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United States | Kelly Rowland cannot escape questions about texting Nelly via Excel

All celebrities likely have questions they get tired of answering.

Par panorama papers
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By David Newman

For Kelly Rowland, you might think hers would be about Destiny’s Child or Beyoncé. But no, the inquiry that haunts Rowland the most is about the song “Dilemma,” or more specifically, the music video. The Nelly track to which she contributed an iconic chorus is more than 20 years old, but every few years, “Here come the millennials,” as she once put it, making memes and causing a fuss over the fact that Rowland tried to text Nelly via a spreadsheet.

“Do you know how much flack I get from that?” She says in a new appearance on Mythical Kitchen’s Last Meal series. The singer is “used to” everyone bringing it up all the time, but she wishes someone would have brought it up back in 2002: “I’m actually mad at them that they didn’t because they made me look nuts.”

By our research, Nelly—who was the primary artist on the track, which was featured on his album Nellyville—seems to have only had to answer for the “Dilemma” text one time, on the Australian radio show The Project (via Seventeen) in 2016. “You know, that was the thing at the time!” he said. (Presumably referring to texting, and not spreadsheets.) “That was the new technology at the time! It looks a little dated now, yeah. I can see it.”

Despite it being his song, Nelly, as the textee, seems to have gotten off much easier than Rowland, the texter, who has to answer for it frequently. “OK, I can’t explain this picture. I was given this phone—we probably got some extra perks for having this phone in the video, y’all know how that works by now,” she explained to Buzzfeed in 2016. “And basically, I don’t know why they had this. I don’t know why that screen is like this. I’m sorry I can’t give you a really good answer. Yeah, I have no idea.”

By 2018, Rowland seemed to have less patience for the worn-out joke. “Oh my god, I hate that meme! I hate that meme. Let me guess, let me guess, let me guess, why does Kelly use—Script? Point?” Upon being corrected by Bustle, she exclaimed, “Excel! Let me tell you something. I remember when they gave me—what was it, a two-way pager? Flip phone? Skytel? When they gave me that, no one was thinking, in 2018, ‘17, ‘16, that someone was gonna bring that up. Here come the millennials. They’re like, “Oh my god, what is she doing with that?’”

“Guys, I didn’t know. Please forgive me, if I’d known better, I wouldn’t have done it. I would’ve just started typing. But we thought that you guys weren’t going to catch it, but you’re so smart,” she went on, adding, that “it pops up all the time, and it’s always on my timeline, and I’m like, ‘Guys, guys,’ Exclamation point, exclamation point, exclamation point. ‘I didn’t know.’”

By the time we get to 2019, Rowland was obviously over the “Dilemma” dilemma. “I don’t know what Microsoft Excel is,” she said on The Real (via Mashable). “So when I saw all these memes I was like, I don’t care.”

A consummate professional, Rowland was of course gracious when it got brought up again in 2024 on Mythical Kitchen. And it will probably get brought up again for pretty much forever, so there’s really not much to do but grin and bear it. At least the video is iconic, right? But if you’re reading this, and you’re ever in a position to ask Kelly Rowland about her career, please consider leaving “Dilemma” out of it, for her sake!

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