Skip to main content

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

By Peter Shadbolt, CNN
updated 3:06 AM EST, Tue January 21, 2014
 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
updated 2:18 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
While aspects of the fighting in Gaza resemble earlier clashes, this time feels different, writes military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 11:54 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
If India and the U.S. were Facebook friends, the relationship between them would undoubtedly be "complicated." Can the U.S. Secretary of State's visit change that?
updated 10:38 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The death of an American from Ebola fuels fears of the further global spread of the virus.
updated 2:35 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Take a look inside Airbus' new -- and surprisingly quiet -- A350XWB.
updated 7:08 AM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Flowers, a teddy bear and the smells of jet fuel and death haunt the MH17 crash site.
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Nearly two weeks after MH17 was blown out of the sky, Dutch investigators have yet to lay eyes on the wreckage. How useful will it be now?
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The U.S. and EU are imposing new sanctions on Moscow -- but will they have any effect?
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT