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Ciara promise singlecover.jpg

Promise is a song recorded by Ciara for her second studio album "Ciara: The Evolution."

The song was written by Ciara, Jasper Cameron, Polow da Don & Elvis Williams and produced by Polow da Don.

It was released as the album's official lead single on October 16, 2006, through LaFace Records.

The song was selected as the first single as she wanted to put out a single with a slower pace, noting that her previous releases had been up-tempo.

According to Ciara, the song represents the album's theme of evolving and symbolizes her growth as a songwriter and artist.

"Promise" is a mid-tempo R&B ballad with lyrics that describe what the protagonist wants out of love.

It received generally positive reviews from critics who made comparisons with songs by musician Prince.

Critics also observed that it was different and refreshing from Ciara's previous singles.

The song topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in the United States and peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming her best-performing single sans a featured artist on both charts.

It was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipping over one million copies.

Diane Martel directed the song's accompanying music video, which features scenes of Ciara singing into a gravity-defying microphone.

Ciara stated that it is just about performance as she wanted to make a distinct R&B video.

The video received a BET Award nomination for Viewer's Choice in 2007.

Song Background[]

"Promise" was one of the first songs to be recorded for Ciara's sophomore album. She explained that the goal was to create a song that "truly is a sing-along."

She elaborated:

"I want you to be able to go back to the old days and put your hands up and rock from side to side and just feel good."

Ciara wrote it in collaboration with Jasper Cameron, Elvis Williams and its producer, Jamal "Polow da Don" Jones.

The recording session took place at Tree Sound Studios in Atlanta, Georgia and co-writer Elvis Williams provided backing vocals.

Ciara and Jasper Cameron produced the vocals and Phil Tan later mixed the song at Soapbox Studios in Los Angeles, California.

On the album, "Promise" is preceded by the spoken-word interlude "The Evolution of Music" in which Ciara shares that music on the radio inspired her to "do something different this time around."

In an interview with Corey Moss for MTV News, Ciara stated that "Promise" is about being single as she had ended her one-year relationship with rapper Bow Wow several months prior in April of 2006.

Ciara named her album "The Evolution" as she felt evolved, both as a woman and an artist and stated that the song symbolizes her growth.

She said that it was "perfect" as the first single because it makes a statement.

According to her:

"The record was something different from what people were used to hearing me do. So this record does have a more mature sounding, sexier vibe."

Ciara declared "Promise" as "different" from her other work & considered it one of the album's most unique and strongest songs, citing the production as an example of this.

Polow da Don told Billboard that the song is "young but sexy" and noted that "nobody's really heard [Ciara] do a ballad."

In an interview with Mark Edward Nero for About.com, Ciara explained why she selected "Promise" as the album's first official single, noting that it has a different tempo from her previous singles:

"When I did a recap of all the records I released prior to my first single for this album, I noticed that all of them were up-tempo. ... and I wanted to change it up and still make sure the elements, ... that people know me and my fans know me for were still in there such as the dancing so, ... I wanted to try something different, ... change the pace a little bit and that's what I did with this record. I felt it was perfect for that."

Composition[]

"Promise" is a mid-tempo R&B song.

The ballad does not have a real instrumental intro; instead, Ciara opens the song with seductive lines: "Come enjoy the night/Baby take a bite." She sings in a falsetto.

According to sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by EMI Music Publishing, "Promise" is written in the time signature of common time with a moderate beat rate of 72 beats per minute.

The song is written in the key of A major.

Ciara's vocal range spans from the low-note of A3 to the high-note of F♯3. It has a basic sequence of D9–E–C♯m7 as its chord progression.

Critics have compared the song to works by American musician Prince, particularly the song "Adore" from his 1987 album "Sign o' the Times."

Although the song lacks crunk elements, Steve Knopper of Newsday noted that its "booming, house-party sound effects" befits Ciara's honorific title of "The First Lady of Crunk&B."

Lyrically, the song speaks of the female protagonist's needs and what she wants out of love.

Ciara explained:

"I'm someone that goes hard for a guy that I like, and this record is saying there's nothing I want to do but spend my life with you, whoever that guy is that I envision."

Music Video[]

The music video for "Promise" was directed by Diane Martel and shot on October 2, 2006.

In an interview with Corey Moss of MTV News, Ciara said of the video:

"It's really just about the performance in this video more than anything, and the way [Martel] is lighting it. We didn't really want to do the typical R&B video."

On October 25, 2006, Ciara screened the video on her 21st birthday party at Club Marquee in New York City. It premiered the same day on BET's "Access Granted."

Video Synopsis[]

The video begins with Ciara, wearing a brown hooded sweater and sweatpants, dancing by herself in a secluded area.

The scene shows her singing the first verse into a gravity-defying microphone.

During the chorus and second verse, she is seen finessing seductively in a chair, which is mixed with footage of Ciara and her dancers dancing in hooded attire.

Further on in the video, we are introduced to a different setting in which Ciara and the dancers are seen sitting on the ground against a brick wall, exhibiting shoulder and hand movements.

During the second chorus, a cabaret scene shows the silhouette of Ciara in front of a white screen while the dancers move around on scaffolding.

The shot changes once more to a visualization of her on the floor sporting a petite, brown wig, reciting the spoken part of the bridge.

Afterwards, she dances in front of a different brick wall, in a dark area, only lit by a red spotlight.

The video fades out to a scene in which we see Ciara and the dancers in somewhat of a conga line, dancing out of view.

Remix Version[]

In late January of 2007, an official remix featuring R. Kelly titled "Go and Get Your Tickets Mix" debuted on radio in and was digitally released on February 6, 2007.

In April of 2013, an official extended version which featured the previously unreleased full length version was released to Soundcloud, titled "The Great Extender Mix" clocking in at nearly 7 minutes.

Song Release[]

"Promise" was selected as the official lead single for "Ciara: The Evolution."

It was preceded by "Get Up" (featuring rapper Chamillionaire) which was released as a single from the soundtrack for the 2006 film "Step Up" on July 25, 2006 and later appeared on the album.

"Promise" was serviced for rhythmic contemporary and urban contemporary airplay on October 16, 2006, through LaFace Records. It was only released in North America.

The next single "Like a Boy" served as the album's international lead single.

On October 31, 2006, "Promise" was made available for purchase as a 12-inch vinyl single.

Live Performances[]

Ciara performed the song as part of the set list for the "Ciara: Live in Concert" club tour from October to December of 2006.

According to Vincent Jackson of The Press of Atlantic City, she "recreated some of the moves from the music video on stage with black pants, jacket and hoodie.."

Chart Performance[]

"Promise" debuted on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles at twenty-four.

Two weeks later, the song debuted at forty-five on the Billboard Hot 100, making the single Ciara's highest debut and the top debut of the week.

The song peaked quickly at eleven for one week on the Hot 100. It descended quickly, staying in the Hot 100 for twenty weeks.

The song peaked at number one for two weeks on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, becoming Ciara's third number one of the chart.

It peaked in the top five of the Rhythmic Top 40 and thirty-six on the Top 40 Mainstream and twenty-five on the Hot Digital Tracks.

"Promise" ranked #71 on the Top Hot 100 Hits of 2007.

Critical Reception[]

Clover Hope of Billboard wrote a positive review regarding "Promise" and noted that it is "unlike any other Ciara single released thus far," calling it "sultry and deliberate, the kind of song that grows on you."

Hope remarked:

"While the carefully measured tempo sounds incompatible with her whispery cadence, it is also strangely appealing—particularly the changes in melody. Despite some juvenile lyrics, 'Promise' finds Ciara on a refreshing new plateau: No 1, 2 steps here."

The Washington Post's Chris Richards commented that Ciara "gets it right" with "Promise", saying that it "thread[s] a more distinctive melody through the Prince-inspired grooves" and named it one of the album's best tracks.

Andy Kellman of Allmusic called it "tremendous, one of the sexiest, slow-tempo, non-breakup songs of the past ten years."

He selected it as one of the The Evolution's standouts and deemed it the only "clear-cut" highlight.

USA Today critic Elysa Gardner commented that Ciara plays a "demure temptress" on the single, showcasing a "slight but sweetly tangy voice and budding emotional presence."

While reviewing the album, St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Kevin Johnson commented that Ciara is best at taking "a whisper of a voice, lay it on top of a muscular beat, and come out smelling rosy" on "big-bottom ballads," referring to "Promise."

Dan Duke of The Virginian-Pilot recommended the track for digital download.

Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine wrote that the song is "decidedly different" from Ciara's previous singles, which he believed indicated that the singer "is, in fact, evolving—at least in terms of marketing."

Cinquemani deemed "Promise" an example of a producer making better Prince songs than Prince himself.

While noting that the album's theme is evolution, Jim Abbott of Orlando Sentinel stated that "Unfortunately, it's nostalgia, not evolution, that makes a sexy ballad such as 'Promise' so appealing."

Mark Edward Nero of About.com remarked that "Promise" is among the album's better tracks, but wrote that her vocals "lack emotion."

PopMatters critic Matt Cibula said that the song is "slow, it is weird, it is massive," but criticized Ciara's vocals for sounding "tiny" and "clipped next to Polow Da Don's track."

However, he ended on a more positive note, writing:

"But even though her vocal track is more or less another instrument here, she still sounds heartbroken and kind of sincere, and it works. It ain't genius, quite, but it's close enough for me."

Makkada Selah of The Village Voice was more critical regarding the album's ballads, calling them "pretty, but perfunctory and bland."

Selah wrote:

"Just try to ignore the fact that Ciara's 'Promise' is just Prince's 'Adore' except her coy falsetto can't begin to match the Purple One's vocal gymnastics."

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