Ever heard a song and thought, “Wow, that didn’t age well?” So have a few of your favorite artists … about their own music.
There’s Hayley Williams, who’s long been vocal about her aversion to Paramore‘s own “Misery Business,” even choosing to retire the track from the band’s live shows in spite of it being one of their most successful songs to date, peaking at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100. There’s Taylor Swift, who back in the day toed the line on her debut album’s single “Picture to Burn,” which included a since-updated lyric (now infamous among Swifties who enjoy digging up old copies of the album just to see whether it includes the original words) joking about spreading rumors your ex-boyfriend is gay to get revenge.
And more recently, there’s Lizzo, who rectified the use of a controversial word on her song “Grrrls” in less than three days time. The second single off of her album Special was quickly met with criticism over its use of the ableist term “spaz” — something the “Rumors” star didn’t take lightly.
“It’s been brought to my attention that there is a harmful word in my new song,” she said in a statement, which received support from many who praised her willingness to admit she made a mistake and take action to correct it. “Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language. As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I overstand the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally).
“I’m proud to say there’s a new version of GRRRLS with a lyric change,” she continued. “This is a result of me listening and taking action. As an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world.”
Weeks later, Beyonce faced the same criticism for using the same word in her Renaissance song “Heated.” Days later, her spokesperson told Billboard that the term would be “replaced.”
From sexism to homophobia, ableism to racial prejudice, there are songs containing wording that simply doesn’t jive with the world’s modern perspectives. See how nine artists — from the above mentioned to the Black Eyed Peas, Michael Jackson and beyond — have taken steps to move their music forward by changing offensive language.