Soundgarden: Why MTV Banned The Group’s Music Video

MTV Banned Video for ‘Jesus Christ Pose’

MTV back in 1991 banned Soundgarden’s video for ‘Jesus Christ Pose’ from their 1991 record ‘Badmotorfinger.’ Check it out below!

Soundgarden would be the first so called grunge band to emerge out of seattle to get a major recording contract. Formed in 1984 the band signed to a major label in A&M in 1988 who put out their second album Louder Than Love. The band’s third record 1991’s Badmotorfinger helped break Soundgarden into the mainstream by going double platinum. The first single released from the album was the track jesus christ pose, which landed the band in some hot water with so called religious groups and MTV. Stay tuned for the full story.

The late 80’s lineup of Soundgarden that got signed to a major label featured Chris Cornell on vocals, Kim Thayil on Guitar, Hiro Yamamoto on bass and Matt Cameron on drums. While the band shouldve been celebrating the chance at becoming big rockstars, Yamamoto wasn’t. He quit the band after the band’s second album Louder Than Love was released and was temporarily replaced by former Nirvana guitarist Jason Everman. Everman would tour with the band for a short period of time before being fired for not being a good fit. I’ve done a whole video on Everman and how he would go on to join the military and serve overseas and become a decorated war veteran.. It’s a truly fascinating story. The link is down below.

Soon enough the band would find bassist Ben Sheppard who actually auditioned to replace Yamamoto before, but Everman was more up to speed on the band’s catalog ahead of their major tour. But Sheppard’s time had finally come and thankfully for the band he was also a great songwriter. According to drummer Matt Camern the band came up with the track in almost an hour and it was built around a drum pattern he had come up with. Guitarist Kim Thayil would recall to Louder Sound

We were at the original Avast! Studios. It was run by Stuart Hallerman, who was our first sound man, and he used to record a lot of demos for us. They had a cement-floored recording room, and we’d go in there and rehearse during the day, then at night we’d push our amps in the back and he’d have clients come in and record.”
I think we were jamming, whacking that out on bass,” “That was definitely one of Ben’s riffs – the main riff. And then Matt started drumming on it. It was very quick.”
“It was hard to discern exactly what the notes and the rhythm were from what Ben was playing, because it was very loud, blurry and quick. So while I was trying to figure out that groove, I came up with that weird guitar line. It was easier for me to hear that odd melody. Because all four members of the band contributed to the writing of the song they are credited on the track as songwriters on the track
Released as the first single from the album, Jesus Christ pose was a dud in America not even charting, but it would peak at number 30 in the UK. To support the single, the band also shot a music video that showed a lot of crosses, both right-side-up and upside down in addition to a burning cross. The video also showed with a women on a cross, and skeletons. And the band chose a women instead of a man because htey wanted to convey how they believed women were persecuted throughout history.
As you can imagine, religious rights groups were up in arms, largely because they misunderstood the video. MTV banned Jesus Christ Pose , but eventually relented playing it late at night on headbangers ball. The video received some viewer complaints with some people labelling it as anti-christian and It got so bad that Soundgarden even received death threats. Frontman Chris Cornell would recall the absurdity of everything telling Raw Magazine in 1993
“It ended up being the first video that MTV wouldn’t play on The Beavis and Butthead Show, cos it didn’t meet their standards. It turned out that it was the religious imagery that they were afraid of. They don’t seem to get uptight about the rap bands rapping about killing people and exploiting women, but religious imagery…” he’d say
“Actually, I’d imagine they’re even more intense about that in the UK. When we were over there touring, they’d got this poster of a skeleton nailed to a cross all over the place to advertise the single, and we were getting death threats at the shows. If anyone’s gonna be sensitive to, or offended by something like that, then I think they’re a little too serious about what they believe in…” he’d say.

So what was Jesus Christ Pose about? Well
In a 1992 interview with Spin Magazine Cornell revealed how the song was not anti-religious and merely about how people use religion to their advantage saying “You just see it a lot with really beautiful people, or famous people, exploiting that symbol as to imply that they’re either a deity or persecuted somehow by their public. So it’s pretty much a song that is nonreligious, but expressing being irritated by seeing that. It’s not that I would ever be offended by what someone would do with that symbol.” Cornell would ellaborate in 1995 with Rolling Stone saying “The key word in that song is pose. That was a response to seeing a bunch of different photo shoots of models and rock stars doing the Jesus thing, posing on a crucifix. I’d seen it so much that year, and it seemed silly. It’s silly for other people to use it in some way to project themselves.”
But It didn’t really matter that the song wasn’t a big success stateside, because Bad Motorfingerwas the band’s big commercial breakthrough going double platinum and producing other more TV and radio friendly singles in Rusty Cage and Outshined. In addition to that, the band also got some high profile touring spots opening for both Metallica as well as Guns N’ Roses and playing at Lollapalooza in 1992. That does it for today’s video guys thanks for watching. Be sure to hit the like button and subscribe and if you have suggestions for future topics use the google form below. Take care.