Album Reviews

Ciara – Goodies

(jive) UK release date: 24 January 2005

From the seductive picture of the girl tipped to become the new queen of hip-hop, or specifically ‘rhythm and crunk’ it’s obvious that Goodies is going to be one of those sexy albums – the type that has booties shakin’ and serving to fuel plenty of grinding. But I’ve always been taught never to judge a book by its cover, and I guess that rule applies to CDs as well.

Goodies kicks off with the title track and what is now an instantly recognisable tune. It’s typically upbeat benefiting from Lil’ Jon‘s now synonymous production techniques. Continuing the theme of music made specifically for clubs is 1,2 Step which, in a rather cunning ploy, features the skills of Missy Elliot.

It’s almost as if this is the ‘coming out’ party for one of society’s soon to be elites, where having a mentor who has seen and done everything serves to enhance the desirability of the newcomer. Sceptical marketing tactics aside it isn’t a bad song. Thug style slows down the pace, and takes the early crunk out of Goodies. This is the first example of Ciara being anything other than a commercial puppet.

However, Hotline picks the speed of everything back up. The vocals are clean and the complex multi-layered beat works surprisingly well, with a funky clap beat not sounding half as cheesy as it should do. But there is absolutely no need for the 20 seconds of beat boxing, of which Justin Trousersnake would be ashamed of.

Thankfully that is all quickly forgotten by the time Oh starts, given that it’s by far and away the album’s best track. With a bass line that can only be described as punishing made all the better by the fact that it’s such a slow song. All that is clear even before Ludacris‘ lightning verse. It is the ultimate cruising tune.

Things start to lull after that because, as with many debut albums, it’s difficult to maintain the quality of early tracks. You would have thought with Jazz Pha taking most of the production credits that Ciara would avoid falling into this trap, but Pick Up The Phone is, well, plain boring.

Looking At You injects some much-needed life after Hotline steals four minutes of your life. It is a very suggestive track oozing sex appeal, and it also demonstrates a range to Ciara’s vocals that hadn’t previously been exploited. Were it not for Ooh Baby being introduced with “C-I-A-R-A” then you cold be forgiven for mistaking it for a J Lo (or is that just Jennifer now?) track.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but as with the rest of the tail end of Goodies it highlights a desperate need for an individual identity. The talent is obviously there but if we are to carry out Ciara’s wish of forgetting about “the other chicks” then there’s some fine-tuning needed. For now there’s no direct threat to any other hip-hop divas, but the void left by Aaliyah is still there for someone to try and fill. There’s no reason why Ciara can’t one day hold her own with the best.

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Ciara – Goodies