Not just Beyoncé! These artists also had to change offensive lyrics for these reasons

Written By: Kshitij Mohan Rawat | Updated: Aug 02, 2022, 02:33 PM IST

It is said that art is sacred. And even if it offends somebody or another, it should not be changed or modified to fit into the spectrum of what is "acceptable" in our society. But what if the piece in question, whether it is a movie, TV show, or song, offends an already marginalised community? Recently, pop star Beyoncé had to modify the lyrics of her song called 'Heated' from her latest album 'Renaissance'. The reason was a controversy that arose due to the presence of the word called 'spaz'. Disability activists, campaigners and organisations argued that the word is ableist and has been used to humiliate and degrade those suffering from a disability, particularly cerebral palsy. Some others said that the word also carries a colloquial meaning in African American Vernacular English and means to fight or to go crazy. The word is used two times in the song. "Spazzing on that a**, spaz on that a**," sings Beyoncé. "The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced," a statement said from the pop star. 

This is not the first time, a musical artist has had to change or modify the lyrics of their songs to satiate offended people. Here are some of the popular singers who changed the lyrics to their songs. 


Interestingly, Lizzo courted controversy for using the exact same word -- spaz -- in her song. Titled 'GRLLLS', the song released back in June and instantly inspired a debate on social media sites. Disability activists slammed the pop star for the usage of the word. The word was changed to 'Hold me back'.


michael jackson

The king of pop himself Michael Jackson had to face ire of the Jewish community and activists for his song 'They Don't Care About Us' from his album 'HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I'. The song had a portion that went, "Jew me, sue me, everybody do me". The star responded to the allegations of anti-Semitism by saying the song actually addresses the very prejudice he has been accused of. He later, however, admitted defeat. While in some versions of the song, the words were modified, in some others, they were suppressed by loud sound effects. 


Taylor Swift

The eleven-time Grammy winner Taylor Swift also landed herself in hot water with the song 'Picture to Born' from her debut studio album called, simply, 'Taylor Swift'. In original lyrics, the words went like this: State the obvious, I didn't get my perfect fantasy / I realize you love yourself more than you could ever love me / So go and tell your friends that I'm obsessive and crazy / That's fine, I'll tell mine you're gay / And by the way. The "That's fine, I'll tell mine you're gay" naturally offended the homosexual community. The line was modified to "That's fine, you won't mind if I say."


Black Eyed Peas

The popular music group's party song 'Let's Get It Started' from the 2003 album 'Elephunk' was initially called 'Let's Get Retarded'. Naturally, the song created a lot of negative publicity. But the title and the lyrics were initially modified to make it worth running as ad jingle for TV advertisements. 



The rock band's song 'Misery Business' became controversial because of the phrase “Once a whore, you’re nothing more” which not surprisingly offended women and their feminist allies. The song was written by the group's member Hayley Williams, who refused to sing the song as she had written it when she was just 17. In a 2018 announcement, she said, "“We wrote a song that now, as a 29-year-old woman, I don’t know that I’d use the same language. Calling someone a whore isn’t very cool.” However, in a collaborative performance with Billie Eilish, the latter sang the line but did not enunciate the offending word. So while the word is officially still there, we will never get to hear it in a live performance.