Love Sex Magic is the second single from Ciara's album "Fantasy Ride" featuring Justin Timberlake.
The song was written by Justin Timberlake and his production team The Y's and Mike Elizondo (who also produced the song).
The song reveals a complete departure from Ciara's previous style, neither a sensual ballad nor incorporating Crunk&B influences.
The song embraces a dance-pop sound while including R&B and funk via a retro 70s-style guitar which is present in the piece. Many critics noted the similarities between the song and music on Justin's album "FutureSex/LoveSounds."
Critics gave the song mixed reviews, complimenting the song's funk and retro feel and the chemistry present between Ciara and Justin. The song would later go on to be nominated for "Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals" at the 52nd Grammy Awards.
"Love Sex Magic" peaked at number ten on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Ciara's fifth top ten hit as a lead artist, her eighth including features & her first since "Get Up" in 2006.
Internationally, the song peaked within the top ten of the charts in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The music video also exhibits a retro feel inspired by the Crazy Horse cabaret show, featuring Justin, Ciara and several different kinds of foreplay as well as Ciara dancing.
For its routines, it was nominated for "Best Choreography" at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Ciara has performed the song on television a number of times, including "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and with Justin on "Saturday Night Live."
A song entitled "Magic," performed by Justin Timberlake, leaked online in November 2008.
In February 2009, Rap-Up reported that Ciara and Timberlake had recorded a new duet for her then-upcoming album, "Fantasy Ride."
The final version of the song (initially titled "Love and Sex and Magic") featured Justin dueting with Ciara.
Eventually known as "Love Sex Magic," the song was written by Justin, Mike Elizondo and Justin's production team The Y's—James Fauntleroy II, Timberlake and Robin Tadross. Justin wanted to create a song that both genders could relate to.
The Y's and Elizondo produced the song. Ciara said that her collaboration with Justin was one of the best of her career, because they actually collaborated in the studio, rather than him being added as a guest feature after the initial recording.
"I actually went into the studio to make the record from scratch, or he had the record there for me, but us being together was a very rare case I've had over the years."
Ciara enjoyed her time with Justin and valued the opportunity to work with him as an "artist and producer." She also noted how passionate Justin was about his work and mentioned his humbleness & positive attitude.
With "Love Sex Magic," Ciara moved in a more pop direction than her past music.
Jordan Sargent of PopMatters noted that while a pop fan might see Ciara "back in her mind creatively," a Ciara fan would see the song as "signal[ing] the end of the singer's career as it once was."
Sargent stated that the song "sounds nothing like the chrome-plated crunk&b nor the moonlit balladry that Ciara has staked her name on."
Musically, the song is a dance-pop-R&B number which makes use of electro and funk music as well as displaying disco & soul influences.
The song has a minimalistic dance beat, with a "funky, retro 70s style R&B guitar" as the backdrop.
Lauren Carter of the Boston Herald said that the song is influenced by Justin's disco-funk work on FutureSex/LoveSounds, stating that "it sounds like a reworked version of his bass-heavy dance number "Sexy Ladies."
Carter commented that Justin was "ushering Ciara away from her typically crunk-laced stylings in favor of JT’s electro-slide."
Ann Powers of The Los Angeles Times said that the song was "Madonna-esque." Both Ciara and Justin provide verses, accompanied by vocal whims and falsetto.
The Diane Martel-directed music video for "Love Sex Magic" premiered on March 22, 2009.
In an interview with MTV News, Ciara said:
"It's all about showing another side of me with this video. I'm basically giving you a show you'd see in Vegas—and it's my love, sex and magic show. He's the voyeur and I play with him a little bit. I got my inspiration from the Crazy Horse show and just from the shows [in Vegas], period. It's giving you the elements of love and sex and magic."
In a later interview about the video, Ciara stated that she had to lick Justin's ear and at one point, he was licking her neck and they were "freestyling." Martel wanted them to do something "edgy," so they found a "cool way to do it."
Ciara noted the different pauses in cuts in between the tapings, commenting: "so it's licking on the neck, again, then his biting on my neck, again. It was really funny."
Ciara would later elaborate on the Crazy Horse show reference in an interview with Blues & Soul, explaining that she had so much respect for the show that it became her reference.
On working with Justin, she said:
"Justin is one of the most easy-going, down-to-earth, hard-working and passionate artists you could ever work with. And, with both me and him, our goal was just to make the best video we could possibly make together, and to give the fans something a little fun and a little unexpected."
The video opens with Ciara and Justin face to face, caressing seductively. The camera cuts to Ciara who appears almost impervious to gravity.
Dressed in lingerie, she maneuvers around a horizontal dance pole. The background dancers are veiled in vibrant color schemes and alternating strobe lights.
The video then cuts to Ciara in a leotard, posing in abstract and flexible poses. She is then seen dressed in a tiger-striped catsuit performing solo dance moves on a stage.
Justin performs his verse seated onstage while Ciara performs intricate tricks, such as snaking under his legs. Then the two begin to lightly move to the track before Ciara forms her body as an armrest as he leans on her.
Ciara and the dancers perform choreography and cabaret-style moves on the pole.
The bridge of the song puts Timberlake on the ground and Ciara, standing over him, turns and performs her signature "Matrix" over him as he guides her body toward his with his right hand. The two perform and as Ciara gets up, Justin smacks her side as she pops to the beat.
The video then cuts to a scene with Ciara in the catsuit portraying a tiger in a cage. In the final scene, she and the dancers perform, dressed in 70s-inspired tuxedos and colored afros.
The video ends with clips of Ciara's multiple performance scenes from throughout the video.
Nick Levine of Digital Spy gave the video a positive review:
"The video that accompanies this track is one of the year's best so far—and certainly the sexiest: Ciara licks Justin's ear, Justin reciprocates by slapping her bum, and, well, Ciara's flexibility would put many a poledancer to shame. Quite frankly, the whole thing could make a nun have impure thoughts."
At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, the video was nominated for "Best Choreography;" it lost to Beyoncé's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)."
The video ranked at #39 on BET's "Notarized: Top 100 Videos of 2009" countdown.
The song debuted at #86 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the next week jumped to #27 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In its third week, the song rose to number ten, becoming Ciara's fifth top ten single. The song was her first top ten entry since "Get Up" in 2006. It was her highest-charting song on the Hot 100 since "Like a Boy" in 2007.
"Love Sex Magic" appeared on multiple Billboard component charts, reaching #14 on the Pop Songs chart, #18 on Hot Dance Club Songs chart and #83 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
On the Canadian Hot 100, the song debuted at #9 and would later peak at #6.
Although the single did not rank among Ciara's most successful singles in the United States, it performed well overall in international markets.
In Australia, the song debuted at #6 on the Australian ARIA Singles Chart, peaking at number five the next week.
It spent fourteen weeks on the chart, and was eventually certified Platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), for shipments totalling 70,000 copies.
In New Zealand, the song debuted at #14 on the New Zealand Singles Chart. It remained stagnant the next week until it peaked at #6 on the chart the following week. Having spent thirteen weeks on the chart, the song was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ), for shipments totalling 7,500 copies.
Across Europe, the single charted in the top ten of seven charts, and the top twenty of four others. Due to its numerous chartings in Europe, the song peaked at #6 on the European Hot 100 chart.
In the United Kingdom, "Love Sex Magic" debuted at #6 on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at #5 the following week. The song spent seventeen non-consecutive weeks on the chart, as well as topping the UK R&B Chart for two weeks.
In the Republic of Ireland, the song peaked at #4 on the Irish Singles Chart, climbing from #7 the previous week.
Dan Gennoe of Yahoo! Music UK said that with the track, Ciara "lucked into the sexiest thing to happen to pop since Timberlake's own FutureSex/LoveSounds," calling the song one of the "biggest anthems of the year."
Gennoe went on to call the song the "highlight" and "saving grace" of "Fantasy Ride."
Nick Levine of Digital Spy said that "the track itself is nearly as sexy as the promo clip," commenting "Ciara purrs, and Timberlake, if you'll pardon the pun, more than rises to the occasion. All in all, 'Love Sex Magic' is pretty much spot on."
Lauren Carter of the Boston Herald said, "It’s not quite magic, but it grows on you."
Jeremy Medina of Entertainment Weekly said, "Hooking up with Timberlake essentially guarantees a one-way ticket back to chart supremacy, so nice work there, Ciara." Medina went on to call the song an early candidate for "song of the summer."
Jon Caramanica welcomed the "female aggression" presented by Ciara on the trac, calling it an unexpected twist, calling Ciara "still curiously anonymous." She noted that Justin, not a "vocal powerhouse" himself, out-sings Ciara on the track.
Tom Breihan of Pitchfork Media said that the song was not bad and complimented the song's disco feel.
He said that it gained Ciara a "radio foothold that had been hers to lose a couple of years ago" and commented that it seemed like "a bargain-basement Justin Timberlake track, the sort of thing he could've had lying around in a closet somewhere nearly three years after FutureSex/LoveSounds."
Breihan pointed out that "Timberlake's nerdy swagger really highlights Ciara's total lack of presence."
Jordan Sargent of PopMatters criticized the song for being generic, calling it "a formulaic FutureSex/LoveSounds disco retread," commenting:
"The song probably could’ve been given to any struggling female singer and become a hit, and the fact that Ciara had to use it as her parachute is as puzzling as it is unfortunate."
Andy Kellman of Allmusic called the song a "hobbling flop" and said that it was "easily forgettable."
At the 52nd Grammy Awards, "Love Sex Magic" was nominated for the award for "Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals." It lost to Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat's "Lucky."
On May 9, 2009, Ciara performed the song on "Saturday Night Live" with Justin as that night's host.
Accompanied by live instruments, Ciara performed choreography with backup dancers while Justin played the keyboard. Justin and Ciara danced provocatively after he came from behind the keyboard to perform his verse. During the set, Ciara also performed "Never Ever."
A writer for BET's Sound Off Blog said, "aside from the fact that her grunts were live and her stage humps were unreal, Ciara’s set was pretty decent. Not that I expected any less from the A-Town princess, but that was a pretty tasty performance."
The writer pointed out that Justin was not even noted on the set until he began his verse.
In an interview with MTV News, Ciara went into detail about the setup of the performance, stating:
"I just kind of felt cool, 'cause Justin can play [piano] real well and he really gets into the music and it was, like, 'Hey, let's make you part of the band.' Having Justin in the background for the live performance was very different from the music video for the song, where the two dance quite provocatively with one another. [We wanted to] do something different and make it fun. It was awesome to see him pick up the keys."
On May 13, 2009, Ciara performed the song on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, accompanied by background dancers. She and the dancers performed choreography similar to that of the video and wore the 70s-inspired suits and afros. The same day, she performed the song with "Never Ever" on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
On May 30, 2009, Ciara performed the song at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards Japan.