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Banned from our airwaves

Certain songs by the English band The Beatles were also banned in the 60s. -TNP
Mervin Tay

Mon, May 06, 2013
The New Paper

SINGAPORE - The earliest recorded ban of a song in Singapore - meaning it could not be played on radio - was American folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary's 1963 hit Puff, the Magic Dragon.

Censors reportedly felt that the lyrics contained veiled references to marijuana. This was also speculated on in a 1964 Newsweek article.

Certain songs by the English band The Beatles were also banned in the 60s, as censors then felt they glorified drug use and hippie culture - it was illegal for radio stations to play songs like Yellow Submarine and Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. Record stores were also not allowed to sell the albums that contained them.

In March 1970, pop song Ada-Ada, by local singer A Romzi, was taken off the airwaves for supposed drug references.

It was reportedly the first time a local song had been banned from radio.

Other "drug songs" banned from radio in the 60s and 70s include With a Little Help From My Friends by The Beatles, Mr Tambourine Man by US rock band The Byrds and Proud Mary by US rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival.

More recently, American singer Janet Jackson had two run-ins with the local censors.

In October 1997, her album The Velvet Rope was banned here by the then-Controller of Undesirable Publications because three of its 17 tracks were found to be objectionable.

They were not passed because of "lyrical content", said Jackson's label back then.


The lyrics were about homosexuality, battery and abuse.

Nearly four years later, in April 2001, Jackson's new album, All for You, was banned for sexually explicit lyrics in one of the songs, Would You Mind.

The censors said the song ran afoul of the Undesirable Publications Act, which states that an authorised officer may detain any article found, on reasonable grounds, to be obscene or objectionable "for as long as is necessary to institute proceedings for an offence under this act."

Jackson's label appealed the decision, but the ban was upheld.

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