Skip to main content

After three years on the blacklist, China lifts gag on Lady Gaga

By Peter Shadbolt, CNN
January 21, 2014 -- Updated 0806 GMT (1606 HKT)
 Lady Gaga poses for Japanese fans while promoting her latest album 'ARTPOP' in November.
Lady Gaga poses for Japanese fans while promoting her latest album 'ARTPOP' in November.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • China removes Lady Gaga from a blacklist slapped on foreign artists in 2011
  • Censors modify the album art to cover more of the singer's naked body
  • Chinese officials also change one song title, transforming "Sexxx Dreams" to "X Dreams"
  • Her "ARTPOP" album shot to the top of the US charts in November

(CNN) -- Lady Gaga -- the flamboyant and provocative New York-based pop singer -- has been removed from a Chinese government blacklist, allowing her chart-topping new album "ARTPOP" to go on sale legally in China.

But Chinese censors have placed conditions on the album art, inflating a large ball between her legs to cover more of the naked singer's body and adding a pair of black tights to the singer's bare legs.

The cover of her latest album was designed by the American artist Jeff Koons, who specializes in garish and kitsch representations of the banal and everyday.

Chinese officials also changed one song title, transforming "Sexxx Dreams" to "X Dreams."

Following a multi-platform promotional blitz -- which included Lady Gaga wearing a "flying dress" made from a large hovering drone-like contraption -- "ARTPOP" shot to the top of the US charts in November, selling 258,000 copies in its first week.

Is this Japan's Lady Gaga?
Tony Bennett on new album and Lady Gaga

But in China, the pop diva's songs had been on a blacklist since 2011, when the Culture Ministry deemed her work to be "creating confusion in the order of the online music market, and damaging the nation's cultural security."

Singling out songs from her album "Born this Way," Chinese authorities identified six Gaga tracks -- "The Edge of Glory," "Hair," "Marry the Night," "Americano," "Judas" and "Bloody Mary" -- as among 100 foreign songs to be placed on a blacklist.

Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night" and the Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way" were also included in the sweep.

The ministry at the time said that foreign songs would be subject to the same censorship requirements as domestic artists. All albums for release must be screened by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

Lady Gaga last week responded with enthusiasm to the lifting of the ban on her Twitter feed.

"China has been given the go ahead singer I'm so excited!!!! The Chinese Government approved 'ARTPOP' to be released in China with all 15 songs! Next I hope I can come to perform!," she said on her Twitter account.

While copies of the album have been available in pirate form on the streets and in Beijing's Sanlitun district -- identified by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) as a key location for the distribution of counterfeit films and music -- Lady Gaga's distributor Universal Music China was coy about the ban.

Can't believe the black tights, has China become a Islamic country?
Shen Qiaozi, Sina Weibo poster

"I don't think ban is the way to put it," a spokeswoman told CNN. "All Lady Gaga's albums are on sale in China. The newest one is already on sale."

Posters on China's lively social media site Sina Weibo were typically mordant about the lifting of the ban.

"'X Dream' implies the 'China Dream'," said one poster, in reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping's slogan about the country pursuing the 'Chinese Dream.' "That must be why those high up in the administration have given it a special pass."

Others, however, were more direct in their criticism.

"Can't stand it, can't believe the black tights, has China become a Islamic country?" said one poster labeled Shen Qiaozi.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1921 GMT (0321 HKT)
The lives of everyone close to Oscar Pistorius and the girl he killed are changed forever, his siblings say.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1033 GMT (1833 HKT)
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1218 GMT (2018 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
Serbia and Albania try to play but the major game is called off after a drone flying a political flag enters the stadium.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1136 GMT (1936 HKT)
George Clooney's new wife, is now Amal Clooney, raising the issue of married names.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1757 GMT (0157 HKT)
The mysterious unmanned X-37B space plane returns to Earth after more than two years in space. But the U.S. Air force isn't saying much.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT