Add this one to the Texas-Oklahoma rivalry: Erykah Badu is not happy with the Flaming Lips.
The two artists recently collaborated on a cover of the Ewan MacColl folk song (turned Roberta Flack classic) “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” and last weekend in Dallas, Lips frontman Wayne Coyne shot footage for an accompanying music video, starring both Badu and her younger sister Naryok.
@waynecoyne it looks beautiful. Nayrok ( lil sis) looks amazing . U are a Tru visionary .. My fav is the glitter .
— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) May 30, 2012
Then, last Friday, a NSFW rough cut got posted by Pitchfork, and Badu took exception. She may have earned a Bum Steer from TEXAS MONTHLY for her naked “Window Seat” video shoot on Dealey Plaza, but the Lips clip is far more graphic and transgressive, with glitter, nudity (mostly by Naryok), fake blood, and other implied bodily fluids.
The clip was quickly pulled, though if you want to see what all the fuss is about, it still lingers in various corners of the internet (it appears that savvy uploaders renamed it “Western Esotericism” to make it harder for the Lips and Badu’s labels to police it).
As recently as Monday, Badu seemed more perplexed than angry.
Re flaming lips video . SMODHShakes my own damn head …
— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) June 3, 2012
Official Flaming Lips Vid discussion. How does it make u feel? Astetically, What does it make u fear?Anger?Joy?Freedom?Disgust? Discuss.
— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) June 4, 2012
Yesterday, the Flaming Lips issued a statement (that can be seen on Badu’s Facebook page) saying that the clip was:
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.”
Lips frontman Wayne Coyne also tweeted a three-part explanation, which Badu responded to at 3:33 p.m. with a missive of her own using Twitlonger, which allows you to write tweets that are more than 140 characters.
In this case, 3917 more characters, mostly of Badu unloading:
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)….
She went on to explain that what Coyne released was nothing like the concept he originally presented to her, including his assertion that the finished product would be different once the green-screen visual effects were added (the rough clip does not yet have them—you can see the plain green backdrop around the performers in most shots).
“That is equivalent to putting out a security camera’s images of me changing in the fitting room,” Badu wrote.
Coyne and the Lips are known for releasing whatever whenever and documenting every move, so it’s possible he intended to keep that promise, without realizing that showing off a rough cut broke it. The two artists clearly have a different way of working, as Badu also wrote that she was unhappy with her “rough” vocals on the song, implying that Coyne wouldn’t let her try to do a cleaner take.
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.
Before concluding the missive with:
And if you don’t like it you can KiSS MY Glittery ASS.
Badu also spoke to Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Morning News, who actually found her more conciliatory than she was in the long tweet.
“I am not angry about it,” she said. “The reason I put [the message] out on Twitter was he put his [expletive] out on Twitter.”
Coyne, who was apparently on a plane to England when Badu’s response was posted, eventually fired back with a self-portrait of his glitter-covered mouth (this tells us, for one thing, that even when he’s on a plane, Wayne Coyne has glitter):
— Wayne Coyne (@waynecoyne) June 6, 2012
The two went back and forth a while longer after that, with Coyne attempting the last word by thanking Badu for the extra hype:
@waynecoyne again, you’re welcomed. You Enjoy it. People need to see the greed up close. AAAAnd you DO NOT have the ass of 26 year old.
— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) June 7, 2012
No doubt both artists (or at least Coyne) would like this post to finish with: The Flaming Lips’ new album, The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends, featuring their collaboration with Badu on “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” comes out June 26.