Lady Gaga Speaks Out About R. Kelly Collab ‘Do What U Want,’ Vows to Remove Song From Music Platforms
Lady Gaga has spoken out about her 2013 R. Kelly collaboration "Do What U Want" in the wake of the cultural impact of Lifetime's Surviving R. Kelly docu-series.
The no-holds-barred series has once again shined a light on the dark corner that is R. Kelly's long-discussed inappropriate and allegedly criminal sexual history with underage girls. Through brutally honest interviews with Kelly's family, friends, past employees, past partners, and alleged victims, as well as pop culture experts and writers, the series seeks to show who R. Kelly really is by giving his accusers a platform to stand in their truth and be heard.
Many of Kelly's past collaborators and industry friends declined to appear. Nevertheless, fans watching the icon's alleged victims tell their painful stories in graphic detail, couldn't help but to wonder about the artists who had chosen to work with Kelly in the years since the allegations went wide in the late '90s into the 2000s.
One such artist is Lady Gaga, who's Kelly duet "Do What U Want" first appeared on her 2013 Artpop album. The track was released as the album's second single and a Terry Richardson-directed video was shot. Despite both the label and Gaga teasing the video's premiere, it would never come to fruition. TMZ reported a the time that the provocative video was cancelled due to fears of backlash stemming from R. Kelly's past child pornography case and sexual harassment complaints against Terry Richardson from models he had photographed.
The single was barely promoted after this. For the song's last major promotional performance, Gaga asked one-time rumored rival Christina Aguilera to sing it with her for her performance on the December 2013 season finale of singing competition The Voice. The powerful pop diva team-up arguably gave the song a new, empowering meaning. Gaga and Xtina released a studio version of their collab later that month.
Now, over five years later, fans and critics are looking back at Gaga's R. Kelly collab with some heavy side-eye, wth many wondering how it came to be in the first place and what she has to say for it now. In the years since the song was released, Gaga has publicly talked about being as a sexual assault survivor herself, even co-writing and recording the Oscar-nominated song "Til It Happens to You" in 2015 for the soundtrack for The Hunting Ground, a documentary about rape on college campuses in the U.S.
Late last night (Jan. 9) Gaga took to Twitter and her Instagram Story to share a lengthy, heartfelt statement about the song and that time in her life. Gaga does her best to explain her actions and headspace when she agreed to the R. Kelly collaboration, and apologizes for "poor judgement."
"I stand behind these women 1000%, believe them, know they are suffering and in pain, and feel strongly that their voices should be heard and taken seriously," Gaga begins her statement. "As a victim of sexual assault myself, I made both the song and video at a dark time in my life, my intention was to create something extremely defiant and provocative because I was angry and still hadn't processed the trauma hat had occurred in my own life."
"I think it's clear how explicitly twisted my thinking was at the time. If I could go back and have a talk with my younger self I'd tell her to go through the therapy I have since then, so that I could understand the confused post-traumatic state that I was in," Gaga writes, before vowing to have the song removed from music platforms.
"I intend to remove the song off of iTunes and other streaming platforms and will not be working with him again. I'm sorry, both for my poor judgement when I was young, and for not speaking out sooner. I love you," she concludes.
Gaga could have easily ignored the negative buzz and waited for things to possibly bllow over, but instead she chose to address it head-on and take action. We applaud her for this response. As of this being published the song is still up on iTunes and Spotify. No update on exactly when the song will be removed.