Beyoncé responds to space shuttle tragedy sampling controversy


Beyoncé pulled a fast one on the world this month when she digitally dropped her self-titled new album with absolutely no prior warning. The collection of songs debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts and quickly became one of the most acclaimed releases of the year.

While praise has been fierce for Queen Bey’s bold new work, there’s also been a fair share of criticism involving the album’s lead single “XO,” in particular the sampling of audio from the 1986 space shuttle Challenger disaster that claimed the lives of all 7 crew members aboard.

The tune begins with the recording of now-retired NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt saying, “Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction,” as he tried to describe what was transpiring while the world witnessed wreckage falling on live TV after the fatal explosion.

June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger space shuttle Commander Dick Scobee, had the following to say in regards to use of the audio:

“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. 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.”

Former NASA employee Keith Cowing didn’t mince words in regards to what he felt was a device used simply to provide shocking attention for the song. He wants the sample removed and apologies provided to the families of the Challenger crew:

“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.”

Current NASA astronauts, who aren’t allowed to speak publicly on the topic, expressed private reservations about Beyoncé’s choice as well.

The singer provided an exclusive statement to ABC News this morning about the controversy:

“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.”

Do you believe Beyoncé should remove the audio sample or that she owes any apologies?

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  • loop

    Bull sh**, B.
    Its extremely insensitive and used purely for personal gain as well as attention.

  • Tamtam

    how rude

  • Brittany

    How disgusting. That is absolutely inappropriate. I’ve never cared for her but now I just dislike her completely.

  • K

    I am so disgusted by this! I just lost any respect I may have had for this woman. What a horrible thing to do to the families of those who lost someone for a stupid song.

    • Juliana

      I have never been interested in her or her music. But as someone who watched in delight on January 28th, 1986 and feeling so proud that my own father was a large part of making that happen and then watching it come apart in the sky. I felt dazed, confused, and sad. I immediately called my father that day and asked him if it had anything to do with his own invention and of course at that time no one knew what caused it and his entire company was devastated as they too watched it come together that day, only to have it end so tragically in less than two minutes after take off.

      So it does have a personal impact on me and my family and even though I lost no family member that day, I feel so disappointed in anyone using one single second of that moment in time as a form of entertainment.

      Beyonce’s not even smart enough to have written that disgusting statement and to even still make it all about her and her music, is just insulting the intelligence of all citizens of the United States.

      She can take her music and shove………. ! Then wipe her butt with the statement she made in defense of that garbage she used.

      • Guest

        Did you dad admit to have prior technical failures weeks leading up to this. That is something that isnt publicized. If I had known my invention had failures I sure as hell wouldn’t have sent through innocent heroes into the sky like that.

  • Guest

    This is utter backpedaling. Firstly, she blames “the songwriters.” She’s a big girl now and needs to take responsibility for the music she puts out there whether she composed it or not. Surely she knew what this audio was from and didn’t care or she was clueless about what it was from and also didn’t care where it came from. “Uh yeah…it was totally a moving tribute to the challenger astronauts…which is why it’s several minutes of me in various hats and light up headbands at a theme park.”

  • Chels Kae

    Beyonce is an idiot. We all know this. For an “artist” to be so clueless about what’s going in with their own music, makes it even sadder that Ppl continue to support her.

  • Bryan

    This bitch is a moron!

    • Onlay_By_Bravada

      Lol B.

  • Guest

    Wow and if you listen to the song lyrics I could imagine the family and friends of the lost ones would certainly be devastated. From the “search through the crowd” to the “lights out” comment to the “”im crashing into you.” Whomever wrote this needs to explain what they were thinking using those type of lyrics. I feel bad for those people suffering from hearing this song. “day light’s wasting” as if she didnt know they were searching until the night. Really not good Beyonce!

    • Guest

      She’s saying it was a “tribute” to save her own ass. There was zero intention of honoring anyone affected by or killed in the challenger disaster. Yes the lyrics seem offensive if it were talking about the challenger explosion and subsequent search but there is about a 0% chance in hell this was looked at as anything more than a potentially successful pop song that just happened to be tacky and disrespectful and begin with that audio clip.

  • Juliana

    This chick was either still running around in dirty diapers or definitely running around with a snotty nose that needed to be wiped on the day the Challenger attempted a safe take off.

    She and her world haven’t got a clue as to how disrespectful that is not just to those families who lost loved one’s, but to the entire country as we sat there that morning watching something tragic happen.

  • dragon

    I never liked Beyonce from the start. Her head is so damn high up in the clouds, she needs to come back down to earth and humble herself. As I said on my fb it would be like creating a song in 2029 with the 9/11 sound bites. People are giving the excuse that is happened 28 years ago. So what?! It’s still a tragedy to this day. B just needs to sit her ass down and stop being such a egotistical bitch

    • Juliana

      There are certain events that have happened in our lifetimes and even those that occurred before we were born that should never ever be used as a form of entertainment EVER.

      This is one of those events that will be in the history books a hundred years from now and they will all wonder who Beyonce is/was and be horrified that she created something so trivial to entertain people with. Shame On Her !!!

  • OPINIONATED-deal with it!}:-)

    Her stupidity has no limit…you can act dumb and play that role, but come on!!! Who is she “to help heal those who have lost loved ones”? Her song is not a therapist and will not “heal” anyone!

    It’s not the first time she has stolen borrowed someone’s work and apologize and I am sure it won’t be the last. People will continue making her rich while living on minimum wage.

  • Yawn


  • RandaE

    She has no moral compass. Cull!