Destiny's Child are the all conquering female R&B group that have brought us tracks such as Independent Women Part I and Bills, Bills, Bills. They have left no good men quaking in their boots, I'm sure, with their feisty girl-power lyrics tough attitude. Famous for their multiple line up changes the original four, all hailing from Houston, Texas were Beyoncé Knowles (b. 4 September 1981), LeToya Luckett (b. 11 March 1981), LaTavia Roberson (b. 1 November 1981) and Kelendria (Kelly) Rowland (b. 11 February 1981). Seeing the birth dates lined up there perhaps reminded you that this all conquering girl band are still only 20/21 years of age, not bad for three platinum albums, countless awards and more than 15 million single and album sales worldwide.

Beyoncé and LaTavia had been singing together since they were ten. Beyoncé's father, Matthew Knowles, who also became Kelly's legal guardian, worked hard to find companions for the two girls to form a group. In 1992 Kelly, who is Beyoncé's cousin, was recruited and then the following year LeToya completed the foursome. Shortly after Kelly's addition in 1992 the girls appeared on Star Search but they rapped instead of singing and did not hit it off. Matthew Knowles worked hard to make them into singing unit taking them to talent competitions all over Texas. Their reputation grew and they opened for acts like Immature, SWV and Dru Hill in their native Texas.

The quartet were signed to Columbia Records in 1997 but their big break came later that year when they appeared on the Men in Black soundtrack with the song Killing Time. From there Wyclef Jean offered himself up for a remix of No, No, No resulting in the huge hit No, No, No, (#2). From this platform the girls released their self-titled debut album in February 1998. It proved a hit both sides of the Atlantic aided by producers like Timbaland, R. Kelly, Wyclef Jean and Missy Elliott. They followed up the album by touring with Wyclef Jean in the summer of 1998.

Building on their success the girls released The Writing's on the Wall in July 1999 accompanied by the single Bills, Bills, Bills. It was their first US chart topper and the album has sold more than 9 million copies world wide being certified as seven times platinum by the RIAA on February 26 2001. However before they released their next album the group would have to go through troubled times.

In March 2000 LaTavia and LeToya both left filing lawsuits against both the group and the manager Matthew Knowles. Press speculation about a culture of name mockery in the group was rife but the theme of the lawsuits gave more of a clue as to why the pair left. Both suits accused the group/Knowles of wrongful expulsion. The suit with the group was settled quickly but the case against Matthew Knowles is still outstanding. The girls claim that he was involved in the decision to have LeToya and LaTavia dismissed and cite a breach of his fiduciary duties, which require that, as manager, he was obligated to act honestly and in good faith regarding all group decisions. The two were quickly replaced by two 18 year old Farah Franklin and 19 year old Michelle Williams. The group recorded a new video featuring the two for the single Say My Name which had been released in February that year. They seemed to be determined to wipe out any memory of LeToya and LaTavia, I mean who's gonna notice them, the new ones look the same anyway. After dropping their suit against the group LeToya and LaTavia formed their own group, Angel.

In the summer of 2000 the girls went on tour with Christine Aguilera but only five months after her addition Farah Franklin announced she was leaving. This time she was not replaced and the group went on as a threesome and Farah moved off to record a solo album.. While it is not uncommon for a group, particularly a pop group, to fall out questions arise over the atmosphere amongst the girls when only five months after buying into the idyllic pop lifestyle Farah decides that she cannot carry on. It is very noticeable that Michelle plays almost no role in the groups publicity or music making, she really is just a third pretty face. For example in an interview with sonicnet.com (http://www.sonicnet.com/rnb/features/Destinys_Child/052101/) the only phrase she uttered in a two page feature was "some cornbread". One almost gets the feeling she has been quite strictly told "just sit there and keep your mouth shut". If this was Matthew Knowles attitude towards LeToya and LaTavia it is not surprising that they left. Matthew Knowles' relationship with Beyoncé and Kelly is obviously a great deal stronger than with other previous group members. Also he obviously still has huge control over the group (he is listed as executive producer on everyone of their albums). This may well mean that the other girls are just not involved with the group's music or workings.

Despite the problems the group have bounced back. Whether you think it is their insatiable desire to make music or the music industry's view that at only 20 the girls have got at least another $40 million to be milked out of them it matters not. In October 2000 they released Independent Women part 1, the massive selling them to Charlie's Angels. The song was the first UK number one and they were the first American all female group to top the UK charts since the Bangles in 1989 with Eternal Flame and it topped the charts in the US for an amazing eleven weeks. They released Survivor in May 2001 and it was another massive hit. With Survivor Beyoncé had completely taken over the writing and production. The line is that she only wanted to do two or three tracks but the record company begged her for more, as she puts it,

'I wrote and produced "Independent Women (Part 1)" and "Jumpin', Jumpin'." Then I did "Survivor" and "Bootylicious" and the label loved it. [Same with] "Nasty Girl," "Emotions," "Happy Face," and "Apple Pie a la Mode." The label kept saying, "Do another song, do another song, do another song." It wasn't planned. It wasn't something like I said, "OK, I'm going to take charge."'

Despite their troubles Destiny's Child seem to be unstoppable and it's hard to see them slowing down. Beyoncé is driving the group forward with real ambition and Matthew Knowles seems to be a very shrewd business man. They are all very young and one cannot see them retiring anytime soon. Perhaps a movie career looms but it is more likely that music will continue to beckon Beyoncé. However solo albums are in the offing as Michelle Williams releases a gospel album entitled Heart to Yours in April that focuses of her relationship with God and includes a tribute track to those affected by the events of September 11. Beyoncé also has a solo release coming up in Autmn this year and Kelly's solo release is planned for 2003. To fill in time between these releases both Beyoncé and Kelly have turned to acting, sort of. Beyoncé has a role in the new Austin Powers movie, Goldmember and Kelly has an impressive and challenging TV role in the Nickelodeon show Taina. The group recently cancelled their tour dates in Australia due to the "world situation",

"We made that decision the very last second after taking a hard look at the state of the world right now. We look forward to re-scheduling the shows and we pray for a quick end to the fighting and a return to peaceful times." - Beyoncé
I'm glad to see their keeping themselves safe, Australia really is a hot bed of anti-girl band terrorist activity right now.

The question remains whether anyone will have the stamina to stay in a group with her. Kelly and her obviously understand each other and Michelle seems to stay out of the way, living in Chicago whilst the other two remain in Houston. Recent reports have pointed towards a "temporary" parting of ways whilst they concentrate on their solo albums and this may well become permanent. You may not like their pop hooks and aggressive anti-male lyrics but it is hard to argue against Beyoncé's ability to make good pop records. As she so modestly puts it herself,

"I think we have made music history with this album, and I think people will start doing a lot more things like Survivor"

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Discography

Destiny's Child

"When Destiny's Child does sound different, as on the single "No, No, No (Part II)," they're more than competent" - AMG
  1. Second Nature
  2. No, No, No Part 2 (Featuring Wyclef Jean)
  3. Strange Games & Things
  4. With Me Part I (Featuring J.D.)
  5. Tell Me
  6. Bridge
  7. No, No, No Part 1
  8. With Me Part II (Featuring Master P)
  9. Show Me The Way
  10. Killing Time
  11. Illusion (Featuring Wyclef Jean & Pras)
  12. Birthday
  13. Sail On
  14. My Time Has Come (Dedicated To Andretta Tillman)

The Writing's On the Wall

"So, even when the album fails to deliver memorable songs, it always sounds alluring, thanks to the perfect combination of vocalists and producers" - AMG
"somewhat formulaic but ultimately irresistible" - Amazon.com
  1. Intro (The Writing's On The Wall
  2. So Good
  3. Bills, Bills, Bills
  4. Confessions (featuring Missy Elliott)
  5. Bug A Boo
  6. Temptation
  7. Now That She's Gone
  8. Where'D You Go
  9. Hey Ladies
  10. If You Leave (featuring Next)
  11. Jumpin', Jumpin
  12. Say My Name
  13. She Can't Love You
  14. Stay
  15. Sweet Sixteen
  16. Outro (Amazing Grace...dedicated to Andretta Tillman)

This is the only DC album that I have listened to all the way through. It's a pretty decent poppy R&B album, nothing inspirational, nothing amazing but then you don't expect to be enlightened when listening to music like this. The melodies are catchy and the beats decent. Whatever you do do not listen to the last few tracks on any DC album though, especially this one. There is always a sickening attempt at meaningful gospel which will most like make any normal person sick and bring a stereotypical teenage girl to declare it the most beautiful song she has ever heard. DC is a singles band, listen to them on the radio, in clubs and unfortunately on ring tones but the album is not really worth it.

Survivor

"It's a record that tries to be a bold statement of purpose, but winds up feeling forced and artificial" - AMG
"Survivor is way too frenetic. Even with some strong singing and songs (most notably the laid back "Fancy"), Survivor lacks real emotion" - Amazon.com
  1. Independent Women Part I
  2. Survivor
  3. Bootylicious
  4. Nasty
  5. Fancy
  6. Apple Pie @ La Mode
  7. Sexy Daddy
  8. Independent Women Part II
  9. Happy Face
  10. Emotion
  11. Dangerously In Love
  12. Brown Eyes
  13. The Story Of Beauty
  14. Gospel Medley
  15. Outro (DC-3) Thank You

8 Days of Christmas

"Ultimately, it doesn't really feel all that distinctive one way or another, which may be worse than being really bad or really great" - AMG
"The band is shamelessly self-indulgent throughout the dozen songs found here, taking untold liberties" - Amazon.com
  1. 8 Days of Christmas
  2. Winter Paradise
  3. A "DC" Christmas Medley
  4. Silent Night
  5. Little Drummer Boy
  6. Do You Hear What I Hear
  7. White Christmas
  8. Platinum Bells
  9. O' Holy Night
  10. Spread A Little Love On Christmas Day
  11. This Christmas
  12. Opera Of The Bells

This is the Remix

"Still, this is state-of-the-art mainstream R&B designed to tide fans over until the triumvirate goes back to the studio together" - Amazon.com
"there's enough new energy breathed into these tunes to forge a favorable new chapter in Destiny's Child history" - MTV
  1. No, No, No Part 2 (featuring Wyclef Jean Extended Version)
  2. Emotion (The Neptunes Remix)
  3. Bootylicious (Rockwilder Remix)
  4. Say My Name (Timbaland Remix)
  5. Bug A Boo (Refugee Camp Remix featuring Wyclef Jean Edited Version)
  6. Dot (The E-Poppi Remix)
  7. Survivor (Remix featuring Da Brat Edited Extended Version)
  8. Independent Women Part II
  9. Nasty Girl (Azza's Nu Soul Mix)
  10. Jumpin' Jumpin' (Remix Extended Version)
  11. Bills, Bills, Bills (Maurice's Xclusive Livegig Mix Edit)
  12. So Good (Maurice's Soul Remix Edit)
  13. Heard A Word (BONUS TRACK - Michelle Williams)

destinyschild.com (official site)
dc-unplugged.com (official fan site)
allmusic.com
rollingstone.com
sonicnet.com
amazon.com
artistdirect.com
mtv.com

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