Twenty years ago, Destiny’s Child released their second studio album, The Writing’s on the Wall. It would go on to be certified 8x platinum, launch four hit singles, and garner multiple Grammy nominations. Instead of focusing on that success most people remember the revolving DC lineup at the time. Originally it was Beyonce, Kelly, LaTavia, and LeToya. Then LaTavia and LeToya were dropped. Michelle and Farrah were added. But Farrah got kicked out pretty quickly. So, by mid-2000 the group was a trio. That’s a lot of change for the Children. But the one constant was an impressive R&B album that deserves more attention than the controversy going on at the time. So, let’s celebrate TWOTW and rank its 14 songs.
14. Sweet Sixteen
This isn’t so sweet at all. SS deals with a young girl looking for the love that she was never given growing up. She meets a bad guy, gets pregnant, and ends up alone and sad. It’s a cautionary tale for other teenagers not to move so fast. A very well-intentioned, but oh so boring tale. The lyrics are clunky and the melody itself is fairly stale. And in the end, it’s an after-school special set to music. But I’ll give it a few points for sampling Diana Ross’ “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To).
13. Hey Ladies
Hey Ladies (and gentlemen) could this song be more basic? So, this woman’s boyfriend is doing her wrong. He’s lying and running around on her with a Tenderoni. He’s got to go…got to go. This dumb song needs to go as well. It’s supposed to be an anthem for women to get rid of their crappy men, but it doesn’t stir up much energy. I’ve heard better rallying songs. Some, from Destiny’s Child!
12. Confessions (featuring Missy Elliott)
These are some lame confessions. In a couple of verses, she tells her man about the things she did behind his back. Cheating, taking his credit card to buy some clothes, blah, blah. Nothing really scandalous. What’s surprising is how tired this song is. You’d think a DC/Missy Elliott collaboration would be on fire. Not so much as it turns out.
11. Now That She’s Gone
Kelly’s ex has come crawling back after getting dumped by his current chick. He treated his now-ex much better, so he has a lot of nerve trying to step to Kelly again. It’s a pretty dick move. This one is just ok. Not horrible, nor great. My biggest question is why is the song over 5 minutes? The story could have been expressed much more succinctly.
A nice ballad. The vocals are beautiful. But it’s fairly tame. The melody is quite dated, sounding like something from the 80’s or early 90’s. And the writing is weak. She’s begging her man not to leave her, promising to grant all of his wishes if he doesn’t walk out. Really? That’s too desperate. Just let him go, girl.
9. If You Leave (featuring Next)
Matching up DC with fellow R&B group Next was a good decision. Their voices blend well together on this track about two people contemplating leaving their current partners for each other. The song itself is kinda repetitive and it ends with a lot of wailing from both groups. But it’s not so bad for the most part.
8. She Can’t Love You
It’s hard to name a more sultry and shady song. Beyonce sees her ex’s new girlfriend and basically comes to the conclusion that this chick sucks. She could never compete with B. But, really, who could follow that first act? This new girl was doomed from the start. I like Beyonce’s husky vocals on the verses. Even better is the sample of Bola Sete’s “Bettina”. The Brazilian guitarist’s original track adds so much flavor.
7. So Good
This is a kiss off to all the haters who thought DC would fail. They want them to know that they’re doing so, so, so good. It sounds like a precursor to DC’s “Survivor”. Same concept of boasting about how they’re doing much better than those people who doubted them. There’s even a similar presenting of their album sales receipts. It’s not so, so, so, good, but it’s alright.
6. Bug A Boo
This Bug A Boo is doing way too much. Calling non-stop, following Beyonce everywhere, emailing her like whodunit. It’s pretty serious if she wants to break her lease so she can move. On the flip side, who knew a song about a stalker could be so fun? This is a bombastic track that anyone can dance (or stalk) along too. Also, there are so many great outdated references. MCI, pagers, AOL! Very 1999.
5. Where’d You Go
Oh, baby where’d you go? Beyonce’s man has dipped out on her (seriously) and she’s dying for him to come back. It’s driving her crazy. Again, girl, let him go. But in the meantime, you have this smooth track to comfort you. I love all the layered vocals here. Whoa, whoa, whoa…
Basically, DC is tempted to forget about their man and run off with another. His body is calling them. This could have been a single from the album. It’s playful and sexy. Also, “Oops, I forgot I got a man” is the best random lyric on this album
3. Jumpin’, Jumpin’
This was the last single released from the album, but far from the weakest. I love how the song revs up an explodes sonically. I challenge you not to bounce around with them. And the quick vocal delivery really takes you there. While making it nearly impossible to sing-a-long accurately.
2. Bills, Bills, Bills
This is a close runner-up for the top spot. Clever writing and a wicked beat. It’s the best She’kspere production on the album. Everyone assumes it was about a woman demanding that a man take care of her financially. But really, she’s asking him to be on par with her. He’s been taking her money, car, etc. She doesn’t want a scrub…. that’s another She’kspere song.
1. Say My Name
One of the best songs of 1999. Period. And definitely the best on the album. There was a time in 1999/2000 when you couldn’t escape it. On the radio, in a club, or on TRL. And I didn’t mind. Once you heard that opening chorus and those chords, you were hooked. There’s the relatable sing-song lyrics, a masterful production from Rodney Jerkins (Darkchild 99!), and beautiful vocals from all the ladies. It deserved to be a number #1 hit and a lasting legacy for this amazing group. Better say their names!