As her former DC bandmates went on to find success (Michelle, in her own gospel niche, and Beyoncé, well, just about everywhere) it’s been a longer, slower road for Rowland. Despite singles like “Dilemma” (with Nelly) and “When Love Takes Over” (with David Guetta) both hitting number one, her first two solo albums (Simply Deep and Ms. Kelly) had moderate commercial success when compared to her peers. Four years and numerous delays later, Rowland seems to be enjoying her most high-profile moment to date (apart from her DC days), thanks to a Lil Wayne-assisted single “Motivation”—currently sitting atop the Billboard Hip-Hop/R&B chart—and a new job with Britain’s X Factor. And for those keeping track, “Motivation” is No. 25 on the Hot 100, while Beyoncé’s “Run The World (Girls)” is currently at a very modest No. 55. Not that we’re trying to pit these female pop stars and former group members against one another (girl power!) but it is interesting to note the varied careers of Kelly and B, as well as what each of their upcoming albums may bring.
Beyoncé’s 4 leaked earlier this week, sparking mixed reviews from fan bases. (We’ve heard it; it’s good, not great. To summarize: lots of ballads, few dance tracks.) Not officially released until June 28, it’s been rumored Columbia Records wants to push the album back entirely, in fear of disappointing sales. Conversely “Motivation” has been well received by critics, and a new remix featuring Busta Rhymes, Fabolous and Trey Songz seems likely to give the song staying power. Here I Am has been much delayed, but boasts assistance from the likes of Dr. Luke and RedOne, making us very eager to hear it in full. Aside from B’s album and Lady Gaga’s already released Born This Way, there’s little competition from fellow female artists this summer (Joss Stone’s LP1 is also out July 26—mark your calendars accordingly) making it even more timely for Rowland to emerge as a bona fide star.
Yes, it seems crazy to imagine a world where Kelly Rowland is a star and B is floundering, but let’s face it: for every three of four songs you hate on 4, go and replay “Halo,” “Crazy In Love” or “If I Were A Boy.” (Breathe easy, y’all. Actual flop or not, B isn’t going anywhere.) If Kelly keeps bringing us songs like “Motivation” and “Commander,” along with savvy and likeable public appearances, there’s no reason she shouldn’t enjoy a few weeks at the top. At least before the Kelly Clarkson disc arrives in September.
Is summer 2011 shaping up to be Kelly Rowland’s big moment? As huge fans of “Like This,” we certainly hope so.