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Wednesday, January 14, 2009
12:44 AM

Never Ever (Be Her)


I have had this long stemming debate with a friend of mine: Whether or not an artist’s personality should factor into how you feel about them and their music.

I get the feeling I don’t articulate my position well enough, so here it goes: I judge the music solely on merit, but as far as wanting to monetarily support an artist, if I don’t like you, I don’t want to support you.

But, I have to say, I do believe personality matters when you’re an artist to some degree. If you’ve never experienced anything, it’s evident in your material – particularly the way you perform it. Yes, that one is about Beyonce.

Anyway, another example would be if you don’t know who you are, everything about you – I’m talking image, sound…everything – will stick out.

The more I look and listen to Ciara, the more I think that one applies to her. She reminds me of what I can’t stand about so many contemporary artists these days. They all try too hard to get us to view them in a certain light versus simply being and letting us draw our own conclusions.

Why can’t artists wait for us to tell them that they’ve matured, that they’ve made a classic, that they’re icons in the making? If they’re so dead set on telling us everything, why don’t they go out and buy their own albums? (Edit: Some of them do that already, don’t they?)

It’s as if so many want all the accolades of their predecessors but don’t want to put in any of the time or work for it.

Ciara’s been dropping brick after brick for months now, and it’s funny to me how it has yet to dawn on Ciara or any of her handlers what the problem is.

When she made her way onto the scene a few years ago, she was different. Yes, she reminded people of Janet and Aaliyah. Indeed she did have the same blond extensions as Beyonce and those that sought to match her success at the time. But her music had virginal quality to it, and while she didn’t appear as polished as her peers, that actually aided her.

She looked like someone who didn’t know exactly who she was yet, but she loved performing and put her all into it. The ‘Crunk n B’ title was an obvious gimmick, but it worked because no one else was doing it at the time.

Now look at her. What has she done to her face? Don’t worry, I figured out what’s different about her chest. The face, however, is still a mystery to me. Her face has a “freshened up” quality to it now. Something you would find in a 40-year-old woman.

She looks like her name should be Cruella De Crunk.

She comes across as someone who doesn't know what they want to be. You can as much by her new music, which has been all over the place.

If I were responsible for her, I would have told her to stick with the formula that worked. Remember when artists knew better and did just that?

Had Ciara let her natural progression into a sex symbol happen naturally she might not be in the predicament she’s in now: One flop away from total irrelevance.

I actually liked “Go Girl,” but I can see why it failed. Her image is way too contrived to come across as believable. Not to mention she made herself look silly appearing naked in VIBE then accusing them of digitally altering her pictures to make them look more suggestive. Does evidence of a thong make a topless spread appear classier?

Cici reminds me of that girl that went above and beyond to try to fit in at school. Those types are usually the ones everyone ends up laughing at. I would laugh along, too, if she and one of her producers would take themselves less seriously. Polow says he and Ciara are like Timbaland and Aaliyah.

If you’re old enough to remember all Aaliyah did in the 90s, you’re either laughing or sighing.

Have ya’ll listened to “Never Ever?” That’s Ciara’s third first single produced by Polow. It sounds like “Love In This Playpen.”

“One In A Million” it isn’t.

It is to Polow, though:

"And one thing people do say about when I work with Ciara is that I make her sound better than ever," he continued. "I make her sound like a vocalist versus the other stuff she may do that's more performance, where she can get on the dance floor. It's kind of the same thing with Aaliyah. She may not have been the best singer, but her voice was so unique and her sound — she had her own lane, and I think Ciara is like that same thing."

I get what he's trying to say, but no all the same. OK, so Aaliyah wasn’t exactly a songbird on every occasion. I saw her in concert, so I know every once in a while she may have sung like a bullfrog was kicking in the back of her throat. But, Polow Da Don is a producer for Ciara. On Aaliyah’s worst day, Ciara still makes her look like Whitney at her prime.

Beyond the obvious vocal disparities, this is all yet another example of artists being way too self-congratulatory.

I’m tempted to lead a séance to try and get the spirit of Aaliyah to curse Polow Da Don out and give Ciara some advice on genuine artistic growth.

Anyone down for joining me?

The Cynical Ones.
posted by Michael at