Should Have Been Bigger: Kelly Rowland’s Club-Conquering “Commander”

Mike Wass | March 12, 2020 5:42 pm
Flashback: Alexis Jordan's 'Happiness'
We look back on Alexis Jordan's sorely underrated 2010 single, 'Happiness.'

In this franchise, we look back on songs that deserved a little more love and attention.

After teaming up with David Guetta on the mega-successful “When Love Takes Over,” Kelly Rowland was the newly crowned Queen of Clubs in 2010. It seemed like the Destiny’s Child diva had finally found her lane and was determined to dive deeper into house on third album, Here I Am. Reuniting with the French DJ was a no-brainer given his domination of EDM and together they cooked up “Commander.” And from the moment it leaked online (this was back in the day when music blogs posted MP3s), the banger was touted as a future smash.

The appeal was obvious. Here was Ms. Kelly preaching female empowerment over gargantuan club beats. “I feel like the DJ is my bodyguard, you see the way he keeps me safe,” she begins the song. “With the treble and that bass, I feel free enough to party hard.” The BPMs just keep ramping up until we reach the explosive chorus. “From here on out, I’ll be your commander,” the “Dilemma” hitmaker belts. “No fear, no doubt — I’ll provide the answer.” From the powerful lyrics to the soaring vocal and slick production, all elements came together perfectly.

Which makes the song’s underwhelming chart performance doubly perplexing. It was released at a time when songs ran out of steam before their official release due to file-sharing sites and overeager fans, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. “Commander” was a little too clubby for radio and the video was widely mocked. Kelly got the message and returned to her signature R&B sound, eventually landing a well-deserved hit with “Motivation.” She has all but ignored dance music ever since, which is a shame because “Commander” still goes hard.

Revisit one of the most underrated bops of the 2010s below.

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