Unexpected is Michelle Williams' third studio album that was released on October 7, 2008 by Columbia Records and Music World Entertainment.
- Unexpected (Intro) 0:45
- Hello Heartbreak 4:07
- We Break The Dawn 3:54
- Lucky Girl (Interlude) 1:02
- Lucky Girl 2:49
- The Greatest 3:32
- Till The End Of The World 3:10
- Private Party 3:36
- Hungover 3:31
- We Break The Dawn (Part 2) (featuring Flo Rida) 4:22
- Stop This Car 3:58
- Unexpected 3:37
- Thank U 3:47
- Too Young For Love 3:57
With the release of her two previous albums: "Heart To Yours" and "Do You Know," Michelle Williams established herself as a promising success in the gospel music industry. She also starred in the Broadway musical "Aida" in 2003 and in the 2007 touring production of "The Color Purple" (which earned her an award for "Lead Female Actress" at the 18th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards in 2008).
In addition to this, Williams made her TV debut in three episodes of the UPN network series, "Half & Half."
However, in 2005, during an interview with MTV about Destiny's Child "#1" album and their last single "Stand Up For Love", Beyonce Knowles said Williams was "working on her third solo album" which "may veer from gospel" to a more "mainstream R&B" sound.
In 2006, Williams confirmed her change of musical direction and sound, explaining: "I know my first two albums were gospel, but I'm going to do some soul music because I love R&B music, so I'm excited about that opportunity" at Clive Davis's annual pre-Grammy party.
She also expressed great interest in working with Anthony Hamilton, John Legend and Bonnie Raitt, stating that the album would "hopefully" "be out at the end of [the] year [or] early next year."
Production and developmentEdit
The "first sketch" of "Unexpected" is believed to have been made up of primarily contemporary R&B music, partially due to a previously-unreleased song titled "Stay for a Minute" (dated to 2006) that Williams released for free online via her Twitter in 2010 and statements made by herself and former-bandmate Beyoncé in 2005 and 2006.
However, Williams explained throughout many of the promotional interviews and television appearances for the album, that her mother "challenged" her "to record another album" (something that "people could dance to"), so she began recording songs that drew inspiration from dance and electronic music to form another album.
While explaining this story (shortly before performing) for Fox Light, Williams heralded the album as being "the best one out of two."
She discussed during interviews for FuseOnDemand and Fox News, that the album title came about after she was asked by her manager "to sum up" the "album with one word", at which point she replied "unexpected" and thus the album was titled.
With two chart-topping contemporary gospel albums to her name, Williams revealed the reason for the dramatic change in sound and genre for "Unexpected" in an interview with Clayton Perry of Blogcritics in which she cited her "heart" as her sole inspiration for the change she orchestrated – "not because people told [her] or people wanted [her] to" but because she "wanted to".
She also discussed that it was during the production of Unexpected that she was introduced to and began experimenting with different "sound effects" and elements of electronic music.
"Unexpected" peaked at #42 on the Billboard 200, #11 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and #42 on Billboard's Digital Albums chart with first week sales of 14,618 units.
As of April 2013, the album has sold 34,000 copies in the United States.
"Unexpected" received positive reviews.
At Metacritic, which assigns a rated mean out of 100 from mainstream critics, it received a score of 67, which indicates "generally favorable reviews."
In his review for About.com, Ben Norman wrote that: "With the release of Unexpected, Williams has welcomed R&B back into her arms with a modern edge, a la Rihanna and Chris Brown, infusing her soulful lyrics with party beats and dance-like synths [...] this album fits nicely into a lot of musical niches, making it a good addition to most collections. And you may be humming some of these tracks years down the line. Not my favorite of the year, but not too shabby either."
Mikael Wood of Billboard found that: "Williams and her handlers have clearly been listening to recent hits by Rihanna and Ciara. That said, Unexpected does boast a handful of shiny electro-R&B gems that make Williams' journey from church to club as enjoyable as it was inevitable."
Similarly, Blues & Soul reviewer Pete Lewis noted that "many of the album's synth-heavy uptempo cuts rely heavily on the kind of Euro-dance-inspired electronica utilised recently by fellow US urbanites like Timbaland and Justin Timberlake."
Entertainment Weekly editor Josette Compton wrote that Unexpected "pumps with technodriven tracks like "Hello Heartbreak" (which is reminiscent of Kylie Minogue) and made-for-radio cuts like the lead off single, "We Break the Dawn."
Although the album's effervescent club feel tapers off near the end, when the songs grow formulaic, the album's charm could still give Michelle Williams a shot at the charts."
Robin Carolan of Slant Magazine called the Unexpected a "fairly decent album and by far the least pretentious, unashamedly pop record to be made by a Destiny's Child member so far."
She noted that Williams had "stepped outside of the confines of the church and into the dark of the clubs, embracing au courant euro-pop sounds, and it's a move that works well for her."
Andy Cooper, writing for Cross Rhythms, felt that "though the production quality is undoubtedly extremely high, the lyrical focus will be a big disappointment to anyone looking for some gospel inspiration. The teen girl audience would appear to be the target once again, and much digital trickery has been brought into play to help Michelle sound (and look) younger. It's a great R&B pop record musically, but with songs such as "Lucky Girl" and "Hungover" it's unexpectedly shallow."
Vibe magazine declared Unexpected "natural, pleasant and brutally honest, opening the eyes of those who slept on Williams' skills."