It’s time for an experiment: Whisk yourself back to this week in 2002. The sun was shining (probably), Mark Blankenship was getting ready to start graduate school in a few weeks… it was a magical time.
And now remember what was on the radio. (Yes… in 2002, you listened to the actual radio.) What do you hear? Why, it’s “Dilemma” by Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland. 10 years ago this week, “Dilemma” jumped to the number one slot on Billboard’s Hot 100.
And now remember this: At this moment back in 2002, you probably thought Kelly Rowland was going to be as big a solo star as Beyonce. Or at least… it seemed possible. Just a year before, Destiny’s Child had finished working singles from their Survivor album, amid all those “scandalous” stories about changes in the group’s line-up. Everyone assumed the group was finished and that it was time for Kelly, Beyonce, and Michelle to blow up on their own. (Well, maybe not Michelle.)
In August 2002, Kelly was the first DC member with a big hit. Beyonce hadn’t even released “’03 Bonnie and Clyde” with Jay-Z, let alone dropped “Crazy in Love” on the world like a brassy funk bomb. So for Kelly to have a number one record? That was no small thing. Surely, there were more great moments to come.
And… that’s sort of true. Obviously, Beyonce has become the international superstar who can break Twitter when she reveals she’s pregnant. But while Kelly has never quite dominated the American charts, she has managed a few small hits. And over in Europe, she’s been an even bigger deal, turning into an electro-pop diva who’s always in the top five. In case you don’t know it, you should enjoy “When Love Takes Over,” her amazing collaboration with David Guetta.
There are rumors of a new Destiny’s Child album on the horizon—as soon as this fall, if you believe the hype—and if that happens, I’m sure it will be huge, mostly because it will mean new records with Beyonce’s voice on them. But let’s take a second to remember the summer when Kelly Rowland seemed as big as Blue Ivy’s mom.
Mark Blankenship tweets as @IAmBlankenship. He’s written about music for the NY Times and NPR.