Bills, Bills, Bills

Album: The Writing's On The Wall (1999)
Charted: 6 1


  • This song is about a man who gradually becomes more dependent on his girlfriend for money; he runs up bills and then asks his girl to pay them. Kandi Burruss and Kevin "She'kspare" Briggs, who had already written the song "Bug A Boo" for the group and had worked with TLC on "No Scrubs," came up with "Bills" on their second trip to Houston to write songs for Destiny's Child. Briggs got the idea for the "can you pay my bills?" hook when they were in a grocery store. According to Burruss, she came up with the melody, and made sure the song wasn't about desperate girls looking for a guy to pay their way, but ladies who thought they deserved better than a man who never picked up the tab. Burruss based many of the lyrics on a true story: a guy she dated would drive around her car and use her cell phone while she put gas in it.

    When Burruss and Briggs went back to the studio, they had a writing session and worked on the song with group members Beyoncé Knowles and LeToya Luckett, who got writing credits on the song for contributing lyrics (this is something Beyoncé would often do: work with experienced writers and grab a lucrative writing credit on her songs). By the end of the session, they figured out that the reason they were asking a guy to pay their bills was because the guy was running them up, a distinction lost on listeners who heard only the chorus and figured the girls were looking for a sugar daddy.
  • This was the first single released from Destiny's Child's second album The Writing's On The Wall, and it became their first #1 hit. Beyoncé was just 17 when they recorded it, and was still using her last name. There were four girls in the band, and the song's co-writer, Kandi Burruss, was about 10 years away from becoming a Real Housewife of Atlanta. Burruss did have girl group experience - she was a member of Xscape, who had a hits with "Just Kickin' It" and "The Arms of the One Who Loves You."
  • This was the second hit for Destiny's Child with a title made up the same word repeated three times. Their first hit was "No No No."
  • A dancer in the video, Farrah Franklin, joined the group after Letavia Robertson and LeToya Luckett quit in 2000. Franklin was fired a few months later after she did not show up for an MTV appearance.
  • This is certainly not the first song to find a woman complaining about her man's lack of financial prowess, but it is one of the more audacious takes on the matter, and the only song we've found in the genre to top the Hot 100. One of the first songs of the Rock Era to explore the topic was sung from a man's perspective: "Money (That's What I Want)," a 1959 Motown classic for Barrett Strong. One of the more enterprising lyrics in that one - "Your love gives me such a thrill, but your love can't pay my bills" - was written by a female writer at Motown named Janie Bradford.
  • Some listeners misinterpreted this song, thinking the girls were demanding that a guy pay their bills, a mistake made by listening to just the chorus and ignoring the verses. The next year, when Destiny's Child contributed a song to the Charlie's Angels soundtrack, they made sure the meaning was crystal clear: powerful women being able to take care of themselves. That song was "Independent Women Part I," a massive hit. Their next album, Survivor, was all about female empowerment.
  • Before taking up with Jay Z, Beyoncé was subjected to a passel of pickup lines. One of her least favorites: "I'll pay your bills."

Comments: 6

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyWell here's a natural; the #9 record on 9/9/99 {Sept. 9th, 1999} was "Bills, Bills, Bills" by Destiny's Child, eight weeks earlier it had peaked at #1 for one week...
    Between 1997 and 2005 the trio had fourteen records on Billboard's Top 100, ten made the Top 10 with four* reaching #1, besides "Bills, Bills, Bills", their three other #1s were "Say My Name" for 3 weeks in 2000, "Independent Women - Part One" for 11 weeks in 2000, and "Bootylicious" for 2 weeks in 2001...
    *They just missed having a fourth #1 record when "Survivor" peaked at #2 {for 7 weeks} in 2001, and for all seven weeks it was at #2, the #1 record was "All For You" by Janet Jackson...
  • Dale from Aurora, CoI'm sure Burruss would get mad when that guy would "use her cell phone while she put gas in it."
  • Danielle from Richmond, KyThese songs are really old..but its songs that you will always remember~!
  • Ronnie from Huddersfield, EnglandLead singer Pearl claims she can hold her breath underwater for three minutes
  • Alex from Gatineau, CanadaFirst #1 single for Destiny's Child, three more US #1s were to follow - Say My Name (2000, 3 weeks), Independant Women Pt. 1 (2000, 11 weeks), and Bootylicious (2001, 2 weeks)
  • Anna from Raleigh, NcGhetto, Ghetto, Ghetto
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