See, while the Queen Bey may have more star wattage in her pinky than Farrah Franklin has in her entire exposed form, the musical output of the larger Destiny’s Child universe isn’t limited to Beyonce’s solo efforts. Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams may not have had the same levels of crossover success as Bey, but both forged impressive paths as solo artists — Rowland by simultaneously straddling the worlds of pummeling Eurodance and appealingly sleazy R&B, and Williams with a largely ignored pair of gospel-inspired records and a superb dance-pop album in 2008. Meanwhile, original bandmate LeToya Luckett won real attention for a pair of solid R&B records, and nobody has any idea what LaTavia Roberson up to, because her Wikipedia is the saddest thing in the entire world and that is an empirical fact.
Most Destiny’s Child fans know all of this, of course — even if nobody’s dared challenge Bey’s place on the throne, Kelly, Michelle, and LeToya, at least, have had enough success that they aren’t punchlines. (Except Michelle.) Still, they’ve all had songs that should have been hits, and for whatever reason — bad timing, a lack of buzz or just the fact that Mathew Knowles exists — they just didn’t take off. As we prepare for Beyonce’s inevitably life-demolishing performance at the Super Bowl, let’s travel back in time and look at a few of her contemporaries’ hits that never were.
Man, Kelly Rowland has had a weird career trajectory, hasn’t she? Sometimes she’s a dance diva smashing Europe with David Guetta-produced house anthems while here in America, she’s had a string of grimy R&B radio hits. But her purest pop single was “Rose Colored Glasses” back in 2010, an Ester Dean-penned, Dr. Luke-produced song about a destructive relationship. Even with that pedigree, “Glasses” only reached the dizzying heights of #25 on the Slovakian pop chart. (Not kidding.) Worse still, it was excluded altogether from the U.S. release of her next album, Here I Am, which sucks: Shimmering and slight with a hook that belies its dark subject matter, “Rose Colored Glasses” deserved more.
Poor Michelle! We really can’t say that enough. Even when gifted with a song as gloriously euphoric as 2008′s “We Break the Dawn” (penned by Solange Knowles), she can’t catch a break: The song, a shimmering disco-pop number with a thoroughly YOLO chorus elevated by her gorgeously husky vocals, managed to make an impact on the US dance charts but was largely ignored by mainstream radio (except in Hungary — #38, y’all!). Chalk it up to bad timing: The track arrived at the tail end of the urban pop boom, right before dance music transformed the pop landscape. Also, nothing good ever happens to Michelle Williams. There’s that, too.
Ah, LeToya — unceremoniously booted from the group all those years ago. But she didn’t let it keep her down! No, the chanteuse signed to Capitol Records and released an R&B album in 2006, then another in 2009. That sophomore effort, Lady Love, was a mixed bag, but the lead single “Not Anymore” — a hooky, Ne-Yo-penned midtempo with just enough twinkly piano to make it heartbreaking — was pretty stellar. Better still, though, was “She Ain’t Got,” as surefire a pop hit as any from the larger Destiny’s Child-verse: Ruthless, rallying and thrillingly mean-spirited, with thundering everything-but-the-kitchen-sink production and a singalong chorus. Also, LeToya threatens to “put [her] foot down on homegirl’s neck.” There’s nothing else you need to know.