From Elvis to Miley:The Evolution of Censorship in music and musical performances

Before Miley Cyrus was twerking on stage, Elvis Presley was gyrating his hips for the enjoyment of teenage girls worldwide. While both artists’ performances were seen as inappropriate at their respective times, it is safe to say that Elvis not only paved the way for other Rock n’ Roll artists but also for other performers in general whose performances on stage are more sexually expressive.

In the spring of 1956 during his performance of “Hound Dog” Elvis Presley gyrated his hip for the first time on stage.  While it drove the teenage girls crazy, the conservative people of the press dragged Elvis, calling his performances vulgar and sexually explicit.  Some even compared his movements to that of a strip tease and considered his acts on stage very inappropriate.

After the backlash from his hip gyrating performance, Elvis not only earned the unfortunate nickname of “Elvis the Pelvis” but during some televised performances, particularly the Ed Sullivan show in  1957.

The ridiculousness continued on the Steve Allen show where in order to ensure a clean gyration free performance, Elvis was to sing his popular hit, “Hound Dog” to an actual hound dog.

While Elvis received constant backlash from press over his inappropriate stage moves, he insisted that his moves were none other than him feeling the rhythm of this song during his performances.  Elvis was the first of his kind to give these type of performances; him doing so paved the way for other racier performers like Miley Cyrus and Lady gaga, not just on stage but also in music videos.   In Miley Cyrus’ recent music video “Wrecking Ball” she swings from an actual wrecking ball completely naked and while people still do not care to see it, Miley Cyrus’ twerking performances would not have been allowed on stage had Elvis not introduced America to a more expressive form of musical performance.

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