Los Angeles – After a three-year hiatus, Destiny’s Child is picking up where it left off: at the top.
“Lose My Breath,” the first single from the R&B trio’s hotly anticipated album “Destiny Fulfilled,” quickly marched its way to No. 3 on The Billboard Hot 100.
Now industry observers are handicapping how the group’s sales destiny will be fulfilled following the release of its first album since 2001’s “Survivor.”
The Sony Urban Music/Columbia album debuted this week at No. 19 on the Billboard 200, based on only three days of sales in the week ended Nov. 14. It officially went on sale Nov. 15.
For Destiny’s Child members Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, however, the issue is not about sales. It is about the group singing together again.
During the three-year break, each member released a solo project. Knowles still remains on the pop and R&B charts with “Dangerously in Love” (2003), which has sold 3.7 million, copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and snared multiple Grammy Awards.
“Obviously, it would feel good to be No. 1,” Knowles says of the new album. “But we’re not thinking competitively. We did this record for ourselves, not to sell a million the first week out. That doesn’t mean as much to us as just the fact that three friends got back together to do another record. That was our destiny.”
“Destiny Fulfilled” finds the threesome making the transition into womanhood. With a decidedly more R&B stance, the album is a mature sequel to the act’s 1999 album, “The Writing’s on the Wall.”
Each song introduces a new chapter in that journey – from love’s exhilarating start (“Lose My Breath”) to its sometimes disappointing end (“Through With Love”). The second single “Soldier,” featuring rappers T.I. and Lil’ Wayne, was co-produced by Rich Harrison, whose credits include Knowles’ runaway hit “Crazy in Love.” Among the other writer/producers the group worked with are Rodney Jerkins, Sean Garrett, 9th Wonder, Rockwilder and Mario Winans.
The album’s lyrical content was drawn in part from conversations the three women had upon reuniting in the studio. Given prior commitments on their busy solo schedules, the trio had only three weeks together to record.
“For the first three days in the studio, we recorded our conversations,” Rowland recalls. “We were running our mouths, catching up. It was non-stop energy. And that helped us out on the album, conceptually and creatively.”
“We’re talking and singing about what we love and relate to,” Williams adds. “There’s no song on this album that we didn’t experience.”
Serving as executive producers with manager Mathew Knowles (Beyonce’s father), the trio also co-wrote all the songs. Beyonce Knowles is also credited as co-producer and vocal arranger.
“I wanted to make sure Kelly and Michelle were heard,” says Knowles, who alternates leads with both on the album. “I wanted people to hear how beautiful and strong their voices are, how much they’ve matured.”
“This album shows how they’ve all grown as women and businesspeople,” Mathew Knowles says. “They were involved in every aspect of this album, from picking the songs to mixing and mastering.”
In the wake of performances at the Radio Music Awards in October and the National Football League’s kickoff show on ABC in September, the act’s marketing blitz has shifted into full throttle.
Among the linchpins is the group’s global partnership with McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign. The partnership officially launched in November with Destiny’s Child serving as worldwide ambassadors and appearing in a special commercial on Nov. 20 for World Children’s Day. McDonald’s is also sponsoring next year’s Destiny Fulfilled and Lovin’ It tour, which ramps up in April 2005 and stops in 70 cities.
Destiny’s Child has already signed on as a July 2 headliner at the 2005 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans.
Wal-Mart is a major partner on the retail front. The chain’s stores are displaying signage in its music departments as well as other floor areas.
More high-visibility TV appearances include “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Good Morning America,” “20/20,” BET’s “106 & Park” and MTV’s “Total Request Live.” The press blitz includes articles in Teen People, Glamour, Cosmo Girl and Blender.
An ABC-TV special is also in the works for February.
The promotional blitz is international: “Destiny Fulfilled” was released Nov. 15 in most territories. Noting the group has “sold at least as many records outside the U.S. as it has inside,” Columbia Records Group president Will Botwin says the act – which recently returned from a London promotion – will make more promo trips to the United Kingdom and Europe “where the opportunity for growth is very apparent.”
So how apparent is another Destiny’s Child album?
“Who knows what will happen in three, five or 10 years?” Beyonce Knowles says. “The main thing is that we maintain our friendship and that we do it because we want to – not because it’s a good business move.”