The Writing's on the Wall

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The Writing's on the Wall
Standard edition cover[a]
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 14, 1999 (1999-07-14)
RecordedOctober 1998 – April 1999
Studio
Genre
Length64:52
LabelColumbia
Producer
Destiny's Child chronology
Destiny's Child
(1998)
The Writing's on the Wall
(1999)
Survivor
(2001)
Singles from The Writing's on the Wall
  1. "Bills, Bills, Bills"
    Released: May 31, 1999
  2. "Bug a Boo"
    Released: July 7, 1999
  3. "Say My Name"
    Released: October 14, 1999
  4. "Jumpin', Jumpin'"
    Released: July 17, 2000

The Writing's on the Wall is the second studio album by American girl group Destiny's Child. It was released on July 14, 1999, by Columbia Records. Dissatisfied with their 1998 eponymous debut studio album, Destiny's Child sought transition from the record's neo soul-influenced sound. Hence, the group took more creative control and enlisted an almost entirely different array of collaborators, including Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs, Kandi Burruss, Missy Elliott, Rodney Jerkins, and LaShawn Daniels, among others.

A result of the substantial artistic change, The Writing's on the Wall is an R&B, pop, hip hop, and soul record. Furthermore, it incorporates unconventional sonic elements, complex arrangements and staccato rap-singing vocals. Lyrically, the album is constructed as a concept album, with each track representing a Ten Commandments-inspired "Commandment of Relationships". Its themes include infatuation, dependency, infidelity, and separation, while a loose religious theme is maintained throughout. The production and innovative approach earned critical acclaim, while lyrical content initially elicited criticism. However, retrospective critical commentaries saw praise directed towards the album's feminist undertones.

The Writing's on the Wall is widely considered Destiny's Child's breakthrough album. It debuted at number six on the US Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 133,000 units, and later peaked at number five. The album went on to be certified octuple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments of eight million units in the US. Four singles were produced—"Bills, Bills, Bills", "Bug a Boo", "Say My Name" and "Jumpin', Jumpin'". "Bills, Bills, Bills" and "Say My Name" became Destiny's Child's first two US Billboard Hot 100 number-ones, with the latter winning the group their first two Grammy Awards. With worldwide sales of 25 million copies, The Writing's on the Wall is one of the best-selling girl group albums and best-selling R&B albums of all time.

The Writing's on the Wall was largely overshadowed by the controversy surrounding its promotional cycle as a result of the group's internal conflicts. The music video for "Say My Name" saw original members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson–who had attempted to split with their manager Mathew Knowles–unexpectedly replaced with Farrah Franklin and Michelle Williams. Luckett and Roberson filed a lawsuit against Knowles and former bandmates, and Franklin departed from Destiny's Child a mere five months after joining, leaving it as a trio. Regardless of the turmoil, a multitude of publications has listed the album among the best records of its time and genre, noting the immense influence on numerous artists.

Background and development[edit]

In 1995, Destiny was signed to Elektra Records by Sylvia Rhone. However, they were dismissed from the label eight months into their contract, without having even released an album, for being "too young and undeveloped".[3] Changing their name to Destiny's Child, the group was signed to Columbia Records by Teresa LaBarbera Whites in 1996, after negotiations from Beyoncé's father Mathew Knowles, who became their manager.[4] Destiny's Child made their recording debut with the inclusion of the track "Killing Time" on the Men in Black soundtrack in July 1997.[5] Three months later, their debut single "No, No, No" was released,[6] eventually going on to peak at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100 and atop the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.[7][8] The neo soul and R&B-infused eponymous debut studio album followed in February 1998, to a mixed critical reception.[9]

Commercially, Destiny's Child was a slow seller, peaking only at number 67 on the US Billboard 200,[10] but managed to earn a platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) two years after its release.[11] It produced one more single, "With Me", which failed to replicate the success of its predecessor.[12] Beyoncé would retrospectively label the album "successful but not hugely successful", as it was "a neo-soul record and we were 15 years old. It was way too mature for us."[13] In September, the group's contribution to the Why Do Fools Fall in Love soundtrack, "Get on the Bus"–a collaboration with Timbaland–was released to moderate commercial success. Around this time, Destiny's Child–partly dissatisfied with their debut–began conceiving ideas for its follow-up. As they were preparing to write and record new material, they sat together and listed what they liked and disliked about Destiny's Child in order to improve.[14]

Recording and production[edit]

"With The Writing's on the Wall, we did the whole album in about three weeks. Sometimes we did two songs a day. Some songs might take two days but we're very, very quick in the studio."

Beyoncé reflecting on the fast-paced recording process for The Writing's on the Wall.[15]

The recording of The Writing's on the Wall commenced in October 1998.[15] Beyoncé later recalled that Destiny's Child was not nervous about a sophomore slump and had many ideas for the album, as they were not entirely satisfied with their debut.[16] Compared to Destiny's Child, The Writing's on the Wall saw group members take more creative control; Beyoncé co-wrote 11 out of 16 tracks, Kelly Rowland co-wrote ten, LeToya Luckett nine, and LaTavia Roberson eight.[17][18] They would rewrite lyrics they received to adjust them into suitable songs.[19] Beyoncé sought inspiration for her songwriting from the customers at her mother Tina Knowles' hair salon, namely their grievances and complaints over men, relationships, and financial hardships.[15] She additionally produced four tracks from the album, while participating in vocal production and arrangement of several tracks as well.[18]

Whites suggested Destiny's Child to consult producer Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs.[15] Upon arriving to Houston, where the majority of The Writing's on the Wall was recorded, Briggs and his then-girlfriend, singer-songwriter Kandi Burruss, were told there was space for only one more track on the album. However, after the pair presented "Bug a Boo", the group decided to structure the entire record around it. Briggs ended up producing four additional songs–"So Good", "Bills, Bills, Bills", "Hey Ladies" and "She Can't Love You"–co-writing them with Burruss.[19][18] Burruss would reveal in 2011 that at the time of production, one of the group members was dating her former boyfriend on whom "Bills, Bills, Bills" was based.[20] Being promoted to executive producer alongside Mathew Knowles, Briggs introduced skittering quadruple-time beats while encouraging stuttering vocal phrasing, both of which defined the sound of The Writing's on the Wall.[15]

Rodney Jerkins produced "Say My Name", which was recorded at the Pacifique Recording Studios in North Hollywood, Los Angeles. He co-wrote it with his brother Fred Jerkins III, LaShawn Daniels, and the group members.[18] Daniels, who helmed its vocal production, based the song on a relationship he had experienced, noting that Beyoncé was able to relate as she was also in a relationship at the time.[21] However, the group rejected the song's original mix, and the track was almost left unused; Beyoncé later described the original mix as a "jungle".[13] Jerkins then introduced a new mix to Knowles, and the track was subsequently included on The Writing's on the Wall.[13] According to Daniels, Destiny's Child equally contributed to the track, stating that their creative input would consistently increase throughout the production process.[21]

Missy Elliott wrote and produced "Confessions", on which she made a guest appearance; the track was recorded at The Hit Factory in New York City (NYC) and The Enterprise in Los Angeles.[18] D'Wayne Wiggins produced and co-wrote "Temptations" and "Sweet Sixteen", which were both recorded at the Digital Sound in Houston and the House of Music in Oakland, California.[18] "Stay" was solely written and produced by Daryl Simmons, being recorded at the Silent Sound Studios in Atlanta.[18] Next were featured on "If You Leave", which was written by their member R.L. Huggar; it was co-written and produced by Chad Elliott, who also co-wrote and produced "Jumpin, Jumpin". The former was recorded at Electric Lady Studios in NYC and the Dallas Sound Lab, while the latter was recorded at the 353 Studio in NYC and the 24/7 Studio in Atlanta.[18] Meanwhile, Ken Fambro and Donnie Boynton co-wrote and produced "Now That She's Gone". By April 1999, The Writing's on the Wall had been completed.[15]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Missy Elliott (pictured) is featured on the 1970s-influenced "Confessions", which she wrote and produced.

The Writing's on the Wall is predominantly an R&B, pop, hip hop, and soul record.[17][22][23] Its production incorporates sounds such as record scratches, bubbles, and breaking glass, while the instrumentation is based on sharp guitar riffs, complex percussion arrangements, and orchestral brass.[17] Constructed as a concept album, each track on The Writing's on the Wall represents a Ten Commandments-inspired "Commandment of Relationships", which is stated at the end of each track in reference to the following one.[24][18] Lyrically, the album has been described as having a "cynical, jaded, sometimes transactional view of love".[19] It opens with a titular intro inspired by The Godfather scene in the 1996 film Set It Off, which sees Rowland, Luckett, and Roberson gathering to meet their "godfather" Beyoncé and to discuss their "Commandments of Relationships". As the members mention betrayal from different men, the tone for The Writing's on the Wall is immediately set as "a tale of empowerment and vengeance".[25] The first commandment "Thou shalt not hate" announces "So Good", which sees the protagonist flaunting her success to a hateful and jealous former lover.[15] Its instrumentation consists of sped-up acoustic guitar loops.[15] The "sassy", "playful" and "jittery" R&B track "Bills, Bills, Bills" features instrumentation led by harpsichord-synthesizers.[26][27] Lyrically, the song confronts a boyfriend for his lack of accountability over credit card and phone bill charges while following the "Thou shalt pay bills" commandment. Numerous critics drew parallels between the track and TLC's "No Scrubs", also written by Briggs and Burruss around the same time.[28][15] Burruss revealed it was written based on her own personal experience with a former boyfriend.[15] On the 1970s-influenced soul track "Confessions", featuring a spoken-word performance by Missy Elliott, Beyoncé admits to infidelity.[25][15] "Bug a Boo" speaks against an overly-attached boyfriend.[25]

The "coy, pillowy" sixth track "Temptation" discusses abstinence from having sex with a virtual stranger while already being involved in a relationship.[17][25] "Now That She's Gone" showcases a female protagonist's refusal to rekindle the relationship with a former boyfriend who has returned after abandoning another woman.[25] "Where'd You Go" sees the group members pleading their partners to stay after noticing a loss of interest towards them.[25] The upbeat "Hey Ladies" encourages women to take a stand against their deceitful boyfriends.[25][15] The "late night, slow-jam" tenth track "If You Leave" is a collaboration with Next. Lyrically, the song centers around a couple debating over whether they should leave their respective partners and begin a relationship together.[15] The uptempo dance-pop track "Jumpin, Jumpin" encourages women to "leav[e their] men at home" in favor of going to a nightclub filled with rich men.[29] "Say My Name", singled out by multiple publications as the album's highlight,[25][15] reprises the "thick, paranoid mix" of Jerkins' prior production "The Boy Is Mine", the 1998 duet between Brandy and Monica.[17] It "hopscotches" through different sonic elements, shifting from a "slow, sexy" bass to syncopated, synth-infused strings and record scratches.[21] Lyrically, the song features a female protagonist suspecting her boyfriend of cheating.[15] "She Can't Love You" is a guitar-driven Latin and bolero ballad.[25] The ballad "Stay" discusses a relationship which is deteriorating due to the female protagonist not wanting to consummate it, much to her boyfriend's dissatisfaction.[25] "Sweet Sixteen" lyrically follows a girl named Jackie, who is eager to grow up.[25] The Writing's on the Wall closes with an a cappella cover of "Amazing Grace", which acts as the outro and is dedicated to the late Andretta Tilman, Destiny's Child's original manager.[25]

Marketing[edit]

Title and packaging[edit]

In a May 2000 interview for Jet, Rowland revealed that, while deliberating over the album's title, Destiny's Child was choosing between The Writing's on the Wall and another, undisclosed title. They consulted Wyclef Jean, who preferred the former, and advised the group to incorporate the narrative of the revelation of the Ten Commandments to Moses at Mount Sinai into their "Commandments of Relationships".[16] Similarly, biographer Daryl Easlea noted the title was taken from the Book of Daniel from the Bible's Old Testament; in the book, supernatural writing foretold the demise of Babylonia.[15]

In reference to the title, all 14 "Commandments of Relationships" displayed throughout The Writing's on the Wall are listed on the front of its CD copies.[18] The cover artwork for the album was photographed by Hide Olda and depicts the members wearing white halter tops and facing directly into the camera. The light grey wall behind them features the group's name and the title written in a blurry manner, signifying "the writings on the wall".[18] Jaelani Turner-Williams from Stereogum described the cover as "futuristic".[30]

Release and promotion[edit]

Destiny's Child performing "Say My Name" during their tour Destiny Fulfilled... and Lovin' It in May 2005

In the US, The Writing's on the Wall was released on July 27, 1999, by Columbia Records,[31] having been released in Japan on July 14.[32] Initial US pressings featured the music video for "No, No, No Part I" as an enhanced CD bonus feature,[33] whereas international editions included "Get on the Bus" as a bonus track.[34] To support The Writing's on the Wall, Destiny's Child embarked on TLC's FanMail Tour as an opening act during its October–December North American leg.[35] Their televised performances at the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards on September 3, 1999,[36] the 2000 Soul Train Music Awards on March 4, 2000,[37] during MTV Spring Break in Cancún on March 16,[38] at the TMF Awards in Rotterdam on April 15,[39] and on Britney Spears' free concert in Honolulu on April 24, further promoted the album.[40] In July 2000, Destiny's Child joined Christina Aguilera as an opening act on her tour Christina Aguilera in Concert, touring North America until October.[41] While on tour, the group performed a 45-minute set at The Big E on September 17,[42] and performed "Say My Name" at the MuchMusic Video Awards on September 21.[43]

In November 2000, The Writing's on the Wall was reissued in Europe, being packaged with a bonus disc including "Independent Women Part I".[44] At the Billboard Music Awards on December 5, Destiny's Child performed a medley composed of "Independent Women Part I", "Say My Name", and "Jumpin', Jumpin'".[45] They subsequently performed nominated songs "Independent Women Part I" and "Say My Name" at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards on February 21, 2001, when they won their first two Grammy Awards, both for "Say My Name".[46] In honor of the 20th anniversary of The Writing's on the Wall in July 2019, Sony Music launched "Destiny's Child 2019 Dating Commandments". Similar to Tinder, the interactive dating app modernized the 14 "Commandments of Relationships".[47] Furthermore, The Writing's on the Wall was made available on a limited-edition vinyl exclusively at Urban Outfitters on November 1.[48]

Singles[edit]

"Bills, Bills, Bills" was released as the lead single from The Writing's on the Wall on May 31, 1999.[49] A commercial success, it became Destiny's Child's first US Billboard Hot 100 number-one single,[7] also topping the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for nine consecutive weeks.[8] The single was certified platinum by the RIAA in July 2020, denoting sales of one million units in the US.[11] Internationally, the song reached the top 10 in Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, and the UK.[50][51][52][53] Critically acclaimed, it was nominated for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Best R&B Song at the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards (2000).[54] An accompanying music video was directed by Darren Grant and was a tribute to Destiny's Child's then-stylist Tina Knowles, as it depicts group members as hair salon employees frustrated with men.[55] "Bug a Boo" was released as the second single from The Writing's on the Wall on July 7, 1999.[56] It failed to replicate the commercial success of its predecessor, peaking only at number 33 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 15 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.[7][8] The song fared better internationally, peaking within the top 10 in the Netherlands and the UK.[57][53] The Grant-directed accompanying music video shows the group members fleeing from aggravating boyfriends, and features cameo appearances from Kobe Bryant and Wyclef Jean.[55]

"Say My Name" was released as the third single from The Writing's on the Wall on October 14, 1999.[58] It became Destiny's Child's second US Billboard Hot 100 and third US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs number-one single.[7][8] The single was certified triple platinum by the RIAA in July 2020, denoting sales of three million units in the US.[11] Internationally, the song reached the summit in Australia,[59] and the top 10 in Belgium,[59] Canada,[51] France,[59] Iceland,[60] the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway,[59] Poland,[61] and the UK.[53] Critically acclaimed, it won the group's first two Grammy Awards–for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Best R&B Song–while also being nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, in 2001.[62] A Joseph Kahn-directed accompanying music video was a subject of controversy, as it saw LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson be replaced–without their knowledge or consent–with Farrah Franklin and Michelle Williams.[29][63] The video won Destiny's Child their first MTV Video Music Award, for Best R&B Video in 2000.[64] "Jumpin', Jumpin'" was released as the fourth and final single from The Writing's on the Wall on July 17, 2000.[65] A commercial success, it peaked at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100 and became the group's first US Mainstream Top 40 number-one single.[7][66] The single was certified platinum by the RIAA in July 2020, denoting sales of one million units in the US.[11] Internationally, the song attained top 10 positions in Australia, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the UK.[67][51][68][53] Its music video was Destiny's Child's second consecutive to be directed by Kahn, and shows the members going out to a nightclub.[55] "So Good" was serviced to rhythmic contemporary radio in the US as the sole promotional single from The Writing's on the Wall on January 16, 2001.[69]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic[70]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music[71]
Entertainment WeeklyB[72]
The Guardian[73]
NME6/10[24]
Pitchfork9.0/10[17]
Q[74]
Rolling Stone[28]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[75]
The Village VoiceB+[76]

Upon its release, The Writing's on the Wall was met with mixed to positive reviews from music critics. Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic wrote that, regardless of "uneven" songwriting, the album was an improvement for Destiny's Child in comparison to their debut, further complimenting the production and selection of collaborators.[70] In a review for NME, Dele Fadele praised the record's contemporary sound, citing "Confessions" and "If You Leave" as its highlights.[24] Rob Brunner from Entertainment Weekly praised Destiny's Child for being able to surpass their contemporaries with an innovative sound, but dismissed the "banal balladry" of "Stay" and "Sweet Sixteen".[72] Writing for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau commended the group for sounding mature but criticized the album's lyrical content.[76] Rob Sheffield from Rolling Stone was, however, more negative towards The Writing's on the Wall, writing: "Despite OK moments like the 'Waterfalls' sequel 'Sweet Sixteen', the Destiny children never find that one money tune that turns a no-no-no scrub into a yeah-yeah-yeah paying customer."[28]

Retrospective commentaries saw critical acclaim for The Writing's on the Wall prevail over initial criticism. In The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), Nathan Brackett and Christian Hoard referenced Sheffield's negative 1999 review for Rolling Stone by writing that the singles "Say My Name" and "Jumpin', Jumpin'" were, indeed, "catchy enough to turn any no-no-no scrub into yeah-yeah-yeah paying customer".[75] Katherine St. Asaph from Pitchfork praised The Writing's on the Wall for its impact and influence on R&B artists, remarking that its musical style codified contemporary R&B trends at the turn of the millennium.[17] Taryn Finley of HuffPost shared St. Asaph's sentiments, labeling The Writing's on the Wall "the quintessential 1999 album".[77] Wren Graves from Consequence drew attention to standout non-single tracks, but dismissed "Temptation" and "If You Leave" as "dull spots".[78]

Accolades[edit]

Listings[edit]

Listings for The Writing's on the Wall
Year Publication List Position Ref.
1999 The Face Recordings of the Year
9
2002 Q 100 Women Who Rock the World
77
2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Definitive 200
160
Vibe The 150 Albums That Define the Vibe Era
2008 Entertainment Weekly The New Classics: Music
92
2013 NME The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
454
2017 Complex The 50 Best R&B Albums of the '90s
31
NPR The 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women
61
2019 Okayplayer The 19 Most Influential R&B Albums of '90s
2020 PopMatters The Most Memorable Albums of 1999
Rolling Stone The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
291
2022 Pitchfork The 150 Best Albums of the 1990s
45

Awards and nominations[edit]

The Writing's on the Wall won the Soul Train Lady of Soul Award for Best R&B/Soul Album in 2000.[90] In addition, it was nominated for Best R&B/Soul Album – Group, Band or Duo at the 2000 Soul Train Music Awards,[91] and for Favorite Soul/R&B Album at the American Music Awards of 2001.[92]

Commercial performance[edit]

In the US, The Writing's on the Wall debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 chart dated August 14, 1999, with first-week sales of 133,000 copies.[93] On the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, it debuted and peaked at number two the same week.[94] The album was the 42nd best-selling album of 1999, selling 1.6 million copies by the end of the year.[95] The heavy rotation of its third single "Say My Name" and increased promotional activities reinvigorated the album's sales. Seven weeks after "Say My Name" reached the summit of the Billboard Hot 100, The Writing's on the Wall registered a new single-week sales high with 157,000 units.[93] It subsequently went on to ascend towards a new peak on the Billboard 200 at number five on May 6, 2000.[96] During the Christmas week of 2000, the album achieved its highest single-week sales with 163,000 units, while remaining stable within the top 40 in its 74th week of charting.[97][98] On the year-end Billboard 200 for 2000, it placed at number 13, and was the 10th best-selling album of the year with sales of 3.8 million copies.[99][100] In total, The Writing's on the Wall spent 99 consecutive weeks on the Billboard 200, exiting from the chart in July 2001.[47] On November 6, the album was certified octuple platinum by the RIAA, for shipments of eight million units in the US.[101] As of 2015, The Writing's on the Wall has sold over seven million units in the country, being the second best-selling girl group album ever in the US.[o]

Internationally, The Writing's on the Wall was a sleeper hit. It debuted at number 13 on the Canadian Albums Chart dated August 14, 1999,[102] peaking at number five after a year of charting on August 26, 2000.[103] The album was certified quintuple platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) on February 28, 2001, denoting shipments of five million units in Canada.[104] In Australia, The Writing's on the Wall debuted at number nine on the ARIA Top 100 Albums and peaked at number two in its third week.[105] It was certified triple platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) in February 2001, for shipments of 210,000 units in the country.[106] In New Zealand, The Writing's on the Wall debuted at number 30, peaking at number six nine weeks later.[107] Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) certified it triple platinum in November 2000, denoting shipments of 45,000 copies in the country.[108] In the United Kingdom, The Writing's on the Wall debuted at number 12 on the UK Albums Chart and atop the UK R&B Albums Chart.[109][110] In August 2000, it was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipping 300,000 units in the UK.[111] After 70 weeks of fluctuations, the album peaked at number 10 on the UK Albums Chart on January 6, 2001.[112] The Writing's on the Wall peaked at number 23 on the European Top 100 Albums after being reissued,[113] and was certified double platinum by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) for selling one million copies across Europe.[114] In addition, it eventually ascended to the top 10 in Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal after debuting at lower positions.[105][115] With worldwide sales of 13 million copies, The Writing's on the Wall is the fourth best-selling girl group album of all time, also being one of the best-selling R&B albums of all time.[116][17][117]

Controversy[edit]

Michelle Williams (pictured) and Farrah Franklin joined Destiny's Child as replacements for LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson, amid The Writing's on the Wall's promotional cycle.

The promotional era of The Writing's on the Wall was infused with controversy and conflicts within Destiny's Child's members and management. In December 1999, Luckett and Roberson attempted to split with their manager Mathew Knowles, stating that he kept a disproportionate share of the group's profits and unfairly favored his daughter Beyoncé and Rowland.[118] While they never intended to leave Destiny's Child, they found out that two new members were joining Beyoncé and Rowland once the music video for "Say My Name" premiered on February 15, 2000.[118] Prior to its premiere, Beyoncé announced on Total Request Live that Luckett and Roberson had left the group.[119] They were replaced by Williams, a former backing vocalist to Monica, and Franklin, an aspiring singer-actress.[120] On March 15, 2000, Roberson and Luckett filed a lawsuit against Knowles and their former bandmates for breach of partnership and fiduciary duties.[15] Following the lawsuit, both sides were disparaging towards each other in the media.[118]

Mere five months after joining, Franklin left Destiny's Child. The remaining members stated that this was due to missed promotional appearances and concerts. According to Williams, Franklin could not handle stress.[120] Franklin, however, disclosed that she left because of the negativity surrounding the strife and her inability to assert any control in the decision-making.[118] Her departure was seen as less controversial. Williams, on the other hand, felt pressured and later revealed that her inclusion in the group resulted in insecurity, as she was comparing herself to fellow members.[120] Towards the end of 2000, Roberson and Luckett dropped the portion of their lawsuit aimed at Beyoncé and Rowland in exchange for a settlement, though they continued the action against Knowles. As part of the agreement, both sides were prohibited from speaking about each other publicly.[118] Roberson and Luckett formed another girl group, named Anjel, but it ultimately disbanded in 2003 without having released an album.[121]

Impact and legacy[edit]

The Writing's on the Wall has been credited for allowing Beyoncé (pictured in 2019) to launch her solo career. Several critics have also noted its lyrical influence on her sixth solo studio album Lemonade (2016).

The Writing's on the Wall has been declared Destiny's Child's breakthrough album by numerous music critics, as it spurred their career and introduced them to a wider audience.[120][13] Chris Malone from Billboard retrospectively credited the album with quickly establishing Destiny's Child among the most iconic girl groups of all time.[25] Regardless of the controversy surrounding its promotional activities, The Writing's on the Wall emerged unaffected and became one of the best-selling R&B albums of all time.[117] Although members were agitated by the turmoil, Destiny's Child's success continued, with the years following the controversy seen as the most substantial stretch of their career,[118] and them becoming a pop culture phenomenon.[119] Their third studio album Survivor (2001) and its title track are considered responses to the media for the scrutiny the group was placed under throughout the promotional era of The Writing's on the Wall.[122] Multiple critics have also noted the album for being the platform upon which Beyoncé would launch her solo career.[117][17] Tom Breihan from Stereogum shared those sentiments, adding that Beyoncé managed to successfully recognize sounds reshaping R&B aesthetics and acquire technical skills to recreate it in an idiosyncratic manner. He additionally noted that the album would creatively pave the way for her sixth solo studio album Lemonade (2016), as its lyrical themes evoked those of The Writing's on the Wall.[19]

Despite initial skepticism towards The Writing's on the Wall, various critics went on to acknowledge its immense impact on R&B and pop music in retrospective commentary, crediting it for having defined the sound of mainstream music at the turn of the millennium.[77][17] Music industry writer Naima Cochrane called the album one of the most important recordings of the transitional phase between the 1990s and 2000s, adding that it set the tone for mainstream R&B trends of the then-forthcoming decade and helped popularize urban adult contemporary music.[77] Its feminist lyrical undertones have also received recognition.[123][117] In a 2019 interview with Vice, Burruss–one of the key contributors on The Writing's on the Wall–said the influence of its feminist themes was evident even two decades following its release, citing women's empowerment-themed efforts by artists such as Rihanna, Lizzo, and Megan Thee Stallion.[123] Furthermore, the album is credited with introducing and popularizing staccato rap-singing, most distinguishably via "Bug a Boo" and "Say My Name".[13] Canadian rapper Drake was cited as one of the artists who sought vocal inspiration from the album, most notably on his 2013 track "Girls Love Beyoncé", on which James Fauntleroy sang the chorus of "Say My Name".[17][21] Artistic influence of The Writing's on the Wall has expanded into imagery as well, as the music videos for Kehlani's 2016 song "Distraction" and Tove Styrke's 2017 song "Say My Name" have been described as homages to the music video for "Say My Name".[17]

Track listing[edit]

The Writing's on the Wall – Standard edition
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Intro (The Writing's on the Wall)"
  • Knowles
  • Donald Holmes
  • Gerard Thomas
  • Anthony Hardy
2:05
2."So Good"
3:13
3."Bills, Bills, Bills"
  • Knowles
  • Rowland
  • Luckett
  • Kandi
  • Briggs
4:16
4."Confessions" (featuring Missy Elliott)
4:57
5."Bug a Boo"
  • Knowles
  • Rowland
  • Luckett
  • Roberson
  • Kandi
  • Briggs
3:32
6."Temptation"
  • Wiggins
  • Terry T[c]
4:05
7."Now That She's Gone"
  • Fambro
  • Boynton
5:35
8."Where'd You Go"
  • Knowles
  • Rowland
  • Luckett
  • Roberson
  • Platinum Status
  • Chris Stokes
  • Knowles
  • Platinum Status
  • Stokes
4:15
9."Hey Ladies"
  • Knowles
  • Rowland
  • Luckett
  • Roberson
  • Kandi
  • Briggs
4:16
10."If You Leave" (featuring Next)
  • Elliott
  • Hunter
4:35
11."Jumpin, Jumpin"
  • Elliott
  • Knowles
  • Jovonn Alexander
3:50
12."Say My Name"
  • R. Jerkins
  • Daniels[b]
4:31
13."She Can't Love You"
  • Knowles
  • Rowland
  • Luckett
  • Roberson
  • Kandi
  • Briggs
4:04
14."Stay"Daryl SimmonsD. Simmons4:51
15."Sweet Sixteen"
  • Knowles[c]
  • Wiggins
4:12
16."Outro (Amazing Grace... Dedicated to Andretta Tillman)"[e]Knowles2:38
The Writing's on the Wall – US enhanced edition (bonus video)[33]
No.TitleDirector(s)Length
17."No, No, No Part I" (music video)Darren Grant4:31
The Writing's on the Wall – International edition (bonus track)[34]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
17."Get on the Bus" (featuring Timbaland)
  • Timbaland
  • Elliott
4:44
The Writing's on the Wall – Japanese edition[1]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
16."Get on the Bus" (featuring Timbaland)
  • Mosley
  • Elliott
  • Timbaland
  • Elliott
4:44
17."Bills, Bills, Bills" (Digital Black-N-Groove Club Mix)
  • Knowles
  • Rowland
  • Luckett
  • Kandi
  • Briggs
7:16
The Writing's on the Wall – European limited edition (bonus disc)[124]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Bills, Bills, Bills" (remix featuring Sporty Thievz)
  • West
  • Poke and Tone[c]
4:00
2."No, No, No Part II" (featuring Wyclef Jean)
  • Herbert
  • Fusari
  • Brown
  • Gaines
3:33
3."Say My Name" (Timbaland Remix)
  • Knowles
  • Rowland
  • Luckett
  • Roberson
  • Jerkins
  • Jerkins
  • Daniels
  • Mosley
  • Sean Garrett
Timbaland7:33
4."No, No, No Part II" (featuring Wyclef Jean) (music video)   
5."Get on the Bus" (music video)   
The Writing's on the Wall – European reissue (bonus disc)[2]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Independent Women Part I"
3:42
2."Independent Women Part II"
  • Knowles
  • Stewart
  • Seats
3:46
3."8 Days of Christmas"
  • Knowles
  • Errol McCalla
3:31
4."No, No, No Part II" (featuring Wyclef Jean)
  • Herbert
  • Fusari
  • Brown
  • Gaines
3:28

Notes

  • ^a signifies a producer and vocal producer
  • ^b signifies a vocal producer
  • ^c signifies a co-producer
  • ^d signifies an additional vocal producer
  • ^e signifies the lyrics being credited to public domain
  • Tracks 1–15 end with brief interludes spoken by the group members, each of which relates to the following track. Each interlude represents a Ten Commandments-inspired "Commandment of Relationships".

Sample credits

Personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from the liner notes of The Writing's on the Wall.[18]

  • Charles Alexander – mixing (track 11)
  • Jovonn Alexander – production (track 11)
  • Steve Baughman – mixing assistance (track 3)
  • Chris Bell – engineering (track 10)
  • Donnie "D-Major" Boynton – production (track 7), songwriting (track 7)
  • Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs – engineering (tracks 2, 3, 5, 9 and 13), executive production, instrumentation (tracks 2, 3, 5, 9 and 13), Midi & Sound (tracks 2, 3, 5 and 13), production (tracks 2, 3, 5, 9 and 13), songwriting (tracks 2, 3, 5, 9 and 13), vocal production (tracks 2, 3, 5, 9 and 13)
  • Joe Bruer – engineering (track 8)
  • Kandi Burruss – songwriting (tracks 2, 3, 5, 9 and 13), vocal production (tracks 2, 5, 9 and 13)
  • Michael Calderon – engineering (tracks 1, 3 and 6)
  • LaShawn Daniels – engineering (track 12), songwriting (track 12), vocal production (track 12)
  • Kevin "KD" Davis – mixing (tracks 2, 3, 5, 9 and 13)
  • Andre DeBaurg – engineering (tracks 10 and 11)
  • David Donaldson – engineering (track 11)
  • Jimmy Douglass – engineering (track 4)
  • Blake Eiseman – engineering (track 7)
  • Chad "Dr. Ceuss" Elliott – mixing (track 11), production (tracks 10 and 11), songwriting (tracks 10 and 11)
  • Missy Elliott – production (track 4), songwriting (track 4), vocals (track 4)
  • Ken "K-Fam" Fambro – production (track 7), songwriting (track 7)
  • Ronnie Garrett – bass (track 14)
  • Jon Gass – mixing (track 14)
  • Tara Geter – songwriting (track 7)
  • Brad Gildem – engineering (track 12)
  • Anthony Hardy – instrumentation (track 1), production (track 1)
  • Donald "Lenny" Holmes – instrumentation (track 1), production (tracks 1 and 4), songwriting (track 4)
  • James Hoover – engineering (tracks 7, 15 and 16)
  • Jean Marie Horout – mixing (track 12)
  • R.L. Huggar – songwriting (track 10)
  • Oshea Hunter – production (track 10), songwriting (track 10)
  • Fred Jerkins III – songwriting (track 12)
  • Rodney Jerkins – production (track 12), songwriting (track 12), vocals (track 12)
  • Thom "TK" Kidd – engineering (track 14)
  • Kiko – art direction, design
  • Beyoncé Knowles – additional vocal production (track 9), arrangement (track 16), backing vocals (all tracks), lead vocals (all tracks), production (tracks 1, 8, 15 and 16), songwriting (tracks 1–3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11–13 and 15), vocal arrangement (tracks 6 and 16), vocal production (tracks 3 and 13)
  • Mathew Knowles – executive production, mixing (track 16)
  • Mike Kopcha – mixing assistance (tracks 2, 5, 9 and 13)
  • Sonny Lallerstedt – guitar (track 14)
  • Vincent Lars – saxophone (track 15)
  • Kevin Lively – engineering assistance (track 14)
  • LeToya Luckett – backing vocals (all tracks), lead vocals (track 1), songwriting (tracks 1–3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12 and 13)
  • Steve McCauley – mixing assistance (tracks 4 and 15)
  • Raymond McKinley – bass (track 15)
  • Rufus Moore – songwriting (track 11)
  • Ramon Morales – engineering (tracks 5, 9 and 13)
  • Vernon Mungo – engineering (track 3)
  • Next – vocals (track 10)
  • Hide Olda – photography
  • Bill Ortiz – trumpet (track 15)
  • Lance Pierre – mixing assistance (track 8)
  • Platinum Status – drum programming (track 8), keyboards (track 8), production (track 8), songwriting (track 8)
  • Claudine Pontier – engineering assistance (track 3)
  • Anthony Ray – songwriting (track 6)
  • Ted Regier – mixing assistance (tracks 4, 6, 7 and 15)
  • Byron Rittenhouse – vocals (track 11)
  • LaTavia Roberson – backing vocals (all tracks), lead vocals (tracks 1, 8 and 15), songwriting (tracks 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12 and 13)
  • Kelly Rowland – backing vocals (all tracks), lead vocals (tracks 1–5, 7, 8, 10, 13, 15 and 16), songwriting (tracks 1–3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13 and 15)
  • Albert Sanchez – photography
  • Aleese Simmons – songwriting (track 7)
  • Daryl Simmons – drum programming (track 14), keyboards (track 14), production (track 14), songwriting (track 14)
  • Dexter Simmons – mixing (tracks 4, 6, 8, 10 and 15)
  • Latrelle Simmons – songwriting (track 7), vocal arrangement (track 7)
  • Ivy Skoff – production coordination (track 14)
  • Charles Spikes – guitar (track 6)
  • Brian Springer – engineering (track 4)
  • Kenny Stallworth – engineering assistance (track 7)
  • Chris Stokes – production (track 8), songwriting (track 8)
  • Joey Swails – engineering (tracks 6 and 15)
  • Terry-T – bass (track 6), drum machine (track 6), keyboards (track 6), production (track 6)
  • Gerard Thomas – instrumentation (track 1), production (tracks 1 and 4), songwriting (track 4)
  • Tyvette Turman – songwriting (track 10)
  • Stephanie Vonarx – engineering assistance (track 14)
  • Chuck Walpole – engineering (track 6)
  • Jody Watley – songwriting (track 15)
  • Carl Wheeler – songwriting (track 6)
  • Teresa LaBarbera Whites – A&R
  • D'wayne Wiggins – bass (track 6), drum machine (track 15), guitar (tracks 6 and 15), production (tracks 6 and 15), songwriting (tracks 6 and 15), synthesizer (track 15)
  • Tony Williams – additional drum programming (track 14)
  • Dan Workman – engineering (tracks 2 and 5)

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Certifications and sales for The Writing's on the Wall
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[106] 3× Platinum 210,000^
Belgium (BEA)[164] Platinum 50,000*
Brazil 20,000[165]
Canada (Music Canada)[104] 5× Platinum 500,000^
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[166] 2× Platinum 40,000
France (SNEP)[167] 2× Gold 200,000*
Germany (BVMI)[168] Gold 250,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[169] 2× Platinum 200,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[170] 3× Platinum 45,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[171] Gold 25,000*
Norway (IFPI Norway)[172]
Reissue
Platinum 20,000*
Sweden (GLF)[173] Gold 40,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[174] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[111] 3× Platinum 1,120,878[175]
United States (RIAA)[101] 8× Platinum 7,100,000[o]
Summaries
Europe (IFPI)[114] 2× Platinum 2,000,000*
Worldwide 13,000,000[116]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Release history[edit]

Release dates and formats for The Writing's on the Wall
Region Date Edition(s) Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
Japan July 14, 1999 Standard CD Sony Music Japan [32]
Germany July 23, 1999 Sony Music [44]
United Kingdom July 26, 1999 Columbia [178][179]
United States July 27, 1999
[25]
France August 3, 1999 CD
Poland September 13, 1999 Sony Music
United Kingdom November 13, 2000 Reissue Double CD Columbia
Germany November 27, 2000 Sony Music [44]
United States November 1, 2019 Standard Vinyl (Urban Outfitters exclusive) Legacy [48]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Japanese edition and European reissue covers feature blue backgrounds.[1][2]
  2. ^ a b Track 11
  3. ^ a b Track 10
  4. ^ Track 3
  5. ^ Tracks 1 and 7
  6. ^ Tracks 3, 13 and 16
  7. ^ a b Tracks 6 and 15
  8. ^ Track 7
  9. ^ a b Track 4
  10. ^ Track 15
  11. ^ Track 8
  12. ^ Track 12
  13. ^ Track 14
  14. ^ a b Tracks 2, 5, 9 and 13
  15. ^ a b According to Nielsen SoundScan, The Writing's on the Wall has sold 6,400,000 copies in the United States as of 2015.[176] Nielsen SoundScan did not count sales through music clubs such as BMG Music Service, through which the album sold around 700,000 additional units by February 2003,[177] bringing its sales total to 7,100,000 units.

Citations[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]