5 Songs Previously Banned in Singapore



We're not sure how effective censorship can affect this current Facebook generation but it seems like MDA (Media Development Authority Singapore) is still stringent about certain material passing through our shores, especially when it comes to public broadcast of such material.

Case in point? A recent Jolin Tsai music video.

The cinematic four-minute clip paints the story of an elderly lesbian couple who's faced with a dilemma when one of them gets admitted to the hospital. We don't need to tell you much about the clip because, while it's banned for broadcast, the ruling does not prevent you from viewing the clip on YouTube or even buying the single from iTunes.


However, there were periods in our history when it wasn't the case. Pre-Internet, songs that were regarded as inappropriate were outrightly banned for broadcast and sale. While only certain songs have suffered such fates — which have mostly been officially lifted — here are five tunes that got the axe by the authorities.




'I Kissed A Girl' by Katy Perry 

Pop artists of the now are no exception to the rule too! Before Katy Perry was responsible for more light-hearted ideas like Californian girls under the sun, the American pop singer describes a girl’s night out at the club in ‘I Kissed a Girl’. Things go out of control when Katy gets bi-curious after getting intoxicated, leading to a ban preventing it to be broadcasted on radio, along with an NC-16 rating plastered onto the song's album One of the Boys and any other CD containing a cover of the hit. 

Little did she know that this banned track would be the tune that would propel her further into fame. How sweet?

'Rainbow' by A-Mei

It is yet another baffling choice by the government after banning the Taiwanese pop star from performing ‘Rainbow’ at her last showing in Singapore, the Spring Wave Festival. The track written as a tribute to her homosexual friends, shows the hardship faced by the unspoken community. Considering how this track doesn’t glorify homosexual behaviour in its lyrics nor tune, the official ban still remains a mystery to us.

'Puff, The Magic Dragon' by Peter, Paul and Mary

Having the distinct honour of being the first ever song banned in Singapore, 'Puff, the Magic Dragon' recounts the relationship between the titular ageless mythical creature and a little boy. The song by folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary was suspected of containing references to smoking marijuana, even when the band steadfastly denied such claims. Didn't matter, it got the ban-hammer although we're not sure if the song is still restricted here. Oh well, here's a YouTube clip.

'Yellow Submarine' by The Beatles

It's hard to think certain songs by The Beatles were once deemed dangerous but with the hippie culture gaining steam in the US back then, along with the Fab Four encapsulating it into the classic 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, let's just say the G weren't too happy about it. 

On locally-pressed vinyl copies of the album, the second and third tracks (the Ringo Starr-centered 'With A Little Help From My Friends' and the classic 'Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds') were replaced with tracks from Magical Mystery Tour. The most baffling ban on a Beatles song definitely belongs to "Yellow Submarine", with its disarmingly innocent content. Thankfully, all Beatles songs are now allowed here since having their bans lifted in 1993 and we all live in a yellow submarine. 

At least, we hope to do so one day. :(

'Would You Mind' by Janet Jackson 

You would think that songs currently on the radio already contain revoltingly risque material (in which case, you can, you know, turn it off and find music you like online instead) but it was a Janet Jackson single, of all songs, that raised the eyebrows of authorities and caused her album All For You to be prevented for sale because of "sexually explicit lyrics"

Surprisingly it also wasn't the first time the R&B singer had a run-in with local authorities — her 1997 album The Velvet Rope, which just so happens to be pegged as an inspiration for many artists in the current wave of atmospheric R&B music, was also barred from sale due to three songs containing lyrics supporting homosexuality.

Written by Darren Ng, Lim Jia Ying and Daniel Peters