There’s something different about Michelle Williams. Maybe it’s her chic new shoulder-length coif or her bejeweled stilettos. Or maybe it’s the fact that she’s by herself at Sony Music’s Manhattan headquarters, not another Destiny’s diva in sight. Either way, she looks eager and ready to explain Unexpected, her latest studio album with a sound miles away from her past gospel efforts.
“It’s a dance-Euro-club-pop type of album,”Â she says with a playful shake of her head, as if unable to let her music be so easily defined. She believes that her true personality, somewhere between spiritually elevated and electrically sassy, will shine through her latest tracks, which were carefully orchestrated by a fresh roster of talented producers. The remix of her first single, “We Break the Dawn,”Â features Flo Rida, and the video, though leaving much to the imagination, definitely got fans envisioning Ms. Williams in a whole new light. Although, in her eyes, that’s definitely not a bad thing.
What’s your favorite track on Unexpected?
Today, my favorite track is “The Greatest.”Â It changes every day. Every week I hear something different and I’m like, “Oh, that’s kinda hot.”Â I love my whole album, but this week I’d say it’s “The Greatest.”Â It softens the heart. I think it could be a wedding song. It’s a powerful ballad.
Do you feel like Destiny’s Child is that Ivy League name that pushed your résumé? Or do you feel like you’d be in the same position without the group?
Of course, I wouldn’t trade my position for the world, but I still have to work hard. Even if you get success, you gotta work hard to maintain it. I think it’s even harder to maintain it. A lot of people are trying to break into the game. I won’t lie; I think it definitely did help.
What can you tell us about Beyoncé’s new album?
I haven’t been in the studio with her so I don’t know what’s exactly on the new album. We support each other, but I don’t know what’s what. A lot of stuff, I haven’t even heard yet. [Beyoncé and Kelly] have heard my whole album and they love it, so that’s great. When we’re in the same city, we swing by if somebody’s in the studio… We still hang out.
Is it harder to maintain relationships with Beyoncé and Kelly than with your other girlfriends since they’re celebrities?
No, it’s the same as my other girlfriends. You know what you have to do to maintain a relationship? You gotta communicate. Even if it’s through the BlackBerry like, “Hey, I’m just thinking about you.”Â
Jay-Z and Beyoncé have been very private about their marriage. If you were in the same situation, would you be as secretive about your wedding?
Just generally, I would. That’s just relationships that are sacred to you. That’s a private thing. Everybody is always wanting to know something. Being in the public eye, that’s the price you gotta pay, but sometimes you have to go through extreme measures to keep things between you and your significant other. But if you wanna Mariah and Nick Cannon it, that’s your business too.
Did Mariah and Nick’s surprise wedding shock you?
I mean I heard about it because I watch the news, but I don’t know when the last time was that I bought Us Weekly. I mean, that’s their thing. I don’t know what the fascination is. I can’t be focusing on other people’s business and relationships when I got so much to get off the ground.
The video for “We Break the Dawn”Â is not exactly racy, but you are dancing all over half-naked guys. How do you think your gospel fans will react to this?
I don’t think it’s racy. I think because of the cuts, it probably appears that way, but the stuff that I’m doing is what I’ve seen Fred Astaire do with Cyd Charisse back in the day…the partnering stuff. There was one part, it didn’t make the cut, but I actually get on somebody’s shoulders. I looked like a showgirl and I flipped back. They were basically passing me around from one guy to the next and I end up in this hot pose. But it was something like Ginger Rogers or one of those dance greats would do.
It’s not even you that makes the video a little risqué. It’s all those barely clothed model dudes around you…
See, that’s good, at least it’s them that’s half-naked and not me. Let them be naked! They’re always makin’ us get naked. [Watching the video] Now wait… He wasn’t supposed to have his shirt off. He just took it off.
So you don’t think you alienated any of your gospel fans?
No! Trust me, they’re probably like, “Ooh, look at his abs!”Â You know, my mother paged me this morning and said, “I saw the video and loved it.”Â That’s all that matters.