Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Ciara: I’m no Beyoncé clone

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Helena Christensen in Thierry Mugler

The r'n'b star tells Davina Morris that negative energy wont stop her from focusing on her goals

ONCE upon a time, music artists could keep audiences entertained with, erm, their music.

Now, with much of the entertainment world being driven by sleaze and scandal, an artist’s music ability almost plays second

fiddle to any juicy info that can be attached to their career.

For Ciara, it was arguably a blessing and a curse that she was accused of copying fellow R’n’B singer, Beyoncé. After being out of the spotlight for a little while, the Atlanta native recently made a grand return to the music fold with her saucy single, Love Sex Magic, a collaboration with Justin Timberlake. While there was a decent amount of attention given to some of the steamy scenes between Ciara and Timberlake in the video, what really sent the blogging world into a frenzy was Ciara’s alleged ‘swagger jacking’. In other words, she was accused of pinching a style similar to that of Beyoncé in B’s video for her song, Diva.

Granted, nobody wants to be called a copy-cat. But the accusation certainly provided a hefty amount of publicity for the Goodies singer.

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Still, Ciara refutes the allegation. “It would be really wack and cheesy for me to go and emulate something that another artist had already done,” she says. “When I saw some of the comparisons that people made, I really just thought, ‘Wow – these people have really got time on their hands!’ I just laughed at it.”

CIARA continues: “This is a small and creative industry. I mean, for my Go Girl video, I wore [designer] Thierry Mugler, and I know that Beyoncé is now planning on using Thierry Mugler for her tour. So it’s a small creative world and unless you really dig into who is doing what, you’ll never know what’s going on. I think people spent way too much energy focusing on that.” Perhaps. That’s why it’s always great to speak directly to artists so they can set the record straight on rumours that surround them. And for Ciara, the drama that’s been attached to her name hasn’t gone unnoticed.

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It was also recently alleged that she was getting dissed by fellow songstress Keri Hilson in the remix of the song,

Turnin’ Me On. Hilson soon announced - and told us at here! - that her song wasn’t intended to be a pop at anyone. But did Ciara think she was being dissed when she heard the song? “You never know,” she admits. “There were a lot of rumours out there but I didn’t want to get caught up in that negative energy. If it was said that that wasn’t what [that song] was intended for, then I just leave it at that. To be worrying about that is the last thing on my mind.

“My ultimate goal is to be the best that I can be. I always try to stay positive and focus on what my goals are, you

know what I mean? When people say negative things, of course, it’s a bit aggravating. But if anything it motivates me. I believe that there’s a great journey ahead of me, so I just stay focused on what I want to achieve.”

You can perhaps understand the aggravation. Ciara hasn’t even been able to plug her new album, Fantasy Ride, without having to defend her choice to keep a collaboration with R’n’B singer Chris Brown in the mix. She joined forces with Brown

for the track, Turntables. But in light of Brown’s alleged assault of his ex-girlfriend Rihanna, some questioned why Ciara chose to keep the song on her album. “I love the way the song sounds and so I kept it,” she says. “It’s not about somebody’s personal world.

It’s all about the music. I understand that people connect to artists in their own way. Some people go further than connecting to just the music. But from my perspective as an artist, in terms of doing a song with another artist, it really was all about the music. I wasn’t gonna get caught up into everything else that had been going on.”

Another Ciara-related issue that’s been much talked about is her alleged romantic link with rapper, 50 Cent. Their ‘friendship’ has to be one of the industry’s worst kept secrets, yet it made news earlier this month that the pair allegedly spent a night together in a hotel. How does Ciara define her relationship with Fiddy?

“He’s definitely a cool guy and he’s definitely one of my good friends and that’s pretty much it.” Right. Does she have any

thoughts on the wellpublicised beef between her “good friend” 50 and fellow rapper Rick Ross?

“Ah... no. I leave that to the rappers. I don’t really get into it that much.” Rivalry between rappers and alleged swagger jacking between singers; does Ciara think men or women are worse when it comes to the drama?

“Er... men! They have beefs like every other day. I don’t think that’s the right thing for me to get into.”

Of course not – Ciara has her sights set on much bigger goals.

“I just want to be the best artist that I can possibly be. I hope to one day become an icon or a legend, and be known as one of the hardest working women in this industry.”

Fantasy Ride is out today on Sony BMG

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ESSENCE.COM: You recently commented on the ridiculous rumor that you were born a man and had undergone a sex change. Now that you’ve been voted one of People’s 100 Most Beautiful do you feel validated at all?
CIARA: I know I don’t look like a man, never did and never will. I don’t feel I need any validation. I don’t like to focus on the negative so I don’t worry about silly stuff like that. The rumors and comments are all for entertainment so I never looked to anyone for validation.

ESSENCE.COM: Folks criticized you for not opting to pull the duet you did with labelmate Chris Brown. Have you spoken to him since his legal woes?
CIARA: I haven’t spoken to him at all. The song we did together wasn’t a new record and is one of my favorite songs on my album and I just tried to stay focused on the music and not people’s personal’s lives.

ESSENCE.COM: When your album’s release was postponed the blogosphere was abuzz with speculations that Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, who was also supposed to drop his album on the same day last year, was behind that decision. Is that true?
CIARA: (Laughs.) That’s crazy! He’s a good friend of mine and he seems to do a lot of great things and have a lot of power in that world, but pushing back my album? No, I wanted to take my time and finish perfecting my album. I’ve done this before and it was more about me not rushing and just choosing singles out of pocket. It was my decision to take my time. I hope to one day be an icon and that can’t be rushed. I admire people like Diddy and Oprah, so I plan to get my P-Oprah on and be a legend—one of the best entertainers of all time.

That sure sound familiar doesn't it??

Beyonce Wants to Be an Icon--Tired of being just a Pop Star

Beyonce: 'I'm Over Being a Pop Star'

Beyonce Knowles wants more than pop stardom -- she wants to be an icon!

The singer and actress tells UK's Marie Claire that although she's reached great heights in her career, she's got even bigger goals.

The Grammy winner had this to say:

"I'm over being a pop star. I don't wanna be a hot girl. I wanna be iconic. And I feel like I've accomplished a lot. I feel like I'm highly respected, which is more important than any award or any amount of records. And I feel like there comes a point when being a pop star is not enough."

Beyonce also talks about gaining 20 lbs. for her role playing soul singer Etta James in the upcoming film 'Cadillac Records.' After gaining the weight, Beyonce had to shed the pounds quickly for another role in the psychological thriller 'Obsessed.' She said gaining the weight was "so much fun," but losing weight made her "angry" with herself.

The talented, self-proclaimed "workaholic" is scheduled to release her next album in November – although it is still untitled, the mag says.

Posted September 03, 2008 11:39:00 PM

Album Review
Ciara needs to stay in the groove

May 4, 2009

Ciara Fantasy Ride

Why do the party girls always want to be divas?

Ciara's best songs have always been dance jams that exploit her breathy vocals on record and breathtaking moves on video. See: "Goodies," "1, 2, Step," "I Proceed."

On her third release, the queen of the club wastes way too much time trying to convince the listener that she's some kind of chanteuse.
Songs like the droning, hook-free "Like a Surgeon" - not an A-game effort for songwriting team Tricky and The-Dream - and "Never Ever," which lazily bites the entire chorus melody of the soul classic "If You Don't Know Me By Now," only expose how thin Ciara's voice really is. Exacerbating the problem is the bloodless, mechanized production that make expressions of emotion oddly chilly and robotic.

Like most contemporary R&B records, "Fantasy Ride" is loaded with guests, some of whom shine (The-Dream is dreamy as a duet partner on "Lover's Thing"), while others can't find their glow (Justin Timberlake coasts through the Prince knock-off "Love Sex Magic" and Young Jeezy massacres "Never Ever" with his whiny growl).

When she puts the emphasis back on the groove, which is about half the album, however, Ciara soars. Reteaming with Missy Elliott - the best of the album's costars - for "Work," Ciara takes her own advice to "put some snap into it" and nimbly navigates synth bleats and burps and a shake-and-shimmy beat. The sassy "Pucker Up" puts her penchant for swirling keyboard washes to funky use. And "G Is for Girl (A-Z)" is a slinky, funny stroll through the alphabet that illustrates the many types of girl power. (Out tomorrow) SARAH RODMAN
© Copyright 2009 Globe Newspaper Company.

Published: May 3, 2009

“Fantasy Ride”

There’s nothing solid about Ciara, the sinewy Atlanta R&B singer whose whisper has floated above and dripped onto some of the most crooked soul music of the last five years. Invariably, though, those songs were more emphatic than Ciara is. Like liquid — or better, gas — she merely fit her singing to the container provided.

But what if that’s an asset? On “Fantasy Ride,” her third album, there are as many Ciaras as there are songs, maybe more. And even by the Auto-Tuned, falsettoed, post-nightclub conventions of contemporary R&B, this is a colossally strange record: Ciara is taxed like never before.

If she’s sweating, though, it’s not audible. As per usual Ciara, a singer who prizes rhythm over texture and technical fluency, can’t do much to outmaneuver the beats, which are consistently inventive here. “Lover’s Thing” recalls Maurice Starr-era New Edition, and the hollow-bodied funk on “G Is for Girl (A-Z)” sounds like the early work of the Neptunes. “Turntables” features a seemingly inevitable post-“Slumdog Millionaire” A. R. Rahman sample, and “Never Ever” is a spry reworking of “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.

But while Ciara is adaptable as ever — the welcome dash of female sexual aggression on “Like a Surgeon” is an unexpected twist — she’s still curiously anonymous. (On “Love Sex Magic,” Justin Timberlake out-sings her, notable because Mr. Timberlake is many things — including the co-producer of this moist disco-soul number — vocal powerhouse not among them.)

Two of the album’s highlights show how to rescue Ciara, both from herself and from others. On “High Price,” produced by Tricky Stewart and The-Dream, her vocals are manipulated to sound like opera, a spooky, ethereal effect that’s both innovative and surprisingly natural. Matched with eyebrow-arching lyrics, it’s the most conspicuous song here, and the best.

By contrast, the album’s closer, “I Don’t Remember,” a barely there production by Polow Da Don, asks almost nothing of her. And with no real shape to adapt to, she sings in a sweet, soft voice that may well have been nudged into submission all these years but is tangy enough to give those nudgers second thoughts next time around. JON CARAMANICA

Album reviews: Ciara & Chrisette Michele
07:59 PM PT, May 4 2009

Ciara's long-delayed third album, "Fantasy Ride," includes one cut for which she's been taking flak. "Turntables" is a duet with Chris Brown, a song the Atlanta-based hip-pop ingénue opted not to remove even after Brown allegedly battered his ex-girlfriend, Rihanna, in a February incident for which he's now facing criminal charges. The song, produced by Timbaland associate Nate "Danja" Hills, does have the whirlpool pull of a hit, thanks in part to the synergistic tension between Ciara and Brown; still, the question remains, why did she feel it was worth the compromise?

The violence between Brown and Rihanna now haunts the R&B scene, and not just those who work with or know the two. We're all still living in the unresolved moment after Rihanna's bruised face entered our vision. Without necessarily addressing that image, "Fantasy Ride" and this week's other significant R&B release, Chrisette Michele's "Epiphany," touch upon the issues that again arose in its wake, confronting the intimate power plays that black American singers have chronicled at least since the time when blues queens like Ma Rainey sang about their "sweet, rough men."

"Fantasy Ride" goes the superheroine route so popular among today's pop ingenues. Originally intended as a triptych divided into one hip-hop-flavored disc, another featuring futuristic club cuts and yet another of seductive ballads, this final version is intriguing but inconsistent.

Ciara follows Beyoncé/Sasha Fierce in giving herself an alter ego, "Super C," who supposedly sings the more aggressive songs here. But that Ciara doesn't seem any more false -- or real -- than the one murmuring the duller love songs. Either way, she's an R&B version of Mystique from the "X-Men" comics, surviving in a treacherous world by constantly changing shape.

More agile than powerful, Ciara takes on different styles as if they were disguises: shimmery on ballads produced by Polow da Don and Tricky Stewart and The-Dream; teeth bared for "Love Sex Magic," her Madonna-esque duet with Justin Timberlake; and simultaneously sneering and operatic on the daring, Ludacris-fortified "High Price." Like so many vocalists in the Michael Jackson mold, she is skilled in the arts of the moan, the stutter and the whisper. Her slim voice responds well to studio trickery, like another synthesizer in the mix.

Her mutability undermines calls for strength such as "G is for Girl (A-Z)." Ciara's ultimate message seems to be: Avoid real intimacy -- stay on the surface, where you won't get lost or damaged.

Michele, on the other hand, is all depth; it's her music's exterior that some think needs some more gloss. A classic neo-soul artist like her forebear Jill Scott and her current producer, Ne-Yo, she won a Grammy for her 2007 debut, "I Am," but not much commercial success. "Epiphany" adds stronger beats and a few more effects to pianist Michele's John Legend-like sound, but Ne-Yo doesn't betray his protégé's character: "Epiphany" is a quiet pleasure that unfolds upon repeated listening.

Unlike Ciara's action-movie dance pop, "Epiphany" requires work. Only the Rodney Jerkins-produced "Playin' Our Song" will get heads bobbing; mostly the tempos are mid, and the mood is fine and mellow. What makes this slow-grower of a disc appealing is the sophistication of Michele's singing. She's wise beyond her 26 years, able to mine the depths of love's contradictions instead of turning them into come-ons and kiss-offs.

Michele uses jazz- and blues-based techniques to cover a wide range of emotions in each song: fear turning into hope on the title breakup song; seductiveness with a twist of anxiety on "Fragile" and the Lauryn Hill-inspired "Mr. Right"; resignation turning into hope on "Another One." Blessed with a curvy, Billie Holiday-like vocal timbre and an exquisite sense of melody, Michele consistently rejects melodrama (take some notes, Amy Winehouse!), instead going further into the nuances of meaningful expression. Ne-Yo adds a bit of sharkskin shine to her classicism, but doesn't undermine her.

This is ground previously trod not only by singers like Scott but novelists such as Terry McMillan and even the Empress of the Healthy Self, Oprah Winfrey. But Michele is more wry than most feel-good sisters, and never sentimental. She doesn't offer any solutions to the predicament of women caught up in sweet, rough love; like those blues queens of yore, she just takes you there. The journey is gift enough.

--Ann Powers

Fantasy Ride

Two and a half stars

Chrisette Michele
Island/Def Jam
Three and a half stars


Ciara: She's in the mix for #1.

Next week, Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown hits the street on Friday, May 15, followed by Eminem’s Relapse on May 19, if that date isn't moved up.


Chrisette Michele and Ciara Debuts, Will Vie with Hanna Montana for Top Spot

May 6, 2009

Three very different divas hold the key to next week’s HITS Album Sales chart race.

A pair of debuts from LaFace/JLG’s Ciara and Def Jam/IDJ’s Chrisette Michele will be next week’s top chart newcomers, each looking to score in the 70-80k range.

Ciara’s Fantasy Ride, her third album, will benefit from her Saturday Night Live performance this weekend, while Chrisette’s Epiphany, the follow-up to her 2007 debut I Am, should see action after being priced at $2.99 all week at Amazon.

The race for #1 could come down to a three-way race between those two and Disney’s Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack, which could emerge as a dark horse with increased Mother’s Day store traffic from dad and the kids.

Other promising debuts include Ferret’s Devil Wears Prada, a Dayton, OH, anti-materialist Christian metal-core outfit (25-30k) and Virgin’s Ben Harper and the Relentless7 (20-25k), followed by Hickory American Idol alum Elliott Yamin, Columbia Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts and UMe’s artist formerly kinown as Cat Stevens, Yusuf, all at 15-20k. E1’s Hatebreed round out the newcomers, with a total in the 12-15k range.

Next week, Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown hits the street on Friday, May 15, followed by Eminem’s Relapse on May 19, if that date isn't moved up.

The market was basically flat vs. last week, down 18% from last year, and now down 13% to date.

Is anybody alive out there? Just asking.


  1. Dont be so rude with cici!
    I think we need an alternative version of the blog:like cicisucks cause riri sucks for sure with that horrid new HOE bad :-(

  2. you done did ur research girl! you the best!!
    liked ciara a loooong time ago, when I heard about her alter ego I was done with her, I knew she was pulling a riho!


  4. Never really liked Ciara, she can hardly sing.
    but on the Thierry Mugler issue, I don't think those outfits fit Beyonce either. She's sweet and cute and she doesn't have to look like an alien to draw our attention. I know she wanted to try something new, edgy and fierce...But I personally don't think it fits her. Still, I loved the way she looked in the Giant magazine photoshoot :D

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As is implied and emphatically stated, this blog is in regards to the lack of talent and all that is the boring cloned puppet rihanna. If it upsets you...... TOUGH...... jaw juggle some ballz bitchez. :-) feel free to comment