Lady Gaga pulls R. Kelly collaboration 'Do What U Want' from streaming platforms
John Legend was one of the only stars to criticize R. Kelly in Lifetime’s new documentary Surviving R. Kelly.
Lady Gaga, who collaborated with R. Kelly on the 2013 track "Do What U Want," has followed through on her promise to pull the song from streaming platforms following the Lifetime docu-series "Surviving R. Kelly," which documented sexual abuse accusations against the 52-year-old singer.
As of Friday, "Do What U Want," which R. Kelly co-wrote, was no longer included on Gaga's album "ARTPOP" on iTunes and Apple Music and had been grayed out on Spotify.
A version of the song featuring Christina Aguilera is still available on all three platforms.
USA TODAY has reached out to the streaming platforms for comment.
Aguilera praised Gaga for how she handled the situation.
"This is a reminder of women sticking together — and not letting a man take ownership of a great song/ moment," she said in a tweet Friday. "And if anything the message of this song remains that although you may have had my body, you will never have my heart, my voice my life or my mind."
Aguilera added, "Being a survivor of past predators myself, these lines spoke to me, which is why I did the song. I embrace all survivors of sexual and domestic violence and abuse holding a special place in my heart, and you @ladygaga, for doing the right thing!"
On Wednesday night, Gaga took a stand against the "I Believe I Can Fly" singer.
"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, 32, wrote in a statement posted to her Twitter account. "What I am hearing about the allegations against R Kelly is absolutely horrifying and indefensible.
"As a victim of sexual assault myself, I made both the song and the 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 that had occurred in my own life," she continued. "The song is called ‘Do What U Want (With My Body),’ I think it’s clear how explicitly twisted my thinking was at the time."
Gaga continued, "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 – or if therapy was not available to me or anyone in my situation – to seek help, and speak as openly and honestly as possible about what we’ve been through," she added. "I can't go back, but I can go forward and continue to support women, men and people of all sexual identities, and of all races, who are victims of sexual assault."
After promising to remove the song from streaming platforms and not to work with Kelly again, she wrote, "I'm sorry, both for my poor judgment when I was young, and for not speaking out sooner."
Gaga was one of many celebs to speak out against Kelly following the docu-series, including Jada Pinkett Smith, Chrissy Teigen and Chance The Rapper.
"Surviving R. Kelly" producer Dream Hampton noted to The Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY network, that Gaga was invited to participate in the series.
"It was incredibly difficult to get people who had collaborated (artistically) with Kelly to come forward," she said. We asked Lady Gaga. We asked Erykah Badu. We asked Celine Dion. We asked Jay-Z. We asked Dave Chappelle. (They're) people who have been critical of him."
Gaga revealed her own assault in a 2014 interview with Howard Stern, which she says happened when she was around 19.
"I wasn't willing to admit that anything had happened," she told Stern, adding, "I didn't tell anybody. I didn't tell myself for the longest time."
The previous year, she spoke about working with Kelly at a press conference, according to The Washington Post and CNN. Kelly was tried on charges of child pornography in Chicago in 2008. Kelly stood accused of making a 27-minute sex tape with an underage girl in 2002. The girl declined to testify, and it took only a few hours for a jury to declare him not guilty on all 14 counts.
"R. Kelly and I have, sometimes, very untrue things written about us,” Gaga reportedly said in 2013. “In a way, this was a bond between us. We were able to say, ‘The public, they can have our bodies, but they cannot have our mind or our heart.’ It was a very natural collaboration.”
Contributing: Andrea Mandell and Maria Puente