What Does Ciara’s Return Mean for R&B?

Her Goodies were once kept safe in a jar, but now they’re Super Turnt Up.

Yes, Ciara Harris, the princess of Crunk, the mistress of the dance floor, the champion of booty shaking music has returned. And this time, things are looking up.

Album Artwork
Album Artwork

If you asked me a year ago about Ciara, I would have replied with a sarcastic “who?” Or directed you to the closest Billboard chart she didn’t make it on. I was always fan of her music (besides Goodies), but she was in a major slump and everyone could tell.

Plagued with record label issues, Ciara’s last album debuted at 44 on the charts. Number like these would put any musician out of work. Instead, she got another record deal and decided to start over. Although I had hope for her, things seemed bleak with three failed singles, however Body Party changed things.

Even though Body Party broke top 40, it peaked at just 25, and in Ciara’s prime she would have at least hit top 10. Nonetheless, it was still an improvement from her previous singles. But part of me feels like Ciara’s career woes say less about Ciara, and more about the state of R&B. It seems like the music industry is in a weird phase where dark, trap beats have consumed urban radio and dubstep-stuffed dance floor anthems have taken over mainstream top 40 music. While there are exceptions to this like Robin Thicke and Bruno Mars, we’re currently living in a world where the Ashantis, Keyshia Coles, and Myas can barely survive. Some could say these women are tired and older. But unlike other genres there have been no new hopefuls successful enough to step up and replace their late 1990s/early 2000s successors.

For every Britney, Madonna and Cher, there’s a Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez. And we’ve seen artist like Frank Ocean and Miguel transform the R&B genre to something now called “progressive R&B” (which I’m not 100% for), but when was the last time you’ve seen a young R&B female vocalist take over the radio airwaves. What does this mean for urban music? I’m not sure. But I do know that the music industry is constantly changing and going through cycles. We’ll see where it goes next.

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Beyonce Keeps it Simple

By Chris McPherson

In my nightly scan of the blogosphere I find millions of things. Unreleased songs with promise that never see the light of day, the newest sliver of juicy details celebrity gossip (FYI: Miley and Liam are now sleeping in different rooms—so sad), and a megastorm of new images. Last night, I came across an interesting photo of Beyoncé that I really liked. Here’s why.

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If you popped “Beyoncé” into any search engine, you’ll get a world of data. But try an image search and you’ll see the R&B (sometimes pop, gotta make that money), in a wide array of different “wigs” literally and figuratively. You’ll see pictures of her in movies, on stage performing, and some promotional endorsement ads. No matter which “wig” (project) the songstress may be fronting, she’s usually seen in a blonde wig. Blonde Beyoncé is pretty much the main Beyoncé. I can safely say it’s her most frequent choice.

Recently some new pictures have leaked from her and Jay Z’s controversial trip to Cuba. Looking thought the images, seeing her stripped down without much makeup, or extravagant clothing and extensions. Just simple long dark BROWN braids. I must say it was refreshing to see her like this.

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I know that it’s a bit ridiculous for me to take the time out to focus on Beyoncé’s hair decisions, but it was a nice break for her. I think that she should rock the braids more. I’m not saying I’m some natural fanatic, I’ve seen that black women have been gravitating towards wearing their hair more natural and long box braids (90’s Brandyesqe) have climbed back into trends, but I think Black women—intact any women should be able to wear their hear any way they see fit. But I will say that seeing Beyoncé with a simpler look never made her look more beautiful. And the huge bleach blonde Beyoncé I saw today on the Pepsi ad in Times Square won’t change my views on that.

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Tunes Remembered While Tardy

My junior year I decided to take a graphic design class. I was late all the time. It was my first time living on a different part of campus and I couldn’t rely on waking up for class 10 minutes before start time and expect to get there right on time.

Every Monday and Wednesday I rushed to class, walking swiftly- well as swiftly as I could. One thing I couldn’t do was walk to class without a pair of headphones to amp up my walk a bit.

I can’t remember what playlist I listened to at that time, but I remember now song I always listened to every day was Cupid’s Got a Gun by R&B singer, Shanell. The song also featured a rap verse by Nicki Minaj. I’m pretty sure I listened to that song every time I walked to class.

Shannel sang “He told me love was pain.”

More than two years later and I’m now in grad school working on news story about bioscience summer camps in Rochester for my public relations internship. My iPod is on shuffle, and Cupid comes on. I don’t think I’ve heard the song since my junior year, I guess I lost interest a long the way.

It brought back to my mind then. When that song was an everyday thing for me. I was 19 going on 20. I barely knew what I wanted to do with my life. I’ve had so many experiences since then. Some great, some egregious. But I’m just glad, I can look back and know that I’ve grown past who I was back then. Yes, I still have the tendency to run into a room five to ten minutes later than scheduled time, but some things never really change.