November 16, 2004.
On November 16, 2004, Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams reunited once more as Destiny’s Child for their final album, Destiny Fulfilled. However, to fully understand the magnitude of this moment, one must travel back and truly relive this unprecedented moment in music history.
The Anticipation Was Real.
It was the one year anniversary of Beyoncé’s debut solo album, Dangerously In Love, when Destiny’s Child announced that their return was imminent, sending fans into a frenzy on June 24, kicking off the summer of 2004. In September 2004, they would debut their comeback single and perform it on Pepsi’s “Play For a Billion” television show.
All summer, fans waited with bated breath for the trio’s return. Unlike other superstar groups, Destiny’s Child had done what none had done before. They kept their promise. In 2001, they announced plans to go solo and record their own, individual albums following their World Tour’s conclusion in 2002. During the group’s hiatus, Michelle released two albums, Heart to Yours (2002) and Do You Know (2004), while Beyoncé and Kelly (2002’s Simply Deep) each released one. They remained supportive of each other’s solo efforts over the course of their 2 year hiatus, and with their sisterhood intact, moved forward with their promise: a comeback.
Their Return Was Televised.
The group made a surprise appearance together at the 2004 Fashion Rocks concert at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. That same night, they snatched the collective breath of their fans by unleashing their comeback single, “Lose My Breath.” Following the concert, their team distributed copies of the single to fans as they left the show.
At midnight of September 9, 2004, AOL Music officially premiered the single and it was immediately pumped to radio stations. Met with rave reviews, the song was a fierce and fitting comeback for the powerhouse trio. With the release of the single came the announcement of the album’s title and release date: Destiny Fulfilled would be released a little over two months later, on November 16, 2004.
From this point on, the promotion for their comeback was in full swing. The ladies were everywhere promoting “Lose My Breath.” The same day of its release, they appeared on the NFL Kickoff show to celebrate their comeback and debut the song via a live performance. Complete with a dramatic introduction and fierce choreography, Destiny’s Child made it known that they were back, with a vengeance. Just two days later, they continued to promote the song with the performance promised in June – on Pepsi’s “Play For a Billion.” The hype paid off, as “Lose My Breath” made its at #30 on the Hot 100 based on radio play alone – one of the highest debuts in the chart’s history for a song with no commercial single available.
DC3, x 3.
In a move that is almost unheard of in today’s music climate, the music video for “Lose My Breath” was released about a month and a half following the song’s release, in late October. One of their best, it quickly became popular for its high-energy choreography and interesting concept. There were 3 incarnations of Destiny’s Child in the video: a sophisticated DC3, a street DC3 and a seeming amalgamation of both: a fierce, couture DC3. They competed with each other in a dance battle and the fierce, couture DC3 prevails perhaps introducing us to their new image (and, House of Deréon). Needless to say, its live performances and video helped the song’s popularity grow, and it eventually peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In the few weeks prior to the album’s release, once “Lose My Breath” had peaked, Destiny’s Child dropped the album’s second single, “Soldier,” featuring Lil’ Wayne and T.I. (before they both became superstars in their own right). “Soldier,” although more hip-hop orientated than “Lose My Breath,” fit right in with radio at the time and also became an instant smash. Eventually, the song also peaked at #3 on the Hot 100. At this point, the ladies seemed unstoppable.
Numbers Don’t Lie
However, the album’s release week was met with a challenge. Some retailers received the album early and sold copies of it (61,000 in fact) during the weekend prior to its newly bumped November 15th release date (their label, Columbia, moved it up one day to avoid piracy). Due to this error, the album prematurely debuted at #19 with 61,000 copies sold. The following week, the album jumped up to #2, selling an additional 497,000 copies. No doubt, this impressive total proved just how hotly anticipated the Destiny’s Child’s comeback album was.
3 Voices, 3 Pens.
The album was a return to R&B for the group. Not since their debut album had they made an album so purely R&B. Aside from its first two singles, “Lose My Breath” and “Soldier,” there were no obvious single choices. The album was by no means a commercial one, nevertheless, it was a deeply personal, quality album. The songs were inspired by their life experiences after spending hours talking, rather than recording, in the studio when they began the recording process for the album. With the exception of Kelly’s solo song, “Bad Habit,” all the songs were cowritten by the trio. Beyoncé acted as vocal producer for every group song, as well. Most significant, though, was that for the first time all three ladies had a lead verse on every song on the album (aside from “Bad Habit,” of course).
Production on the album was done by a team of talented producers, some of whom had worked with the ladies on both solo and group projects before, giving each of them a chance to bring their own, newly developed solo sounds to the group. Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, producer of 1999’s “Say My Name,” was behind the boards for the album’s first single “Lose My Breath” and its final single “Cater 2 U.”
Rockwilder, who produced the remix to the group’s smash hit “Bootylicious,” provided the tracks for “If” and “Free.” Rich Harrison, producer of Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love” and Kelly’s “Can’t Nobody” served the track for “Soldier.” Beyoncé also brought frequent Dangerously In Love collaborator Scott Storch (“Me Myself and I,” “Baby Boy” and “Naughty Girl”) to the group via “2 Step” and (solo song) “My Man,” bonus tracks for Walmart. Friend to Beyoncé and Kelly, Bryan Michael Cox produced Kelly’s “Bad Habit” alongside Beyoncé’s sister Solange Knowles. Meanwhile, Michelle brought her brother, Erron Williams, in to produce “Love,” as well as two other prior collaborators: Mario Winans, on “Through With Love” and PAJAM on Japanese bonus track “Why You Actin'”. Finally, producers like Dre. & Vidal (“T-Shirt”) and 9th Wonder (“Girl,” “Is She the Reason” and “Game Over”) were new to “the wonderful world of Destiny’s Child” (as Da Brat said on the “Survivor” remix).
The Dirty Laundry
However, perhaps one of the most notable things about Destiny Fulfilled is the fact that it tells a story – a story about a woman dealing with the ups and downs of a relationship. Beyoncé in particular harped on this fact in a number of interviews, noting how “the woman” begins fiercely with “Lose My Breath,” searching for her “Soldier” and then finding and “Cater[ing] 2” him. However, things get rocky midway through the album and eventually “she” finds love again with the help of God, and her sisters.
Nine years later, “she” was revealed to be Kelly. With the release of 2013’s “Dirty Laundry,” it became quite clear that she was the main inspiration behind Destiny Fulfilled’s story (though, Michelle has admitted that songs like “Free” and “Through With Love” were inspired by her almost-marriage prior to the album’s creation). Songs like “Girl” and Kelly’s solo track “Bad Habit” were not just a coincidence. They were taken from a very personal place. Unbeknownst to fans then, the songs were Beyoncé and Michelle’s way of supporting their sister through a hard time. It makes the Sex and the City themed “Girl” video with Kelly at the center of the storyline make all the more sense.
Destiny’s Child’s bond has remained strong in the years since the release of their final album. In 2013, they had several reunions: a new song (“Nuclear”), an appearance during Beyoncé’s Super Bowl set, a collaboration on Kelly’s album (“You Changed”) and in a video on Beyoncé’s visual album (“Superpower”). In 2014, they reunited on Michelle’s song and video for “Say Yes”. Most recently, the trio reunited for Beyoncé’s 2018 Coachella set, along with countless other moments through the years. They continuously support each other in their personal and professional endeavors.
When Destiny Fulfilled was released in 2004, Beyoncé and Kelly were 23, and Michelle was 25. Grown women, for sure, but still just at the beginning of their lives and careers. They would go on to achieve and experience so much more. Looking back in retrospect, it’s astounding to see how they much they have grown as artists and women – but also, how much they have remained true to themselves. Though so much has changed, their heart and soul live in perpetuity within these songs. Most of all, their sisterhood is still intact and, likely, stronger than it was in 2004.
It’s hard to believe, but Destiny’s Child has now been inactive longer than they were active (eight years, from 1997 to 2005). Yet, in the decade plus since they disbanded, their sisterhood and their star has grown stronger.
Destiny Fulfilled exists as a monument of their sisterhood; an iconic legacy untarnished. If they never reunite again, their status remains unquestioned. However, if (speaking it into existence: when) they do, it will surely be unlike anything the music world has experienced before. Until then… Destiny Fulfilled.