Amid a growing number of sexual misconduct allegations made against R. Kelly, Lady Gaga apologized late Wednesday night for previously collaborating with the R&B singer on ARTPOP.
In the song’s chorus, the duo sang, “You can’t have my heart and (Help me now) / You won’t use my mind / But do what you want with my body / Do what you want with my body (With your body) / You can’t stop my voice, ’cause / You don’t own my life (You) / But do what you want with my body / (What I want, when I want, when I want) / Do what you want with my body.”
“Do What U Want” was the second single off her 2013 album, peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was instantly controversial, and yet, she performed the number with Kelly when she hosted Saturday Night Live and during the American Music Awards. For years, Gaga publicly ignored the controversy surrounding Kelly’s involvement, though she replaced him with Christina Aguilera on the remixed version of the song in January 2014. The music video with Kelly, directed by provocative photographer Terry Richardson (who himself has faced his own allegations of sexual misconduct) was filmed but never released. But in the summer of 2014, TMZ posted leaked footage from the set depicting sexually suggestive scenes. Initially, Gaga told fans the video’s release had been delayed because she was only given a week to plan and execute it. “It is very devastating for someone like me. I devote every moment of my life to creating fantasies for you,” she wrote on her site. “All my most successful videos were planned over a period of time when I was rested and my creativity was honored.”
Sharing the same note via her Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts Wednesday, Gaga made herself crystal clear: “I stand by anyone who has ever been the victim of sexual assault.”
“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. 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 song 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. The song is called ‘Do What U Want (With My Body).’ I think it’s clear how explicitly twisted my thinking was at the time,” the 32-year-old singer-songwriter wrote. “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 in my situation—to seek help, and speak as openly and honestly as possible about what we’ve been through.”
Gaga, who revealed on The Howard Stern Show in 2014 that she had been raped as a teenager, promised to do what she can to make things right. “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. I have demonstrated my stance on this issue and others many times throughout my career. I share this not to make excuses for myself, but to explain. ‘Til it happens to you, you don’t know how it feels,” the Grammy winner said. “But I do know how I feel now.”
To further distance herself from Kelly, Gaga promised her followers, “I intend to remove the song off iTunes and other streaming platforms and will not be working with him again. I’m sorry, both for my poor judgment when I was young, and for not speaking out sooner. I love you.”
Gaga’s message came after the airing of Lifetime’s six-part docu-series Surviving R. Kelly, which chronicled years of abuse and pedophilia claims against the 52-year-old “Bump n’ Grind” singer.
Kelly, through his legal team, has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.