A succession of gold and platinum albums, two Grammy Awards and a worldwide tally of at least 60 million in sales units have immortalized Destiny’s Child as historical hit makers. In their seven years as a professional singing group, the quartet/trio capitalized on the power of social media, sex appeal and songs bubbling over with themes of sass and sisterhood to become one of the modern era’s most popular (and profitable) girl groups. 2004’s Destiny Fulfilled may have become their literal ‘swan song’ set before formally disbanding, but it was far from over as far as Destiny’s Child’s enduring influence, a fact capitalized on with the release of their third compilation CD, Playlist.
Featuring five Destiny Child chart-toppers, four Top Five favorites, a couple of non-singles and a remix, Playlist officially commemorates the 15th anniversary of their debut Number One single, “No, No, No Part 2.” What it also accomplishes, unofficially, is to underscore the fact that the publicized in-fighting, reckless rotation of group members and near-fawning focus on lead their lead singer, Beyonce Knowles, has yet to topple their legacy. Most of the songs, like “Bills, Bills, Bills,” “Jumpin’ Jumpin’” and “Independent Women, Pt. 1” retain freshness years after their initial release. And even as the lyrics provide serious pause, the feverishly funky “Bootylicious” and southern swagger fueling the thug tribute, “Soldier,” are undeniable. Destiny’s Child wasn’t the first girl group to skillfully combine sultry R&B and head-nodding hip-hop fringes, but tracks like “No, No, No Part 2” and “Bug-A-Boo” display their ease in combining both genres, which helped in creating, then maintaining, their nearly-universal appeal.
Even as Playlist serves up the smash hits, a few of the songs were better left inside the vault: their rendering of the 1980s groove “Illusion” is a listless one, for starters, and including numbers like “Girl” and “So Good,” given the acrimony that turned original and replacement group members into outcasts, seem cynical and calculated. The inclusion of a revamped Bee Gees cover, “Emotion” (The Neptunes transform the gentle and gauzy version into a perkier and more percussive one), is a good choice, but could also make fans wonder why another engaging remix, such as Timbaland’s and Jermaine Dupri’s take on “Say My Name,” didn’t get included as well.
Since Kelly Rowland, LaTavia Roberson, LeToya Luckett, Michelle Williams and Beyonce Knowles have created an impact on pop music that will reverberate for years to come, it’s puzzling that their accomplishments weren’t celebrated in a more innovative fashion -- meaning fans who already have 2002’s This Is The Remix and 2005’s Number 1s aren’t getting anything they don’t already have (or need). A bonus DVD of performance highlights or even including some of their music videos could’ve made Playlist a must-have, but in its existing form, the CD minimally fulfills one of two scenarios: providing a Cliff Notes version of Destiny’s Child’s catalog for casual listeners, or offering a re-introduction to Beyonce’s formative years via an updated social-media-fueled marketing platform. The hits on this CD and the women responsible for them are certainly worth memorializing, but as compilations go, this Playlist falls short of providing the tribute that is implied and deserved. Cautiously Recommended.
By Melody Charles