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Did Beyonce Really Use Audio From the Challenger Shuttle Tragedy in a Pop Song?


Beyonce performs onstage on her Mrs. Carter World Tour, on Friday, December 20, 2013 at the TD Garden in Boston, Mass. (Photo by Robin Harper/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment/AP) Robin Harper/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment/AP

Multimillionaire pop star Beyonce Knowles is under fire for using audio from the 1986 space shuttle Challenger tragedy in a song on her new album.

The new song, titled “XO,” features audio of NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt speaking during a live broadcast of the Challenger’s takeoff.

“(F)light controllers here looking very carefully at the situation … obviously a major malfunction," Nesbitt can be heard saying in the Beyonce song.

Here’s audio of the 1986 explosion:

And here’s the song:

Although Beyonce's album was released nearly two weeks ago, the issue of her using the Challenger audio didn’t come to light until former NASA employee, Keith Cowing, blasted the “repugnant” song in a blog post on Monday.

Retired astronaut Clayton Andersen, Challenger widow June Scobee Rodgers, and NASA have also come forward with statements on the issue.

“The Challenger accident is … a tragic reminder that space exploration is risky and should never be trivialized,” NASA said in a statement far more gentle than anything Cowing had to say.

Rodgers and the Challenger Center for Space Science Education said the following in a statement: “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.”

For her part, Beyonce claims the Challenger audio was used to “memorialize” the ship’s crew, the Washington Post reported.

Here's what Beyonce said in a statement given to ABC News:

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.

However, contrary to her statement, the song “XO” seems to be more about romantic relationships then it is about “memorializing” a national tragedy.

Further, as noted by Cowing, the song’s bizarre, carnival-themed music video has left many wondering whether the song is indeed about the men and women who lost their lives in the Challenger explosion.


Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter


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