Fantasy Ride is the third studio album by Ciara. It was released on May 3, 2009 in the UK by RCA Records and May 5, 2009 in the US by LaFace Records.
The album was recorded between 2007 and 2009. Ciara was executive producer on the album along with co-executive Mark Pittsand.
She worked with several record producers, including Blac Elvis, Benny Blanco, Blade, Jasper Cameron, The Clutch, Darkchild, Danja, Dr. Luke, Jason Nevins, Jim Beanz, Los da Maestro, Ne-Yo, Osinachi Nwaneri, Polow da Don, The-Dream, Tricky Stewart, Justin Timberlake & T-Pain.
The album featured several guest vocalists including Justin Timberlake, Ludacris, Chris Brown, Young Jeezy, The-Dream & Missy Elliott.
The album combines R&B and hip hop sounds from her previous albums along with a new pop and dance direction.
"Fantasy Ride" received generally mixed reviews from music critics who complimented its slow jams and the club tracks and Ciara's vocal performances, with some critics calling it "a consistently sexy listen" with other critics calling it "Ciara's smoothest ride ever."
However, some critics found the album to be a "dud" and others saying "Ciara seems to go almost unnoticed."
The album debuted at number three on US Billboard 200, with sales of 81,000. It became Ciara's third consecutive album to debut within the top three on that chart, making her only the fourth female artist to do so during this decade.
As of December 16, 2010, the album has sold around 250,000 copies in the US, failing to match the success of previous albums Goodies (2.7 million copies) and ""Ciara: The Evolution" (which sold 1.3 million copies).
The album has spawned three commercial singles: the US R&B top ten "Never Ever" with Young Jeezy, the worldwide hit "Love Sex Magic" (feat. Justin Timberlake) and "Work" (feat. Missy Elliott) which only reached top 60 on international charts. It also spawned one US radio single "Like A Surgeon."
A compilation album titled "Fantasy Ride: The Mini Collection" was released in late July.
The album also garnered numerous accolades including one nomination at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, and one nomination at the 52nd Grammy Awards.
At the beginning of 2008, Ciara began working on her third album.
She became executive producer of the album, with LaFace Records A&R coordinator Mark Pitts.
The first recording sessions saw her working with producers Tricky Stewart, Danja, Jasper Cameron, and The-Dream.
In an interview from a concert, Ciara stated that she worked on two tracks with Justin Timberlake and his production team The Y's which will appear on the album.
Spike Stent was involved in mixing tracks for the album which Ciara recorded at Chalice Studios.
Ciara stated in 2008 that she wanted her third album "to take fans on a musical journey."
Billboard magazine initially reported that the album would be released across three discs each representing a different theme and featuring stylistically similar songs.
Danja executively produced the "Crunktown" and "Kingdom of Dance" cuts while the Groove City offerings were overseen by Tricky Stewart and Jasper Cameron.
The "Groove City" recordings were intended to remind fans of the Evolution era.
The first single "Never Ever" (featuring Young Jeezy) falls under this theme and is similar to previous single "Promise."
The "Crunktown" tracks are remincent of single "Goodies" and the trademark genre that Ciara is associated with.
"High Price" (featuring Ludacris) was the original lead single and an example of what Ciara had created under the crunk theme.
The final recordings where up-tempo pop-tinged, house & freestyle cuts under the theme "Kingdom of Dance" which can be heard on the album's second single "Love Sex Magic" (featuring Justin Timberlake).
However, during an interview the editor of Vibe in their April magazine, Ciara confirmed that along with changing management she had dropped the three disc idea. The editor previewed six of the songs recorded for the album.
Music retailers such as Amazon, Target and HMV went on to list a single-disc standard edition and 2-disc deluxe edition (with DVD) of the album confirming that the album would no longer feature three discs.
Album Concept & "Super C" Character
"Fantasy Ride" also introduces Ciara's comic book character "Super C." Ciara said that Super C is her "inner strength and aggressive persona."
She is a futuristic, superhero-esque Ciara which is loosely based on the robotic character Ciara portrayed in the "Go Girl" music video.
DC Comics artist Bernard Chang helped Ciara create the character for the album artwork. She said she worked on the artwork about nine months to a year.
On April 5th, her official website posted the new album covers (purple Super C for the standard edition, red Super C for the deluxe edition).
Speaking on the images, Ciara stated:
"Super C is my super hero name. It's who I am. It's the inner strength and drive that enables me to overcome any obstacles and who I have to be in order to accomplish my dreams and survive in this tough world."
Ciara's official website confirmed that in North America the album will feature the super hero covers whereas international markets will receive the human cover featuring Ciara on a faded white background.
- Ciara to the Stage (3:46)
- Love Sex Magic (featuring Justin Timberlake) (3:40)
- High Price (featuring Ludacris) (4:03)
- Turntables (featuring Chris Brown) (4:32)
- Like a Surgeon (4:27)
- Never Ever (featuring Young Jeezy) (4:33)
- Lover's Thing (featuring The-Dream) (3:28)
- Work (featuring Missy Elliott) (4:06)
- Pucker Up (3:52)
- G is for Girl (A-Z) (3:37)
- Keep Dancin' on Me (3:33)
- Tell Me What Your Name Is (3:38)
- I Don't Remember (3:48)
U.S. iTunes Pre-Order Bonus Track
- When I (4:04)
Europe Bonus Track
- Echo (3:38)
Japan Bonus Tracks
- Echo (3:38)
- Go Girl (feat. T-Pain) (4:30)
- Never Ever (Mike D Radio Mix) (4:03)
Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks
- Echo (3:38)
- I'm On (3:56)
Japan Bonus Tracks
- Go Girl (feat. T-Pain) (4:30)
- Never Ever (Mike D Radio Mix) (4:03)
- Love Sex Magic (Electric Bounce Remix) (3:12)
Italy iTunes Bonus Tracks
- Fit of Love (3:18)
Fantasy Ride: The Mini Collection (released exclusively to iTunes in the UK on July 23, 2009)
- Love Sex Magic (feat. Justin Timberlake) (3:40)
- Work (feat. Missy Elliott) (4:05)
- Work (Remix; Pokerface Club Edit) (4:08)
- Goodies (Remix feat. T.I & Jazze Pha) (4:21)
- 1, 2 Step (feat. Missy Elliott) (3:22)
- Like a Boy (3:56)
In September of 2008, Ciara promoted the forthcoming release of the album at Austell's Six Flags Over Georgia amusement park with her parents and fans in attendance.
For the day, the roller coaster Goliath was renamed Fantasy Ride. She also met fans and signed autographs.
Ciara also released a promo single for the album, titled "Go Girl" which featured T-Pain on September 30, 2008.
Ciara made her first stage appearance performing at Media WildJam '08 where she previewed a few unreleased tracks from the upcoming album as well as performed past hits.
The performances included new songs "I'm On," "Go Girl," "Ciara 2 The Stage" and "High Price."
For a limited period of time UK and European customers at Foot Locker were given the chance to download an exclusive remix of "Go Girl" and had the opportunity to win a meeting with Ciara in person.
Ciara announced that she would release a Fantasy Ride mixtape in anticipation for the album, however only two tracks were made available, "Slow Down" (featuring rapper 50 Cent) and a cover of Beyoncé's song "Diva."
On Monday, February 23, 2009, Ciara made an appearance on BET's 106 & Park. There, she promoted the album, the new singles, and answered selected online fan questions.
She spoke about the controversy surrounding the track "Turntables" (featuring Chris Brown) saying that it will be on the album, but that it might sound different in a good way.
On Tuesday, February 24, 2009, Ciara was a special guest on Snoop Dogg's MTV show "Dogg After Dark" although she did not formerly promote the album.
On April 2, 2009, she confirmed that she has many promotions coming up for the album including performances live in the UK and US including appearing on "Good Morning America" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
On April 25, 2009 during the UK promotions, Ciara performed "Love Sex Magic," "Never Ever", "Goodies" and "1 2 Step" at London's G-A-Y nightclub.
Ciara appeared on BET's 106 & Park on May 6, 2009 where she formally promoted her album, displayed some of her album artwork and co-hosted.
On May 9, 2009, during an edition of "Saturday Night Live" hosted by Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, Ciara performed a special rendition of "Love Sex Magic" (featuring a James Brown interlude) with Timberlake and later appeared solo to perform "Never Ever".
During the week of the album's release, Ciara promoted the album on numerous shows including "Good Morning America" and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."
Ciara was the support act for Britney Spears for the eight London concerts of "The Circus Starring Britney Spears" tour in support of "Fantasy Ride."
The shows took place in June of 2009 at the city's prestigious The O2 (London).
On August 14, 2009 Jive Records released a press release about the then-upcoming second-leg of the "Circus Tour" which revealed that fellow labelmate Jordin Sparks was replacing Ciara as the opening act along with newcomer Kristinia DeBarge.
In September of 2009, it was revealed that Ciara had been in the studio recording her next album with Tricky Stewart and The-Dream during time which she would have been on tour.
Ciara went on a 6-date tour in support of "Fantasy Ride" titled Jay-Z & Ciara Live with Jay-Z during the summer. The dates were announced on her official website.
She would later go to announce plans for her own world tour at towards the middle or end of 2009 in support of the album, however with the production of the fourth album underway from the Summer of 2009, the rumors were put to rest.
"Go Girl" (feat. T-Pain) was released as the album's lead single. However, it was only included on the album version in Japan.
The single reached number seventy-eight in the United States, and charted on the US R&B chart at number twenty-six and on the US Pop chart at number eighty-eight.
It achieved the most success in Japan, where it reached number four. A music video was made for this song and released in October of 2008.
"Never Ever" (feat. Young Jeezy) was released as the second single in the United States on January 19, 2009.
The song reached number sixty-six on the Hot 100, but garnered more success on the R&B Charts reaching number nine, becoming her eleventh top ten hit on that chart.
Despite not officially being released internationally, due to strong digital sales, it was able to chart in some countries including Sweden and Russia where it reached the top forty and top fifty respectively.
"Love Sex Magic" (feat. Justin Timberlake) was released as the second US and first international single on March 3, 2009.
The song reached number ten in the United States, becoming Ciara's eight top ten single there.
It became Ciara's biggest international hit to date reaching the top ten in over twenty countries, including India, Turkey, and Taiwan, where it reached number one.
The song is nominated at the 52nd Grammy Awards for "Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals."
On June 15, 2009, "Like a Surgeon" was released to US urban radio as the third US single and peaked at number fifty-nine on the US R&B chart.
On June 23, 2009, "Work" (feat. Missy Elliott) was released as the second international single and reached the top forty in Ireland and top fifty in Sweden.
"Ciara to the Stage" charted on the US Bubbling Under Hot 100 at number four the week following the album's release.
"Turntables" (feat. Chris Brown) charted at number eighty in the United Kingdom, due to strong digital sales.
The song uses a sample from the Hindi song "Kehna Hi Kya" from A. R. Rahman's soundtrack to the 1995 film "Bombay."
"I'm On" (a deluxe edition bonus track) charted in Canada at number seventy-nine, due to strong digital sales.
The album made its first appearance at number 9 on the UK Albums Chart on May 10, 2009, becoming Ciara's first top ten album there. The album also made it to number two on the UK R&B Albums Chart.
"Turntables" (featuring Chris Brown) charted in the UK at number 80 on the UK singles chart for just one week, it then dropped out. The song has received much airplay on UK radio station BBC Radio 1Xtra.
On May 14, 2009, the album debuted at number 3 on the US Billboard 200 with sales of 81,000.
This made it Ciara's third consecutive album to debut within the top three on that chart, making her only the fourth female artist to do so during this decade.
The following week, the album remained in the top ten, selling 26,000 copies.
Although the song "Go Girl" was initially planned to be released as the first worldwide single, after a disappointing chart performance, it eventually received just a promotional release.
The song charted in the US at number 78 on the Billboard Hot 100, 26 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and 88 on the Billboard Pop 100.
"Ciara 2 the Stage" charted at number 4 on the US Bubbling Under Hot 100 during the week the album was released.
Ciara also obtained her first top ten album in Canada where the album peaked at number two resulting in the song "I'm On" (a deluxe edition track) to chart on the Canadian Hot 100 at number 79.
As of December 16, 2010, the album has sold just around 250,000 copies in the US, failing to match the success of previous albums "Goodies" (which sold 2.7 million copies) and "Ciara: The Evolution" (which sold 1.3 million copies).
Despite the album's failure to chart in Japan, the song "Go Girl" reached number 1 on Billboard Japan's Hot 100 chart, even with its limited promotional release.
Additionally, the album reached top 10 in Argentina, and Ireland where it debuted at number 9 and 10 respectively. Ciara also obtained her highest peak in Belgium, France, and Switzerland.
As a whole, the album peaked at number 20 in Europe. It debuted at number 69 in Italy.
Fantasy Ride has received mixed reviews from most critics.
On Metacritic, Fantasy Ride received a score of 60 out of 100, indicating "mixed or average reviews."
BBC Music states:
"When listing great pop stars of the 2000s, it's more than likely that Ciara will be unfairly forgotten. It's just as exciting to hear the slow jams as the club tracks, thanks to the detailed and often strange sounding backing tracks. She uses her silky vocals on softer tracks such as the Ne-Yo produced "I Don't Remember" or the delicate "Never Ever" to great effect. Only "Like a Surgeon" with its somewhat bizarre sex/hospital metaphors may leave you at a loss for words. Overall it is a record that manages to make you dance as much as retreat to the bedroom, Fantasy Ride is an album which could take Ciara to the much deserved next level."
Slant Magazine also gave the album a positive review ending the review by calling the album "Ciara's smoothest ride ever."
The Guardian said:
"despite the usual collaborators, it is Ciara's presence that is stamped firmly on the album. Evidence that she is an under-rated balladeer comes in the form of "Keep Dancin' on Me", a shimmering slow jam, and the morning-after existential haze of "I Don't Remember", but a terpsichorean swagger remains at the heart of Ciara's world. Few artists go as hard as she does on her club jams, whether inviting the world to 'kiss my swag' over kinetic freestyle beats on "Pucker Up", combining outraged soprano braggadocio with thunderous crunk baselines on the broiling "High Price" or gliding smoothly through the delectable, sun-kissed "Echo". At her best, her pace is furious, and keeping up is exhilarating."
Digital Spy gave it three out of five stars and commented that:
"Fantasy Ride features much the same cast of producers as countless other R&B albums from the last couple of years, but these A-list knob-twiddlers rarely try anything risky or inventive here. However, this isn't to say that Fantasy Ride is a bad album. It actually offers a consistently sexy listen with enough minor triumphs – "Love Sex Magic", "Turntables" and the electro-scuzzy "Pucker Up" – to hold your attention. Ciara, meanwhile, is on a seductive form throughout. Ciara's Fantasy Ride deserves the benefit of the doubt."
However, Billboard gave it an average review, stating:
"On 'High Price,' where she takes her vocals to an opera-like pitch, and her collaboration with the-Dream, 'Lover's Things,' whose faint tenor would seem like an ideal match, Ciara seems to go almost unnoticed. Thankfully, 'Work,' featuring Missy Elliott, has Ciara showing fly-girl antics over a house-like, clap-laden production, and the breakup song 'Never Ever,' featuring Young Jeezy, which samples 'If You Don't Know Me by Now,' pick up the slack."
In his Consumer Guide, Robert Christgau gave the album a "dud" score ().