Whether used for empowerment, provocation or just a good dose of publicity, nudity is one of the safest ways for artists to be controversial. So when Kanye debuted the video for "Bound 2", the real surprise was the appearance of his fame-shy bride-to-be (and perfume entrepreneur) Kim Kardashian, riding topless on a motorbike with Kanye through some incredible landscapes that may or may not be Microsoft screensavers. Even though Kanye chose to keep his clothes on, nudity and flesh-flashing isn't new. Here are some of the oddest and most inventive examples.
D'Angelo – "Untitled"
D'Angelo's ode to not playing it cool when asking for sex draws inspiration from Prince and Marvin Gaye – so much so that critics at the time brushed off the lyrics of his hip-twisting slow jam. The accompanying video, directed by Paul Hunter slowly panned around every inch of D'Angelo's muscular, tattooed body. One YouTube comment sums it up as follows: “This porn has lovely music!”
Britney Spears – "Womanizer"
Intended as a 'spiritual sequel' to the video for "Toxic", "Womaniser" sees Britney continue her enjoyment of donning a variety of wigs, as she infiltrates an office block to rat out an unfaithful lover. As well as defacing a perfectly innocent photocopier and throwing a lot of important-looking documents around, Britney spends a good portion of the video completely naked in a steam room, apparently as a response to the media criticising her for putting on weight.
Björk – "Cocoon"
After the controversial video for "Pagan Poetry" saw Bjork simulating fellatio, Cocoon's surreal video is definitely tamer, though it still got banned by MTV. Styled with geisha-like hair, Bjork becomes cocooned by red ribbons that fly out of her nipples, toying with the tendrils until fully bound.
Is Tropical – "Dancing Anymore"
“It's funny that people would rather see someone get shot than see a naked CGI woman,” said Is Tropical's Simon Milner, after the band's video for "Dancing Anymore" got banned for its excessive nudity. The video sees a French kid's fantasies take over while he's house-sitting for a wealthy French woman.
Lady Gaga – "The Abramovic Method"
Shot to promote Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic's Kickstarter campaign for "interdisciplinary performance and education center'', this video sees Gaga hugging a large crystal, completely naked, murmuring slowly. It's supposed to heighten her awareness of her physical and mental self, you see. Still, the campaign reached its $600,000 target, with pledgers receiving, among other things, a hug from Marina.
Sigur Rós – "Fjogur Piano"
Filmed as part of Sigur Ros' Mystery Film Experiments series, the video sees Shia Le Beouf and his lover engaging in a particularly NSFW adventure involving bondage, near-naked ballroom dancing and an underwater car journey. Full-frontal comes as part of the ride.
Usher – "U Got It Bad"
As well as singing passionately into wind machines, one of R&B's most well-known tropes is male singers being liberal with the removal of their T-shirts. So it is with Usher, who spent his 2001 video for "U Got It Bad" lying awake at night thinking about his ex (played by TLC's Chili). There's also a few box-ticking moments in Usher running through the rain in a leather trench coat. Classic 2001.
Girls – "Lust For Life"
Scruffy San Francisco guitar outfit Girls called up their friends, lovers, and everyone in between to show their soft bits for "Lust For Life". There's a lot of soft-focussed bleached hair, bathtime boobs, and a cameo from Seth Bogart (aka Hunx and His Punx) and his schlong, which another dude sings to as if a mic. Sadly one of the only people in the video who keeps his clothes on is the one we wished wouldn't – Christopher Owens himself.
Trey Songz – "I Invented Sex"
Trey knows more than anyone than you can't name a song "I Invented Sex" without putting your money where your mouth is. Case in point, the accompanying video sees Mr Songz snogging a girl in an elevator before driving her back to his crib and making out for a bit. Shot in black and white for extra sultriness, Trey and his friend get a bit steamy before losing his clothes and showing off the many, many tattoos on his back and chest.
Erykah Badu – "Window Seat"
Badu filmed this one-take guerrilla video in downtown Dallas, stripping totally nude before being shot in the head by the grassy knoll where JFK was assassinated in 1963. She's since suggested that she was making a point about how social conformity punishes those who dare transgress the rules, tweeting "The butt naked truth is powerful, America!"