The Year in NSFW Music Videos

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There was a time when music videos had to conform to certain guidelines: they had to be short, so as to hold the attention of teens who watched TRL (unless they were “Thriller”), and they had to be tasteful enough to air on basic cable. But now that we get so much of our entertainment online, and MTV barely airs music videos anymore, the rules have changed. These days, as this collection of 2010’s most gawked at and talked about clips demonstrates, anything goes. From the artsy to the political to the bizarre to the just plain awful, this is your year in NSFW music videos.

Xiu Xiu — “Grey Death”

If there has ever been a safe-for-work Xiu Xiu video, we can’t remember it. “Gray Death” doesn’t have anything obvious like boob-flashing or gore in it, but the BDSM undertones are undeniable: pajama-clad band members Jamie Stewart and Angela Seo take turns suffocating each other in bed, sexed-up drowning, erotic face-slapping, tongues on body parts. (Honestly, who even knows what we’re looking at in some of these close-ups?) Also: an adorable cat!

Owen Pallett — “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt”

Less than ten seconds in, and we’re already lighting a cigarette mere inches away from a naked butt. Oh, yup, now we’re blowing smoke up said butt. And, um… some Balloon Boy news footage? The plot, such as it is, resembles a kind of homoerotic Spy vs. Spy, involving lots of daggers and either a role-playing game or an elaborate art project — plus dancing from actress Alison Pill (of Milk/In Treatment fame). Whatever. The song is wonderful, and so is the video.

Snoop Dogg — “Upside Down”

This is novel: a Snoop Dogg video that takes place at a wiiiiiild party. Yup, we see Jamie Foxx. Oh, uh huh, and there’s Xzibit. And look, here’s Snoop getting a lap dance on the toilet — by a girl whose nipples we briefly see! Seriously, is that it? Snoop, you disappoint us.

Lady Gaga — “Telephone”

Easily the most widely viewed NSFW music video of the year, “Telephone” opens with a newly incarcerated Gaga stripping down to her fishnets in a jail cell. “See? I told you she didn’t have a dick,” says one prison guard to another. Then she smooches and feels up a tough-lady prisoner. But we don’t really have to review it for you, do we? Admit it: you watched it. More than once.

Erykah Badu — “Window Seat”

Inspired by Matt & Kim’s nakey-in-public video for “Lessons Learned,” Badu’s “Window Seat” is a simple, DIY video, shot entirely without permits. All that happens is this: the singer gets out of her car and walks down the street, slowly stripping off layer after layer of clothing. By the end of five and a half minutes, she’s totally nude — and is immediately gunned down. Did we mention that the video takes place in the same part of Dallas where JFK was assassinated? Yeah, it caused some controversy.

Devendra Banhart — “Foolin'”

Turns out, Xiu Xiu’s is hardly the weirdest music video of the year that involves S&M. No, that distinction goes to Devendra Banhart, who you will see here getting whipped by a large, mostly naked, man and then cuddling him. Later, the two of them will be led around on leashes by a lady with a rather fetching ‘fro.

M.I.A. — “Born Free”

Genocide — it could happen to you. That’s the message of M.I.A.’s “Born Free,” a short film that shows military types rounding up an executing redheads (including adorable ginger children). And for those of us who didn’t need to watch nine minutes of manipulative, self-righteous violence, one viewing was more than enough.

HEALTH — “We Are Water”

The really barf-inducing moment in this video comes at the very end — and we’re not going to spoil it. Suffice to say that the horror-movie stuff in the first two-and-a-half minutes is nothing in comparison.

Kylie Minogue — “All the Lovers”

More (quasi-) nudity in the street. The video for Minogue’s club anthem “All the Lovers” finds the diva crowdsurfing a top an ever-growing orgy of pretty, young things representing all manner of sexual preferences.

The Flaming Lips — “The Sparrow Looks Up at the Machine”

“Warning: The following video contains some disturbing images that may not be suitable for children or sensitive adults.” Thus begins, like, the hundred millionth NSFW video the Lips have made. But this one, which features a pretty, scantily clad lady getting cut up by a masked torturer and forced to paint with her blood, is probably the hardest to watch.

Grinderman — “Heathen Child”

Jesus weeps blood. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis dance around in Roman Centurion costumes. Ellis’s crotch shoots fire. Cave becomes Vishnu. There’s a girl in a bathtub who gets attacked by just about everything (including her own hair). You’ll also see some boobs and butts — but you probably won’t enjoy all of them.

Die Antwoord — “Evil Boy”

When you’re a young, South African hip-hop duo that is kind of a joke, part of your job as a provocateur is to make an NSFW music video. So check that one off for Die Antwoord. The clip, like most of their songs, is a sort of rap video on acid — sure, you’ve got dancers popping their booties out. But then there’s the mice coat and the penis tree branches and the boobs with eyes and the helpful captions: “Im not a gay. This penis is for the girls. My penis is clean.” Good to know!

of Montreal — “Famine Affair”

Think it would be awesome to be a man in a world of women? Think again. They’ll pretty much treat you like a second-class citizen, beat you to a bloody pulp, and then fertilize themselves with your semen. As for sex, well… they don’t need you for that.

Klaxons — “Twin Flames”

Yup, this one is going to be in our nightmares. Thanks a lot, Klaxons.

30 Seconds to Mars — “Hurricane”

In case you’re wondering what time of day it’s okay to show various sexual and violent acts, this rundown of the MTV compliance team’s assessment of 30 Seconds to Mars’ epically awful 13-minute “Hurricane” video is pretty interesting. (As for “woman’s finger running over other woman’s bottom in g-string and touching anus”? That’s “COMPLETELY RESTRICTED.”) Honestly, as far as we’re concerned, the most offensive part of the video Jared Leto’s mullet — followed closely by the song itself.