How heavy metal and Satan gave us this sticker

  • Published: 09 April 2019
  • Heavy metal and Satan played a role in the introduction of the explicit lyrics sticker.

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    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.

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    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 is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out

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Comments • 3 723

  • Vox
    Vox   7 months back

    Vox Earworm is back with season 2! It's hard to believe Estelle couldn't fit everything she wanted into this 20-minute premiere, but if you want to see the extras she mentioned, consider joining the Video Lab:

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous  3 weeks back

      *11:36** Baphomet hand sign* lol

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous  3 weeks back

      And Charles Manson's connection to the Music Industry and the occult? Or Lauryl Canyon?

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous  3 weeks back

      Soo subliminal messages aren't used in the music? No influence from the Tavistock institute?

    • Aaron Z.
      Aaron Z.  3 months back

      God bless Satan

  • Alexandru Popescu
    Alexandru Popescu  36 minutes back

    0:45 Look at that smile!

    • Santi Martín
      Santi Martín  1 hours back

      Sticker: *exists*
      Cannibal Corpse: I'm about to end this man's whole career

      • K Ho
        K Ho  3 hours back

        Whites Lol

        • cc 905
          cc 905  1 days back

          Trust Twisted Sister to be in this! Go on you fiery Queens of rock

          • Mr Savage65
            Mr Savage65  2 days back

            Ok boomer

            • Fla Ser
              Fla Ser  2 days back

              ok boomer

              • Vinicius Arré
                Vinicius Arré  2 days back

                Artists be like “Ok, boomers”

                • Jeff thelover
                  Jeff thelover  3 days back

                  Ok boomer

                  • Kris Rhood
                    Kris Rhood  3 days back

                    As far as I can tell it's impossible to play a tape or CD backwards

                    • platnum icecube
                      platnum icecube  4 days back

                      *O K B O O M E R*

                      • Crimson Ghost
                        Crimson Ghost  4 days back

                        Politicians criticizing others for having no morals is hilarious.

                        • Alex Redfield
                          Alex Redfield  4 days back

                          Current conservatives will look just like these dorks in the future

                          • rancid
                            rancid  5 days back

                            the amount of salt is so full in that room that mcdonalds looks healthy.

                            • Chu
                              Chu  6 days back

                              The boomers hated our music back then and still hate it today

                              • Lucais Cannalonga
                                Lucais Cannalonga  6 days back

                                I’m a massage therapist too hella yea that’s awesome I love the diversity

                                • Kaf
                                  Kaf  6 days back

                                  Agggggh they just dont get it 😤

                                  • Wingless
                                    Wingless  6 days back

                                    You know the funny thing now is my parents Church Pastor listenes to Heavy Medal, Including the stones and Led Zeppelin, as do I.

                                    • samual williamson
                                      samual williamson  7 days back

                                      2018 demonetization 2019 censorship

                                      • Nicholas Denmark
                                        Nicholas Denmark  7 days back

                                        thank you John Denver

                                        • Alphiren
                                          Alphiren  1 weeks back

                                          ok boomers

                                          • Andrik Martinez
                                            Andrik Martinez  1 weeks back

                                            Thou visualize me, thou recreate with me

                                            • Sean Slawson
                                              Sean Slawson  1 weeks back

                                              That sticker totally failed what it wanted to do

                                            • mechi colon
                                              mechi colon  1 weeks back

                                              I fell asleep and now I woke up with this

                                              • PotatZo
                                                PotatZo  1 weeks back

                                                I'd like to see what these people think of bands like Cannibal Corpse or Meshuggah lol

                                                • OnTheBench
                                                  OnTheBench  1 weeks back

                                                  they would hate the boy$

                                                  • v_l_a_k
                                                    v_l_a_k  1 weeks back

                                                    “Successful albums “ 19:19

                                                    Artpop: I don’t think I belong here

                                                    • Mighty Martin
                                                      Mighty Martin  1 weeks back

                                                      Unfortunately the same thing is happening to video games.

                                                      • plant girl megan
                                                        plant girl megan  1 weeks back

                                                        I cannot stop watching this

                                                        • Bhawesh Gupta
                                                          Bhawesh Gupta  1 weeks back

                                                          Americans be like:-you can have guns but not heavy Rock music 🤣🤣

                                                          • Owen Bakker
                                                            Owen Bakker  1 weeks back

                                                            Ok boomer

                                                            • Wolfgang Keith
                                                              Wolfgang Keith  1 weeks back

                                                              why is this so white?

                                                              • LazerCherg
                                                                LazerCherg  1 weeks back

                                                                john denver is a legendary human being, wow

                                                                • Dianne Pasia
                                                                  Dianne Pasia  2 weeks back

                                                                  okay, boomer.

                                                                  • Saidie Jimenez
                                                                    Saidie Jimenez  2 weeks back

                                                                    Now musicians wear the stickers like a batch of honor

                                                                    • Strange Tomato
                                                                      Strange Tomato  2 weeks back

                                                                      I want to see the parents reactions to bands like Cannibal Corpse and Rob Zombie

                                                                      • Death will come for all of us

                                                                        sounds about right \m/

                                                                        • Grey Gorilla
                                                                          Grey Gorilla  2 weeks back

                                                                          Megadeth summed it all up with Hook In Mouth

                                                                          • Mr.Vore_
                                                                            Mr.Vore_  2 weeks back

                                                                            give children cannibal corpse albums and give them the lyrics

                                                                            • stonkstrader dotcom
                                                                              stonkstrader dotcom  2 weeks back

                                                                              i think music about god should be censored

                                                                              • Pokefandylan2000
                                                                                Pokefandylan2000  2 weeks back

                                                                                I thought it was Prince that gave us the sticker

                                                                                • LogosGrapheRhema ThoughtWrittenThoughtSpokenSpirit

                                                                                  ESHAM THA UNHOLY IS WORSE HAHA

                                                                                  • LogosGrapheRhema ThoughtWrittenThoughtSpokenSpirit

                                                                                    JUDAS PRIEST ALL DAY ALL NIGHT, ROCK HARD RIDE FREE!!

                                                                                    • zared tokarz
                                                                                      zared tokarz  2 weeks back

                                                                                      This reminds me of what the video game industry has been going through for the past 20 years

                                                                                      • Mozes Berrospi
                                                                                        Mozes Berrospi  2 weeks back

                                                                                        Ok boomer

                                                                                        • Rice field
                                                                                          Rice field  2 weeks back

                                                                                          Dang green day is right the nation is contoled by the media

                                                                                          • Ryan Ruiz
                                                                                            Ryan Ruiz  2 weeks back

                                                                                            What about ghetto rap that talks about killing gang members and doing drugs

                                                                                            • Mutated Sperm
                                                                                              Mutated Sperm  2 weeks back

                                                                                              Boomers existed even in the 1950