The Three-Strikes law in the US was created to inflict harsher punishments on repeat offenders as a way of deterring habitual criminal activity. Sadly, a similar rule does not exist in the entertainment industry and several artists continue to abuse our ears with music that should be illegal. For instance, Ciara and her new self-titled album.
After burdening listeners with the slow-selling Fantasy Ride and its less than impressive followup, Basic Instinct, Ciara has been given another shot at success with Ciara. However, rather than staging a triumphant comeback with brilliant material reflective of an artist who has experienced both the highs and lows of this fickle industry, the performer has released one of her weakest albums to date.
The record comprises mostly uninspired tripe with little artistic depth or musical diversity. If you assumed that after enduring a public fallout with her former label, Jive Records, and terrible record sales, Ciara has crafted introspective songs that tell the story of her tumultuous journey back to prominence, you are sorely mistaken. Rather, this album only paints one picture: happy hour at your neighbourhood strip club.
Tracks such as the Rock City-produced “Keep on Lookin'” and the latest single, “I’m Out (Ft. Nicki Minaj)”, place more emphasis on production than lyrical content and remind us that songwriting is truly an art that isn’t easy to master. Just listen to the bridge of the latter tune to hear one of the worst written pieces of music put forward this year.
Now, a dramatic reading of Ciara’s “I’m Out”:
“The way I put it on you got you goin’ trippy, trippy (whoa)
You wanna come for it, wishin’ you could get it, get it (whoa)
I got you hot, make you stop when you see me, see me
You got your hand up, talking ’bout, “gimme, gimme”
Even when Ciara does try to get personal, she falls just short of being good enough. The only song on Ciara that relates directly to her life is “Where You Go”, which features her boyfriend, Future, but the ode to their relationship is so lacklustre that I suddenly developed a new appreciation for Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s “Something in Common”. Perhaps I’m just bias against auto-tune or Future’s throaty
yelping singing but either way, “Where You Go” won’t make my list of greatest duets.
Unfortunately, the nonsense doesn’t end there. Despite her ongoing feud with Rihanna, Ciara does her best to channel the Bajan star on “Sophomore”, which sounds as though it was cut from the final lineup of Talk That Talk. In fact, Ciara even imitates Rihanna’s delivery, though with far less memorable results, as she chants “oh na na” over the Soundz production. Why “Sophomore” was included on this album instead of the more impressive buzz single “Sweat (Ft. 2 Chainz)” is beyond my comprehension.
Other than the bass-driven production and words strung together in a failed attempt at forming proper lyrics, we must take a moment to acknowledge Ciara’s singing. Surely, it is a known, indisputable fact that she is not a very talented vocalist and she simply does her best with her limited vocal range. Still, Ciara should be commended for the improvement she displayed on this album.
Don’t be fooled, though, because Ciara is still just one rung on the singers’ pyramid above Cassie and her voice remains completely void of character. This is exemplified on the songs “Body Party” and “DUI”, which are diluted versions of Janet Jackson’s work, minus the icon’s ability to sing without a sprinkle of studio magic.
However, all is not lost for Ciara as there are a few tracks on this album that are actually good. Leading the pack is the potential crossover hit “Overdose” – why this wasn’t promoted on Top 40/Mainstream radio as a double single with the Urban “Body Party” should be explained by Ciara’s team before whoever is responsible is immediately fired – “Livin’ it Up (Ft. Nicki Minaj)” and “Read My Lips”. The last of those tunes may seem forgettable at first listen but it is definitely a grower that can gain momentum across the Top 40, Rhythmic and even Urban formats.
Why haven’t I mentioned “Super Turnt Up” yet? What you really need to ask yourself is why this song even featured on the album, why won’t this silly phrase just go away, and why on sweet Mother Earth did Ciara record such a juvenile, pointless and utterly stupid track?
In the end, Ciara has put forward an album that does little to push her career forward as it shows little artistic growth and absolutely no progression in the sound of act who has been in this industry for almost a decade. If this is really Ciara’s final strike then she has certainly struck out. Will I purchase this album? No-o-o-o-oooo!
Standout tracks: “Overdose”, “Body Party” and “Read My Lips”
Weakest track: “Super Turnt Up (Ft. Ciara)”
Possible singles: “Overdose” and “Read My Lips”
The Lava Lizard Rating: 1.5/5 Stars