From W.A.S.P. to 'WAP': The Weird History of Moral Panics Over Lyrics

Conservative politicians and media figures absolutely freaked out over Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B’s Numbe One hit “WAP” last week, in the latest of a long series of panics over boundary-pushing lyrics in rap and rock. The new episode of Rolling Stone Music Now, with Brittany Spanos and Rob Sheffield joining host Brian Hiatt, digs into the facts behind the “WAP” controversy (Cardi B’s support of Bernie Sanders and other Democrats is a big factor, as is sexism, racism, and election-year opportunism) before looking back at many of the dust-ups that preceded it.

The discussion ranges from the F.B.I.’s efforts to find obscenity in the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie” to the legal battles over 2 Live Crew’s As Nasty as They Wanna Be to Tipper Gore and the PMRC’s wacky war against W.A.S.P., Prince, Madonna… and Cyndi Lauper.

To hear the entire episode, press play above or download and subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Download and subscribe to our weekly podcast, Rolling Stone Music Now, hosted by Brian Hiatt, on iTunes or Spotify (or wherever you get your podcasts), and check out three years worth of episodes in the archive, including in-depth, career-spanning interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Halsey, Ice Cube, Neil Young, the National, Questlove, Julian Casablancas, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Marr, Scott Weiland, Alice Cooper, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Costello, Donald Fagen, Phil Collins, Alicia Keys, Stephen Malkmus, Sebastian Bach, Tom Petty, Kelly Clarkson, Pete Townshend, Bob Seger, the Zombies, Gary Clark Jr. and many more — plus dozens of episodes featuring genre-spanning discussions, debates and explainers with Rolling Stone’s critics and reporters. Tune in every Friday at 1 p.m. ET to hear Rolling Stone Music Now broadcast live from SiriusXM’s studios on Volume, channel 106.

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