First Hit #1: July 17, 1999
I’ve associated Bills, Bills, Bills so closely with TLC’s No Scrubs that I kept forgetting it wasn’t a TLC song. It’s pretty much the exact same subject matter, again chastising a man for not having money, in this case also sponging off of his girlfriend, who is a member of Destiny’s Child. It’s even more money focused than TLC’s song, since it’s pretty much entirely about his inability to pay back all the crap he’s borrowing, rather than TLC’s more wide ranging criticism of general sloth.
But that’s not why Bills is interesting, it’s instead because the song represents something actually new. The women of Destiny’s Child can certainly go full-bore diva, but instead they sing in a choppy manner over a staccato, minimal beat. It’s still of the time, but it’s something quite different than the regular chart at this point. It’s a new sound, almost de-emphasizing the typical diva vocal and heading into a direction that is almost mechanical and very spare. It’s an interesting evolution of the typical hip hop sound, taking everything in a cut down, slightly jarring direction. It doesn’t sound much like anything on the pop chart, though it reminds me of the music of Super Mario World in a very broad sense.
It’s exciting not for a message, which TLC did better, but because it’s going in a completely different direction musically.