Dilemma (song)

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Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland - Dilemma CD cover.jpg
Single by Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland
from the album Nellyville and Simply Deep
B-side "Kings Highway"
Released June 25, 2002
Format CD single
Recorded 2001–02
  • 4:49 (album version)
  • 3:55 (radio edit)
Producer(s) The Nimrods
Nelly singles chronology
"Hot in Herre"
"Air Force Ones"
Kelly Rowland singles chronology

"Dilemma" is a song by American rapper Nelly, featuring American R&B singer Kelly Rowland. It was released on June 25, 2002 as the third single from the Nelly's second studio album Nellyville (2002), and the lead single from Rowland's debut solo album Simply Deep (2002). It was number one in ten countries, including the UK, the US and Australia, selling over 7.6 million copies worldwide.[1] The song depicts the declaration of forbidden love by a female lover in a committed relationship, and the predicament the male protagonist must face.

In the 55th Anniversary of the Hot 100 issue of Billboard magazine, the song was ranked at number 75 on the all-time Hot 100 songs[2] while at the end of 2009 was named the 11th most successful song from 2000 to 2009, on the Billboard Hot 100 Songs of the Decade.[3] The song won a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 45th Grammy Awards. "Dilemma" was accredited internationally with 16 certifications. The song is also featured in the film About Time.

The song is also known as an Internet meme in Hong Kong after it was parodied online.[4]

Background and release[edit]

St. Louis producer Bam handed Nelly a skeleton track which producer Ryan Bower produced, which samples and contains elements from Patti LaBelle's "Love, Need and Want You" from her 1983 album I'm In Love Again. Upon hearing the beat, he began writing lyrics and then wrote a song out from it. Nelly decided to make the song a last-minute addition to his second album Nellyville, which had already been completed prior to Bam giving him the track.[5] Once Nelly returned to the studio to record the track, his vision changed, wanting to add a female vocal onto it. He instantly thought of girl group Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland, whom he had met during the TRL tour in 2001. Nelly called Rowland by phone and agreed. After a few days of recording, during which Rowland rerecorded her part many times to achieve it "just right", "Dilemma" was completed.[5]

Once Nellyville was released in the United States on June 25, 2002, radio programmers started playing "Dilemma". By July 2002, the track had reached the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 based on airplay alone. This prompted Nelly to release it as the album's second single, although it was not the original plan.[6] The single was released on July 30, 2002. The decision affected the early plans for Destiny's Child members, whose members were held on hiatus to pursue solo album releases. As part of their strategy, each member's albums were to be staggered with member Beyoncé Knowles releasing in October 2002 and Rowland's album expected in early 2003.[6] Their management rescheduled the dates: Rowland eventually released her debut solo album, Simply Deep, on October 28, 2002, ahead of Knowles, which caused her to move and push back her album release to a June 2003 date. "Dilemma" was released as the first single from the album, which served as a propeller for her solo career.[5] "Dilemma" is Rowland's first international solo single away from the group: she had previously appeared on R&B singer Avant's single "Separated", which was released in the United States in July 2000.

Critical reception[edit]

"Dilemma" was generally well received by critics. AllMusic reviewer Jason Birchmeier noted it as one of "three well-calculated, standout" tracks in the album.[7] In her review for Simply Deep, Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian wrote: "Thanks to the ubiquitous Dilemma, a song that practically peeled off its clothes on the spot, Destiny's Child's Kelly Rowland is no longer a mere backing vocalist for Beyoncé Knowles."[8]

"Dilemma" was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards of 2003, winning the former.

Chart performance[edit]

It is the most successful song of Nelly's career, giving him his first number-one single in many countries, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Dilemma is the most successful single of Rowland's career also, alongside the worldwide dance hit "When Love Takes Over". It's not only Kelly's most successful solo single in the US, but also in the UK with 800,000 copies sold as of November 2011.[9][10]

The single became a hit in the fall of 2002 in the US. While "Hot In Herre" was peaking on the charts, radio stations already started to play "Dilemma" in July 2002. It quickly climbed up the US charts and replaced "Hot in Herre" at number one after seven weeks on the Hot 100, giving Nelly his second consecutive number one from Nellyville. The song had already reached number one on the Hot 100 before a video was ever shot as Nelly's record label did not expect the song to explode so fast and expected they could take their time with the video. While "Dilemma" exploded at Urban, Rhythmic and CHR/Pop radio it managed to crossover to Urban AC radio stations such as KJLH Los Angeles which added "Dilemma" in rotation on the week of July 8, 2002 following a positive response from younger listeners. The song was the 22nd best-selling single of the 2000 decade in UK.[11]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Dilemma" was filmed on Colonial Street from August 19–21, 2002. It premiered on MTV's Making the Video in September 2002. Colonial Street, which is part of Universal Studios backlot, is also the location that was used during filming of Desperate Housewives. Nelly can actually be seen sitting on the stairs of the Johnson home (which is Susan Mayer's house in the series), while Rowland arrives to, and sits at the stairs of, the Morrison home (Bree's house in the series). Delta House and Allison House (accordingly, on the show as Ida Greenberg's and the Solis family's houses) can be seen in the background during night shots of Rowland and Nelly dancing together. Then-Golden State Warriors' guard and St. Louis native Larry Hughes makes a cameo in the video as Rowland's boyfriend. Nelly's track "Nellyville" from the same album is played as the intro to the video during the first seconds. Patti LaBelle also plays a part in the music video, as Rowland's mother. At one point, there is a mistake made where Kelly texts Nelly with the Nokia EPOC Sheet spreadsheet application.[12] The video is featured as an enhanced video on the European Maxi-Single as well as on the 2007 Wal-Mart exclusive Kelly Rowland DVD BET Presents Kelly Rowland.

Remixes and sequel[edit]

The official remix is produced by Jermaine Dupri and features Kelly Rowland and Ali of the St. Lunatics. It is included in Nelly's remix album, Da Derrty Versions: The Reinvention.

On December 16, 2009, Nelly recorded a new track titled "Gone" with Rowland, which he dubbed "Dilemma Part 2" the sequel to the smash hit. The track is produced by Jim Jonsin and written by Rico Love and was included on Nelly's album 5.0 which was released in 2010.[13]

Track listings[edit]

These are the major formats for "Dilemma":[14]

US vinyl, 12", promo

  1. "Dilemma" (clean) – 4:49
  2. "Dilemma" (dirty) – 4:49
  3. "Dilemma" (instrumental) – 4:49
  4. "Air Force Ones" (clean) – 5:04
  5. "Air Force Ones" (dirty) – 5:04
  6. "Air Force Ones" (instrumental) – 5:04

UK promo CD

  1. "Dilemma" (radio edit) – 3:59

UK Maxi-CD

  1. "Dilemma" (album version) – 4:49
  2. "Dilemma" (Jason Nevins remix edit) – 4:30
  3. "Kings Highway" – 5:31
  4. "Dilemma" (video)

UK vinyl, 12"

  1. "Dilemma" (radio edit) – 3:59
  2. "Dilemma" (G4orce radio edit) – 3:30
  3. "Dilemma" (Jason Nevins club mix) – 6:21

UK Cassette single

  1. "Dilemma" (radio edit) – 3:59
  2. "Kings Highway" – 5:31
  3. "Dilemma" (Jason Nevins Remix Edit) 4:34

European single

  1. "Dilemma" (album version) – 4:49
  2. "Kings Highway" – 5:31

Europe Maxi-CD

  1. "Dilemma (album version) – 4:49
  2. "Dilemma (Jason Nevins remix edit) – 4:30
  3. "Kings Highway" – 5:31
  4. "Dilemma" (video)

Europe Maxi-CD #2

  1. "Dilemma" (radio edit) – 3:59
  2. "Dilemma" (DJ Desue remix) – 4:15
  3. "Dilemma" (Jason Nevins remix edit) – 4:30
  4. "Kings Highway" – 5:31
  5. "Dilemma" (video)

Official versions[edit]

  • "Dilemma" (album version / dirty / album version – explicit) – 4:49
  • "Dilemma" (clean album version / clean) – 4:49
  • "Dilemma" (radio edit) – 3:59
  • "Dilemma" (instrumental) – 4:49
  • "Dilemma" (DJ Desue remix) – 4:15
  • "Dilemma" (G4orce radio edit) – 3:30
  • "Dilemma" (Jason Nevins remix edit) – 4:30
  • "Dilemma" (Jason Nevins club mix) – 6:21


Chart succession[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
"Hot in Herre" by Nelly
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (first run)
August 17, 2002 – September 28, 2002 (7 weeks)
Succeeded by
"A Moment Like This" by Kelly Clarkson
U.S. Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs number-one single
August 24, 2002 – October 19, 2002 (9 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Luv U Better" by LL Cool J
Preceded by
"A Moment Like This" by Kelly Clarkson
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (second run)
October 19, 2002 – November 2, 2002 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Lose Yourself" by Eminem
Preceded by
"The Ketchup Song (Aserejé)" by Las Ketchup
Irish number-one single
October 19, 2002 – November 2, 2002 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Unbreakable" by Westlife
UK number-one single
October 20, 2002 – October 27, 2002 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Heaven" by DJ Sammy and Yanou
Australian number-one single
October 20, 2002 – November 10, 2002 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"The Ketchup Song (Aserejé)" by Las Ketchup
Dutch number-one single
November 2, 2002 – December 14, 2002 (7 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Feel" by Robbie Williams
German number-one single
November 8, 2002 – November 15, 2002 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Der Steuersong" by Die Gerd-Show
Swiss number-one single
November 10, 2002 – December 8, 2002 (5 weeks)
Succeeded by
"All the Things She Said" by t.A.T.u.


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[42] 3× Platinum 250,000
Austria[43] Gold 30,000
Belgium[44] Platinum 40,000
Denmark[45] Gold 7,500
France[46] Gold 250,000
Germany[47] Gold 150,000
Japan[48][49] Million (ringtones) 1,000,000
Gold (cellphone downloads) 100,000
Netherlands[50] Gold 40,000
New Zealand[51] Platinum 15,000
Norway[52] 2× Platinum 20,000
Switzerland[53] Platinum 40,000
United Kingdom[54] Platinum 811,000
World 7,600,000[1]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Papi Sánchez version[edit]

Single by Papi Sánchez
from the album Yeah Baby!
B-side "Dejame ser"
Released August 2004
Format CD single
Genre Merengue
Label Sony
  • Cornell Haynes, Jr.
  • Antoine Macon
  • Kenneth Gamble
  • Bunny Sigler
Papi Sánchez singles chronology
"Mano' Pa' Arriba

The song has been a merengue version of the song in Spanish done by Papi Sánchez, under the title "Dilema". This version was released in March 2005 as second single form his album Enamorame. It was a minor hit in comparison with the original version.

Track listings[edit]

CD single
  1. "Dilema"
  2. "Dejame ser"


Chart (2005) Peak
Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart[55] 16
Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart[56] 8
Dutch Singles Chart[57] 66
French Singles Chart[58] 20
US Billboard Latin Tropical Airplay[59] 35

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Kelly Rowland live in Napoli 2010". NapoliToday. 25 August 2010. Retrieved 11 February 2015. Triptico, Luca (29 July 2011). "Kelly Rowland annuncia l'uscita del singolo Lay It On Me, già record di visualizzazioni su Youtube". Io Amo La Musica Magazine. Retrieved 11 February 2015.  (in Italian)
  2. ^ Bronson, Fred (2 August 2012). "Hot 100 55th Anniversary: The All-Time Top 100 Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "Overall Popularity Top Charts". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  4. ^ "高登神曲「佢家下黃色衫」原唱者Nelly 涉藏毒被捕". Apple Daily. Apple Daily. Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c Moss, Corey (2003-02-20). "Road To The Grammys: The Making Of Nelly's 'Dilemma'". MTV. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  6. ^ a b Moss, Corey (2002-07-22). "Nelly Hit Forces Change In Plans For Destiny's Child LPs". MTV. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  7. ^ Birchmeier, Jason. "Nellyville: Nelly". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  8. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (2003-02-07). "Kelly Rowland: Simply Deep". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  9. ^ "Kelly Rowland's Official Top 10 coming to MTV". Unreality TV. 2011-12-02. Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  10. ^ "About Us - Our Partners". Theofficialcharts.com. Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  11. ^ Radio 1 Official Chart of the Decade, as broadcast on BBC Radio 1 on Tuesday 29 December 2009, presented by Nihal
  12. ^ http://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/blog/outdated-references-in-music-that-wont-make-sense-in-ten-years-time
  13. ^ "Video: Nelly & Kelly Rowland Record 'Dilemma' Sequel". Rap-Up.com. 2009-12-16. Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  14. ^ "Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland from Destiny's Child* - Dilemma at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Dilemma", in various singles charts Lescharts.com (Retrieved July 17, 2007)
  16. ^ a b c d Billboard allmusic.com (Retrieved July 17, 2008)
  17. ^ a b "Single top 100 over 2002" (PDF) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  18. ^ "Nelly singles, German Singles Chart" (in German). musicline. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  19. ^ "Archívum – Slágerlisták – MAHASZ" (in Hungarian). Rádiós Top 40 játszási lista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége.
  20. ^ Irish Singles Chart Irishcharts.ie (Retrieved July 17, 2008)
  21. ^ Polish Singles Chart [1] (Retrieved May 16, 2015)
  22. ^ Romanian peak at the Wayback Machine (archived February 16, 2005)
  23. ^ a b c "Dilemma", UK Singles Chart Chartstats.com (Retrieved July 17, 2008)
  24. ^ 2002 Australian Singles Chart aria.com (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  25. ^ 2002 Austrian Singles Chart Austriancharts.at (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  26. ^ 2002 Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart Ultratop.be (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  27. ^ 2002 Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart Ultratop.be (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  28. ^ 2002 French Singles Chart Disqueenfrance.com (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  29. ^ 2002 Irish Singles Chart Irma.ie (Retrieved December 11, 2008)
  30. ^ 2002 NZ Singles Chart Rianz.org.nz (Retrieved December 11, 2008)
  31. ^ 2002 Swiss Singles Chart Hitparade.ch (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  32. ^ "UK Year End Chart 2002" (PDF). BPI. Retrieved 26 May 2013. 
  33. ^ "Top 100 Songs of 2002 - Billboard Year End Charts". Bobborst. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  34. ^ 2003 Australian Singles Chart aria.com (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  35. ^ 2003 Austrian Singles Chart Austriancharts.at (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  36. ^ 2003 Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart Ultratop.be (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  37. ^ 2003 Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart Ultratop.be (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  38. ^ 2003 Swiss Singles Chart Hitparade.ch (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  39. ^ "RTL Fernsehprogramm von heute - aktuelles TV Programm". RTL.de. Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  40. ^ "The Billboard Hot 100 Singles & Tracks – Decade Year End Charts". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  41. ^ "Greatest of All Time Hot 100 Singles". Billboard. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  42. ^ Australian certifications [2] (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  43. ^ Austrian certifications ifpi.at (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  44. ^ Belgian certifications Ultratop.be (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  45. ^ "Single Top-20". Tracklisten (in Danish). IFPI Danmark & Nielsen Music Control. 2003-01-17. Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  46. ^ French certifications Disqueenfrance.com (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  47. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank ('Dilemma')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved July 31, 2008. 
  48. ^ レコード協会調べ 1月度有料音楽配信認定<略称:1月度認定> [Record Association report: January digital music download certifications (Abbreviation: January Certifications)]. RIAJ (in Japanese). February 20, 2008. Retrieved June 20, 2011. 
  49. ^ レコード協会調べ 5月度有料音楽配信認定<略称:5月度認定> [Record Association report: May digital music download certifications (Abbreviation: May Certifications)]. RIAJ (in Japanese). June 20, 2011. Retrieved June 20, 2011. 
  50. ^ Dutch certifications nvpi.nl (Retrieved December 9, 2008)
  51. ^ New Zealand certifications Rianz.org.nz (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  52. ^ Norwegian certifications Ifpi.no (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  53. ^ Swiss certifications Swisscharts.com (Retrieved July 31, 2008)
  54. ^ UK certifications Bpi.co.uk (Retrieved October 30, 2008)
  55. ^ "Papi Sanchez – "Dilemma", Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart" (in Dutch). Ultratop.be. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  56. ^ "Papi Sanchez – "Dilemma", Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart" (in French). Ultratop.be. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  57. ^ "Papi Sanchez – "Dilemma", Dutch Singles Chart" (in Dutch). Dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  58. ^ "Papi Sanchez – "Dilemma", French Singles Chart". Lescharts.com. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  59. ^ "Yeah Baby! – Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 30 June 2013.