If love were ever a dominant subject in regards to music and lyrics, then it has slowly but surely been replaced with sex.
This is exemplified by Ciara's latest self-titled album, released July 5.
Ciara first came out onto the music scene with the single "Goodies," in early 2004. Since then, Ciara has not only collaborated with chart toppers like Usher and Missy Elliot, but she created her own platform as one of few female artists in the R&B/pop genre. "Ciara," her fifth studio album, features 11 original songs and is her first album since "Basic Instinct," that was released in 2010.
Having laid low for three years, Ciara let way for fellow female musicians/competition Nicki Minaj and Alicia Keys. While most musicians take advantage of their recent successes and milk it for all they can, releasing album on album within just a few months of each other, Ciara took time to find the right "vibe" for the album. Alas, that "vibe" wasn't possible without some disappointments.
Over the past three years, Ciara's representatives released three different singles that were supposedly on the forthcoming album, but since they all tanked, producers scrapped them. Last April, producers finally released the track list after two failed attempts, and it featured a new song as the lead single entitled "Body Party."
It's clear that this single was expertly created and highly manipulated to place Ciara in the spotlight after the previous failed attempts. The song has reached number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number eight on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts, and is without a doubt the best track off "Ciara." Whether it was the extra attention producers gave it or just a good cookie among a bunch of spoiled ones, "Body Party" thoroughly refocuses Ciara's image as a musician and her focus on music that is sex.
These days, pop radio audiences are constantly hearing sex-tinged lyrics and promiscuous sayings that are not only R-rated but also quite inappropriate for everyday listening. Ciara is only making the case worse with lyrics like "Baby take your time now there's no need to rush / we can go another round if that's what you want / cause tonight it's going down yeah you know it's going down / we in the zone now, don't stop."
As she obviously retells a situation she had with her significant other in song, Ciara may be reliving a delightful moment for herself, but there is a disconnect in meaning and value in the song's lyrics, leaving the listener with a distasteful sound on their palette.
The lyrics may ruin the first layer of music on "Body Party," but the rest of the track is expertly produced. Ciara's falsetto has no trouble reaching the high notes, and the beat is strong, prominent and guides the whole song. The structure of the song is quite basic, but is made interesting with faded and added effects obviously done by computers. Although, kudos to the producers Mike Will Made It, P-Nasty and Ciara's boyfriend Future on creating the perfect balance of computer and voice that dominates the R&B sound today.
The second single off the album is "I'm Out," featuring Nicki Minaj. As the first track off the album, the clearly explicit song begins what seems like a rap album, but is really not. Minaj dominates the track with her own lines, while Ciara attempts to follow her beat but fails. The song has one rap layer, a sample layer, a completely different chorus, then another layer and continues like that. With no definite dimension, the song is messy and unorganized, and definitely not the best start to the album.
With the exception of "Body Party," the album follows this unorganized pattern, and by the end of the album, it's clear that the only theme developed is that before mentioned sex element.
As Ciara croons "give me more" in the track "sophomore," it's evident that the producers took much confidence in the saying "sex sells" when making this album. "Body Party" is the diamond among the rough, while the rest of "Ciara" remains unorganized and not very entertaining.
While most collections contain a story or common motif, "Ciara" only further establishes the fact that innocent, unadulterated love no longer exists in pop music, if it ever did in the first place.
"Ciara" by Ciara is available to listen to on Spotify.