Does Destiny’s Child ‘The Writing’s On the Wall’ Stand the Test of Time?
Fifteen years ago on July 27, 1999, Destiny’s Child released their sophomore album, ‘The Writing’s On the Wall.’ After making their entrance in the game with their 1998 self-titled debut, the group went about shaking the infamous sophomore jinx with an album that solidified them as the one to watch in the ever-changing landscape of R&B.
The album sold over eight million copies worldwide and produced four top 10 singles, including two No. 1 hits: ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’ and ‘Say My Name.’
The album’s release didn’t come without controversy. DC members Latavia Roberson and Letoya Luckett were unceremoniously replaced by two new members during the promotional run for the album.
Since ‘The Writing’s on the Wall’ is considered one of the most successful R&B albums of the past decade and a half, The Boombox decided to find out if Destiny’s Child’s second effort stands the test of time.
Following an ill-advised mafioso-inspired intro, the album opens up with the smooth, uptempo ‘So Good.’ Bravado lyrics like “This is for them haters that said we wouldn’t make it / Now, we’re doing platinum and now you can’t take it” detail the joys of their success and proving their doubters wrong, giving the track a triumphant feel. Definitely not too shabby of an album opener.
‘Bills, Bills, Bills’
The set’s lead single, ‘Bills, Bills, Bills,’ is one of the defining R&B songs from the late ’90s and with good reason. Responsible for the now well-known phrase “trifling, good for nothing, type of brother,” the track was a smash success, giving the group their first No. 1 hit on the Billboard charts and netting them two Grammy nominations. Although it may have rubbed a few of the fellas wrong, there’s no denying the song is as infectious today as it was when it dominated radio in 1999.
Missy Elliott makes an appearance on Destiny’s Child’s steamy ballad ‘Confessions.’ Detailing a few of their naughty affairs, this song hits as soon as it comes through your speakers and wins you over instantly.
‘Bug A Boo’
Nobody likes a bug a boo, especially Beyonce and company. And they made that clear with their second single, ‘Bug A Boo.’ Showing no love for thirsty dudes with harsh lines like “You make me wanna throw my pager out the window” and threats of blocked numbers are aplenty throughout this record. Serving as a tutorial in what youngsters now refer to as “the curve,” the track, as hurtful as it may be to scorned males, you can’t help but secretly hum along under your breath.
The lights get turned down low and the kids get put to bed as Destiny’s Child get their grown and sexy on with ‘Temptation.’ Full of lustful lyrics complimented by the soothing instrumentation, the ladies score another hit from the album.
‘Now That She’s Gone’
The tables turn and Destiny’s Child adopt the scorned lover role on ‘Now That She’s Gone.’ A song about a former flame trying to rekindle the flame on the rebound from a relationship, it’s far from a dud, but falls a bit short in comparison to the previous tracks on the album. A slight hiccup, but a hiccup nonetheless.
‘Where’d You Go’
‘Where’d You Go’ sees the R&B group venting about a companion turned distant lover. The track’s chorus and bridge is so-so and their desperate pleas border on generic in light of the diva shtick heard on ‘Bug A Boo.’ Definitely not their best work.
The ladies switch up the pace with their declaration to all women to dump their no-good men on ‘Hey Ladies.’ Lyrics like “Yeah, he did me wrong, but I love him so / I keep holding on, but he got to go, he got to go” say that the buck stops here and enough is enough. The train gets back on the track with this song.
‘If You Leave’
Beyonce and RL of Next battle it out vocally on ‘If You Leave.’ On the track, RL slightly steals the show, but Bey definitely holds her own. Great songwriting and harmonies equal a thumbs up here.
The ship stays on course with the bouncy club song ‘Jumpin’ Jumpin.’ Released as the final single from the album, Letoya Luckett and Latavia Roberson do not appear in the accompanying video and it’s also the last effort from the group to feature Farrah Franklin. The song was a hit on the Billboard charts, peaking at No. 3 on the Hot 100 and dominating radio, becoming one of the most played songs of 2000.
‘Say My Name’
Arguably the most widely known track in their catalog of hits, ‘Say My Name’ is nothing short of a classic. Though initially controversial due to the sudden change in members, who appeared in the video unexpectedly, the group didn’t miss a beat. The song garnered them two golden gramophones at the 2001 Grammy Awards. It was also the third single released from the album and their second No. 1 hit on the Billboard charts.
‘She Can’t Love You’
The love ballad ‘She Can’t Love You’ sees the group crooning about a former flame’s apparent downgrade of a replacement. “There’s no way her love is good as mine / There’s no reason for you to waste your time,” they sing. Great songwriting and beautiful guitar strings carry this track over the top and makes it a solid and enjoyable listen.
Beyonce and company yearn for more of their lovers’ quality time on the aptly titled ‘Stay.’ Singing ‘If I loved you a little bit longer / If our love was a little bit stronger / Would you stay…stay, I need you to stay, ” the group shows they’re capable of more than the standard fare with this cut.
The infectious guitar strings and dope songwriting appears on ‘Sweet Sixteen,’ an open letter to young women around the world. On the song, DC urge the ladies to “slow down” and be patient with love and life. “There’s so much more you can have,” sings the group.
‘Outro (Amazing Grace…Dedicated to Andretta Tillman)’
Beyonce, Kelly Rowland, Letoya and Latavia close out the album with a rendition of the timeless ‘Amazing Grace’ in memory of Andretta Tillman. No backing track, just heavenly voices. But that’s more than enough for a proper bookend to the album.