Ciara, once dubbed the Princess of R&B, is now the reigning queen. Since the days that we rocked bobos in our hair, the seductive singer with gravity defying dance moves has captured not only our hearts, but a spot on our playlists.
Demonstrating her intrinsic musical talent since her debut album Goodies in 2004, Ciara has remained at the top of her game for nearly two decades. Born in Fort Hood, Texas, but spending her teenage years in Atlanta, Georgia, Ciara’s take on southern Black culture and mixed with her crunk sound was missing in the sonic space. Despite joining a girl group called Hearsay, with her two friends as a teenager, it was evident that Ciara was a stand alone talent, eventually signing a publishing deal as a songwriter.
The most impressive and admirable qualities of Ciara’s career can not only be found in her discography and the number of awards she has amassed, but the number of times she reinvented herself and her sound throughout the duration of her career. Similar to many women, Ciara utilized heartbreak and change as fuel to reach her full potential. Now, she is still the blueprint for Black girls and women to ‘Level Up’ and live their best lives.
Introduced as a hit single off her 2013 self-titled fifth studio album, Ciara, this slow synthesized production proved that the R&B princess was back and better than ever. Featuring a sample from Ghost Town DJ’s 1995 classic “My Boo” The single was also certified double platinum by the RIAA and is Ciara’s second multi-platinum single after “1, 2 Step.” Rolling Stone also ranked “Body Party” at number 22 for The Best Songs of 2013, which made it the highest R&B song on the list.
“Like A Boy”
When Myspace reigned supreme in 2006, this song was chosen as her second single via an official MySpace poll, being picked over “That’s Right” and “Can’t Leave ‘Em Alone” featuring 50 Cent. This hit also peaked at number six on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, giving Ciara her sixth top-ten single on the chart. It was also ranked at number 68 on the Billboard Year-End singles of 2007 and is the most successful year-end single from the album.
The hit, originally intended for Kelly Rowland, gave Ciara the chance for women to bond over shared experiences. In an interview with MTV, Ciara states, “I think a lot of women can relate to this, the whole thing about when a guy does certain things, it’s cool, but when a girl does certain things, we look crazy.”
Back when everybody and their momma’s watched BET’s 106 & Park, this song was impossible to miss in 2004. Well-received by critics, the whistling crunk beat and breathy vocals, gave Ciara the title of “First Lady or Princess of Crunk&B. “Goodies” was a commercial success, peaking at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, becoming the longest-running number-one debut single by a female artist on the chart since 1977.
“1, 2 Step”
In 2004, you could not step into any club or ride past a car that wasn’t bopping to this track. “1, 2 Step” featuring Missy Elliott was ranked 59th on Billboard‘s Top 100 Songs of the 2000s. In the United States, the song peaked at number two on the BillboardHot 100 and stayed there for seven weeks. Solidifying Ciara’s name in the music industry, this single is a cult classic, and still vibed to during nostalgic moments.
Released in 2010 as the lead single from her fourth studio album, Basic Instinct, this song is accompanied by Ludacris and a seductive tone. It reached number three on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs in the United States, becoming Ciara’s twelfth top ten hit on the chart. Eventually peaking at number three on the chart, the single was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for sales of over a million digital copies in the United States. Who else was trying to learn these moves? It can’t be just us!
Released on July 25, 2006, the song serves as the first single from the original soundtrack to the film Step Up (2006), as well as the lead single for her second album, Ciara: The Evolution. The music video also featured a special cameo from Step Up stars Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan-Tatum.
This is one of those songs that you listened to while staring out the window, pretending to be in a music video. Don’t lie. Released as the official lead single off Ciara: The Evolution, the song represents the album’s theme of evolving and symbolizes her growth as a songwriter and artist. Speaking on the track’s meaning with MTV, Ciara confessed, “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.” Anyone else went to their nearest wall to do the famous hip rocking move?
While promoting the dance tune, Ciara mentioned, “It’s also what I call ‘Ghetto-Pop,’ It’s songs that can play in the hood and beyond, and that’s always been important to me since day one.” Accompanied by nostalgic CiCi vibes, the “Jump” music video felt like an experience with a 14-outfit wardrobe change, 2000s-inspired choreography, and jaw-dropping effects.
A 2019 celebratory anthem about empowerment and growth, “Level Up” became the number one trending video on YouTube and spawned the #LevelUpChallenge on social media, featuring fans and celebrities recording their own version of the video’s choreography. The song’s title directly references Ciara’s controversial #LevelUp marriage tweet, explaining that she wanted to empower women as she felt her “lowest moment” as a solo parent before learning to love herself.
About Desjah: A Brooklyn girl keeping it real in LA, Desjah Altvater is a writer for Girls United who loves to dissect culture and entertainment. She also writes for Her Agenda and Insider, aiming to uncover interesting and underrepresented stories in the media.