Picks and Pans Review: Survivor

updated 05/07/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/07/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Destiny's Child (Columbia)

Destiny's Child is the Law & Order of the pop charts, having churned through a series of lineup changes while its audience has only grown. In December 1999 original members LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett stormed out of the group, leaving Beyoncé Knowles and Kelly Rowland behind. They were immediately joined by Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin, but the latter only lasted five months. The survivors carried on as a threesome with a string of hit singles including "Say My Name" and "Independent Women Part 1."

Having thrived despite much critical razzing of their backstage squabbles, Destiny's Child steps up with strong female-empowerment themes on Survivor. "Independent Women Part 1" (a smash after it appeared on last fall's Charlie's Angels soundtrack), its sequel, "Independent Women Part 2," and the title track are thumping, fist-pumping anthems for today's young women.

Artistically, though, Destiny's Child needs to grow up a little. Such formulaic R&B girl-group fare as "Bootylicious," "Fancy" and "Sexy Daddy" aren't nearly worthy of their gorgeous three-part harmonies. Still, their lush, lilting cover of the Bee Gees-written Samantha Sang ballad "Emotion"—on which they rival the brothers Gibb—shows that their musical destiny looks bright.

Bottom Line: Still a work in progress

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