Destiny’s Child: The Writing’s on the Wall Album Review

Destiny’s Child: The Writing’s on the Wall Album Review

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Score: 75/100

Top 3 Tracks: Say My Name, Where’d You Go?, Bills Bills Bills

1. Intro – The Writing’s on the Wall 7/10

Clever spoof on The Godfather with the girls as different dons who come together to make a Ten Commandments for relationships. Great start to the album that proves that this group and the album are more than just shallow teen pop. The commandments repeated at the beginning of each song make the album more cohesive.

2. So Good – 8/10

Right off the bat, Destiny’s Child’s sophomore album proves to be more up-beat and with more pop influences than its freshman predecessor. “So Good” is right in the vein of what would soon become Beyonce’s lyrical wheelhouse — “I’m doing just fine without you, so there!” Think of it as the precursor to “Survivor.” Pretty good track and you can hear that both Beyonce and Kelly are more confident singers, carrying the majority of the lead vocals.

3. Bills, Bills, Bills 8/10

What a great beginning to the song that just has that signature 2000’s R&B/pop feel to it. The lyrics are clever and paint a realistic portrayal of a relationship where a guy gets too comfortable in the relationship and begins to mooch off his girl. Less catchy and not as smooth as its ’99 companion, “No Scrubs,” but still a highlight on the album and the girls’ discography.

4. Confessions 5/10

A nice slow ballad that flips the script from the last two tracks — this time, it’s the girl who’s done the man wrong. The girls sound great, especially on the chorus and it shows vocally how strong they are as a group. The only problem is the lyrical content. Where in songs like “Bills Bills Bills,” “Bug-a-Boo” and even “Say My Name,” the girls tear their no-good men apart, in “Confessions,” they expect complete mercy and forgiveness, even going so far as to blame him for making her cheat on him. The worst lyric is “I was mad, what was I to do?/Never had any mind to play on you/Look at all the hurt you put me through.” Really? Look at all the hurt he put you through? You cheated on him because he had a bad day and got mad at you. That doesn’t excuse your behavior. There’s just a blatant lack of accepting responsibility in the song and it doesn’t work.

5. Bug-A-Boo 7/10

Back to what Destiny’s Child does best – shaming men. “Bug-A-Boo” is much in the same vein as “Bills, Bills, Bills” so I would have placed it later on in the tracklist. Its pager, MCI and AOL references are dated now, but it’s still a great tune to bop along to. It’s catchy and the fast rap style of the verses are really fun. It can get a little repetitive towards the end and it never really switches it up.

6. Temptation 7/10

The album slows down with a breathy mid-tempo song about a girl being tempted by another man. In the end, she does what she feels is right and resists it. It’s a pretty middle-of-the-road ballad, but I like the breathiness of the main vocals, and when Beyonce’s stronger vocals come in on the choruses towards the end adds a great layer to it. One of the better ballads on the album.

7. Now That She’s Gone 6/10

Another ballad that’s nearly indistinguishable from the previous one, which hurts it. I like the breakdown in the middle, but it doesn’t have much more going for it.

8. Where’d You Go? 9/10

I really like this mid-tempo song. I love the dark atmosphere of the song, the whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa refrain, the chorus — I just love everything about this song. It feels desperate. It feels sad and it just feels a little different than the other songs on the album, both lyrically and melodically.

9. Hey Ladies 7/10

“Thou shalt know when he’s got to go”? Really? All of the men you talked about in these songs are the scum of the earth. They’re lucky they have a reason to stay. Anyway, this is a decent song asking the question of why ladies don’t leave their men when they know they’re doing them wrong. I like the instrumental and the overall pop/R&B feel of the song. It just falls flat compared to the songs that make up the rest of the album where the girls clearly have no trouble calling out a man on his BS. It only really works because it’s sandwiched between songs that aren’t man-bashing.

10. If You Leave 8/10

A great slow R&B jam that manages not to feel overpowered by all the vocals present on it. Both leads blend well together as do the others and it makes for a song that sounds stronger, thanks to Next. I think without them, the song would have been boring.

11. Jumpin’ Jumpin’ 6/10

The most teen-pop like song on the album that’s ready for the clubs. Just hearing this single doesn’t accurately reflect Destiny’s Child as a group since it sounds the most like a pop crossover sell-out. It’s catchy, but for me, it gets too loud, too noisy and just too much towards the middle of the song. The vocals and the instrumental are just beaten into submission by the end.

12. Say My Name 10/10

I love this song. I still love it. It’s the best song out of Destiny’s Child discography and one of the best of the decade. I love the simplicity and smoothness of the R&B track, the lyrics are clever and catchy and the girls’ harmonies blend very well. It just shows the desperation, the urgency of the girl wanting to know if her man is cheating on her. Lyrically, it’s different than the album’s other songs and shows some vulnerability to the girls.

13. She Can’t Love You 8/10

I really like the beginning, where it feels a little old-school and latin-inspired. It’s a good companion piece to “Say My Name,” and fits in well coming right after it. I really like the harmonies and melody on the chorus. The lyrics are definitely on the more adult level — “She can’t touch you like I do/Cause when y’all touching/You pretend it’s me and you.” But the lyrics also deliver a subtle, smooth and efficient smackdown — “And there’s no way her love’s as good as mine/There’s no reason for you to waste your time.”

14. Stay 5/10

Not a big fan of the Zelda-like intro to the song. There are a few things wrong with this song. First, it sounds like a teen-pop ballad cop-out. Coming after the more mature “Say My Name” and “She Can’t Love You,” it feels out of place. Second, the message of the song is just off. Basically, she pleads for her man to stay, even consenting to finally have sex with him. “If I granted all of your wishes/Gave you more than touches and kisses/Would you stay?”

No.

“Every night I lay and think about it/If you loved me, you could live without it/But I don’t want to do you that way, no, no/I’m kinda scared, but I’m kinda willing/Will you promise me just one thing?/Would you stay?”

NO!

Having sex with your man just so he won’t break up with you is wrong and completely wrecks the whole message of the album. One could argue that the song balances the album out by showing vulnerability and that women — even independent women — make mistakes in relationships, but I have a hard time believing that the same woman who calls men out for spending their money and cheating on them is going to sing this song as well.

15. Sweet Sixteen 6/10

I like the guitar instrumental of the song, although it does still feel a little too teeny-bopper for the album. I also like that it’s LaTavia on the solo vocals. Every girl in the group has a good voice, so it shows that there aren’t really any weak links. I’m not big on message/social commentary songs (not a big fan of “Story of Beauty” on Survivor either.) I just don’t buy the song’s message of “you’re too young to make big life-changing decisions at sixteen” from girls who were just eighteen when they recorded it. And especially coming after “Stay”

16. Outro (Amazing Grace) 7/10

I liked that they closed the album with this gospel standard that shows that above all else, these girls are great singers and blend really well together.

Conclusion:

Overall, The Writing’s on the Wall is a much stronger album than their debut. The girls wisely incorporate more pop influences into their music to give them a wider appeal and hire top notch producers. They even write a majority of the songs. The whole collaboration works for the most part without sounding too much like a sell-out. The released singles are some of the best in the album, but even the filler is pretty good. Where the album gets bogged down is with the lyrics and messages of the songs — most are men-bashing couched between songs of cheating and using sex to make a man stay. There are none of those mushy love songs that are common in the teen pop industry. Instead, this album is all about the messiness and just all-around awful nature of relationships, making it feel more adult, but a little dark and damper. Luckily, the catchy instrumentals of songs like “So Good,” “Bills Bills Bills,” “Bug-a-Boo” and “Jumpin’ Jumpin'” keep The Writing’s on the Wall from feeling too depressing.

Awesome.

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