Beyonce has landed herself in trouble with NASA after deciding to sample an audio clip taken from the 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster on her new track ‘XO’.
The song, which features on the singer’s eponymous new album, begins with a six-second clip taken from the accident, in which Steve Nesbitt – NASA’s public affairs officer at the time – states, “Flight controllers here are looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction.” The Challenger exploded shortly after lift off on its ’86 mission, killing all seven people on board.
The Hollywood Reporter states that representatives from NASA have now come out, declaring the choice of clip “inappropriate in the extreme”.
Former employee Keith Cowling continued: “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.” Cowling has called for the sample to be removed from the track.
June Scobee Rodgers, a widow of one of the crew members lost in the accident, also stated her disapproval of the singer’s actions. “We were disappointed to learn that an audio clip from the day we lost our heroic Challenger crew was used in the song ‘XO’,” she says. “The moment included in this song is an emotionally difficult one for the Challenger families, colleagues and friends. We have always chosen to focus not on how our loved ones were lost, but rather on how they lived and how their legacy lives on today.”
In response to the criticisms, Beyoncé has released a statement defending her actions to ABC News. The statement reads as follows: “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.”
Beyoncé, meanwhile, also recently posted a video online which revealed the singer had recorded 80 songs for her new record. ‘Beyoncé’ was surprise-released on December 13 with no promotional build-up.