Beyonce Criticized for Using Sample of Challenger Tragedy on New Album

Pop superstar, Beyonce, is under fire from astronauts and family members for sampling audio from the Challenger disaster on a video from her self-titled visual album.

On January 28, 1986, Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center. All 7 astronauts aboard were killed.

The video for the love song “XO” begins with a snip of a NASA official commenting on the disaster shortly after the nation watched wreckage fall from the sky, “Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction.” The clip is used in the video as a metaphor for a troubled relationship.

Beyonce, in a statement released to ABC News, insists the use of the clip was supposed to serve as a respectful tribute.  If you say so Bey!

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.”

The song was written and produced by Ryan Tedder and Terius Nash (The Dream) who appear to believe a national tragedy would make a cool metaphor for a dysfunctional relationship.

1986 is may be ancient history to the singer, but not to those who lost friends, co-workers and loved ones in the tragedy.  Anyone alive at the time and old enough to remember can tell you exactly where they were when they heard that the Challenger exploded.  Some saw it happen right before their eyes on television. Family members and loved ones were on the ground watching as the ship exploded and fell into the ocean. The terrible event should not be fodder for yo silly love song, girlfriend.

Folks connected to the tragedy aren’t buying Beyonce’s “tribute” either. ABC News also spoke with former and current NASA astronauts, employees and Challenger family members who felt the use of the clip in a pop song “mocks the crew’s sacrifice and opens fresh wounds.”

June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Dick Scobee and a founder of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, told ABC News she is “disappointed” in the singer’s decision to include the clip.

“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 said. “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.”

Keith Cowing, a former NASA employee who now runs the website, said, “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.”

Cowing wants Beyoncé to remove the clip and apologize to families of the Challenger crew.

Several current NASA astronauts, who are not authorized to speak publicly, privately expressed similar dismay at what they say is Beyoncé’s use of a tragedy to sell a pop song.

Retired NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson told ABC News, “For the words to be used in the video is simply insensitive, at the very least.”

NASA responded to the controversy in an official statement:

The Challenger accident is an important part of our history; a tragic reminder that space exploration is risky and should never be trivialized,” the agency said in a statement. NASA works everyday to honor the legacy of our fallen astronauts as we carry out our mission to reach for new heights and explore the universe.

Watch the XOXO Video below. What do you think? Was Beyonce’s use of the audio clip insensitive?

Via ABC News, Wall Street Journal

About mj santilli 33098 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!