For her latest album, Kelly Rowland wanted to record an I’m-so-over-you anthem — something ”witty and sarcastic” to match the whomp-whomp of the track’s beat. Naturally, she thought of Taylor Swift. ”We were talking about several songs, because I love the fact that a song can make you feel so empowered,” says Rowland, who was just tapped as a judge on The X Factor. ”Funny enough, I heard Taylor Swift’s ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.’ It was so cute!” What Rowland didn’t plan on was sampling Joni Mitchell’s ”Big Yellow Taxi,” but that made its way in too, as did a guest verse from Wiz Khalifa. The result is ”Gone,” which shares a name with her 2011 Nelly duet, but nothing else: It’s one part Joni, one part Taylor, and all Kelly.
Rowland says her favorite lyric gives a shout-out to Burger King — ”Your dinner’s waiting down the street/You can have it your way” — not because it’s sassy (it is) but because it’s relatable. ”I remember being in that exact same head space after getting over a breakup, and walking in and him thinking that I was going to make his dinner. I was like, ‘Oh no, you don’t get that anymore.”’
Mitchell’s famous refrain was a late add, after the verses and melodies were done and the team was stuck on the chorus. ”All of a sudden [co-writer Courtney Harrell] says, ‘Don’t it always seem to go,”’ Rowland says. ”And I was like, ‘Oooh! That’s it…. Oooh, that’s going to be expensive.”’
The climax, though, belongs to Rowland and Wiz, who recorded together in the studio. At the song’s end they trade barbs that make The War of the Roses seem tame. Despite their belligerent banter, Rowland says they intend to perform ”Gone” live. ”I just really fell in love with this guy,” she says.