Have you been listening to the songs on Beyonce's "surprise, I totally dropped a new 'visual album' out of freaking nowhere" self-titled music collection? I haven't heard all of the new tunes, but I did notice the seemingly odd intro to her song "XO," which starts out with a somber audio clip that references "a major malfunction."
As it turns out, that audio is from 1986, and the voice belongs to then-NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt. The moment was 1 minute and 56 seconds post-liftoff of the space shuttle Challenger, just after the Challenger was enveloped in a deadly explosion.
Does it seem a little … strange to you that Beyonce would use audio from the space shuttle Challenger disaster in a song about a doomed relationship? If so, you're not alone: NASA astronauts and Challenger family members alike are upset with Beyonce for her insensitive decision -- and her lame 'apology' is downright ridiculous.
Here's how "XO" starts, with the following six seconds of crackling audio:
Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction.
I honestly thought Beyonce had achieved some sort of rare golden celebrity status where she was virtually untouchable by media controversy, but it turns out she's not impervious to PR blunders after all. I can't quite imagine the thinking that went into using that clip from the tragedy, but it's being explained as a "tribute" to the crew, which is maybe the most eye-rolling thing I've ever heard. I mean, check out the song and video:
Such a beautiful way to honor the Challenger crew, right? COME ON.
Former NASA employee Keith Cowing has decried the use of the clip, saying,
This choice of historic and solemn audio is inappropriate in the extreme. The choice is little different than taking Walter Cronkite's words to viewers announcing the death of President Kennedy or 911 calls from the World Trade Center attack and using them for shock value in a pop tune.
June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger space shuttle commander Dick Scobee said,
We were disappointed to learn that an audio clip from the day we lost our heroic Challenger crew was used in the song 'XO.' The moment included in this song is an emotionally difficult one for the Challenger families, colleagues and friends.
I actually don't agree that the clip was used for "shock value," I think it was just pure stupidity. The Challenger incident happened almost 28 years ago, so I'm guessing the gravity of the event is lost on many. What really adds insult to injury, though, is Beyonce's statement about the clip:
My heart goes out to the families of those lost in the Challenger disaster. The song 'XO' was recorded with the sincerest intention to help heal those who have lost loved ones and to remind us that unexpected things happen, so love and appreciate every minute that you have with those who mean the most to you. The songwriters included the audio in tribute to the unselfish work of the Challenger crew with hope that they will never be forgotten.
Okay, that's just gross. It's gross to compare a fictional romance to the space shuttle disaster, it's gross to say the lyrics ("I love it like XO / You love me like XO / You kill me boy XO / You love me like XO") are a TRIBUTE to the people who died on that day, and it's ultra-gross to shirk responsibility by blaming the "songwriters."
Beyonce's created an impressively spotless superstar brand for herself over the years, but I'd say she really and truly dropped the ball on this one. In my opinion, she should have simply apologized and re-released the song without the intro, instead of issuing that complete bullshit about healing.
What do you think about Beyonce's decision to use the clip, and her subsequent explanation?
Image via YouTube