Sales of Lady Gaga’s “Do What U Want,” featuring R. Kelly, surged 13,720 percent in the U.S. in the wake of her breaking her silence about working with the controversial singer on the track in 2013. On Jan. 10, the song sold 2,000 downloads, according to initial sales reports to Nielsen Music. That’s up from a negligible figure the previous day.
Kelly has been prominent in the news since Lifetime’s documentary Surviving R. Kelly aired Jan. 3-5. In the six-hour series, multiple women allege that they were subjected to mental, physical and sexual abuse by the singer. Kelly has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.
On Jan. 9, Gaga issued a statement via her social media accounts in which she called Kelly’s alleged misconduct “absolutely horrifying and indefensible,” that she would not be working with him again and that she was sorry for her “poor judgment when I was young and not speaking out sooner.”
The sales bump will be short-lived, though, as Gaga also promised to “remove the song off of iTunes and other streaming platforms.” That process began late in the day on Jan. 10. By 10 p.m. ET on Jan. 10, the Kelly collaboration had been pulled down from the U.S. iTunes Store — where the bulk of digital music is purchased in America.
Concurrently, the track had also been removed from Apple Music’s streaming service and became unplayable via Spotify.
An alternative version of the song, which features different lyrics and Christina Aguilera instead of R. Kelly, is still available to purchase and stream widely. The Aguilera version of the tune, released in December of 2013, also had a gain in sales on Jan. 10, rising from a negligible figure on Jan. 9 to nearly 1,000 downloads the following day.