Sunday 30 September 2012

Whatever Happened To RnB? - Ciara

Music is always changing and what is popular one year might be derided as hilariously crap the next but there are certain genres that will always be around, albeit in different forms. Rock will always be rock, whether it’s indie or grunge, and rap will always be rap but RnB is RnB dammit and not this crap dance pop stuff that’s been knocking around the charts for the last couple of years. Do you remember when the term ‘quiet storm’ referred to sensual and mellow RnB and not a deaf person standing in the rain? Artists like Brandy, Mya and TLC used to rule the charts back in the late 90s and early 2000s but gradually, these singers either declined in popularity or sold out to perform a more poppier or dancey sound… I’m looking at you Rihanna and Usher! And damn you Guetta!

In this weekly feature, I’m going to take a look back at some of the best RnB artists of yesteryear, sharing their signature videos and underrated hits, as well as looking at what they’re up to nowadays.

Last week, we took a look at Cassie's career. Click here if you missed it. This week its Ciara's turn.

Hey Cici!

Ciara is one of those incredible old-school performers who sings and writes and just dances her ass off in every video she's ever done. When everyone else switched their style up to dance and pop to stay high in the charts, Ciara kept it RnB with her smooth voice and hip-hop beats. Inspired by the Jackson siblings growing up, Ciara was originally signed as a songwriter but what label in their right mind could keep that face out of the spotlight for long right? I've seen her live twice now, supporting Rihanna and Britney and while I'm obsessed with both of those artists, I've gotta say that I think Ciara upstaged them both with her dance routines and live vocals. Click below to see why.

Ciara made her first album 'Goodies' back in 2004 and with the release of the title track, everyone instantly wanted to know more about the Princess of Crunk&B. With that sultry voice gliding over Lil Jon's grinding beats, Ciara stood out amongst the RnB pack as someone to watch. Check out her debut video here.

'What up dawg?!'

The song shot to number one across the world and was quickly followed up by another smash single, '1, 2 Step', which continued Ciara's international success. This track also sparked the beginning of a friendship between Cici and Missy Elliott, who would collaborate on future tracks such as 'Lose Control' and 'Work'.

'I shake it like jell-o and make the boys say hello!'

2005 was a great year for Ciara, ending with her receiving four grammy nominations and winning Best Short Form Music Video for 'Lose Control'. I love the bit where Ciara is wearing the hoody and all you can see is her face lit up. So stunning. 

For most artists, the second album can be a difficult one but Ciara: The Evolution saw Cici top the billboard charts for the first time. Working with a wider range of producers such as The Neptunes and Darkchild, the album spawned the track 'Get Up' for the film 'Step Up', with a video that featured Magic Mike hottie Channing Tatum. 

For me however, the standout track from this album was the flawless 'Like A Boy', which saw Ciara make light of people who described her as too manly by playing both a male and a female dancer in the video. Check it out, it's one of her best.

No one can bend like that. She's clearly not human.

Following the album's release, Ciara had a number of collaborations hit the airwaves, with stars such as 50 Cent, Bow Wow (amidst romantic rumours) and rap collective Field Mob. In 2008, she was even named Billboard Woman of the Year! You go Cici!

After a number of delays, Ciara's next album, 'Fantasy Ride' was released the following year. While sales for the LP were less than her previous two albums, 'Fantasy Ride' did contain one of Ciara's biggest hits to date, 'Love, Sex, Magic'. Sure, an appearance from a certain Mr Timberlake didn't hurt sales of the song but I think it would have been just as good without Justin. The slick production and provocative video combine to make this one of my favourite Ciara songs.

Check out that bum slap!

After the success of 'Love, Sex and Magic', Ciara released a few more singles from the album, including 'Never Ever' and 'Work' which I LOVE, but none of them exactly set the charts alight.

Sorry Cici.

In 2010, the ever determined Ciara came back again with her fourth album 'Basic Instinct', which featured a more distinct hip-hop sound and bold lyrics. Cici even acknowledges her haters and steadily declining sales in a rap on the title track.

Y'all got her 'madder than a motherf*****!'

The lead single 'Ride' saw Ciara reunite with Ludacris on what is easily my favourite Cici track off all time. I love the slow dirty grind of the production, Ludacris delivers a killer rap and the whole thing just screams sex. Ciara has never been hotter or more provocative. See the video that was even banned on some music channels right here.

'With a rack like that and a back like that Cici better CC me' - genius!

'Ride' was followed by the singles 'Speechless' and 'Gimmie Dat', which saw Ciara continue her trademark hip-hop sound while the rest of the world began duetting with Guetta. Unfortunately, neither song performed particularly well and the lack of promotion led to Ciara leaving Jive Records and reuniting with LA Reid's label. Why didn't you release your Usher duet 'Turn It Up' Ciara!? This album track had a slightly more euro-pop sound that would have seen Cici gain some more success internationally.

In the latter part of 2012, Ciara announced the release of a new album 'One Woman Army'. The hip-hop track 'Sweat' was initially chosen to be the lead single but was then scrapped for unknown reasons. Instead, Ciara has now released the more chilled, mid-tempo song 'Sorry', which is quite a brave step for the usually upbeat artist. 'Sorry' is definitely one of her best 'quiet storm' hits though and in the video, Ciara still manages to throw a few dance moves in so what more could you ask for? Check out the new video right here.

There's no exact release date for 'One Woman Army' as of yet but the album should be out by the end of the year. I hope that this new release will change Ciara's fortunes and stop the steady decline that her album sales have seen since the release of her debut. I'm just worried that the album's traditional hip-hop and RnB sound will not be embraced in this current climate of dance orientated pop but for RnB and Ciara fans the world over, this is definitely a release to be excited about. To whet your appetite for now, here's a stunning promo picture that Ciara has released for the upcoming album.

Maybe the return of the auburn hair will bring her good luck!

Feel free to comment if you've enjoyed looking back at Ciara's career or if you think I've missed out any important songs. And don't forget to show Cici some love and pre-order your copy of 'One Woman Army' now! For a look at Missy Elliott's classic songs in the next edition of 'Whatever Happened To RnB?', click here.


  1. First time I've come across your Blog. Great post. I miss Ciara- was telling my boyfriend today that the same thing probably happened to her as what Biggie was telling Lil Kim- that if she acted too ghetto no one would buy her so she sexed it up. It's a shame really cos Ciara kept to herself and then a little kitten called Rhianna turned up and took over the charts. Ciara's songs are groovy as compared to the charts today. Anyway thanks for the post.

  2. Hey thanks for checking out the blog. I completely know what you mean, Rihanna just kind of took over and left Ciara in the dust. My favourite Ciara material is definitely the less commercial stuff. Still waiting for the new album! What do you think of her latest song?