17 Classic Rock Songs That Are Extremely Problematic, And Not Just "Fun, Creative Stories"

·7 min read

We asked the BuzzFeed Community to share which popular songs released before 1990 are problematic, and most of the submissions were classic-rock songs. Here are the eye-opening results.

Note: Some submissions include topics of sexual harassment, domestic abuse, pedophilia, incest, and rape. Please proceed with caution.

1."Don't Stand So Close to Me" by the Police (1980)

The Police lyrics: "Her friends are so jealous, you know how bad girls get. Sometimes it's not so easy to be the teacher's pet. Temptation, frustration, so bad it makes him cry. Wet bus stop, she's waiting, his car is warm and dry"

"'Don’t Stand So Close to Me' by the Police is literally about a male teacher starting a relationship with his much younger female student."


Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Listen to the song here:

2."Come on Eileen" by Dexys Midnight Runners (1982)

Dexys Midnight Runners lyrics: "Come on, Eileen...you in that dress, my thoughts I confess verge on dirty"

"I loved the song when I was young, but then I grew up and listened to the lyrics. It's basically about a guy trying to talk a young woman into sleeping with him by saying creepy things thinly veiled by nice words. Maybe even an older dude trying to trick a newly legal woman."


Brian Cooke / Redferns / Getty Images

Listen to the song here:

3."Run for Your Life" by the Beatles (1965)

Beatles lyrics: "Let this be a sermon, I mean everything I've said. Baby, I'm determined, and I'd rather see you dead. You better run for your life if you can, little girl. Hide your head in the sand, little girl"

"How about ‘Run for Your Life’ by the Fab Four themselves? They’d never write anything problematic, surely??? 'You better run for your life if you can, little girl / Hide your head in the sand, little girl / Catch you with another man — that's the end, little girl.' Yeah, even the Beatles could write some seriously dodgy shit, like a song about a guy threatening to kill a girl if he sees her loving a different man."


Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Listen to the song here:

4."Christine Sixteen" by Kiss (1977)

Kiss lyrics: "Christine sixteen, I don't usually say things like this to girls your age, but when I saw you coming out of the school that day, that day I knew. I knew I've got to have you"

"'Christine Sixteen' by Kiss is just another pedophile anthem with really disgusting lyrics. It's hard to listen to."


Fin Costello / Redferns / Getty Images

Listen to the song here:

5."A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis Presley (1968)

Elvis Presley lyrics: "A little less conversation, a little more action, please — all this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me. A little more bite and a little less bark, a little less fight and a little more spark"

"The lyrics for 'A Little Less Conversation' by Mac Davis and Billy Strange are definitely questionable. The entire song is basically a man telling a woman to shut up and service him: 'Close your mouth and open up your heart and, baby, satisfy me.'"


Sunset Boulevard / Corbis / Getty Images

Listen to the song here:

6."Under My Thumb" by the Rolling Stones (1966)

Rolling Stones lyrics: "It's down to me, yes it is -- the way she does just what she's told. Down to me, the change has come, she's under my thumb"

"'Under My Thumb' by the Rolling Stones is about a guy bragging to everyone about how he controls his girlfriend by emotionally abusing her: 'Under my thumb / Her eyes are just kept to herself / While I, I can still look at someone else.'"


Photoshot / Getty Images

Listen to the song here:

7."Island Girl" by Elton John (1975)

Elton John lyrics: "Black boy want you in his island world, he want to take you from the racket boss -- he want to save you, but your cause is lost"

"I love Sir Elton John, but his song 'Island Girl' from the 1970s is both racist and sexist (we can thank Bernie Taupin for the lyrics). It’s about a Jamaican sex worker who services white men — the song describes her as being 'Black as coal, but she burns like fire' and asks the 'island girl' what she wants from the white man’s world since 'Black boy' wants her in his island world. It was a huge hit back then, but Elton doesn't perform it in concert anymore (for good reason)."


Anwar Hussein / Getty Images

Listen to the song here:

8."Into the Night" by Benny Mardones (1980)

Benny Mardones lyrics: "She's just 16 years old, leave her alone, they say — separated by fools who don't know what love is yet. But I want you to know, if I could fly, I'd pick you up"

"The whole concept of the song is that people are telling him to stop preying on a young, teenage girl, and he’s all, 'But they don’t understand our love!!!!' 🙄."


"Yeah, this one should be #1. The song was so popular that he rerecorded it almost a decade later, and it hit the Billboard charts AGAIN. Awful."


Gary Gershoff / Getty Images

Listen to the song here:

9."One Way or Another" by Blondie (1979)

Blondie lyrics: "I will drive past your house, and if the lights are all down — I'll see who's around"

"A fun song to dance to...until you realize that it's actually about a stalker."


Brian Cooke / Redferns / Getty Images

Listen to the song here:

10."867-5309/Jenny" by Tommy Tutone (1981)

Tommy Tutone lyrics: "Got your number on the wall — I got it, I got it, for a good time call. Hey, Jenny, don't change your number — I need to make you mine. Jenny, I call your number 867-5309"

"There are so many songs that have not aged well, and [unfortunately] there are many to choose from, but '867-5309/Jenny' gives me the creeps every time I hear it (the live version is even worse). Dude, just find a therapist's number instead...please!"


Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Listen to the song here:

11."My Sharona" by the Knack (1979)

The Knack lyrics: "Never gonna stop, give it up, such a dirty mind. I always get it up for the touch of the younger kind"

"I never paid much attention to 'My Sharona' until recently, and TBH...it's kinda creepy."


"How the fuck do people manage to listen to a song with a line: 'I always get it up for the touch of the younger kind' and NOT go: 'Yup, this song is about pedophilia.'"


Paul Natkin / Getty Images

Listen to the song here:

12."Good Morning, Little School Girl" by the Grateful Dead (1967)

Grateful Dead lyrics: ""Good morning, little school girl, can I come home with you? Tell your mama and your papa I'm a little schoolboy, too — come on now, pretty baby, I just can't help myself. You're so young and pretty, I don't need nobody else"

"The song title speaks for itself."


"Good Morning, Little School Girl," originally written by Sonny Boy Williamson and recorded by the Grateful Dead in 1967, is about an older man who's sexually attracted to a teenage girl he notices walking home every day after school. It's unfortunately another classic-rock song about an older man preying on a much younger woman, and yet, it's a favorite among Dead fans.

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Listen to the song here:

13."Sweet Little Sixteen" by Chuck Berry (1958)

Chuck Berry lyrics: "Sweet little sixteen, she's got the grown-up blues — tight dresses and lipstick, she's sportin' high heel shoes. Oh, but tomorrow morning, she'll have to change her trend — and be sweet sixteen and back in class again"

"There are countless examples because society has a huge problem with rape culture and infantilizing women. [That being said], Chuck Berry has both 'Almost Grown' and 'Sweet Little Sixteen' to his name, and the list goes on and on."


Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Listen to the song here:

14."Keep It in the Family" by Deodato (1982)

Deodato lyrics: "Just one night with you, that's my fantasy. Please don't tell anybody, we've got to keep it in the family"

"The title says it all — this song is disgusting. I first heard it through Spotify on Discover Weekly, and it’s got a pretty cool disco beat, but then I listened to the lyrics. I was so shocked; I played a snatch of it to my partner to be sure I was hearing what I thought I had. I’m horrified this is still on Spotify — I tried to find a way to contact them because this is not OK."


Gab Archive / Redferns / Getty Images

Listen to the song here:

15."Young Girl" by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (1968)

Gary Puckett & the Union Gap lyrics: "With all the charms of a woman you've kept the secret of your youth. You led me to believe you're old enough to give me love, and now it hurts to know the truth"

"For me, it's the song 'Young Girl' by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap. People might say, 'It was just the 1960s!' but come on — it unfortunately makes the long list of classic-rock songs about older men sexually harassing underage women. 'Young girl, get out of my mind / My love for you is way out of line.'"


Gab Archive / Redferns / Getty Images

Listen to the song here:

16."If You Wanna Be Happy" by Jimmy Soul (1963)

Jimmy Soul lyrics: "A pretty woman makes her husband look small, and very often causes his downfall. As soon as he marries her then she starts to do the things that will break his heart"

"I first heard this song in Mermaids starring Cher and Winona Ryder and thought it was a fun and upbeat tune — years later, when I was making a playlist for a party, I actually listened to the lyrics and realized how horrible the song really is. It's about a man encouraging other men to 'settle' down with an 'ugly' woman so the man's ego doesn't get crushed or feel compromised in any way. According to the lyrics, 'An ugly woman cooks meals on time / She'll always give you peace of mind' [insert extreme eye roll here]."

Kayla Yandoli

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Listen to the song here:

17.And "Jailbait" by Ted Nugent (1981)

Ted Nugent lyrics: "Well, I don't care if you're just 13, you look too good to be true. I just know that you're probably clean, there's one little thing I got to do to you — jailbait, you look so good to me"

"Ted Nugent isn’t even trying to hide anything — it’s about his attraction to a 13-year-old, her mom giving him permission to have sex, and it ends with him getting arrested and telling the officer to cuff the kid instead so they can 'share her.' He’s a well-known piece of shit, but this song is completely appalling and disgusting."


Gab Archive / Redferns / Getty Images

Listen to the song here:

Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.