Originally published in
Touch
,
July 2005
Talking chat up lines, love songs and shopping sprees with the girls on top
Touch has been invited to one of London’s most fabulous hotels to meet Destiny’s Child. Well, two-thirds of Destiny’s Child to be precise. Beyoncé has made her excuses: she is filming a Pepsi advert with J-Lo and David Beckham, as you do. Kelly and Michelle have just landed and today, relaxing on a fluffy sofa, sipping sodas and checking emails, groomed yet casual, there’s an air of the old pro about them despite their tender years.
"The album is the story of love but it sure ain’t all peaches and cream" Michelle

Little wonder. Together they’ve sold 60 million records worldwide and bagged countless awards. Going solo in 2001, Michelle stormed the gospel charts with two albums ‘Hearts To Yours’ and ‘Do You Know’ and performed on Broadway in ‘Aida’. Kelly released ‘Simply Deep’ in 2002, sparked rumours of a Nelly romance after their duet ‘Dilemma’ and her first major film ‘The Seat Filler’ is in the can. And as for Beyoncé, she’s been a ‘Naughty Girl’ with her ‘Baby Boy’ and exceeded all expectations with ‘Dangerously In Love’. She found her acting feet in ‘Austin Powers: Goldmember’ and is now filming the prequel to ‘The Pink Panther’. They’ve been so busy, in fact, that rumours stirred they’d never get back together again. But these girls don’t break their promises. “We said we would come back in 2004 so we really had to buckle down and focus on this record,” says Kelly. “We only had three weeks to put it together and listened to over a 1,000 tracks. It wasn’t easy but it was important to find the right sound.”

The sound the Texan trio found for their fourth album ‘Destiny Fulfilled’ is the music of love. It steps out with the first thrill of meeting someone and moves onto the intoxications of falling in love, the pain of heartbreak, acceptance of loss and finales with the pot at the end of the relationship rainbow, true love. “I don’t know how to explain it, something happened as the album flowed together and the concept just came out. This is a love record, for real,” says Michelle. “It tells the story of love but it sure ain’t all peaches and cream.” From the early numbers such as the look-after-your-man ballad ‘Cater 2 U’ and sexy bedroom song ‘T-shirt’ to later offerings such as caught out there anthem ‘Is She The Reason’ and the defiant ‘Through With Love’, it’s a maelstrom of emotions. With Beyoncé betrothed to the Jigga and Kelly’s recent engagement to the Dallas Cowboy’s Roy Williams, is single Michelle responsible for the more sour notes? “I was at a point where I was ‘Through The Love’, but I know that it’s lurking in the air somewhere. I’m gonna let it find me.”

“It found me,” beams Kelly. “My story is so weird. I didn’t like him at first but there was just something about him that I found interesting. Before he came along I was at a different place mentally. I was through with love, but I think women deserve love and need to be loved right. This album talks about a lot of personal experiences.”

So what would be Destiny’s Child’s ideal man? “I don’t know if it’s really worth discussing because you never end up with that man that you painted in your head but I’ll go ahead and give it to you,” Michelle sighs. “I want him to be very nice looking, goal-oriented, have a lot going on for himself. He has to be well groomed and smell good. The inner part is most important but the outer part would be nice too.” Do the UK men stand a chance? “They’re cool… handsome guys with a lot of style.” Men with cheesy chat-up lines beware, however - Kelly has heard them all. “They don’t know what to say so they just babble about stupid stuff. It’s like, please baby just stop talking. One guy said he was going to do something and it didn’t happen and that’s how ‘Lose My Breath’ came about.”

The only non-gooey or tear-eyed song on ‘Destiny Fulfilled’, this Rodney Jerkins-produced number had ‘comeback’ written all over it and boy, didn’t it do the job. “We had two days left and Michelle and Beyoncé called me up all excited saying ‘Oh my God, we got the single’. It was the last song we made.” The track was so fast that Jay-Z commented it made you lose your breath and boom, they had a chorus and a hit on their hands. Alls was left was the obligatory killer video, which sees three versions of themselves having a dance off. The street trio face up to the fashion trio but both come off badly against the fur-clad fierce contenders. Sounds like an excuse to blag three outfits each to Touch. “I know!” Kelly giggles. “We probably won’t get to wear them ever again though, unfortunately. That’s the way it is. If you wear something twice you end up in the media under some headline that goes ‘She loves this outfit too much’.”

Not that Destiny’s Child need an excuse to indulge in retail therapy. In London for a week, they’re itching to get their claws into Sloane Street, Covent Garden and Top Shop. “We walk in there with real low hats, looking through clothes and chilling. Nobody really gets it until we’re checking out. The shopping here is wonderful. We always request our off days here so we get a chance to go around. It’s our second home.” Seems Destiny’s Child are more down-to-earth than you’d think. Although they confess a weakness for the super expensive Japanese restaurant Nobu, the lunch going quietly cold behind them in from Mr Jerks, the Caribbean café in Soho.

Looks good, just don’t tell Ronald McDonald. Stepping into the still warm shoes of Justin Timberlake, the group’s the new face of the fast food giant. “They wanted us to be global ambassadors for World Children’s Day, which is the main reason we decided to do it,” says Michelle. “We grew up with McDonalds. I’ve been eating Happy Meals since I was five so it’s cool to now be working with McDonalds. It’s a blessing and the commercial we filmed for them is really beautiful.”

McDonalds are also sponsoring their mammoth world tour next year and they’ll be needing a lot of burger fuel to beat the success of ‘Survivor’ but Destiny’s Child are not worried. “We like to focus on the sound, do shows and put out music that we love. It’s a great album and I think a lot of people can relate to it. Everybody who heard it at first were like ‘You girls are not little girls any more’.” We could have told you that, ladies.

THREE'S COMPANY

Destiny’s Child – all six of them – have had more line-ups than Jay-Z’s had retirement gigs. And despite the usual claims of ‘creative differences’, the exiting members didn’t go quietly…

1990 - La Tavia Roberson and Beyoncé meet aged 9 at an audition.

1992 – Beyoncé’s cousin Kelendria ‘Kelly’ Roland comes on board.

1993 – LeToya Luckett joins and the foursome hit Houston’s club scene.

1999 – Following the release of the group's prophetically titled second album, ‘The Writing's on the Wall’, La Tavia and LeToya attempt to split from manager Matthew Knowles, claiming he exerts too much control and unfairly favours his daughter and niece.

2000 – February – The pair are booted from the band and Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin appear in the video for ‘Say My Name’.

March - Roberson and Luckett sue the band and management for breach of partnership and fiduciary duties.

July – Franklin leaves. The official statement reads: “We're sorry that Farrah won't be with us for the long run, but we wish her the best in the future. It wasn't a management decision, it was a group decision. Destiny's Child is going to be fine.” In later interviews Franklin complains about her lack of control in the group.

2001 – Roberson and Luckett drop their lawsuit in exchange for a settlement that promises neither side will make ‘any public comment of a disparaging nature concerning one another’.

2002 – La Tavia and LeToya file another lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages for defamation and breach of contract. They claim ‘Survivor’ makes reference to them in the lyric: ‘You thought I wouldn't sell without you / Sold nine million.’ Destiny’s lawyer Tom Fulkerson dismisses the claims in the Houston Chronicle thus: "It's unfortunate that the plaintiffs have nothing better to do with their time than dream up new lawsuits to file. We made a settlement agreement that we knew put things to bed, yet here we are again." Kerpow.

IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR

When is your father not your father? When he’s your manager too. Matthew Knowles was a sales and marketing representative for Xerox and co-owned a hair salon in Houston before discovering his own daughter’s talents. He hooked her up with La Tavia Roberson and his niece Kelly in their pre-teens and chose their name from passage in the Book of Isaiah. He has since kept a steely grip on the group’s fortunes and helped them become one of the most successful girl groups of all time. Meanwhile, Tina Knowles is Beyoncé’s mum/stylist and is integral to her new fashion line House Of Dereon. It launches for Autumn/Winter 05 and takes its name from Beyoncé’s seamstress grandmother. As for Pappa Knowles, with 18-year-old sis’ Solange in the wings, his job has only just begun.

Journalism