And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #113: Erykah Badu v Wayne Coyne

By | Published on Friday 8 June 2012

Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu and Wayne Coyne have been having an argument on Twitter over the video for a Flaming Lips song on which she provided guest vocals. The song, a cover of ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’, appears on the band’s ‘Heady Fwends’ album, which was released on limited edition vinyl for Record Store Day earlier this year and is due to be made available on CD and download on 25 Jun.

Things started well when last Thursday Coyne posted photos from the video to Twitter. The candid shots led many fans to believe that Badu appeared naked in the video, though she clarified that it was actually her younger sister Nayrok Udab who filed the nude scenes, then tweeted Coyne directly to tell him: “It looks beautiful. Nayrok looks amazing. You are a true visionary”.

Things changed the next day, however, when the video was premiered on Pitchfork, showing a very naked Nayrok bathing in glitter and (what look kind of like) blood and semen. On Saturday morning it was removed from Vimeo without any reason being given. Then on Wednesday The Flaming Lips issued a statement saying: “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 apologise 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 also tweeted a similar statement saying that the band were “very sorry if it has offended some of Erykah Badu’s more conservative audience”. But Badu wasn’t happy, and she posted a lengthy response, claiming that Coyne had done “everything wrong from the onset”.

Badu, of course, is no stranger to nudity in music videos, having previously been forced to defend the promo for her own ‘Window Seat’, in which she stripped and pretended to be shot dead at the spot where JFK was killed in 1963. Badu protested that the point she was trying to make had been missed, but nonetheless the public nudity cost her a fine and six months probation.

In her response to Coyne she noted this, saying: “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”.

In this case, she complained: “You [Coyne] showed me a concept of beautiful tasteful imagery (by way of vid text messages). I trusted that. I was mistaken. Then you release an unedited, unapproved version within the next few days”.

Describing the production process, she went on: “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 you to at least get it out of your head … So, 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 you from jump that I believed your concept to be disturbing. But would give your edit a chance”.

She continued: “You then said you 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”.

She finished by saying: “On behalf of all the artists you 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”.

Presumably he didn’t like it, because Coyne’s response came: “Hey [Erykah] I kissed it!”, along with this picture.

The pair then set about retweeting seemingly endless comments (both positive and negative) from fans, Coyne jumping in twice to message Badu to say: “You hatin on me has gotten the video 100,000 more views [because the video has been unofficially reuploaded several times] … you said we gonna make a video that is controversial and gets everybody talkin! You the master! Love you”.

She came back: “Enjoy your fruits. You’ll surely need them later, brother. I’m just a man you met in the restroom”.

Coyne’s final comments in particular have fanned a theory that this whole dispute has actually been staged, though Badu continues to defend her comments against angry Flaming Lips fans (in fact, the have both continued to tweet and retweet hundreds of times over the last few days). And watching the video, you can see why it might go further than she was expecting and why she might not be entirely happy.

Watch the video (or not) here, courtesy of Perez Hilton: