In December 1999, LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson tried to split with their manager, Mathew Knowles, claiming that he was keeping too much of the group's profits and that he favored Beyoncé Knowles and Kelly Rowland. When the music video for "Say My Name" debuted in February 2000, Roberson and Luckett found out that they were being replaced with Michelle Williams, a former backup singer for Monica, and Farrah Franklin, an aspiring singer-actress. In July 2000, just five months after joining, it was announced that Franklin would be leaving the group. According to the group, Franklin missed a handful of promotional appearances and concerts and was asked to leave the group. Franklin stated that she quit because of negative vibes in the group and her inability to assert any control in decision making.
After emerging as the group's focal point, Knowles assumed more control taking a greater hand in writing the material and even producing some of the record herself. Knowles wrote and produced almost every single track on the album, although, Knowles didn't intend to write and produce most of the songs on the album. She explained, "I only wanted to do like three songs... The label kept saying "Do another song, do another song, do another song". It wasn't planned. It wasn't like I said, OK, I'm going to take charge." The album was originally planned to be called Independent Women, but was later changed to Survivor because of the turmoil that has coincided with the group.
The song "Survivor" was inspired by a joke that a radio station had made about the fact that three members had already left the group. Knowles was inspired to take the negative comment and turn it into a positive thing by writing a song out of it. Knowles wrote the song "Bootylicious" on a plane flight to London while listening to the track "Edge of Seventeen" by Stevie Nicks when the word "Bootylicious" just popped in to her head. While recording sessions were going on, Rowland recorded the song "Angel" which appeared on the soundtrack of Down to Earth.
The album garnered positive to mixed reviews. Survivor received a score of 63/100 on Metacritic, based on 17 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".Entertainment Weekly praised the album saying that "(Survivor) is the divas' premature, but inevitable growing pains album." Spin magazine commented that "Survivor is relentlessly inventive in its recombinations." But New York Magazine was less impressed saying: "All fifteen tracks are one-dimensional disses and dismissals of scantily clad women, vengeful boyfriends, and the group's assorted doubters." Allmusic commented that the album is "as contrived and calculated as a Mariah Carey record, only without the joy."
Survivor, entered the Billboard albums chart at number one with the highest first-week sales figures (more than 663,275) of any female group in the SoundScan era and the highest first-week sales figures of any album in Columbia Records' history.
Survivor debuted at number one in over nine countries, including the United Kingdom where it was certified 3× Platinum by BPI for sales of over 900,000 and went on to sell over a million copies. It also reached number one in Canada, selling over 31,000 copies in its first week (and was eventually certified 4× Platinum, for sales of 400,000 copies), as well as debuting or peaking in the top ten in Australia, Sweden, Japan, France, Italy, Finland and Poland. With Survivor, Destiny's Child became the first US female group to have a number one album on the UK charts since Diana Ross and the Supremes hit the position 24 years ago with a greatest hits package. Survivor is the first album of original studio material (i.e., not a greatest hits collection) by a female American group to hit number one in the 43-year history of the UK chart.
"Survivor", the album's title track, spent six weeks at the number-two position on the Billboard Hot 100. "Independent Women Part I" (also featured in the remake film Charlie's Angels and on its soundtrack) occupied the number one slot on Billboard's Hot 100, R&B and dance charts. The video for the following single from Survivor, "Bootylicious", featured a cameo by Stevie Nicks.
In Europe the album was certified 2× Platinum in recognition of two million albums sold across the continent; its sales have since surpassed the three million mark. The album was certified 2× Platinum in Australia. The IFPI reported that Survivor was the 3rd best-selling album worldwide of 2001 with 7.8 million copies sold during the year.
*sales figures based on certification alone ^shipments figures based on certification alone xunspecified figures based on certification alone
^* As of December 2009, the album has sold 4,300,000 copies in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan, which does not count albums sold through clubs like the BMG Music. Combined, it has sold over 4,739,000 copies in the U.S. with additional 439,000 copies sold at BMG Music Clubs. Nielsen SoundScan does not count albums sold through clubs like the BMG Music Service, which were significantly popular in the 1990s.