Destiny’s Child’s Song ‘Survivor’ Was Actually Inspired by the Hit Reality Competition Series
In 2001, Destiny’s Child released their third studio album, Survivor, which introduced Michelle Williams as the group’s newest member and cemented the singers as one of the greatest musical trios of all time.
But before its release, the group was faced with underlying drama and personal turmoil, causing many people to compare them to the reality TV sensation Survivor. As a result, Beyoncé used the criticism to fuel her songwriting and drew inspiration from the hit competition series to create the group’s most popular track to date.
Beyoncé took a negative comment and turned it into a smash hit
Before Destiny’s Child released Survivor in 2001, a lot of drama was happening behind the scenes, causing a radio station to joke that the group was turning into the reality TV sensation: CBS’s cutthroat competition series Survivor.
After a string of disagreements with Destiny’s Child’s manager, Mathew Knowles, OG members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson decided to leave the group, with outgoing member Farrah Franklin following in tow shortly after that.
As a result, many started to question why the group lost three of its members in such a short time frame. Some even joked that Luckett, Roberson, and Franklin had been “voted off the island,” just like an episode of Survivor.
Rather than let the ongoing criticism and drama get her down, Beyoncé decided to turn the negativity into something positive, resulting in her coming up with the lyrics for Survivor.
“Beyoncé was tired of people talking about the Destiny’s Child members changing asking, who was going to be the last one to survive?” Williams told Entertainment Weekly in 2016. “As the new member, I was being protective over the girls because I was just starting to know them. There are member changes in groups all the time. Things happen. I believe in the journey Destiny’s Child had to take to fulfill the group’s mission: to continue to empower everybody.”
The ‘Survivor’ theme continued with the music video
Shot in January 2001, the music video for Survivor premiered on MTV’s Making the Video on March 6, 2001.
The video opens up with Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams washing up on a beach “somewhere in the South Pacific.”
During Making the Video, fans got to go behind the scenes and see how Survivor came to be — how it was filmed at Point Dume State Beach in Malibu, California, and how the group drew inspiration from the Survivor series’ deserted-island premise.
While many people loved everything about the song and music video, some thought the track was aimed at Destiny’s Child’s former group members.
It was soon revealed that Luckett and Roberson weren’t pleased with the track, which they believed violated an agreement that prevented group members from making “any public comment of a disparaging nature concerning one another.”
As a result, the singers filed a lawsuit against Destiny’s Child and Sony Music, even though Beyoncé claimed the song was not directed toward anyone. The suit was eventually settled a few months later.
‘Survivor’ is one of Destiny’s Child’s most successful singles of all time
Though there was a ton of drama behind the making and the release of Survivor, the song still went on to become Destiny’s Child most successful track to date.
Not only did it debut at number 43 on the Hot 100 in February of 2001 and quickly climb to the No. 2 spot on the music chart, but it also won the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 2002 Grammy Awards.
Today, Survivor is still Destiny’s Child’s second highest-debuting single and currently holds a spot on Billboard’s list of 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time.