Lifetime unveiled the trailer for their upcoming Aaliyah biopic and it has fans of the late R&B star going nuts, but probably not for the reasons the network was hoping. It’s not even the cornball dialogue and stale storytelling that people have a problem with—this is a Lifetime movie about a pop star, so a scene where a record producer leans back in his chair and declares that “she’s gonna be huge” is to be expected. The issue that fans have with it is that the trailer’s soundtrack is Iggy Azalea’s “Goddess.”
The music director for Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B has a tough job. Aaliyah’s family has been vocal about their disapproval of the project, and without them on board Lifetime won’t be able to use any actual Aaliyah music in the film, leaving the makers to face the challenge of depicting the life of a musician without being able to even touch on the actual music they made. (The new André Benjamin-fronted Jimi Hendrix biopic Jimi: All Is by My Side got around the Hendrix family’s objection to the film by rerecording his covers of other musicians’ songs.)
Princess would probably be criticized for its non-Aaliyah soundtrack no matter who was on it, but their choice of Iggy Azalea is particularly galling. Not only are they scoring a movie about a massively influential and deeply respected artist with music by one whose popularity seems remarkably shallow, they’re making a movie about a black artist with music by a white artist who’s been accused of appropriating black culture—it’s like somebody making a Robert Johnson biopic and using Eric Clapton for the soundtrack. Considering the amount of criticism directed at the production for casting a light-skinned black woman in the starring role, they might have seen the controversy coming.
On the bright side, whoever’s in charge of costumes nailed Aaliyah’s signature midriff-shirt-with-boxer-brief-waistband look.