Scandalous Music: Songs That Were Banned in the 1950s

By | May 6, 2019

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American singer and actress Rosemary Clooney (1928 - 2002), circa 1955. Source: (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

When compared to many of today’s pop songs, the music of the 1950s was downright tame. Still, critics found issues with numerous fifties tunes and demanded that they be removed from radio playlists so the immoral message could not be further spread and negatively impacting young, impressionable minds. Would you believe these 1950s hits were barred from some radio stations? 

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Rosemary Clooney caused a stir with Mambo Italiano. Source: (

“Mambo Italiano” by Rosemary Clooney

This spicy, Italy-inspired tune, written by Bob Merrill, was a hit for singer Rosemary Clooney but not everyone appreciated the inclusion of foreign words into the catchy, danceable music. WABC Radio in New York banned the song because they believed the Italian words were too suggestive…even though they didn’t know their meaning. Clooney’s record label fought the ban. They presented the station with documentation from a professor of Italian language and from a Roman Catholic priest, both stating that the Italian words and phrases were not vulgar, suggestive, or offensive.