Destiny’s Child, Brit Awards, 2001. Like a colossus in spandex, they bestrode, well, the cameraman’s head, the nation reeling from the vision of several million dollars’ worth of virginal US pubic bone gyrating into its face, their definitive performance of ‘Independent Women Part 1’ seeing the entire spectrum of British pop music wither into oblivion on the vine of its own game’s-up, mortal embarrassment. Truly, these lay-deez are not human, they are, as they sing themselves, “better than that”; three golden molten androids beamed in from disco Venus.
The expectation surrounding ‘Survivor’ is colossal: the follow-up to 1999’s 10million-selling ‘The Writing’s On The Wall’; contains the mighty ‘Independent Women Part 1’ and the semi-mighty ‘Survivor’ (a gigantic V-sign to the long-gone ex-DC girls); and everything else here is as far away from US R&B’s formulaic Jennifer Lopez snore-pop as is inhumanly possible. Over an hour and 18 tracks long – all written or co-written by the prodigious, prolific, Olympian-legged Beyoncé Knowles, 20 – ‘Survivor’ is brimful of staccato Timbaland skew-beats and a heroic disregard for the ‘all-important’ milkman whistleability factor. It is, quite frankly, nuts.
“Is my body too bootylicious for ya, babe!?” they coo, beautifully, on ‘Bootylicious’, a blinding, Prince-like R&B-jazz odyssey, while ‘Nasty Girl’ is a hilarious, sparse-beat ‘diss’ of the semi-naked pop floozestress. “Don’t walk out the house withoutcha clothes on”, they holler, unfathomably, “men don’t want no happy meal that’s been around the block before” (?) Then it gets proper weird with ‘Independent Women Part 2’ appearing to have been written by a disco dancing Tin Man in [I]The Wizard Of Oz, [/I]the spectacularly buoyant ‘Happy Face’ inventing a new genre altogether called cajun-R&B-yodel-pop and from here on their evidently bottomless creative volcano explodes into a billion rivulets of off-piste meanderings way beyond the ‘Danger: No Pop Tunes Here’ signpost.
Furthermore, being occasionally the embodiment of God-fearin’ Yankee apple-pah ennertainmen’, there’s the cover of the Bee Gees’ ‘Emotion’ (tremendous actually), a slew of toe-coiling Whitney mum-pop balladeering and a howling ‘Outro’ love-in whereby they serenade each other as ‘angels’ until they’re sick all down their besequinned bosom arrangements. Still, no-one can accuse the Child here of predictability; it takes courage to eschew a dot-to-dot spectrum of ‘Say My Name’s for the beguiling amalgamation of pioneering, fem-pop, not seen since Wendy & Lisa and the schmaltzsome showbiz spectre of a gospel Danny La Rue. Keep pop bonkers, kids.