why a destiny's child reunion would be beyoncé's smartest move
About to Lose My Breath over this.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.
The world’s media is currently gripped with rumours that Destiny’s Child could reunite for a world tour in 2020. It’s an auspicious year, marking two decades since Michelle Williams and short-term member Farrah Franklin joined the band, ultimately becoming the DC3 we all know and love after the latter was infamously handed her luggage and marching orders just a few months into her stint in the group.
If it comes off, it wouldn’t be the band's first reunion, of course. The ladies of Destiny’s Child have treated us to a few spectacular reformations in recent years. In 2013 they released the Love Songs collection, a compilation album consisting mostly of romantic R’n’B deep cuts, as well as “Nuclear”, an original song that proved that the girls could still make vocal magic and respond to contemporary music trends, despite mixed reviews and a lukewarm reception. That was swiftly eclipsed a month later when Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams sprung out of the floor to join Beyoncé at the Mercedez Benz Superdome in New Orleans to stomp through “Bootylicious”, “Independent Women” and “Single Ladies” for a Superbowl half-time performance that quite literally blew out the electric with its sheer power, and reaffirmed their position as the number one girl group, as far as live performances are concerned.
More recently, in 2018, Beyoncé gave the performance of her life in a two-hour, horn-drenched blast through her back catalogue at Coachella. The reunion that came towards the end of this set felt most special because, in a show that read as Beyoncé writing her legacy in real time, Destiny’s Child was a hallowed part of the story.
But what makes recent reunion whispers different is that we’re looking at a full-blown Destiny's Child reunion tour, rather than a cameo in the middle of a Beyonce set. And it really does feel like a prime time for DC3 to return in earnest. Not only would it give a generation of fans what they want, it could also be Beyoncé’s smartest career move to date. Now, obviously the only way you really know that Beyoncé is up to something is when it’s actually happening, but the prospect is just too exciting, and logical, to ignore.
Many of Destiny’s Child’s contemporaries have got back together with success in recent years; the Spice Girls, for example, reportedly earned $78 million with their 2019 get together. It’s a tried and tested music industry move that everyone from Fleetwood Mac to the Backstreet Boys has dabbled in. But what all these reunions have in common is the fact that each act’s star power has, over time, dimmed. They might be selling out stadium shows, but they haven’t had a hit in years.
"No longer constrained by the creative and managerial grip of Matthew Knowles, the thought of witnessing their discography infused with Beyoncé’s highly-developed creative instincts is tantalising to say the least."
That state of affairs is not something that Beyoncé has experienced. The group’s central member has gone on to claim global dominance and become a singular pop force with an arguably unrivalled following. So for Destiny’s Child, whose legacy is intertwined with Beyoncé’s, there’s been no real incentive for a real reunion. That however, is something the girls could play that to their advantage. A move typically defined by necessity as much as nostalgia, coming back together when there’s no urgent need would turn the formula on its head, offering the shock twist that we’ve come to expect from Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.
Beyonce is the best -- so much so that she’s now even a Disney princess (yes, Nala counts). Her reach is intergenerational and cross-cultural. It’s a blessed but challenging position to be in; it’s one thing to maintain a cult following of people who always loved you and always will, but when you are the bar, and the world is eagerly awaiting your next move, how do you go higher? That’s a question that her joint album with hubby Jay Z, EVERYTHING IS LOVE, and the recent Lion King: The Gift haven’t quite answered. Both are competent bodies of work, but neither has enjoyed the instant widespread cultural impact of 2013’s Self-Titled and 2016’s Lemonade.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. Beyoncé chooses who she makes music for, fully aware that those choices may affect mainstream appeal. But considering Beyoncé’s ultimate ambition is to be a global legend alongside Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Barbra Streisand and Diana Ross, her relationship with those on the fringes of fandom must be nurtured too. A Destiny’s Child reunion tour would be the perfect next move to remind them why they still need to pay attention, warming up the masses for her next album to land with a huge splash. It would also be the curveball concert needed to steer off any potential audience fatigue that may be growing among casual fans after three years of near-omnipresence.
Aside from the strategic reasons for Destiny’s Child to come back together, as far as Beyoncé is concerned, it needs to work on an artistic level too. Getting a second chance to tell Destiny’s Child’s story could be the creative impetus they need.
Destiny’s Child achieved worldwide access, numerous awards and critical acclaim during their moment in the sun. Active in an era before streaming, with 60 million records sold they are one of history’s most successful girl groups. It’s an incredible story, but one that’s peppered with conflict and pain. Whether it’s original members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson suing Kelly, Beyoncé and her father/group manager Matthew Knowles for breach of contract, defamation, libel and fraud; Kelly and Michelle’s mental health struggles; or racist fashion brands refusing to dress a group of four young black women, there are stories that deserve revisiting, conflicts to resolve, and much-needed context that, if retold with 20 years of hindsight and wisdom, would make the band’s legacy all the more compelling and relevant.
Then there’s the possibility of the Destiny’s Child back-catalogue being revisited with fresh creative. No longer constrained by the creative and managerial grip of Matthew Knowles, the thought of witnessing their discography infused with Beyoncé’s highly-developed creative instincts -- as well as their combined life experiences, solo hits and collaborators -- is tantalising to say the least.
What’s certain is that for a 2020 Destiny’s Child reunion to be a success, it needs to be nothing like what anyone could expect. We’re talking re-imagined visuals, new arrangements, candour and creativity. We’ve had Destiny Fulfilled. Now it’s time for Destiny Reimagined. The girls are capable, Homecoming is a testament to that. And between the Beyhive, Destiny’s Child’s historic fandom and the lingering love for the band among contemporary music’s biggest influencers, there’s no doubt that there will be demand. All that’s left to ask is, where do we get our goddamn tickets?
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.