Should Have Been Bigger: Lady Gaga & Christina Aguilera’s “Do What U Want”
In this franchise, we look back on songs that deserved a little more love and attention.
Lady Gaga was coming off an incredible high with the release of ARTPOP in 2013. Arguably one of the world’s biggest pop stars, Mother Monster delivered a reverse Wharholian experience that transformed the pop landscape into a lush garden of experimental pop. One topic up for discussion over whirling synths and driving bass was the “Paparazzi” singer’s relationship with fame. The diva proclaimed that she lived for applause on the project’s lead single. However, she also addressed some of the darker notes of the addiction on follow-up single “Do What U Want.” A resolute production sets the scene for Gaga as she offers her body to her fans and critics but declares mental and creative autonomy.
“You can’t stop my voice ’cause you don’t own my life but do what you want with my body,” the hitmaker belts on the chorus. Originally a collaboration with R. Kelly, the track received new life when Gaga invited Christina Aguilera to join her for a performance on The Voice. The pair had a previously contentious relationship and exchanged a series of barbed remarks, but they put that aside to team up for a moment of female empowerment on stage. Dressed in shimmering gold, they powered through the performance and challenged one another to reach dizzying new heights with dramatic belts and frenzied vocal runs. It was a memorable moment, as two of pop’s leading ladies came together, and it promised big things.
Buoyed by the performance’s positive reception, Gaga and Xtina’s teams rallied together to release the track to radio. The collaboration between the powerhouse vocalists should have been massive and topped the charts for weeks. (It should have been the next “Lady Marmalade,” netting the pair endless awards and acclaim.) Unfortunately, it never picked up. Its convoluted status as a rerelease and the lack of a video or additional performances stalled things on the charts. The pair would have been better off hitting the studio to come out with an original cut. Hopefully they’ll do just that in the future. Until then revisit the iconic collaboration below.