In Defense of Michelle Williams
Earlier, we reported about the new single from Kelly Rowland’s upcoming album Talk a Good Game. The song, “You’ve Changed,” with an “I moved on” type of message, is also a reunion between the former Destiny’s Child members. Naturally, when these three sing together folks start discussing who was better. This has been going on since they were a group; and now that each of these women has solo careers in their own right, it’s not surprising that the comparisons continue, especially in light of the Super Bowl performance and Keyshia Cole’s subsequent reaction.
Personally, I loved the song. It sounded like old school DC and as someone who swore by their music back in the day, I wasn’t disappointed at all. But I wanted to see what our readers had to say about it, so I peeked into the post to gauge the reaction. That’s when I found this comment:
Michelle is always so off. Whether its off sounding in a song, off looking in a performance. We all know Keysh was right but it’s not what you say its how you say it.
I have to respectfully disagree. No one is going to argue that Michelle sounds like the other Destiny’s Child members, past or present. She doesn’t. But just because her voice has a different tone to it, doesn’t mean she can’t sing or is “off.” So no, Keyshia Cole is still wrong. Sorry.
Michelle has a gospel voice. And when you put a gospel voice on a pop/R&B track, some people aren’t going to get it. That’s fine. It’s the same reason some people loathe Fantasia’s vocals when that girl, in my opinion, can really sang. But you know different strokes for different folks.
If you don’t believe Michelle has a gospel voice or that she can’t sing, please take a look at this clip of Destiny’s Child performing “Through With Love,” in which she clearly out sang both Kelly and Beyoncé.
So why was Michelle able to deliver so effectively on this song? Because she was singing about God. 90 percent of a good performance has to do with delivery. There’s a difference between hitting each note with precision, singing with soul and singing with conviction, or as the church folks say, “the anointing.” In the video above, Kelly hit the notes, Beyoncé brought the soul and Michelle took us to church. I literally get chills listening to her vocal on that song.
At the end of the day though, Michelle really doesn’t need me or anyone else to defend her talent. She’s received and continues to receive more career success than many of us ever will. People love to bring up the fact that Michelle was once a background singer, as if that somehow diminishes her gift. But in all actuality there are several, several legendary artists, like Luther Vandross, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, who all sang background before becoming, often times, more popular than the artists they stood behind. The fact that Michelle was able to become more commercially successful than Monica, who she once backed, is a testament to her talent and tenacity in this competitive and fickle industry.