An audible gasp could be heard across the internet last week when the Flaming Lips released the very NSFW video for "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," the band's collaboration with Erykah Badu. The video features a demurely naked Badu and, more strikingly, gratuitous shots of Badu's sister Nayrok covered in gold glitter, blood and semen. The video was removed from online almost immediately, with the Flaming Lips issuing this apology:
The video ... is unedited and unapproved. We, the Flaming Lips, accept full responsibility ... it has outraged and upset a segment of fans and we apologize if we offended any viewers.
More important than a handful of fans, the video also offended Erykah Badu who claims that Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne got her to agree to making the video using a red herring of a concept — one that was full of "beautiful, tasteful imagery" — only to change his mind once she arrived on set where he reportedly begged her to "to sit naked in a tub filled with various fluids."
Badu declined and her sister, who, according to Badu, "is much more liberal," was brought in to film the scenes instead. Allegedly, Coyne promised the video would be shot and edited in a way that left no doubt in the viewer's mind that the naked woman was indeed Nayrok Badu and not Erykah. This, however, did not end up being the case. In fact, in the wake of the video's release, several reputable entertainment news outlets reported that it was Erykah Badu naked and covered fluids and, upon seeing the video, with its closeup body shots and obscuring substances, it's hard to blame them.
Erykah Badu has taken to Twitter to air her very legitimate grievances against Coyne and the Flaming Lips, writing:
I told you from jump that I believed your concept to be disturbing, but would give your edit a chance ... U disrespected me by releasing pics and rough vid on the internet without my approval...That is equivalent to putting out a security camera's images of me changing in the fitting room. Our art is a reflection of who we are ... I have no connection to those images shot in their raw version.
As a human, I am disgusted with your what appears to be desperation and poor execution...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.
Badu then added:
You can kiss my glittery ass. O and Nayrok told me to tell you to kiss her ass too.
Initially, Coyne — who, it should be noted, is so brave in the rough cut of the video, standing there fully clothed and playing a piece of tin foil — was unapologetic, tweeting back an image of his glitter covered lips accompanied by the text "I kissed it!!!! Thanks!!!!!!"
Since then, in addition to dozens of retweets from fans supporting his video, Coyne has posted, "To all the haters who think Erykah Badu has lost her mind!!! She has NOT!!! The Flaming Lips take full responsibility."
Coyne continues to oscillate between repentant and smug, making it hard to believe the band's remorse no matter how much they claim to take responsibility. Sadly, the song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" is actually a beautiful collaboration between some very talented musicians. It's unfortunate — if Badu's claims are true — that Coyne felt the need to violate a woman and fellow artist's trust to inspire a sensationalism that wasn't even necessary.
Here is the video. Please remember that this is as NSFW as you can get.
Erykah Badu Tells Flaming Lips: 'Kiss My Glittery Ass' [MTV News]