Britney’s R. Kelly Collab “Outrageous” Puts The Pop Star In A Precarious Position

Should Britney scrub “Outrageous” off the Internet?

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In light of the R. Kelly scandal, artists are forced to take a stand.

Following the airing of Surviving R. Kelly, Lifetime’s six-part series featuring interviews with women, including Kitti Jones, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, R&B singer Sparkle and Kelly’s ex-wife Andrea Kelly, who speak out against Kelly’s history of alleged sexual abuse and pedophilia, the music industry faces immense pressure to draw a line in the sand. To unite with the victims, musicians are removing their R. Kelly collaborations from streaming platforms like Apple Music and Spotify.

It began with Lady Gaga, who was criticized for not quickly speaking to out about the issue. She made up for that, writing a heart-felt message detailing her reasoning for collaborating with R. Kelly in 2013, and ultimately decided their work together should no longer be available. Their ARTPOP track, “Do What U Want,” was removed from streaming services. The version with Christina Aguilera is there instead.

That opened the flood gates. Celine Dion is reportedly in the process of removing her No. 1 R. Kelly hit, “I’m Your Angel,” off the Internet. Chance The Rapper removed “Somewhere in Paradise” after saying, “making a song with R. Kelly was a mistake.” Ciara is also reportedly removing “Promise,” and The Pussycat Dolls are pulling “Out Of This Club.”

This puts other artists in a predicament – if they decide to keep their R. Kelly collab on streaming services, are they sweeping R. Kelly’s deviant behavior under the rug? Or can they separate R. Kelly’s talent from his sick state of mind? Can one exist without the other?

Jumped over drama and I landed on my feet.

This got Britney fans talking. Britney’s 2003 In The Zone track, “Outrageous,” was written and produced by R. Kelly (he also provides background vocals on it). It has always had an ominous presence in Britney’s career. Brit’s former label, Jive Records, pushed for the track to be Brit’s lead and/or second single, but B-girl pushed for “Me Against The Music” and “Toxic” respectively. It’s hard to imagine what her career would have looked like had she initially released the explosive, R&B-tinged tune instead.



Moreover, once Britney did decide to officially release “Outrageous…” it’d change the course of her career forever. She tapped Snoop Dogg for a music video and began filming it in between dates of the Onyx Hotel Tour. After finishing scenes with Snoop in Queens, New York, the pop star switched up outfits and locations – to Manhattan – and during one of the dance breaks Britney severely injured her left knee. It was the catalyst to a major shift in her life. The video was axed, as was the tour, and gave Britney a much-needed break from the industry. Not long after, she married Kevin Federline, had kids, split up with Federline and the rest is history.

15 years later, we are still haunted by the track. It’s hard to listen to “Outrageous” without feeling R. Kelly’s sinister past looming over the hard-hitting beat as Britney explores her sex drive. There’s no doubt R. Kelly is a monster, but does an artist removing their collab with him change the past? Or is it now a handy PR tool? No one will fault Celine or Gaga for removing the song, but where’s the line? If musicians/actors started making their work unavailable based on peoples’ past, there wouldn’t be much left.

If Britney did decide to delete “Outrageous” off In The Zone, it would be understandable, but there’s no denying that the song is a banger and an integral part of Britney’s professional past. In this scenario, I’m not sure inaction is a symbol for being complicit towards R. Kelly’s behavior. Then again, I get not wanting to have an alleged sexual abuser/pedophile attached to your work and taking a stand for the victims. In Gaga’s case, she had an explicit track about a man doing what they please to a woman’s body. That’s problematic, so her decision to remove it made sense. But I can’t help but feel that artists who are deleting their R. Kelly collabs are following a trend. “Outrageous” isn’t exactly a shiny gem in Britney’s discography, but pretending like it never existed, especially considering it played an integral role in the dynamics of her life at the time, would just be… outrageous.

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