10 Music Publicity Stunts Gone Wrong - Rolling Stone
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10 Music Publicity Stunts Gone Wrong

Madonna’s ‘Sex’-capade, Garth Brooks’ weird alter ego and other artist ploys that didn’t go off as planned

Publicity; Stunts; Gone Wrong; Rolling Stone; List; Madonna; Vanilla Ice; Elvis Costello; 50 Cent; Kanye West

Mandatory Credit: Photo by BEI/BEI/Shutterstock (1103821b) Madonna and Vanilla Ice Truth Or Dare Party

BEI/Shutterstock/Rex

"If you want to get known as a singer," Sammy Davis Jr. once said, "you hire five sexy chicks and let them fight over you onstage and for the cameras. That's publicity, man." Pop culture's hunger for the publicity stunt hasn't changed much since Davis's day. Case in point: the revelation this week that the indie-dance band Yacht – fronted by romantic couple Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans – faked the imminent leak of an alleged sex tape as part of a PR hoax.

The group's publicist denied having anything to do with it, and the band issued a defense of the hoax on the grounds that it was part of one of their "multi-faceted projects," a "slowly unveiling conspiracy, inspired in equal part by The X-Files, Nathan for You, and the KLF." Regardless of possible artistic intent, a backlash quickly ensued, with detractors claiming that Bechtolt and Evans were making light of the real-life problem of sex-tape leaks as revenge porn. Granted, Yacht are far from the first musical act to launch an ill-conceived publicity stunt and suffer the consequences. Here are a few of the most notorious examples.

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