As she promised, Lady Gaga’s collaboration with R. Kelly has been removed from streaming services. The song, “Do What U Want (With My Body), was removed approximately 18 hours after Gaga tweeted her apology for working with Kelly, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, as featured in last week’s Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly.”
Official videos for the 2013 song have been removed from YouTube as well, although the provocative American Music Awards performance that year, which nodded to Marilyn Monroe’s sexual relations with President John F. Kennedy (pictured above), remains; that clip is the property of ABC, which broadcast the show, and not Gaga’s label, Interscope Records.
“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 wrote. “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 songs and 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.” (See her full post here.)
“Do What U Want” entered the Top 20 on iTunes in the time between Gaga’s tweet and the song’s removal, although download sales have plummeted in the wake of streaming’s rise and a song can climb the chart swiftly; streaming data was not available at press time.
In Sept. 2015, Gaga released “‘Til It Happens to You,” the Oscar-nominated song to “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary about sexual assaults on college campuses. Relating the Kelly collaboration to her own experience, Gaga writes: “I think it’s clear how explicitly twisted my thinking was at the time. 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 else in my situation-to seek help, and speak openly and honestly as possible about what we’ve been through. 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.”
The series, which included interviews with #MeToo founder and civil rights activist Tarana Burke, musician John Legend and others, documents the decades of sexual abuse allegations against the R&B artist. It aired across three nights, starting on Thursday, Jan. 3, concluding on Saturday, Jan. 5.