Hits by Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Take That are among 100 songs that have been placed on an internet blacklist by China’s culture ministry.
Music websites have been given until 15 September to remove the offending tracks, which officials say harm “national cultural security”.
Those that fail to do so risk being prosecuted by the Chinese authorities.
The internet in China is tightly controlled, with content deemed inappropriate often blocked or removed.
A notice posted on the culture ministry’s website said the 100 songs had not been submitted for official approval.
It is not clear whether the directive is aimed solely at illicit music download sites or those operating legally.
But a 2009 directive, which aimed to tackle “poor taste and vulgar content” as well as copyright violations, said all hosted tracks should have official sanction.
Most of the banned songs are from Taiwan or Hong Kong, with several from Japan.
Among the Western acts, Lady Gaga has six banned tracks: The Edge of Glory, Hair, Marry the Night, Americano, Judas and Bloody Mary. Beyonce’s Run the World (Girls) has also been outlawed as well as Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night, which has lyrics about a menage a trois.
The list also includes the Backstreet Boys track I Want It That Way, which was released more than a decade ago.