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2015 should be the year of Ciara

| Wednesday, January 14, 2015

ciara-graphic-WEBKeri O'Mara
In the late hours of Jan. 13, singer Ciara released her first song in two years. While the R&B artist recently announced the single, a ballad titled “I Bet,” wouldn’t be released until Jan. 27, the song’s audio was uploaded via YouTube.

The track, which is the first release from Ciara’s upcoming sixth studio album, isn’t particularly great. It’s a standard heartbreak ballad, and the early release of the audio is likely a smart PR move — the singer has made headlines recently for her recent split with rapper and former fiancé Future. Whether the song is about the couple’s public breakup or not, the song is likely to grab the attention of curious fans.

Even if “I Bet” isn’t the most compelling single, I’m still thrilled for Ciara’s comeback. The reason for my excitement is that I firmly believe Ciara is an unsung hero, and 2015 is another year, another opportunity to have the Year of Ciara.

While many liken Ciara back to her “One, Two Step” days or came to love the singer after her 2013 hit “Body Party” (a song a friend recently dubbed “the most remixed of all time”), she has had a long and, I think, underappreciated career.

In 2004, Ciara released her first album, “Goodies,” at age 18. She topped the charts with the album’s eponymous single, as well as “Oh” and “One, Two Step,” and the record went platinum. Along with her appearances on tracks with Missy Elliot during this time, Ciara’s music was a perfect blend of R&B, pop and crunk (Rolling Stone called her “The Princess of Crunk” after her debut), and her music videos proved she wasn’t just a singer cranking out hits, but a talented dancer and great entertainer.

Following up her debut, the singer released “Ciara: The Evolution” in 2006 and began developing an identity as a serious and seriously grown-up R&B artist. The album’s singles, “Like a Boy,” “Promise” and “Get Up” continued Ciara’s streak of catchy tracks, and she went platinum again. Though her next two albums weren’t as well received, she jumped back on the map in 2012 with her self-titled record.

Throughout the ups and downs of her 11-year career, Ciara has been fascinating to watch. She transformed with each record, especially turning up the sexuality with each new album. And while she was deemed Princess of Crunk, her true title is the Queen of the Dance Video. Surrounded by backup dancers, she pulls off dancing not seen anywhere else in popular music, and her moves are the focal point of nearly all of her videos.

It’s clear that Ciara is an entertainer first and foremost. Like Michael Jackson, who she identified as her hero in a recent interview with L’Uomo Vogue, she is a performer, not just a musician. But that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be considered an influential voice in pop and R&B. One look at a music video or listen to an X-rated lyric and it becomes clear that Ciara was making a statement about female empowerment and sexuality with her music (and her movement) long before Minaj’s “Anaconda” dropped jaws.

Her 2006 video for “Like a Boy” takes Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy” and combines it with Rihanna’s “Pour It Up” before either of those songs even existed, yet Ciara doesn’t get thinkpieces written about her like Rihanna, Beyoncé or Nicki do.

For the last two years, I’ve been trying to convince everyone I know that Ciara deserves a spot at the table when talking about talented, powerful women in popular music. Now with her new album, titled “Jackie,” coming out this year, perhaps she’ll finally get that seat.

It will be fascinating to see what direction Ciara takes with “Jackie,” but looking at her last 11 years, I want so badly for it to be the album that gives Ciara the attention and respect she deserves.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Allie Tollaksen

Scene Editor. Senior studying Psychology and dabbling in everything else.

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