She wants to be back.
Will Ford wants to be back.
The blonde bombshell was one of the last pop girls of the early 2000’s to make a name for herself. Her 2001 hit “I Wanna Be Bad” peaked at No. 22 on the Hot 100 and solidified her title as mainstream’s rowdiest naughty girl (Xtina snatched that crown a year later with “Dirrty,” but still). Then, radio silence. Literally. Ford had trouble keeping afloat as her fellow pop peers launched to superstardom. She attributes 9/11 as to one reason why things went south. “A lot of people don’t realize this, but my second single was released on September 11, 2001,” Ford tells Billboard in a new interview. “Everything that happened that day froze; the world stood still, as it should have. My second single didn’t do well because anything that launched that day kind of got canned.” Her sophomore album never saw the light of day.
Well, it’s 2017, and Willa wants back in. And she’ll need the gays. Billboard mentions her fanbase is largely LGBTQ. “I know! I’m so grateful,” she said. “So many of them are my loving gays — they’re my ride or dies. I’ve had so many guys be like, “Listen, I figured out I was gay because I realized from your music videos I didn’t want to screw you — I wanted to be you.” I have thought about coming back, and I know who my community was and who would embrace me. When I look at Kylie Minogue, she did [her comeback] really right. She did Loco-Motion, she went away for 20 years — which is almost how long I’ve gone away — and then she comes back with this amazing dance-pop record. For me it was groundbreaking in the states. I really do miss music. It’s my first passion, my first love.”
Billboard labels Willa “an icon for the LGBTQ community,” which is news to me, but Willa has thoughts on this. “Part of it was image-based,” she said.
“People really didn’t think that we all liked each other, but I really did like all the girls. Britney Spears was really the first pop girl to launch, so you can’t touch that: Britney is iconic. Then you had Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore. Everyone was doing this squeaky clean image, and I was 21 coming out on a record like, ‘This is not me.’ I was on a record label with people like Kid Rock and Jason Flom, who in the business is amazing. He was the president of our record company. He got it that I was 21 and didn’t want to be a goody two shoes. He let me come out guns blazing and finding myself to be honest. I think what the community felt from that was an authenticity of ‘I’m trying to figure out who I am,’ and it’s okay to say, at the time it sounds cheesy, but ‘I wanna be bad.’ It was okay at that time — we no longer had to keep the shutters on. We could come out and be like ‘I want to go out one night, be this person and I don’t want anyone to tell me who I am.’ I think that struck a chord with the [LGBTQ] community that maybe some music hadn’t yet. I think there was a message in that music. When ‘I Wanna Be Bad’ came out, people were more PC, and it was just a more honest song.”
Willa isn’t quite sure when she’ll make a comeback, but has plans to remain independent (label-less). “When it’s time, I’ll reach out to the right producers,” she said. “I think I want to create the record on my own without a record company.”