The Writings On The Wall – Destiny’s Child (1999)



Destiny’s Child are (were) a four piece female vocal group consisting of Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland, LaTavi Robinson and LeToya Tuckett.

“The Writings On The Wall” was the groups second album and despite a number of line up changes Destiny’s Child would go on to hit enormous fame.

This was the album that shot the group to this fame as they captured the essence of merging R&B with radio friendly chart music of female empowerment.

The theme of the album is largely about being independent women (a song they would have a hit with years later) and that they do not need a man to progress with their lives. Many of the songs are themed in this way and at an excessive 16 songs it can become a bit like you are overhearing a group of women bemoaning their lives and how bad they have it.

After a overly long and pointless intro we have the first full track “So Good”. Driven by an acoustic guitar with hip hop style beat the song appears to be about the protagonist in the song meeting someone from their past who used to put them down and perhaps bullied them.

The group sing about how they are now doing so good and that they have risen above any criticism that may have been leveled at them in the past.

“Bills Bills Bills” is next with the girls letting this man know that they will not stand for a man with no money. Similar to another girl group TLC on their song “No Scrubs” the content seems to be that no matter what this man is like they will not settle for a man with no ambition or money to provide them with a luxurious things. It’s a very shallow song despite being catchy and a clear hit.

“Confessions” sees Destiny’s Child joined by rapper Missy Elliot. The story told is one of the protagonist being comforted by a male friend (named Mike) when she had been ‘pissed off’ by her current boyfriend.

When Mike does this he takes her home and makes a move on her which our protagonist enjoys immensely. In this song she is confessing what happened to her boyfriend but for me this isn’t confessing – its gloating. She is very pleased with herself and essentially is telling this man to buck his ideas up as she is desired by many.

“Bug A Boo” is far more upbeat than any of the tracks so far. The song is about having broken up with her boyfriend our character finds that this man continues to “bug” her and will not leave her alone.

The song was written in the 90’s and do love some of the 90’s references such as:

“have AOL make my emails stop”

The song has element of humour to it and whilst you could argue the song is about being stalked it seems that the girls so not have any real concern about their safety. The vocal from Beyonce is one of the strongest on the album and fits in with the defiant content.

“Temptation” is more true to the style of the 90’s mid tempo R&B tunes. The song’s content though is pretty much the same as we have heard so far and similar to the previous track “Confessions” where the girls are talking about being with someone else despite being in a relationship currently.

sexy boy you’re so fly i just might give you a try
ima write yo number in the palm of my hand
oops i forgot i got a man

Destiny’s Child up to this point have offered very little variation in their lyrics and seem content with bombarding us with tracks about how bad men are.

“Now She’s Gone” doesn’t really give us the leap forward that we need as tells us the story of a boyfriend who was sleeping with another woman and now she has gone he wants to come back. Our girls spend 4.15 basically saying ‘no ‘.

“Where’d You Go” sees the substandard rap/talking from LaVia begin the song. She is soon replaced by Beyonce singing over these sparse beats withe the familiar guitar playing in the background. There are many different producers on the album yet they all seem to be using this guitar sound.

This song is shit. And it’s shit for a few reasons. First of all the song is about our protagonist pining after a man who has not contacted her in five days. We have lyrics about going crazy and asking him is he still thinking of her etc etc.

After so many songs about how men are shits we now have a song about a desperate woman going out of her mind about where this man has gone.

You could call this variety in song content but it’s talking about the same thing just at the other end of the spectrum. If “The Writings on the wall” was meant to be about female power then this track is just a bit setback.

Hey Ladies” is like an amalgamation of all the lyrics we have had so far. This man hasn’t called her (Where’d you go”), he has used her money, (Bills Bills Bills),  the man has been cheating (Now She’s Gone). Basically this man is crap and he has to go.

“If You Leave” features male vocal group Next. This is a one of the better tracks on the album. Beyonce and Next singer R.L take the reigns on this one.

The song is about two people who are in relationships they want out of for various reasons and they are explaining how much they want to be with each other. If you leave her, i’ll leave him and vice versa is the theme of the song. The song is interesting enough to make you wonder if these two actually do end up together as the song doesn’t give us an answer.

“Jumpin Jumpin” is the next track. In my younger years this song was massive and always being played on radio, TV, shops, clubs, – anywhere.

This is a definitive Destiny’s Child song and more accessible than some of the other tracks on the album. It’s a feel good, carefree track asking the ladies to leave their man at home, go to a club and just have a good night.

The lyrics may not have any depth or even attempt to but that is what works for me because Destiny’s Child have been trying to explain that men are not important and what I like about this track is that it’s not talking about relationships and the terrible things men do but it’s just about having a bit of a break and having a good time.

“Say My Name” is the best song on the album by some way. Vocally the group are on point. They feel like a vocal group and not Beyonce and her backing singers. Whilst Beyonce takes the lead and the track’s content again about a cheating man the story is compelling.

“I would call, you would say,
“Baby, how’s your day?”
But today, it ain’t the same
Every other word is “Uh huh”, “Yeah, okay”
Could it be that you are at the crib with another lady”

What is clever about the song is that our protagonist knows exactly what is going on and knows her man is cheating but she will not let his excuses and shifty behavior become something that is easy and she will make him work.

Tell the truth, who you with
How would you like it if I came over with my clique
Don’t try and change it now
See you’ve gotta bounce
When two seconds ago,
Said you just got in the house

The whole song just works and is a really top song.

“She Can’t Love You” again see a relationship theme. Beyonce takes the lead and sings about her Ex boyfriend who has a girlfriend who is clearly not his type and that she will never be able to love him like she can.

There is a little more humility on this song and Beyonce’s vocal expresses more of  hurt emotion which seems a little more real than breaking up with someone and just simply being defiant that life is going to be so good without them.

“Stay” starts off like a early 90’s Babyface produced creation. Having now just looked at the writer of the song Daryl Simmons I can see that he used to work with Babyface, producing for other artists.

It’s structure and style is similar of perhaps a Toni Braxton number and the album seems to be going through a more soulful heartfelt stage which seems at odds with the earlier content.

“Sweet Sixteen” is the final track on the album. This tells the story of a girl called Jackie who is in a relationship and is moving to fast in her sexuality. The song is about giving this young girl some advice and she should be cherishing her life and not rushing into things.

The “Outro” sees the girls doing an acapella of the gospel standard “Amazing Grace”. Vocal gymnastics are rife as the girls show off their voices which for a vocal girls group we haven’t really heard on this album.

Other girl groups such as En Vogue show a lot more connectivity in their music but given that two of the group would be banished and subsequently a legal case mounted against the groups manager (And Beyonce’s father) Michael Knowles perhaps they were never as close as they needed to be.


“The Writings On The Wall” has some hits for sure and there are around 3 tracks I really like but overall the production is boring, the content of the songs is dull, the singing isn’t that great and it feels like you’re listening to just a couple of tracks when the album is an extensive 16 tracks long.







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