On Kelly Rowland

Sorry Kelly, but this:

Also, this album is NOT limited, I am not allowing ANYONE to put me in a box, with sound. That’s not where I belong. The album IS consistent sonically and I am writing, creating, having fun, and healing………it’s been a BLAST!!!

doesn’t make me want to hear your album. Not if that “consistent sonic” palette is just your way of saying you’re going forward with Europop even though no one likes that idea and it doesn’t serve you well at all.

Kelly Rowland is not a big-voiced dance diva, no matter what David Guetta says. Kelly’s voice is capable of great force, it’s true, but belting really isn’t where her voice is most expressive*. In fact, on the wrong song (like much of what she’s releasing leading up to this third album) her voice gets very thin and grates.

She’s most beguiling, when she’s beguiling. Drop the needle at 0:55:

 

 

or when she’s undercutting even the maudlinest songs with an indelible mixture of conviction and restraint:

 

 

Or when she cold rocks the party:

 

 

But nothing we are hearing from Kelly right now comes even close to using her voice as beautifully as these songs, that make her stand out from the pack. Kelly Rowland is not a pop vocalist. But that doesn’t mean she is undeserving of a career or that she sucks.

I’ve said a bunch of times that she needs songwriters and producers that understand where her greatness lies – and her limitations. If she were smart, she’d hire Salaam Remi, Mike City, Raphael Saadiq, Just Blaze – producers who know enough about music that they aren’t selling the same song over and over and over to everyone who is signed to a major label just because it’ll be a hit. Producers who continue to surprise the public with music we haven’t heard before. Producers who will look at her with fresh eyes and not “she can stand out from Beyonce if we just…”

All of Kelly’s moves as a solo artist are corporate moves that reek of label tampering. The kind of positioning and gimmickry that concedes to the public that the label itself has no faith in the talent of the artist at all so will dupe you by selling you a sound that you have liked before, artist be damned. “Love Takes Over” didn’t become a global hit because it is a great song, it did so because it’s the kind of song that most of the world really likes. Kelly’s contribution to the song is inconsequential; put any vocalist on it and it likely still would have been a huge hit.

We need to know who Kelly Rowland is. But based on what I’ve been hearing for the last year, I don’t think we’re going to get it.

And that makes me sad.

 

*On the right song tho – where the force is utilized for an emotional purpose – she can nail it.

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