By August Brown
Los Angeles Times
Beyonce’s single “XO” begins with a warning: Former NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt is sampled saying, “Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction.”
The snippet is taken from audio recordings of the 1986 Challenger shuttle disaster that killed all seven crew members, and now NASA families are objecting to its use in a pop song.
“We were disappointed to learn that an audio clip from the day we lost our heroic Challenger crew was used in the song ‘XO,’ ” June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger space shuttle commander Dick Scobee, told ABC.
“The moment included in this song is an emotionally difficult one for the Challenger families, colleagues and friends. We have always chosen to focus not on how our loved ones were lost, but rather on how they lived and how their legacy lives on today.”
Keith Cowing, a former NASA worker who operates the website NASA Watch, also criticized the sample, saying that “the choice is little different than taking Walter Cronkite’s words to viewers announcing the death of President Kennedy or 911 calls from the World Trade Center attack and using them for shock value in a pop tune.”
Beyonce responded with a statement to ABC defending her intentions as well as those of producers and songwriters Ryan Tedder and The-Dream.
“My heart goes out to the families of those lost in the Challenger disaster,” Beyonce said. “The song ‘XO’ was recorded with the sincerest intention to help heal those who have lost loved ones and to remind us that unexpected things happen, so love and appreciate every minute that you have with those who mean the most to you.
“The songwriters included the audio in tribute to the unselfish work of the Challenger crew with hope that they will never be forgotten.”