2 February 2023

Tom Jones’ ‘Delilah’ banned at Principality Stadium due to lyrics glorifying domestic violence

In the UK, where reports of domestic violence surge during sports matches, people are arguing that there's no place for the track, which features lyrics about a woman who is stabbed by her jealous husband. 

Choirs performing at international rugby matches at the Principality Stadium have been banned from singing the Tom Jones classic, ‘Delilah.’ The song will no longer be sung at Wales’ national ground, which holds more than 70,000 spectators.

A Principality Stadium spokesperson said: “‘Delilah’ will not feature on the playlist for choirs for rugby internationals at Principality Stadium. Guest choirs have also more recently been requested not to feature the song during their pre-match performances and throughout games.”

They reiterated that the song was removed from its half-time entertainment and music playlist during international matches in 2015. The lyrics of the 1968 ballad are at the heart of this controversy.

“Delilah” is stabbed as her jealous husband discovers her frolicking with another man — the husband then pleads forgiveness of her dead corpse at the end of the song. The Principality Stadium’s spokesperson said: “The WRU condemns domestic violence of any kind. We have previously sought advice from subject matter experts on the issue of censoring the song and we are respectfully aware that it is problematic and upsetting to some supporters because of its subject matter.”

In 2014, Dafydd Iwan – whose Welsh anthem Yma O Hyd is now sung around the stadium, said: “A song about murder, it does tend to trivialise the idea of murdering a woman. It’s a pity these words now have been elevated to the status of a secondary national anthem.”

In 2016, MP for Rhondda Chris Bryant said: “It is a simple fact that when there are big international rugby matches on, and sometimes football matches as well, the number of domestic violence incidents rises dramatically,” he said.

“I know that some people will say, ‘Oh, here we go, he’s a terrible spoilsport,’ but the truth is that that song is about the murder of a prostitute.”

Sport and domestic violence have an unfortunate correlation, reports of domestic violence in the UK surge during football and rugby matches, according to Women’s Aid. Estimates vary, but this rise in reports has been found to be somewhere between 25%-50%. While the Principality Stadium hosts rugby matches, it is also host to the Welsh National Football team, so it’s no surprise that Jones’ track has been signalled out for removal.

Although censoring music is clearly a slippery slope, there’s no denying that a track discussing the murder of a woman probably should not ring out in a location that is already filled with largely misogynistic undertones.

Tom Jones has since responded, however, saying people were taking the song too literally and rejecting claims that it trivialised violence towards women.

While ‘Delilah’ has been banned from the WRU’s official playlists, there haven’t been any restrictions on fans singing the song.

  • Writer Chris Saunders
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