The Flaming Lips nearly broke the internet last week when the video for their Erykah Badu collaboration “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” — an innovative cover of the Peggy Seeger song popularized in 1972 by Roberta Flack — which featured a semi-nude Badu and her totally nude sister Nayrok, became public.
While many applauded the video’s creativity, others were outraged by the video’s explicitness, prompting founding Flaming Lips member Wayne Coyne to release a statement explaining how the racy video — which has since been pulled — made it to the internet in the first place. In response to Coyne’s explanation and apology, however, Badu took to her own Twitter account to send the singer an open letter in which she called the video concept “disturbing,” the finished product “tasteless” and the video’s unapproved release “disrespectful.”
First things first. Coyne’s statement reads:
The video link that was erroneously posted on Pitchfork by the Flaming Lips of the Music Video ‘The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face’, which features Erykah Badu, is unedited and unapproved.. Sorry!! We, the Flaming Lips, accept full responsibility for prematurely having Pitchfork post it. It has outraged and upset a segment of fans and we apologize if we offended any viewers!!! This is a Flaming Lips video which features Erykah Badu and her sister Nayrok and is not meant to be considered an Erykah Badu or Nayrok statement, creation, or approved version.
Coyne then took to his Twitter account this morning to directly address both Badu’s fans and those who’d been giving the singer a hard time over the controversial clip:
To all the haters who think Erykah Badu has lost her mind!!! She has NOT!!! The Flaming Lips take full responsibility for the making of and the content of the controversial video!!! We are very sorry if it has offended some of Erykah’s more conservative audience! The video was intended for mature audiences and is NOT an Erykah Badu statement. It is a Flaming Lips video!!!
After reading and retweeting Coyne’s comments, an obviously upset Badu took to her own Twitter account approximately an hour ago to send him a very long and inciendary open letter regarding the matter:
@waynecoyne then… perhaps, next time u get an occasion to work with an artist who respects your mind/art, you should send at least a ROUGh version of the video u PLAN to release b4 u manipulate or compromise the artist’s brand by desperately releasing a poor excuse for shock and nudity that sends a convoluted message that passes as art( to some).
Even with Window Seat there was a method and thought process involved. I have not one need for publicity . I just love artistic dialogue . And just because an image is shocking does not make it art.
You obviously have a misconception of who I am artistically. I don’t mind that but…
By the way you are an ass.
Yu did everything wrong from the on set .
You showed me a concept of beautiful tasteful imagery( by way of vid text messages) .
I trusted that. I was mistaken.
Then u release an unedited, unapproved version within the next few days.
That all spells 1 thing , Self Serving .
When asked what the concept meant after u explained it , u replied ,”it doesn’t mean anything , I just want to make a great video that everyone is going to watch. ”
I understood , because as an artist we all desire that. But we don’t all do it at another artist’s expense .
I attempted to resolve this respectfully by having conversations with u after the release but that too proved to be a poor excuse for art.
You begged me to sit in a tub of that other shit and I said naw. I refused to sit in any liquid that was not water. But Out of RESPECT for you and the artist you ‘appear’ to be, I Didn’t wanna kill your concept , wanted u to at least get it out of your head . After all, u spent your dough on studio , trip to Dallas etc.. Sooo, I invited Nayrok , my lil sis and artist, who is much more liberal ,to be subject of those other disturbing (to me ) scenes . I told u from jump that I believed your concept to be disturbing. But would give your edit a chance.
You then said u would take my shots ( in clear water/ fully covered parts -seemed harmless enough) and Nayrok’s part ( which I was not present for but saw the photos and a sample scene of cornstarch dripping ) and edit them together along with cosmic, green screen images ( which no one saw) then would show me the edit. .
Instead, U disrespected me by releasing pics and rough vid on the internet without my approval. (Contract breech )
That is equivalent to putting out a security camera’s images of me changing in the fitting room.
I never would have approved that tasteless, meaningless, shock motivated video .
Our art is a reflection of who we are . I have no connection to those images shot in their raw version. I was interested in seeing an amazing edit that would perhaps change or alter my thoughts . Never happened .
You also did the same thing with the song itself which displays crappy “rough “vocals by me . I let it go , perhaps iiiii was missing something, I thought.
I Should have followed my first mind back in studio when recording the vocals “your way”.
( Red flag.) It was uncomfortable.
For that I am at fault .
Consequently, brother, As a human I am disgusted with your what appears to be desperation and poor execution. And disregard for others . As a director I am unimpressed . As a sociologist I understand your type. As your fellow artist I am uninspired. As a woman I feel violated and underestimated.
Hope it works out for ya ,Wayne.
Really i could give a shit less.
Still love your live show tho.
And , you’re welcomed.
Lesson learned .
By the way I have guested in very few videos. But I have always been given the opportunity to see the edit and contribute to it when my roll is substantial. Not this time .
I guess u feel it better to apologize than ask for permission and be refused . Hey, Love u man, but your ways are not very nice .
O, And on behalf of all the artists u have manipulated or plan to manipulate, find another way .
These things have been said out of necessity.
And if you don’t like it you can KiSS MY Glittery ASS .
O and Nayrok told me to tell u to kiss her ass too .
Coyne has yet to respond to Badu’s comments.