Ciara is the eponymously-titled fifth studio album by Ciara which was released on July 9, 2013 by Epic Records (Sony Music). The original album title was "One Woman Army."
This is her first release under Epic since she publicly asking the now-defunct Jive Records to release her from her contractual obligations.
On this album, she is reunited with her long-term mentor and friend L.A. Reid, chairmen of Epic Records.
L.A. Reid is credited with discovering Ciara in 2003 along with signing her to his LaFace Records label and executively producing her debut studio album "Goodies."
The third album "Fantasy Ride" was plagued with issues which resulted in Ciara changing management part way through the album's production and dropping the idea of a 3-disc concept album.
Additionally many of the records leaked online prior to the album's release; as a result, "Basic Instinct" was recorded in strict confidentiality.
"Basic Instinct" sold just 37,000 copies in its first week in the United States, and became her first album to miss the top-three on the Billboard 200.
At the time, Ciara said that she wasn't interested in first week sales or the album's commercial performance, but rather in building her brand as an artist.
According to the LA Times' Gerrick Kennedy, the lack of commercial success with "Basic Instinct" was attributable to multiple pushbacks and the leaking of material from the album's recording sessions.
In February of 2011, Ciara revealed that her relationship with her record label was not on positive terms. Jive had not properly financial supported "Fantasy Ride" or "Basic Instinct."
She self-funded some of the album's promotions, including her last single "Gimmie Dat" and in the end, she wrote a public letter asking to be released from her record obligations.
Several months later in July of the same year, it was revealed that Ciara would be reuniting with LA Reid by signing to his Epic Records label.
Reid had previously signed Ciara to LaFace Records at the start of her career and played a role in executively producing her debut album.
Billboard magazine officially confirmed her signing to Epic in September of 2011.
During an interview with "Sway in the Morning" in February of 2012, Ciara revealed that she would be taking her time recording her fifth studio album.
In June of 2012, she spoke about the album saying:
"It really is just me pouring my heart into the record, and I think my fans deserve that. I really had to be in a comfortable place, and I really am and I'm excited about it, that's the beauty of music. Music is like really being able to express yourself. I wanted to make sure that I expressed myself in the best way that I could, and I let the music also be a healing process for me at points. There's a lot of happy moments as well, so that's what it's about. That's music. You laugh, you cry, you dance, you love, you hurt, you feel all kinds of things. That's the beauty of music."
Writing, Production and Collaborations
On her fifth album, Ciara contributed to both the writing and production of the album's songs.
She wrote "Sweat" (featuring 2 Chainz), a song that was originally supposed to be the album's first single when the album was called One Woman Army.
Ciara also co-wrote and co-produced "Sorry" the song that was chosen to supersede "Sweat" as one of "One Woman Army"'s two lead singles along with "Got Me Good" which was also written by Ciara. None of these records made the final album.
Together the duo wrote and produced "Super Turnt Up" which did make the final listing for the album
"Got Me Good" was co-written with Rodney Jerkins and Livvi Franc (Olivia Waith).
When interviewed by Rap-Up TV, Jerkins said:
"I had a meeting with her about what her future holds and I told her I was there if she ever needed my creative juices, so hopefully me and her get in the studio and work."
Rodney Jerkins previously produced records for "Ciara: The Evolution" and "Fantasy Ride."
Meanwhile, Olivia Waithe was originally enlisted to write the majority of the album's songs along with songwriter and vocal coach Ali Tamposi.
In an interview about the project, Tamposi said:
"it’s been really cool and laid back so that’s been fun. There’s a lot of angst and edge in Ciara’s music and we’ve tried to be really conceptual and write things that haven’t been done before and real strong women empowerment songs."
Along with The Underdogs (Harvey Mason and Damon Thomas), the duo wrote the album's original title track "One Woman Army."
They also contributed at least one other song, "Washaway" even though neither song appears on the final album following the change of album titles.
"Washaway" and another song called "Running" were amongst several songs previewed by the media which didn't make the album.
It was the first time in Ciara's career that she had collaborated with The Underdogs.
Not all of the Waithe and Tamposi collaborations went to waste. "Read My Lips" (which was written by Harris, Waithe and Jerkins) and "Overdose" (which was written by Waithe, Tamposi, Oliver Goldstein and Josh Abraham) both made the album.
Ciara also worked with Bangladesh, Hit-Boy, Soundz and Jermaine Dupri. Hit-Boy produced a record written by Soundz named after himself which he described as "energetic, for the club, for the radio."
While Ciara recorded the full song, months went by after its production with no response and he gave the beat to Kendrick Lamar which became his single, "Backseat Freestyle."
Whilst that record did not appear on the album, "Sophomore" produced by Soundz and "DUI" co-produced by Soundz and The Rockstarz both made the album.
Soundz previously produced records for "Basic Instinct."
Another of her frequent collaborators, Tricky Stewart also worked on the album.
On July 22, 2012, it was revealed that singer-songwriter Wynter Gordon had wrote a song for Ciara.
Speaking about the song, Gordon said, "It's pop. She sounds really good. She's singing like I've never actually heard Ciara sound... I'm very proud of her vocal ability on this record."
The song titled "Livin' It Up" was produced by Rodney Jerkins' close friend and musical associate D'Mile.
After Ciara collaborated with rapper Nicki Minaj on the song "I'm Legit" for her album "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded - The Re-Up," Nicki agreed to appear on Ciara's album in return.
Originally, the duo had worked on just one collaboration for Ciara called "I'm Out."
Speaking about Minaj's version on the song, Ciara said:
"The energy of the record is so dope, and it's really for the ladies, and Nicki she just killed the verse. She literally murdered it, like she got that throw-back, that thing that she does that's so special. She went in."
Having enjoyed the process, Nicki said:
"I was supposed to only do one song for her album and I think I'm going to end up doing two. I just love what she's doing and I'm so proud and I'm really excited for people to hear it."
In April, Ciara confirmed that Nicki Minaj was finished with a second record for the album.
In an interview with MTV News, Ciara said:
"She's actually finishing up one now that's really it's a monster too. The moments that we have had so far have just been crazy. It's just been magical, it's been something special and I feel like the fans have always wanted to see she and I rock together."
In the end, Nicki also recorded vocals for the aforementioned "Livin' It Up."
On June 23, 2013, rapper Future confirmed that the track "Where You Go" was originally recorded for his second studio album "Future Hendrix," but he gave it to Ciara, stating:
"She’s like, ‘I need this song. It just seems like it was just speaking to me. Give it to me, give it to me.’ I was like, ‘Man cool, you can have it."
Album Title & Concept
Ciara's fifth album was originally called "One Woman Army" after a song of the same name produced by The Underdogs.
Speaking on the concept, Ciara said:
"It really is the best way to represent what the body of work is, On One Woman Army, I talk about where I am and the things that I want as a woman and the things that I need."
On April 15, 2013, Ciara confirmed the album's track listing and simultaneously revealed that her fifth album was now eponymously-titled.
According to Spin, the self-titled incarnation of Ciara's fifth studio album is "more inventive enough to separate itself from her previous work" compared to the album's previous direction under the title "One Woman Army."
During a press release, Epic Records described the album as a deeply personal record.
Speaking about the concept and themes on the album, Ciara said:
"I can sometimes be afraid of my own vulnerability, but this time I let myself face it. I let myself feel. I let myself be real. I let myself hurt and be healed."
Spin and Idolator described the album as an updated version of crunk&B, a sound that Ciara was familiar with in 2004, and contained my pop moments.
She explained the influence behind the album's theme saying:
"the way this one was different is, I think, it was really more so the freedom that I felt with being vulnerable and my confidence. Me starting with just wanting to completely be free and be me in my song and not care about what anybody has to say. It's not about being over-independent, but it does represent my independence as a woman and it represents my strength. It represents where I stand with love. It represents what I want out of life as a woman. It's all of that in one and more."
Album Release & Artwork
On June 4, 2012, Ciara began the album campaign for "One Woman Army" with the premiere of "Sweat" featuring rapper 2 Chainz.
It was released to rhythmic contemporary radio stations in the United States on June 18, 2012. It was initially intended to serve as the album's lead single.
Upon charting at eighty-six on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, it was demoted to promotional single status.
On September 11, 2012, Epic Records informed fans via Twitter that they could expect Ciara's fifth album in Winter 2012.
A new lead single, "Sorry" was confirmed and released on September 25, 2012.
It impacted on rhythmic radio stations on October 9, 2012. The song's music video premiered on September 13, 2012.
The single was well received by music critics, who compared it to Ciara's previous single "Promise."
"Sorry" underperformed commercially, as it only reached forty-two on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart while charting at twenty-two on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.
"Got Me Good" was released as the second single via digital download on November 6, 2012.
The single impacted US Rhythmic radio on November 13, 2012 and mainstream radio on December 4, 2012.
The song's accompanying music video, which was directed by Joseph Kahn, premiered on the Sony JumboTron in Times Square in New York City on October 25, 2012.
The video features the all-girl dance crew 8 Flavahz, who placed 2nd on the seventh season of MTV's America's Best Dance Crew.
Although the song was well received by critics, who praised its electronic fast-paced rhythms and called it "dance food-ready," it failed to chart.
That same month, Ciara said that there was no release date for the album. She instead said:
"I think I'm almost done. I think there was a date December 4 that was supposedly put in the universe, but the date was never ever confirmed, not from my mouth, but they can definitely look out for this album this winter. I’ll be telling you soon. Stay tuned. You know what? I’m giving you guys my video [for "Got Me Good"] on my birthday, so you never know what could happen around Christmas-time. I love giving gifts."
After the premiere of the "Got Me Good" video, the album was slated to drop in early 2013.
On April 15, 2013, Ciara revealed the official tracklist for the album and confirmed that it is now titled "Ciara."
Additionally, she stated that it would be released on June 4, 2013. The album was then postponed to July 9, 2013.
The aforementioned singles were swept aside from the album and subsequently under the title "Ciara," the album is now led by the single "Body Party."
The album artwork features a mirror-flipped image of Ciara.
Music & Lyrics
Following the album listening party, Spin described the album as having no ballads except "Body Party" whilst John Kennedy, writing for Vibe, described the album as "feel-good midtempo" songs akin to Ciara's Goodies era (circa 2004).
In an interview with MTV News Ciara said that creating her fifth album was the most personal experience of her career thus far.
She elaborated that she had asked close friend and collaborator Missy Elliott to review her early progress on Ciara:
"I always share my projects with her early. I'll go to her house and play her the records really early in the process, and it's always so cool, but I just have to pinch myself in moments when I see her a lot. I'll be like, 'OK, this is really my friend,' but it's dope because I really respect her. She's done something in music that no one has done and when you look at her old references and just her references period, you wonder what the mind of that person is, and she's my friend, so I get to get a little bit more out of that mind, and it's really cool."
The album opens with "I'm Out," a "crystalline'" rhythmic pop ladies' anthem which features American rapper Nicki Minaj.
Its melody is backed by "clattering percussion." It was written by Timothy and Theron Thomas (Planet VI) who also wrote track number four, "Keep On Looking."
Other pop songs on the album include the Wynter Gordon-penned "Livin' It Up" which was described by Billboard as a "feel-good track" that "infuses island flavors."
It samples elements of the bridge from rap duo Kid 'n Play's 1988 song "Rolling with Kid 'n Play." According to Idolator, it also contains Euro influences.
"Overdose" is also a pop song, though this time utilising an electropop production and electronic dance music (EDM) beat that was described by Idolator as the "most straightforward pop track that Ciara has ever cut."
The Rodney Jerkins-produced "Read My Lips" features a 1980s-inspired synthpop production with a sing-along chorus whilst "Sophomore" is "sexy-but-aggressive [and] grown-as-fuck."
On "Sophomore," Ciara educates her partner on "sex education", with lyrics such as "So soft, my skin/ So soft, my booty/ So soft, my bed/ So soft, I got ‘em sayin’/ Give me more."
The song was originally leaked by DJ Orator in September of 2012. It was produced by Soundz, who also co-produced "DUI" with The Rockstars.
The album's lead single "Body Party" is the album's only ballad. It was co-written by Ciara's boyfriend Future and features a sample of Ghost Town DJ's 1996 single "My Boo."
- I'm Out (feat. Nicki Minaj) (3:58) [written by Rock City, Onika Maraj and Ciara; produced by Rock City & The Co-Captains]
- Sophomore (3:44) [written by Kenneth Coby & Ciara; produced by Soundz & Ciara]
- Body Party (3:54) [written by Ciara, Nayvadius "Future" Cash, Jasper Cameron Michael L. Williams II, Pierre Ramon Slaughter, Carlton Mahone & Rodney Terry; produced by Mike Will Made-It & P-Nasty]
- Keep on Lookin' (3:17) [written by Rock City & Ciara; produced by Rock City & Cameron Wallace]
- Read My Lips (4:08) [written by Ciara, Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins & Olivia Waithe; produced by Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, Tommy Lumpkins and Ciara]
- Where You Go (feat. Future) (3:43) [written by Michael L. Williams II, Pierre Roman Slaughter, Ciara and Nayvadius "Future" Cash; produced by Mike Will Made It, P-Nasty, Ciara and Future]
- Super Turnt Up (4:28) [written & produced by Ciara & Jasper Cameron]
- DUI (4:35) [written by Coby Chris Llewellyn, Brian Cohen, Sean "Elijah Blake" Fenton & Ciara; produced by Soundz, The Rockstars, Kuk Harrell and Ciara]
- Livin' It Up (3:45) (feat. Nicki Minaj) [written by Dernst "D'Mile" Emile II, Diana Eve Paris Gordon, Ciara, Onika Maraj, Kenneth Carter Walter, Carter Dave Ferguson, William Hull, Curtis Reynolds, Keith Samuels & Brian Sherrer; produced by Emile II]
- Overdose (3:47) [written by Josh Abraham, Oliver Goldstein, Ali Tamposi, Olivia Waithe & Ciara; produced by Josh Abraham & Oliver Goldstein]
- Body Party (Remix feat. Future & B.o.B) (3:57) [written by Ciara, Nayvadius "Future" Cash, Jasper Cameron, Michael Williams II, Pierrer Ramon Slaughter, Carlton Mahone, Rodney Terry & Bobby Ray Simmons, Jr; produced by Mike Will Made-It, P-Nasty, Ciara & Future]
The promotion for Ciara's fifth album (then titled "One Woman Army") began on June 2, 2012 when she released several promotional pictures.
Several days later, she previewed songs at an album listening party for industry executives and a variety of internet bloggers in New York.
Amongst the songs played were collaborations with Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj.
Ciara would later confirm that it was not Minaj's, but her own vocals, that reviewers has heard at the listening party [on "Super Turnt Up"].
Many positive reviews came from the listening party. Patrik Sandberg of V Magazine said it was the "Hardest @ciara record I’ve heard. She’s reconstructing the lanes. So future." "This album is ridiculous. It’s coming for everything!"
The Rick Ross collaboration made the album as a bonus track exclusively at Target.com and for the Japanese album release.
On August 20, 2012, Epic Records sent an exclusive playlist of songs to Cosmopolitan magazine which contained the album's ninth track "Livin' It Up" sans Nicki Minaj's vocals.
Promotion in 2013 began with Ciara's appearances on BET's "106 & Park" on April 23, 2013 and on The Wendy Williams Show on May 8, 2013.
On June 4, 2013, she performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. The performance aired on television on July 2, 2013.
On June 7, 2013, Ciara went on to premiere the album's eighth track "Super Turnt Up" on California radio station, Power 106.
On June 9, 2013, she headlined the Los Angeles Gay Pride festival, performing several songs, including past hits "Goodies," "Ride" and the lead single "Body Party."
Ciara performed "Body Party" and "I'm Out" with Nicki Minaj at the 2013 BET Awards on June 30, 2013.
On July 2, 2013, it was announced that Ciara will release video snippets for five of the album's tracks in promotion for its release. Each was directed by Hannah Lux Davis.
The first snippet was for the album's eighth track "DUI", which premiered on CBS' "omg! Insider" the same day.
The second snippet was for the album's second track "Sophomore" which premiered on E! News later that day.
Ciara premiered snippets for the album's fifth track "Read My Lips" and the ninth track "Livin' It Up", on July 9, 2013.
On July 11, 2013, the fifth and final video "Keep On Lookin'" was released.
From July 8th to July 12th, Ciara appeared on "106 & Park" where she premiered new material each day. She performed "DUI" and the remix to "Body Party" with B.o.B on July 8th.
Further promotion continued. Ciara performed many shows across the US. She made an appearance at the Grammy Recording Academy and performed acoustic versions of the songs "Read My Lips," "DUI" and "Overdose."
Upon the album's release in the United States, Ciara was predicted to sell between 55–65,000 copies in its opening week almost double the 37,000 copies her previous album "Basic Instinct" did.
The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart with first-week sales of 59,000 copies in the US.
The album became Ciara's fourth album to chart within the top three of the Billboard chart.
It charted at number two on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, becoming her second album to peak at that position.
Ciara also charted at number one on the US Top R&B Albums chart becoming her first album to chart and peak at number one on the chart.
As of January 2014, the album has sold 133,000 copies in the US.
Ciara debuted at number forty-two on the UK Albums Chart. It fared better on the UK R&B Albums chart where it opened at number four.
In the Netherlands, the album opened at number seventy-seven, becoming her first album to chart since 2004's debut set "Goodies" which peaked at number seventy-nine.
In Switzerland, the album debuted at number sixty-three, becoming her second lowest charting album in the country & beating her lowest charting album "Basic Instinct" by twenty positions.
The album debuted at thirty-five in Australia becoming Ciara's first album to chart in the region since 2009 as well as becoming her highest peaking album on the chart.
"Ciara" received generally positive reviews from critics.
At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 72, based on 15 reviews.
Writing for The Guardian, Alex Macpherson viewed the album as a high-quality addition to her already "formidable discography" particularly for its breadth.
He also felt that the features from Nicki Minaj were welcome in a time where artists like Rihanna had maligned Ciara's previous work as commercial failures.
Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times found "Keep on Lookin'" and "I'm Out" to be particular highlights, saying the rest of the album had a mellow sound compared to those tracks.
He ultimately praised Ciara for not playing it safe, however, seeing her adventurous with both lyrics and production.
Allmusic's Andy Kellman praised Ciara's use of producers and writers stating "the result isn't a muddled mess but another lean and focused set, despite the involvement of several writers and producers."
Pitchfork Media's Tim Finney felt that Ciara improves the songs with her charisma and wrote that her "uncomplicated exhilaration raises the straightforward, 2013 carbon dated club-pop of 'Livin’ It Up' and 'Overdose' from throwaway to highlight status, their obviousness transformed into a virtue through the singer’s palpable enjoyment."
In a mixed review, Evan Rytlewski of The A.V. Club found the album to be too dance and R&B-oriented and felt that it should have explored her "airy voice" as found on singles like "Body Party," that recaptured the zeitgeist of her earlier work.
At USA Today, Steve Jones said that "bass-fueled club bangers and libido-driven ballads tend to hit their mark but ultimately, don't leave a lasting impression."
The Boston Globe's Ken Capobianco criticized the album for "missing a unique lyrical or musical vision," further elaborating, "we’ve heard these tropes before" and concluding their review that "now deep into her career, the real Ciara still proves elusive."
Jon Carmanica of The New York Times found the production "vivid," but felt that Ciara's voice lacks personality and said that she sounds monotonous throughout the album.
Pitchfork Media has named the lead single "Body Party" as the fifth best song of 2013.
Spin ranked "Body Party" at number 30 on its "50 Best Songs of 2013" list and the album at number four on its "20 Best R&B Albums of 2013" list.
Fact listed the album at number 41 on its "50 Best Albums of 2013" list.
Digital Spy ranked the album number twenty-four of the top albums of 2013.
British website Popjustice ranked the album at number 17 on its "Top 33 Albums of 2013" list.
The Village Voice ranked "Body Party" at number 12 on its "25 Best Songs of 2013" list.
Album Special Editions
Four special editions of the album are available exclusively through the official Ciara music store:
Keep on Lookin' Bundle
- Signed limited edition lithograph
Super Turnt Up Bundle
- Black or white beanie hat
Livin' It Up Bundle
- Black or white beanie hat
Body Party Bundle
- Ciara – art direction, composer, design, executive producer, featured artist, primary artist, vocal producer, vocals (background)
- Josh Abraham – composer, producer
- Drew Adams – assistant
- Josie Aiello – vocals (background)
- Triana Bowman – production coordination
- LaTrice Burnette – marketing
- Brandon N. Caddell – assistant engineer
- Jasper Cameron – composer, instrumentation, producer, vocal arrangement
- Kenneth Carter – composer
- Walter Carter – composer
- Nayvadius "Future" Cash – composer, executive producer, vocal producer, featured artist
- Lauren Ceradini – publicity
- Matt Champlin – engineer
- Ariel Chobaz – engineer
- Kenneth Coby – composer
- The Co-Captains – instrumentation, producer, programming
- Brian Cohen – composer
- Paul "Hot Sauce" Dawson – scratching
- Briele Douglass – publicity
- Josh Drucker – assistant, mixing assistant
- Dernst Emile – composer, producer
- Asiah'h Eperson – vocals (background)
- Sean "Elijah Blake" Fenton – composer
- Dave Ferguson – composer
- Seth Firkins – engineer
- Olivia "Livvi Franc" Waite – vocals (background) & composer
- Yolonda Frederick – make-up
- Joe Fritz – engineer
- Dalia Glickman – A&R
- Oliver Goldstein – composer
- Diana Gordon – composer
- Kuk Harrell – vocal producer
- Trehy Harris – assistant, mixing assistant
- William Hull – composer
- James Hunt – assistant
- Jaycen Joshua – mixing
- Rodney Jerkins – composer, instrumentation, mixing, producer
- Taryn Kaufman – A&R
- Dave Kutch – mastering
- Chris Llewellyn – composer
- Courtney Lowery – publicity
- Kim Lumpkin – production coordination
- Tommy Lumpkins – vocal producer
- The Madd Scientist – engineer
- Carlton Mahone – composer
- Maria Paula Marulanda – art direction, design
- Harvey Mason, Jr. – engineer
- Susan McDonald – packaging manager
- Onika "Nicki Minaj" Maraj – featured artist & composer
- Greg Morgan – sound design
- Vernon Mungo – engineer
- Luis Navarro – A&R
- Chris "Tek" O'Ryan – engineer
- Oligee – producer
- Keith Parry – engineer
- P-Nasty – producer
- Cesar Ramirez – hair stylist
- L.A. Reid – executive producer
- Curtis Reynolds – composer
- Rock City – composer, producer
- The Rockstars – producer
- Keith Samuels – composer
- Heather Santos – A&R
- Brian Sherrer – composer
- John Shullman – assistant
- Bobby Ray "B.o.B" Simmons Jr. – composer & featured artist
- Pierre Ramon Slaughter – composer
- Soundz – producer, vocal producer, vocals (background)
- Christopher "Tricky" Stewart – A&R
- Mark Stewart – A&R
- Ken Sunshine – publicity
- Ali Tamposi – composer
- Rodney Terry – Composer
- Theron Thomas – vocals
- Pat Thrall – engineer
- Dan Tobiason – engineer
- Stephen Villa – assistant
- Robert Wadlington – A&R
- Cam Wallace – programming
- Cameron Wallace – producer
- Michael L. "Mike Will Made It" Williams II – composer & producer
- Ryan Williams – engineer
- Andrew Wuepper – engineer, mixing
- Yutsai – photography