Destiny’s Child Junior Album “Survivor” Turns 20 Years Old
The tale of four becoming three is famously synonymous with the careers of Destiny’s Child. After a year of scandal, split-ups and rumors, the Houston-born girl group had no choice but to “Survive” this tempestuous music industry. What was their clap back to the chaos? Their 2001 studio album, Survivor. With an energetic tracklist featuring empowering and timeless hits, this album helped the young artists reach crossover success and solidified their future.
Along with Columbia Records, the trio released their third project on May 1, 2001. Initially scoring average reviews from critics, Survivor gained its commercial success through its millennium and female audience. Ahead of the album’s 20th anniversary, we wanted to take a journey through the record and highlight its and the group’s achievements.
Beyoncé Knowles and Kelly Rowland started their musical journey as Girl’s Tyme with original members LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett in 1990. The foursome was led by then manager Mathew Knowles, Beyonce’s father. The dad of two quit his full-time job as a medical equipment salesman to work with the girl group full time. They officially changed their name to Destiny’s Child and were featured on Star Search in the early stages of their career. Finally, the group gained enough recognition and attention from the top names in the industry and eventually signed a deal with Columbia Records. Destiny’s Child released their self-titled debut studio album in 1998 which featured their stand-out hit, “No, No, No.” By 1999, the group released their second project, The Writing’s on the Wall. Commercially the album was a success with tracks like “Bills, Bills, Bills,” “Say My Name,” “Bug a Boo” and “Jumpin’, Jumpin.'”
Though the group’s fame was increasingly growing, so was the friction between the four. The division came when LeToya and LaTavia claimed management wasn’t paying them equally to Knowles and Rowland. The two also noticed that the majority of the group’s efforts were going towards Beyoncé’s future solo career. Drama ensued, and the childhood friends were then becoming enemies right before the world’s eyes. As the duo was negotiating new management deals, they got a rude awakening when Destiny’s Child dropped their video for “Say My Name” without the two women. LeToya and LaTavaia were subsequently replaced with Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin. Hurt and confused, the women filed suit against Destiny’s Child and their management for breach of partnership and fiduciary duties in March 2000.
The media captured the breakdown of the group as well as the case. With Farrah’s departure, the girl group was then looked like a toxic joke and mess. Radio stations even compared the group’s revolving lineup to the reality TV series Survivor. Beyoncé Knowles, Anthony Dent and Matthew Knowles took the analogy and created one of the group’s most popular hits, “Survivor,” which kicked off their 2000s takeover!
This project kicked off Beyoncé’s reign in the music industry as she took charge creatively co-producing and co-writing the majority of the album. Turning a bad reputation into good music, “Survivor” takes charge of the narrative and boldly confronts everything the media has been saying. Refusing to blast their frenemies on the radio, magazines and even speaking on their families, Destiny’s Child was set on ending the feud and fueling their careers. The girl group’s destiny was finally in their own hands. To celebrate their newfound self-sufficiency, they released their introductory hit “Independent Women Part I.” Originally appearing on the 2000 film Charlie’s Angels, this track served as the women empowerment anthem for the new millennium. The pop group also used the album to discuss serious social topics within the female culture, including molestation in their lesser-known track “The Story of Beauty.”
Many lighthearted songs also made an appearance on the aggressive album. The fun Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” sampled track, ”Bootylicious” is brash, sexy and unforgettable. The girls even followed up the bold hit with a bright video paying homage to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Sticking to their exploration of female sexuality, the group recorded songs like “Nasty Girl” and “Sexy Daddy.” The women also took it upon themselves to cover one of the greatest musical groups of all time, the Bee-Gees. Destiny’s Child’s rendition of “Emotion” adds some sophistication to the young album and introduced the audience to the three women’s vocal chemistry.
Survivor debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and earned Destiny’s Child two Grammy nominations for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, and Best R&B Album. After this album, the women partially parted ways to pursue their own projects. Michelle released her debut solo contemporary gospel album, while Kelly collaborated with St. Louis rapper Nelly, for their successful duet “Dilemma.” Beyoncé went on to star in three films and released her first solo album Dangerously in Love.
Twenty years later, this album shows that vulnerability and honesty is the best route in this maddening industry. As the three women were developing this huge project, all of them were going through depression, media scrutiny and insecurity. However, they overcame the drama and created a project that stands the test of time. As we look back on these amazing women’s past we can’t help to point out how the trio prophesied their future success. Survivor introduced Destiny’s Child to adulthood allowing the trio to break out into the world.