Say My Name
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|"Say My Name"|
|Single by Destiny's Child|
|from the album The Writing's on the Wall|
|B-side||"Bills, Bills, Bills"|
|Released||November 7, 1999|
|Producer(s)||Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins|
|Destiny's Child singles chronology|
"Say My Name" is a song by R&B American recording group Destiny's Child. It was written by band members Beyoncé Knowles, LeToya Luckett, LaTavia Roberson and Kelly Rowland along with LaShawn Daniels, Fred Jerkins III and Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins for their second album The Writing's on the Wall (1999), featuring production by the latter.
The song was the third single from the album and marked the introduction of the band's second lineup featuring newly added members Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin. The single is the most successful of the four releases from the album and is considered to be one of their signature songs.
A critical success, "Say My Name" won two Grammy Awards at the 2001 ceremony, for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Best R&B Song, while also nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. The song's music video won the 2000 MTV Video Music Award for Best R&B Video. It also captured a Soul Train Lady of Soul Award for Best R&B/Soul Single, Group, Band or Duo along with a BMI Pop Award for Most Played Song.
Background and writing
"Say My Name" marked the group's first collaboration with American producer-songwriter Keith Danley, who was one out of several people hired to work with Destiny's Child on their second album. When they wrote the song however, lead singer Beyoncé Knowles was initially displeased with the track they were working on. She commented that there was "too much stuff" on the track and it sounded like a "jungle". During the photo shoot for the album, Beyoncé's father-manager Mathew Knowles went to the studio informing her that Jerkins reworked on the track she "hated". Her dad told her to "just have to take a listen to it". When the new mix was played to group, they liked it to the extent they could not "focus on anything".
Lyrically, "Say My Name" features a female protagonist calling her lover on the phone, and suspecting him of cheating. She asks him to "say her name". The young man hesitates, and the narrator believes it's because he doesn't want the girl he's cheating on her with to know who she is. Jerkins supported the song's lyrics with a backing track that shifts back and forth in dynamics, steadily bringing different elements, including syncopated, 808 drum programming, synthesized strings, and 1970s-style wah-wah guitar licks, in and out of the mix. Knowles sings lead on the verses and bridge and leads the melody of the chorus with Kelly Rowland adding the second part harmony. Former member LeToya Luckett sings the high harmony on the pre-chorus and second chorus. LaTavia Roberson sings second part harmony with LeToya on the pre-chorus and sings the bottom harmony late in the second chorus.
Release and performance
Released as the album's third single in the United States on November 7, 1999, "Say My Name" spawned several remixes which were issued alongside the original version. The two most notable alternate versions are a remix by Timbaland, which features different vocals, lyrics and a guest appearance from singer Static Major & Timbaland; and the "Nitro Remix", which uses the original vocals over a bass music-styled backing track. The Maurice remixes contain additional re-recorded vocals by Knowles, Luckett, Roberson, and Rowland, arranged by Maurice Joshua.
On December 12, 1999, "Say My Name" debuted at number 83 on the Billboard Hot 100, and reached its peak position twelve weeks later after scanning 134,000 physical singles during its first week at retail, taking longer than any other Destiny's Child number-one single to reach the summit. The song also reached the top of both the Hot 100 Airplay and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart for three weeks in 2000. The song spent thirty-two weeks on the Hot 100 and was one of the top ten best-selling CD-singles of the year in the US. It is actually the group's third biggest-selling single in their homeland after "No, No, No" and "Bills, Bills, Bills" and was also their third gold RIAA certified single.
In the United Kingdom, it became the group's biggest hit up to that point: It peaked at number three on the UK Singles Chart and sold over 190,000 copies. The song also scored Destiny's Child their first number one in Asia. This single enabled the group to break through the Asian market, when R&B music was just beginning to get strong airplay. In the Philippines, it was the longest number one single by an R&B girl group, topping the charts for seven weeks. In Australia, it was the second recording ever by an R&B group to reach number one on the ARIA Singles chart behind TLC's "No Scrubs" and helped propel The Writing's on the Wall to multi-platinum success.
Conflict among members of the group arose in December 1999 following allegations that the group's manager and Knowles' father Mathew Knowles was withholding group profits from members Luckett and Roberson. Luckett and Roberson then allegedly asked Knowles for more money; they were dismissed and in January 2000 Knowles recruited new members Farrah Franklin and Michelle Williams to replace both without signed members' consent or knowledge. The video for "Say My Name" was then filmed in late January 2000 with little time for the new members to learn the choreography. The video premiered on February 15, 2000, featuring Franklin and Williams alongside Knowles and Rowland, and debuted on MTV and BET simultaneous to the publication of a press release announcing the lineup change. Luckett and Robersons' vocals still appear on the song, despite their absence from the video. Franklin and Williams' vocals are not included on the track.
The video, directed by Joseph Kahn, features the four members along with two female and one male dancer singing and dancing in color-coded sets resembling apartment living rooms. Rowland is featured in blue clothes to match her equally blue room. Knowles is depicted in an orange room, while Franklin is featured in a red room and Williams in a white room. After the first verse and the chorus, the girls, along with furniture from their respective color-coded sets, switch rapidly between the other members' sets. Soon after the second verse, all girls gather in a garage-like room complete with cars and Destiny's Child in black pvc-pants and orange tops and all of the dancers, dressed in black, from the video.
LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson stated they did not know they were out of the group until seeing the "Say My Name" video, and in March 2000 they filed suit against Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and manager Mathew Knowles for what they saw as a plot to ruin Luckett and Roberson's careers. By the end of the year, Luckett and Roberson decided to drop their former bandmates as co-defendants, but continued to pursue action against Mathew.
In 2001, Australian alternative rock band Sick Puppies made a cover version of "Say My Name". Characterized by turntable samples and heavy Flea-esque bass lines, this song was planned to be featured on their 2001 debut album Welcome to the Real World. The band uses the song "Brain Stew" by Green Day as the background music. However, due to a lawsuit threat from Destiny's Child's label, this song was excluded from the album. The melody of the song was changed to the minor version of the original, which only has several repetitions of the chorus. This version contains additional lyrics with coarse language; for example, the chorus invariably ends with "You're acting kinda shady, ain't callin' me baby/So what the fuck?" The band performed the song live on their 2009-2010 tour.
In 2007, the Chapel Hill indie rock band, Superchunk, released a cover of "Say My Name" on the album Guilt By Association. The album is a compilation of many artists playing covers of their favorite guilty pleasure songs. Indie rock band Portugal. The Man has also done their own tongue-in-cheek rendition of the hit, albeit with only two band members (Ryan Neighbors and Zachary Carothers).
In 2013, the Swiss/Canadian DJ Cyril Hahn released a remix of "Say My Name" on the single The Love Below #1.
In October 2011, NME placed it at number 58 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years" and Pitchfork Media placed it at number 131 on its "The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s". On VH1's list of the 100 best songs of the 1990s, "Say My Name" was ranked at number 17.
Jody Rosen from The New Yorker credited Beyoncé's slippery rap-style syncopations in the song for creating a new sound that did not exist in the world before her. He further wrote, "If they sound 'normal' now, it's because Beyoncé, and her many followers, have retrained our ears."
US CD single
US Maxi CD single
UK CD single 1
UK CD single 2
Also includes a poster
European CD single 1 COL 668851 5
European CD single 2 COL 668851 2
Australian enhanced CD single
- List of number-one singles in Australia in 2000
- List of Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles of 2000
- List of number-one R&B singles of 2000 (U.S.)
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