Singer Cee Lo Green has ignited controversy by changing the lyrics to John Lennon’s famous song “Imagine” to include a pro religious message.
During his New Year’s Eve performance in New York’s Times Square, Green sang “Nothing to kill or die for, and all religion’s true,” instead of Lennon’s original lyrics, “Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too.”
“Imagine” has been the source of controversy before for its “no religion” lyric, but it remains very popular. The famous and beloved song was named number three in Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” where it was heralded as “an enduring hymn of solace and promise that has carried us through extreme grief, from the shock of Lennon’s own death in 1980 to the unspeakable horror of Sept. 11.”
Over 2 million viewers of NBC’s New Year’s Eve coverage watched the performance. Fans expressed disappointment and anger following the song, and The Huffington Post reported Green to have tweeted an explanation amid the instantaneous backlash.
“Yo I meant no disrespect by changing the lyrics guys! I was trying to say a world were (sic) u could believe what u wanted that’s all,” wrote the 37-year-old singer.
The post has since been deleted from Green’s account.
Twitter users and fans also took to the social media site to sound off on the lyric change.
Twitter user Ashley wrote, “John Lennon is turning over in his grave as Cee Lo Green butchers “Imagine” in Times Square.”
Songs by the celebrated Beatles have been covered many times in the past. Twitter user Jane posted a message pertaining to the most recent covers by Justin Bieber as well as Green.
“Whoever deemed Justin Bieber and Cee Lo Green as good candidates to sing BEATLES songs, I hope sharks eat you,” wrote Jane.
Actor Michael McKean criticized Green for the lyric change by using one of the singer’s hit song titles, writing, “Dear Cee Lo: Forget you.”
In addition to criticism over the altered lyrics, many people condemned Green, who was singing lyrics that included “no need for greed or hunger,” for donning a full-length fur coat as well as jewels.
“Cee Lo Green missed THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE SONG,” wrote Twitter user FlipCritic.
Watch Cee Lo Green’s New Year’s Eve performance here.
Cee Lo Green’s New Year’s Eve performance can be viewed in this video, beginning near the four minute mark.