When Ciara emerged to the front of the Atlanta music scene, she was only 18 years old. Goodies played a big part in the push of pop-R&B dominance of the mid-2000s. Ciara was the perfect artist for the time. Her mesmerizing dance moves coupled with her well-produced, catchy hits made her a force to be reckoned with in the pop world. Nearly a full decade later, Ciara shows that she still possesses all the talent that she is known for. After all the years, Ciara has matured but is still young. 2013’s self-titled album shows Ciara harnessing her talent, but still attempting to find herself as an artist.
The album kicks things off with a verse from the exuberant Nicki Minaj. Nicki’s appearance is energetic, as you might expect, and packed with lascivious lyrics. Ciara plays off of Nicki’s energy, and in turn ends up sounding very much like her, delivering her own half-sang half-rapped vocals. It’s easy to see that Ciara is trying to branch out to a style that is different from her traditional sound. However, instead of creating something unique she went more on the route of piggybacking off of other modern artist’s successes. It’s clear that “I’m Out” is a fling at a commercial hit. Even knowing the intention, it’s hard to be mad at the intro of Ciara because it’s still a fun song.
Ciara is at her best when she is being herself. Ciara’s undeniably sexy voice is perfect for making smooth, R&B ballads. The album’s lead single, “Body Party”, is her showcasing her ability and creating what could be called a spiritual successor to 2006’s “Promise”. Ciara’s vocals mesh perfectly with the Mike Will Made It beat, who continues his hot streak with a synthy, resonating beat. This slow burning style, accentuating the soft, fluid vocals also makes up for the best song on Ciara, “DUI”.
There’s more moments where Ciara seems to lose focus and too much influence from another artist starts to drip in. Nicki Minaj’s fingerprints are all over this album. On top of having two features on the album, I was almost tricked into thinking she had a third. The dubstep-infused “Super Turnt Up” starts out sounding more like a traditional Ciara track, with dance heavy electronic instrumentation, but towards the end Ciara gets down to straight up rapping. The style is definitely similar to that of Nicki Minaj, and it’s all in all a weird experience when combined with all the vocal effects going down on “Super Turnt Up”. Once again, this instance of Ciara straying outside of her usual territory makes up for one of the low points of the album.
At its best, Ciara has some really good pop music. The production, writing, singing, and overall packaging comes together to make ideal pop-R&B records. Unfortunately, inconsistency keeps Ciara from being a masterpiece. It almost seems silly to say that it had that kind of potential, but if this album was made up of 11 tracks at the level of “Body Party”,“DUI”, and the Future-assisted “Where You Go”, this might’ve been elevated to another level. That’s not to take away from Ciara. This is a pretty good album for fans of dance-pop or contemporary R&B.
// Notes from the Road
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