Update, 6/28: Today, the remaining members of TLC explained the reasoning for not including Lopes on the "Waterfalls" remix. Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas explains: "Our re-make of "Waterfalls" was a tribute to our sister Lisa, who actually co-wrote "Waterfalls" with Marqueze Etheridge. We don't own the master recording rights to Lisa's raps on any of our music, and our requests to gain the rights so far have been denied. With the Japanese anniversary edition, we were forced to use creative ways to honor Lisa's memory and celebrate this milestone with our fans."
Chilli also went on to explain that the person filling in on the new version of "Waterfalls," Namie Amuro, was friends with Left Eye.
Sorry, TLC! All is forgiven!
Original post: As we all know, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes was the greatest thing about TLC always. She was the fire. She was the spunk. She was the girl who accidentally burned her boyfriend's mansion down because she was slightly irritated and tried to set fire to his sneakers in a bath. When Left Eye died in a car crash at 30, in 2002, it bummed us all out. Hard. Girl had great spirit, huge talent and a personality that eclipsed everyone around her. So when we hear that TLC has released a remix of "Waterfalls" where Lisa Lopes' vocal is replaced by a Japanese pop star, we can't feel anything other than pissed.
Left Eye's family is reportedly perturbed by the news, but says they can live with it if the remix is a Japan-only release (which, apparently, it will be). However, we say that using a Japanese star to fill the shoes of your dead bandmate for a new remix, just so that you can sell more copy in that country, is in extraordinarily poor taste. We're not doubting the love that TLC's T-Boz and Chilli felt for their lost friend and writing partner -- we just have to wonder if they've lost sight of what's important with this release.
TLC has performed a few times since Left Eye passed, and it has always felt like a sweet tribute. There was always something poignant about seeing the duo perform songs that should, of course, have been performed by all three of them together. It served to always remind us of the hugeness of Lopes' loss.
At 2009's Justin Timberlake and Friends concert in Las Vegas, there was a gaping hole on the stage when TLC performed, but it felt like an exercise in loving nostalgia. Same thing when Chilli and T-Boz hit the American Idol stage for the series' 2011 finale. They performed that time with the singing competition's finalists, so the glaring absence of Left Eye wasn't so enormous. If she was alive, we thought, she'd have been there too -- so it was kind of nice in a way.
We'd be less inclined to criticize TLC about this new single with Namie Amuro had they just found themselves a new third member to work on new material with -- it has always been strange to see the band as a duo, afterall, and we understand the urge to keep performing. But the last thing Chilli and T-Boz should be doing is taking old material and scrubbing Left Eye's mark out of it, like it had never happened in the first place. That old material is all we, the fans, have left of Left Eye, so when she's removed from it, it feels like a slap in the face.
Chilli and T-Boz just guested in a Namie Amuro video named "Hands On Me." We're not sure if this is a cute crossover that will last five minutes, or if they're prepping to get Amuro in TLC full time. If they are, we're not opposed to that. And we're not opposed to them guesting on Amuro tracks. Left Eye is gone. Nothing can bring her back. So, if the band moves forward as a new trio, we understand. But messing with the back catalog and messing with Lisa Lopes' musical legacy is unacceptable and in bad taste, no matter what angle we look at it from.
We wish the best of luck to TLC in the future. We can only hope they leave Left Eye's previous work untouched from now on -- because that's the least she deserves.