In Volume III of one of our favorite imaginary activities of all time, we’re caging up Kelly Rowland and Charli XCX to see who emerges as the last female standing in heels. Kelendria’s a fitting pick, too, seeing her tag team partner, Beyonce, has emerged victorious over Jill Scott and Rihanna in Volumes I and II. The chips are pretty stacked against the rookie Charli XCX, but her debut record’s pretty on-trend. The two have back-to-back Philadelphia tour stops (Kelz is at the TLA Friday, and Charli’s at Union Transfer Saturday), and word on the street is that they’re planning to squash some beef with a knockdown, drag-out brawl around midnight right after Charli’s set. Let’s preview who’ll prevail via deserved, accumulated points.
Hoodness used here is meant to capture how nasty a diva will get. Sass is paramount in the grading of a pop singer’s divadom. Will she read you? Will she shame with a mere look when you disappoint her? Kelly’s got this one. She’s Atlanta-born, Houston-bred, and has been known to associate with some hood-ass dudes: Wiz Khalifa and Pusha T are on her June-expected Talk a Good Game; Lil Wayne and Big Sean are on 2011’s excellent Here I Am. Charli’s essentially just a quirky and fun-loving party girl with an edgy attitude. Doesn’t get you far on this one, little minx.
Kelly: 4 points, Charli: 0 points
Well, Charli’s vocal on the Icona Pop single “I Love It” certainly skyrocketed the hit into the stratosphere. And while True Romance has its moments of beautiful vocal barrages, it’s the production and the vibe that really pulls it into a strong cohesive statement. It’s fun, and fun tracks often don’t require range runs and throat acrobatics. Kelly’s proven herself to be a talented singer in her own way. Each of the Destiny’s Child girls have their own unique talent, but Kelly’s got a nice diversity to her pipes; she can do slow and sultry, confessional (she annihilates it on her brand new “Dirty Laundry”), dance-floor banger or bouncy pop hit. Without much else to go on, looks like Kelz is gonna grab this one, too.
Kelly: 3 points, Charli: 2 points
SALES & SINGLES
Not sure Charli’s got that much steam at this point. She went down hard in Round One but put up a fight in the last. She’s young! She’s inexperienced! She didn’t see this beating coming. Charli’s only 20, but her penned shared “I Love It” is 4x platinum in Australia and just regular ol’ platinum in the U.S. Not sure Kelly can say that about any one single, other than a Destiny’s Child number, that’s performed so well. But with four LPs and a hugely successful run with D-Child, Rowland’s beating the London Kitten to a pulp.
Kelly: 4 points, Charli: 1 point
Kelly’s solo albums have never done the kind of numbers that would establish her as an international star, but fans who know what’s what and are down with her honest R&B soul know the truth: Girl is fierce. “Commander?” That shit is club gold. But if Charli has anything going for her, it’s youth. Her solo album’s only just begun the journey she’s embarking on, and frankly, she’s got some of that M.I.A. culture-blending savvy that’s gonna take her far. But age has turned out to be Kelly’s strongest weapon. She’s stopped slamming Charli’s head against the mat as she straddles her shoulders, and the ref’s coming over to lift up Ms. Kelendria Rowland’s chiseled arm to end this one before it gets too ugly.
Kelly: 3 points, Charli: 4 points
GRAND TOTAL: Kelly wins with 14 points, Charli loses with 7 points.
PW's Music Issue 2014