7 Hit 2000s Songs That Are Offensive by Today's Standards
Many argue that these songs are a product of their time—but they wouldn't fly if released today.
While the new millennium kicked off over 20 years ago, for some, the early aughts feel like just yesterday. Of course, the world has changed since then, and with it, so have pop culture norms. Today's artists certainly push the envelope in terms of sexuality and more mature themes—often in ways that would have been scandalous two decades prior. On the flip side, there are older songs that wouldn't fly in light of the #MeToo movement and today's increased emphasis on inclusivity. Read on to discover seven hit 2000s songs that are considered offensive by today's standards. (And please note that the videos below may contain objectionable language or images.)
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"Kim" by Eminem (2000)
Love him or hate him, rapper Eminem is known for testing boundaries. His songs are often explicit—and rather than back down from criticism, he's used the backlash and uproar to bolster his music career.
Eminem's 2000 album, The Marshall Mathers LP, has a few controversial songs, but there's something about "Kim" that may be particularly unsettling to today's listeners. The song graphically describes the fictional murder of Eminem's ex-wife, Kim Mathers.
"Kim" was controversial at the time, but Billboard points out that "the firestorm would be even worse today." Still, some fans defend the song, claiming that it "portrays the very difficult emotions" in the rapper's life at the time.
"Ur So Gay" by Katy Perry (2007)
Pop icon Katy Perry has a few tracks that have sparked outrage, including a song on her 2008 album One of the Boys, "Ur So Gay." As the title suggests, the song is about an ex whose issue is that he's "so gay," despite the fact that he doesn't "even like boys."
In 2008, Perry defended the song, explaining that it wasn't meant to be homophobic.
"Every time I play that song, everybody has come back laughing. I'm not the type of person who walks around calling everything gay," the singer said, per Billboard. "That song is about a specific guy that I used to date and specific issues that he had. The song is about my ex wearing guyliner and taking emo pictures of himself in the bathroom mirror. The listeners have to read the context of the song and decide for themselves."
On Reddit, fans argue that the song is a "product of its time," and note that Perry has "changed tremendously since then." (The singer is now a major advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.) However, others maintain that the song is "absolutely homophobic" and "uncomfortable."
While Perry hasn't spoken again about "Ur So Gay" (or played it publicly since 2012), she has addressed another song on the same album, "I Kissed a Girl," which has also been criticized for "queerbaiting."
Speaking with Glamour in 2018, Perry said that "I Kissed a Girl" does have a "couple of stereotypes," and she'd "probably make an edit" if she wrote the song again. The singer added, "We've really changed, conversationally, in the past 10 years, we've come a long way."
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"Blame It" by Jamie Foxx (2008)
Another song that might not go over well today is Jamie Foxx's Grammy-winning hit "Blame It," which featured T-Pain. The song was a staple on party playlists at the time—and sure to get people out on the dance floor. But if you really listen to the lyrics, instead of the catchy beat, you'll find it reveals a more troubling narrative.
"Not my [favorite] song but it's literally about having sex with someone who had too much to drink and 12 year old me didn't even bat an eye," one fan wrote on a Reddit thread about favorite songs that haven't aged well.
In the song, Foxx sings to a woman, advising her to blame her decisions on alcohol consumption. "Just one more round and you're down, I know it / Fill another cup up," the lyrics say.
In a 2011 blog post for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, a Community Awareness and Prevention Services volunteer wrote that the song's lyrics "are so blatantly celebratory of rape that it's almost shocking how much play this song gets in clubs."
The author specifically cited other lines that talk about how the woman "got drunk, thought it was all a dream."
"Girls & Boys" by Good Charlotte (2002)
In 2002, the pop-punk band Good Charlotte released "Girls & Boys," which is another song with lyrics some may find offensive.
In the chorus, lead singer Joel Madden sings, "Girls don't like boys, girls like cars and money / Boys will laugh at girls when they're not funny." The second verse goes on with, "Vacations and shopping sprees / These are a few of her favorite things / She'll get what she wants if she's willing to please."
Listeners point out that the song is a "jam," albeit somewhat misogynistic.
"Good Charlotte's 'Girls and Boys' would probably not be a hit if it were released today," a Redditor wrote in 2022. "I love the song but the overall tone of the lyrics are quite sexist."
On a separate Reddit thread, another added, "As a woman, I hate it but it's just so catchy."
In 2016, the band actually spoke on "Girls & Boys," as well as their song "Riot Girl," with Upset Magazine, noting the importance of women's voices.
"I got a little girl at home, and I want her to grow up in a world with no sexism, no racism, no hate. And it starts with us. It starts with how we treat each other and the respect we give each other," Madden said. "It's very important to us that people understand that, when I was younger, I didn't know anything. When I originally wrote those songs, that was just my perspective and how I felt about myself. When you listen back to some of those records, we were just making commentary about what we were seeing in the world around us. Now, I have a much greater understanding."
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"Where The Hood At?" by DMX (2003)
"Where The Hood At?" by DMX has been called out for lyrics concerning the LGBTQ+ community. "I love Where the Hood at, but the lyrics are a bit homophobic for 2020," a listener wrote on Reddit.
Another responded by quoting the lyrics—which we can't print here—arguing that calling them "a bit homophobic is a bit of an understatement here."
One listener pointed to DMX's catalog in general, arguing that the rapper "has a ton of wildly homophobic lines."
Even further, some argued that it's not that the song has "aged badly," but that it was offensive from the time of its release.
"Don't Trust Me" by 3OH3! (2008)
Another dance hit of the time, "Don't Trust Me" by 3OH!3, has since earned some backlash for questionable lyrics like, "Shush girl, shut your lips / Do the Helen Keller and talk with your hips."
The song's reference to Helen Keller, political activist, author, and disability rights advocate, isn't something that reflects modern views on inclusivity, particularly for those with disabilities.
"Don't Trust Me is a masterpiece but a lot of the lyrics just wouldn't fly if it were released today," a Redditor wrote.
Another said, "I'll admit, I skip the Helen Keller part when I listen to this song, it's just too cringe."
But as with some other songs on this list, the iffy lyrics didn't go over listeners' heads at the time. "[Not going to lie] even back then it felt wrong," another Redditor wrote. "I remember my younger sister (who was like 7 at the time) getting genuinely upset by the Helen Keller part."
In 2019, Nathaniel Motte, one-half of the electro-pop duo, was asked whether he regrets any of the lyrics during an interview with Paper.
"I do remember recording that song, we'd just done a really small indie deal and we didn't know that anybody would listen to it. We were just excited to be in a professional studio," Motte told the outlet. "And we came up with this really funny line and we were worried about whether it would offend people, but it was like, no, man—it's funny. People will get that it's tongue-in-cheek. In retrospect if we'd known that many people were going to listen to it maybe we would've thought more about it, but that's kind of the beauty of what we did and I think people understand that."
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"Stupid Girls" by Pink (2006)
One song that has modern listeners divided is Pink's 2006 hit "Stupid Girls." The song is a parody of socialite culture, and "basically mocks women who conform to the Patriarchy," the blogger Some Nerd wrote in a 2022 post. The writer explored the debate over whether the song and the music video are actually misogynistic, eventually concluding that Pink "is kind of mean for mocking these women."
There are entire Reddit threads devoted to the song, with listeners arguing for and against the true message. "This song was fun at the time but as I grew up I realized how terrible it was. Such an awful message," a Redditor wrote in 2021.
Others conceded that parts of the song are "problematic" and haven't aged well, but noted that "Stupid Girls" was also "very bold" for its time.
"Right now we're having conversations around toxic masculinity and what it means to be a man, and how our culture enforces harmful behaviors in accordance with binary gender roles that ultimately end up hurting men in the long run," a Redditor wrote in 2021. "But if there was ever a time to be talking about the other side of that, Toxic Femininity, it was the 2000s."
Yet another defended "Stupid Girls" and older songs in general, writing, "I think we need to stop 'cancelling' songs because they don't uphold the standards of the current generation—we should look at them with the knowledge of when they were released. We can both appreciate they are good songs whilst also not necessarily agree with the overarching message. They're still bops though no one can tell me otherwise."