UNIONDALE, New York — Kelly Rowland needed a moment. MTV News had spent a few weeks trying to catch up with the cocoa beauty, and we finally scored some time to chat with her when she hit Nassau Coliseum last week for the New York leg of Chris Brown's F.A.M.E. Tour. But first, Kelly Ro needed to catch up with her public.
After an energetic opening set that included hits from her Destiny's Child days and the honey-dipped hooks she dropped on rap staples like Nelly's "Dilemma," Rowland emerged backstage in a black sequined bodysuit topped with a sheer bolero, positively glowing. A gaggle of label execs and a smattering of VIP fans crammed Rowland's arena dressing room to celebrate what had clearly been a triumphant night, but it was hard not to feel they were also toasting an impressive year.
In April, "Motivation" — an early single that preceded her third solo album, Here I Am — hit radio and started its slow seduction of the Billboard charts, from the Hot 100 (peak #17) to the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (#1), Digital Songs (#25) and even Ringtones (#3) rankings. The steamy platinum track was atypical fare for Kelly and something of a gamble for a gifted performer who had yet to match her girl-group glory with Stateside solo success. Of course, the risk paid off.
" 'Motivation,' wow," Kelly said. Back on her tour bus after freshening up, the singer reflected as she relaxed on a cozy leather couch. "It's a blessing above anything, and it's just so crazy how something so unexpected — because everything is so tempo-driven on the radio, and I remember being slightly nervous about that, but then I just got over it real quick because I just [had] such great confidence in the record."
With an assist from Young Money general Lil Wayne, the Rico Love/ Jim Jonsin-produced tune let good girl Kelly show off her sensual side — and that silky alto. (In the companion clip, Kells writhes around with some oiled-up dancers, clad in an indigo one-piece that's more cut-out than cloth.) Fans were soon buzzing about the lyrics, which find the songstress giving her man a titillating, um, pep talk. "Whoa, lover, don't you dare slow down/ Go longer, you can last more rounds/ Push harder, you're almost there now," she sings, adding, "And when we're done, I don't wanna feel my ... legs."
"I think that there was a side of all women and all people, period; a sensual side, and it just needed to come out this summer," Kelly said about the song's heavy rotation. "And I think 'Motivation' kinda helped motivate that — a lot," she laughed.
With the infectious, uptempo "Lay It on Me" (featuring Big Sean) already lined up as the follow-up single, K.Ro said she was still blushing over the impact of her million-selling smash. "Somebody came up to me just last week and said, 'How many babies do you think were made off of 'Motivation'?' I was like, 'Oh my God, I didn't even think about it like that!' "
But don't let the Houston belle fool you: She's fully embraced what she described as the song's themes of "sexual freedom" and "confidence." In fact, while "Motivation" was burning up the charts this summer, Kelly was heating up Vibe magazine's August/September "Juice" issue, among others, tossing her top for a Janet Jackson-esque cover look.
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