1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back

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I may be in the minority, but I prefer Ciara when people thought she wore Hammer pants to hide her penis. With “Goodies” essentially becoming the blue balls national anthem, despite hitting the scene with a familiar look and style (Aaliyah + Janet with a dash of Michael Jackson = Ciara), the song helped push Ciara as the antithesis to her young hook-crazed female peers who made it seem as if having any inhibitions past the age of 18 was some sort of character flaw. She took that virginal tone in “Goodies” and moved three million units of her debut album of the same name.

Then somewhere along the way she morphed into something that looked a lot like everyone else.

Ciara decided to hire a stylist and glam herself up, no doubt to convey a more polished and sophisticated image. In other words: I’s a woman now, watch me pop lock. To her credit, it started off brilliantly. Armed with Janet Jackson’s old choreographer, Ciara out-Janet Miss Jackson herself, offering the perfect visual to her Prince-inspired first single, “Promise.”

But after a while she started to take herself and her “evolution” way too seriously. How much of an evolution can one truly make between their first and second albums? If those interludes on Ciara: The Evolution were indication, Ciara likely can’t answer that question herself.

Ciara, like so many other artists, probably let someone whisper into her ear that it behooves her to change every single thing that helped make her popular in an effort to remain fresh versus heeding the adage: “If ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

This strategy tends to blow up in the artists’ face. It’s pretty evident in Ciara’s case given that none of the singles – including “Promise” – have matched the success of “Goodies,” “1, 2 Step” and “Get Up.” And despite its heavy promotion, Ciara: The Evolution hasn’t come anywhere close to matching the sales of Goodies. Maybe it’s because her fans are more interested in her dance routines than her rumored love life with 50 Cent.

Though Ciara tried to distance herself from the “Queen of Crunk ‘n B” tag, when she finally released a follow-up to her second single, the underperforming “Can’t Leave ‘Em Alone,” she chose “That’s Right” — a song from the very producer who let her ride his crunk beats all the way to the top of the charts. Too bad by the time the video was released, audiences were already distracted by other artists who had crafted much more believable images.

So what does Ciara do to counter this? Continue to play up the sex kitten bit, of course. I’m sure that this is all in fun, but the last dancing R&B singer I’ve seen give a lap dance is now without a major label deal.

I’m all for personal progression, but there is something about Ciara that seems naturally tomboyish and this new, uber-feminine, temptress-like image seems so contrived. Like some chick in the WNBA being forced to put on a freakum dress when you know she’d rather be in some basketball shorts, Nike sandals and socks. It just seems like she’s trying too hard these days…and it’s not working.

I’m curious to know if Ciara ever wonders whether or not she let the goodies out of the jar too soon.

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