice Cooper (1989)
When Radio Banned Songs For Other Sensitive Reasons
Split Enz’s ‘Six Months In A Leaky Boat’ (1982) was “discouraged” from airplay by the BBC which thought it inappropriate when Britain was involved in naval action during the Falklands War.
Rod Stewart’s ‘Sailing’ got the boot for the same reason.
The original title of Black Eyed Peas’ ‘Let’s Get It Started’ was ‘Let’s Get Retarded’.
After the September 11 attacks, radio empire Clear Channel compiled a list of 164 “lyrically questionable” songs with themes related to war, death, destruction, flight, or New York City, and anything by Rage Against the Machine because their lyrics were concerned anti-American.
This list had ridiculous inclusions as The Bangles’ ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’, no less than seven AC/DC songs (including ‘Shot Down In Flames’ and ‘Hell’s Bells’), Carole King’s ‘I Feel The Earth Move’ and Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’.
Cat Stevens, who’d adopted the Muslim faith and changed his name to Yusef Islam was on the list: for two of his gentlest songs, ‘Peace Train’ and ‘Morning Has Broken.”
One most eye-blinking inclusion was John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. Maybe not, though: in 1991 the BBC yanked it off during the Gulf War.
In the wake of the Iraq war, Madonna had to pull the music video for ‘American Life; because it was “unpatriotic” – for scenes of women in a fashion parade dressed in military gear, and her throwing a grenade-shaped lighter to a president George W Bush lookalike so he could light his cigar.
Both MTV and The Late Show with David Letterman replaced the gunfire sounds on M.I.A.’s ‘Paper Planes’ with other sound effects.
After ABC management told triple j to pull NWA’s ‘Fuck Tha Police’ and suspended an executive, staff went on strike… and played NWA’s ‘Express Yourself’ 82 times in a row when the issue was resolved. See full story here.
After the 2012 death of the much hated British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, a social media campaign began to get ‘Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead’ from the film The Wizard of Oz to celebrate her passing.
The BBC would only play a snippet of the song during its chart shows, but it still reached #2.
Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ was edited on Malaysian radio because homosexuality is banned in that country, while ‘Judas’ got the chop in Lebanon because it was “offensive” to Christian listeners.
U2’s 2001 track ‘Walk On’ was declared “verboten” in Burma because the pro-democracy theme was dedicated to activist Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who was under house arrest at the time.
When Pete Townshend wrote The Who’s ‘My Generation’ he used the character of a mod, high on pills and unable to articulate, spluttering ‘why don’t you all f-f-f-ade away’.
But the BBC thought it was insulting to people who stuttered and initially gave it the cold shoulder.
You won’t hear ‘Do You Hear the People Sing?’ from Les Misérables on Chinese streaming services. That’s something to do with those rallies in Hong Kong.