There’s been a lot of talk recently about the controversial banning of certain books in the early 20th century, but did you know the BBC were restricting what music it played on TV and radio as late as the 1980s? Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s debut single ‘Relax’ was condoned for its “suggestive sleeve” – a.k.a. the song’s infamous hook “Relax, don’t do it / When you want to suck to it / Relax, don’t do it / When you want to come…” – and disappeared from the airwaves in 1983. However, much to the BBC’s embarrassment, this very scandal pushed the newcomers into the spotlight and ‘Relax’ hit number one in early 1984. Awkward!
With an ambitious agenda of tackling “sex, war and religion” in the band’s debut, FTGH’s lead singer Holly Johnson heralded music’s edgiest scene yet with the arrival of ‘Relax’. The creativity of this single track espoused the musical arrival of a spreading pop punk movement, reflected by Andy Warhol in art and the likes of Sid and Nancy in film. Sexual liberty, unlimited creativity and most importantly, music meant to be enjoyed – this synth-infused 4 minute track set a trend that musicians are still trying to recreate today.
‘Relax’ was released in 1983 via ZTT Records