Beyonce has responded to criticism of her use of a sample from the Challenger disaster.
Issued without any build up, 'Beyonce' became one of 2013's defining pop statements. Given almost universal praise, the album found Beyonce breaking her own records and expanding boundaries in the process.
Yet over the festive season some criticism did come Bey's way. The track 'XO' - produced by The-Dream and Ryan Tedder - opens with a sample of NASA’s Steve Nesbitt recorded a few moments before the Challenger disaster.
The song that follows these words about Challenger is certainly catchy – but it has nothing whatsoever to do with Challenger and the sacrifice that their crew made that morning in January 1986. Instead, the song has to do with the trivial life event of a girl breaking up with her boyfriend. The music video shows them playing at an amusement park. Having this audio included in such a song serves to mock the severity of the events and loss that these final words represent.
This choice of historic and solemn audio is inappropriate in the extreme. The choice is little different than taking Walter Chronkite’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. If this was done with full knowledge of the origin of these words then this is simply repugnant.
If this was done without due diligence as to the source of the words being sampled, then this is ignorance. Either way Beyoncé owes the families of the crew of Challenger an apology. A number of people associated with the Challenger crew - including widows, sons, daughter and friends - have also expressed their dis-taste at the use of a sample from the mission on a pop song.
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In response, Beyonce praised the Challenger crew and seemed to point the finger of blame at her production team.
"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."