Saturday, June 21, 2014

W.W.C.I.I.T.M.I Post 17: Mary J. Blige

This is a series dedicated to women who despite success in the U.S. Music Industry, have est. a very complicated image for themselves.

Round 17 of this series came from a Twitter follower of mine who has some music industry know-how of her own [@Jillian002]. This installment will deal with the Andre Harrell & Diddy annointed "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul", Mary J. Blige. Her Behind the Music episode is one of the better "reboot" episodes of late (Anything to makeup for Nicole Scherzinger is the best damn episode in my book.) but there's still something to examine about the career and placement of one of many W.W.C.I.I.T.M.I.

1992 saw the release of her debut effort, What's the 411?. This began a working relationship with Sean "P. Diddy" Combs (When his stage name was Puff Daddy). 5 singles were spawned from the album, the second being one of her early signature hits.
The lead single was "You Remind Me" was a modest success, peaking at #29 on the Hot 100 and going to #1 on the R&B charts.
The second and most famous single of the pack was "Real Love". Peaking at #7 on the Hot 100 and being her second #1 on the R&B charts in a row, the song has been retrospective bait for years on end. The video and its look of baseball jersey and cap mixed with combat boots would be add to the retrospective bait. Two other singles would be released to little fanfare on the Hot 100 but end up within the Top 15 of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts.
Debut artist cliches aside, this was the beginning of Mary's image being permanently molded as "Neo Soul". Despite being named the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary ended up starting a niche of R&B/Soul music. Many retrospectives remembered this when Mary made her TV debut on Yo! MTV Raps and were introduced to her at the time especially, unique take on R&B (Apart from the completely matched 90s fashion staple Cross Colours ensemble on MaryWhat's the 411? peaked at #6

Late 1994 to early 1995 saw the release of her sophomore effort, My Life. 4 known singles would be spawned from the album, including one of the most covered songs on reality singing competitions.
The lead single "Be Happy" was another modest hit on the Hot 100 peaking at #29 and another solid R&B hit peaking at #6 on the R&B charts.
Then came her cover of the Rose Royce song "I'm Goin' Down". At the time, the song was another modest success peaking at #22 on the Hot 100 and #13 on the R&B charts. This would mark a good point musically as it proved to be her second biggest hit on the Hot 100 at the time. In terms of impact in the future, this song has been covered on singing competition shows like exposes on the news. Name a show, they covered this song. Hell, I remember Sera Hill from S2 and Taylor Beckham from S4 of The Voice covering this song for their Blind Auditions.
Two more songs would be released from the album but the job of the second single helped the album succeed. Yet despite a song like "I'm Goin' Down", My Life only peaked at #7. Despite the peak number keep in mind of this. This is when Blige was battling depression, alcoholism and being rumor-mill fodder with her abusive at the time boyfriend, K-Ci of K-Ci & JoJo.
In her BTM, Blige knew the type of man K-Ci was but also, the person she was at the time. Damaged backgrounds on both ends made their relationship tumultuous. Although it reinforced the belief that pain makes beautiful art.

'95 saw her feature on Method Man's cover of "I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need
 to Get By" prove to be a success by going to #3 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the R&B charts.
Then came her soundtrack turned 3rd album contribution, "Not Gon' Cry". Released in '96 to help the soundtrack to Waiting to Exhale, this song became one of Blige's most recognizable and quite possibly her signature tune. It peaked at #2 on the Hot 100 and became her 3rd #1 on the R&B charts.
Released in 1997, Share My World benefited greatly from "Not Gon' Cry" as the album went #1, making this her first album to do so. Subsequent singles "I Can Love You" (U.S. only release), "Everything" and "Seven Days" got more fanfare on the R&B charts [going #2, #2 and #3 respectively]. However, by this album Blige's recurring themes/album mood did show a lighter side as she had made strides in battling the depression and alcoholism in her life.

Her fourth effort, Mary saw a 1999 release. Like her previous work , 4 stateside singles would be released to relative R&B chart fanfare. Lead singles "All That I Can Say" and subsequent releases "Deep Inside", "Give Me You" and "Your Child" each charted within the Top 25 of the R&B charts [#6, #9, #23 and #21 respectively]. Why the Hot 100 chart positions aren't mentioned is because sensationalized crossover status had not yet occurred. "Real Love" and "Not Gon' Cry" came pretty damn close. Yet a #1 on the Hot 100 had been elusive until a reunion with P. Diddy off of her next album did just that. Mary peaked at #2.

2001 saw the release of Blige's 5th effort, No More Drama. The album was reminiscent of her debut; but the lead single managed to do what previous and future singles could not. Become a #1 hit on the Hot 100.
The lead single, "Family Affair" [with the production help of Dr. Dre] became Mary's sole #1 hit on the Hot 100. The single was seen as a major departure from the tormented soul of previous works...that in many ways assured longevity in her career. However, the song would go #1 on both the Hot 100 and the R&B charts. In crossover terms this is idealist appeal; meaning that despite mainstream success, the hardcore base of the act in question did not feel alienated.
Subsequent releases "No More Drama" and "Rainy Dayz" continued the success of the lead single by going #15 and #12 respectively on the Hot 100 and #16 and #8 on the R&B charts respectively. Additionally, "No More Drama" has become a S.T.W.D. on reality singing shows; S.T.W.D. standing for Song That Won't Die [gets covered and performed a lot.] No More Drama peaked at #2.

2003 saw the release of her 6th effort, Love & Life. BTM revealed that part of this was her working with P. Diddy again who after a brief falling out both came together to make this effort. Despite the reunion, the album was met with positive to mixed reviews. Meaning that despite the consistency, this was not the most indicative of either Blige's talent or potential. 3 of the 5 singles released charted in the Top 40 of the Hot 100 and R&B fanfare was a bit slimmer for those 3 singles as they made the Top 25 of the R&B charts. Despite the lukewarm singles placements, Love & Life peaked at #1 starting a 3 album trend of going to #1.

2005 saw the release of her 7th effort, The Breakthrough. This would repeat No More Drama era Mary as the lead single would be strong on the charts. The lead single was "Be Without You". One of her more theatrical releases of the time, the song peaked at #3 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the R&B charts. The music video would be one of her most well received (VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown played this almost every week the video was on its countdown.)
Cut past a surprise collaboration with U2 remaking their hit "One", this seemed to mark Blige's commercial peak in terms of single reception and album peak, even though her next effort would achieve one of these.
The Breakthrough peaked at #1.

2007 saw the release of her 8th album, Growing Pains. The album would spawn three singles, including one of her happiest sounding cuts in her discography. The lead single from the album was "Just Fine". A prelude to the self-confidence anthem wave of 2011 [Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" being the starting point], "Just Fine" in sonic context was the happiest Blige had sounded since "Family Affair" and "Real Love". The video for the song would also be as well received as "Be Without You" VH1 wise. Chart success was moderate on the Hot 100, peaking at #22.
However, this was more return to form [not so much reversal of fortune] of her first album success ratings as the R&B charts seemed to favor her more than the Hot 100. "Just Fine" would be highest peaking of the 3 singles even in that regard, peaking at #3. Subsequent releases "Work That" and "Stay Down" would peak at #16 and #34 respectively.
Even with the slight Hot 100 shunning, Growing Pains peaked at #1.

2009 saw the release of her 9th effort Stronger With Each Tear. The album spawned 3 singles in the U.S. [there was an international only single and an iTunes only cover of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven"] The lead single was "The One", a collaboration with rising Degrassi alum turned rap star Drake. Even with its success in the "urban" market, chart success was modest at best with a peak of #32...on the R&B charts. Subsequent releases "I Am" & "We Got Hood Love" ft. Trey Songz ended up as two Top #25 R&B singles at #4 and #25 respectively.
The reason this section seems short? Raise your hand if you remember the promotion for this particular album? *crickets...katydids...insects...* Promotional shortcomings aside, Stronger With Each Tear peaked at #2.

My Life II... The Journey Continues (Act 1) is the 10th and most recent studio album from Blige, released in 2011. Here's a slight spoiler in terms of album promotion; it ended up just like its predecessor. O_O The lead single was "25/8". The chart success of this played out like a majority of Blige's work; on the R&B charts [even though her material up until now had been getting favorable buzz from music critics]. "25/8" ended up peaking at #35 on the R&B charts. Other singles "Mr. Wrong" ft. Drake, "Why" ft. Rick Ross and "Don't Mind" would peak at #10, #30 and #35 respectively.
An odd level of success was found with her second collaboration with Drake. Even weirder in theory is that this is the only single from the album to chart on the Hot 100 at #87. In action, this does make sense as by this time, Drake's career was becoming the thing it is now (Even if his music quality is less than impressive.My Life II... The Journey Continues (Act 1) given the weirder lack of proper promotion, ended up peaking at #5.

Cut past her acting in a Tyler Perry movie, compilation albums and an attempt to give Mariah Carey a run for her money in "PUN-FERRIFIC Christmas Album Title" realness at the Swear Ball EXTRAVAGANZA (Good try with A Mary Christmas but Mariah still wins with Merry Christmas II You)
With relative likability across all boards, what makes Mary one of many W.W.C.I.I.T.M.I.? She falls under one of the weirdest "Catch 22"/"Damned if You Do & Damned if You Don't" tropes in commercial music.

It took some of her darkest material "Not Gon' Cry" to crack in the Top 5 of the Hot 100, but it was the peppy single "Family Affair" that finally gave her a number 1 hit. Her initial sound was a fusion of Hip-Hop and Soul, yet she's hailed as the best of contemporary R&B. Her heartbreak-laden singles made her but they also seem to pigeonhole her.
At the very least she's a critical and commercial darling to the tune of Shakira [neither of their albums were perceived as duds] but she also found a bit of the Madonna issue discussed in her post c. her Confessions on a Dance Floor. Her consistency as a singles artist wasn't adding up to the critical acclaim and even high album peaks she had attained.
Even some of her collaborations have met Jekyll and Hyde reception. Her second collaboration with Drake was met with mixed reception due to the presence of auto-tune in the song. In this context, this was playing up the sweep of auto-tune that had been taking off since T-Pain made it a huge mainstream thing [even though Cher and even Faith Hill did auto-tune long before then]. Yet that earned better chart fanfare than her collaboration with U2 [in some cases her U2 collaboration was met with less than stellar reviews. O_O]

So in essence, Mary J. Blige is one of many W.W.C.I.I.T.M.I. simply because in career analysis and retrospect, she's been all over the place but has the critical and commercial success to back her place in music up. Even if some of her music reads as "too dark" or some of her other stuff isn't quite up to snuff, there's always been a rare sign of her seeming invested in her music the whole way through. Something that can't be said of other acts in the industry let alone the others in this series.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

ALL MALE (Music) REVIEW: "Ultraviolence" by Lana Del Rey

The self described "Lolita lost in the hood"/"Gangster Nancy Sinatra" gets all psychedelic up in this bitch. With the help of the Black Keys lead singer Dan Auerbach, Del Rey's proper follow up to Born to Die has a bit of the psychedelia Auerbach and co. experimented with on their most recent effort Turn Blue.

Admittedly, while Del Rey certainly has the captivation and languish laden melodramatics it's not strange to wonder if that can translate well into Auerbach inspired psychedelic production.

Here's how my review will work. All of the tracks will be judged individually; cohesion will determine the grade of the album later. Obvious factors like singing ability and the instrumental of the song will be included as well.

# of tracks- 11 (this is the standard U.S. edition I'm reviewing.)

# of interludes- 0

Total time of album- 51:24

1. "Cruel World"- It's clear that Auerbach or someone on his team told him who Del Rey is; the instrumentals are surprisingly complimentary to her languid and longing style. At times, the drum production is a touch louder than she is. Still, hypnotizing and pleasant vocals make this a good cut of the overall project. Granted, this is nowhere near indicative of her overall work on this effort. (When she sings the word "candy", it's clear the Electra Complex is alive and well in this one. O_O)

2. "Ultraviolence"- One of the four released singles from the album [3rd overall]. The piano work fits her presentation value. This does serve as a reminder that she's more damaged yet alluring when singing than haunting and "weird". Disconcerting lyrics include "you hit me and it felt like a kiss" and her Electra Complex in Spanish "yo soy la princesa". As eye-popping as those are to hear, this is oddly fitting considering her past works.

3. "Shades of Cool"- Another of the four released singles [2nd overall]. The album version and the version on her YouTube/VEVO channel are radically different. The online version is much darker in instrumental value. The album version while lighter (For Del Rey, mind you) utterly defeats the captivation of the song even though this is the most coquettish/coo-like vocals she's probably allowed herself to do on a major label work. Still, out of the songs so far this one is the most hypnotic [she's really good at singing any lyric with the color "blue" mentioned].

4. "Brooklyn Baby"- Another of the four singles released [4th overall]. The single in other reviews were met with lukewarm reception. Even though it fits her style, others have inferred that of the released singles, this was the weakest. The song itself is more indicative of Del Rey's captivating melancholy than what has been released of the album. The instrumentals on this song seem a bit brooding 90s as opposed to the psychedelic 60s brief the production team wanted to stick to. Not that it's the worst thing ever; it still does its job of assisting in Del Rey's alluring vocals.

5. "West Coast"- The lead single of the four released. Let's take time to celebrate the fact that this went to #17 on the Hot 100. Meaning that aside from "Young and Beautiful" and no remix version, this is her highest charting single in the U.S. There is a huge reason why it's this song. That reason being it is the weirdest and grooviest song of Del Rey's works to date. The single represents the surprising fit of Auerbach's production with Del Rey's style. The vocals on this are so smooth and is most likely the strongest projection of her voice in her entire career thus far.

6. "Sad Girl"- This song does indicate that maybe this was recorded the day of or right after "Cruel World" or even maybe "Shades of Cool". O_O The self effacing [maybe even self deprecating] tone of the song's chorus is a bit caddywhompus (Meaning slightly off; just in case I sound like I'm taking the SATs). Even though it has the stylistic graces of her works past and even present, something about this seems rather too plebian/philistine/glib/simplistic/blatant. A more nuanced/subtle chorus would've fit the song better.

7. "Pretty When You Cry"- The song starts off with Del Rey assuming the "wounded" one a little too melodramatically. This is reminiscent of the Garbage song "Only Happy When it Rains" once the chorus kicks in. It suffers from the same pitfall of the previous track; a bit too blatant for an artist known for being nuanced and theatrical when singing. Part of this could be blamed on the production, but it isn't saying this is a bad song. It's just not the strongest indicator/litmus test of Del Rey.

8. "Money Power Glory"- The song registered as a Del Rey take on the Janis Joplin song "Mercedes Benz". Knowing full well she really doesn't want Money, Power or Glory in reality but is probably castigating modern society's "excess is best" nature. Interestingly, this is weirdly reminiscent of Born to Die production; did this song miss the cut?; was it reworked for Ultraviolence? That can't be said anywhere let alone this review. What can be said is that the song is a touch "try-hard" to be deep, but I'm not blaming Del Rey herself at all.

9. "Fucked My Way Up to the Top"- Winner of most eye-popping single on Ultraviolence. Profane language sounds beautiful out of her (And Lily Allen and RaVaughn) so the title isn't the problem. The song itself is hampered by whether or not Del Rey is telling us through song that she has a salacious alter-ego she sang about first on Born to Die ["Carmen"]; or if this is "Carmen" herself singing (Making this the weirdest take on the BeyoncĂ©/Sasha Fierce trope.) Not that it isn't terrible; at the very least, this adds to the atmospheric quality of the album. A story is being told even if it does sound a bit fucking loony.

10. "Old Money"- The song at first registers as the most minimalist in terms of sonic [sound] quality. Vocally, this is perhaps the safest vocal Del Rey has laid on a track. It's her cover of "Blue Velvet" level subtle compared to at least the rest of this album. The orchestral arrangement sounds fantastic, but the themes of psychedelia haven't shown up in the past 2 to 3 tracks. In terms of cohesion, this is not helping at all.

11. "The Other Woman"- The psychedelia is back. As wonderfully vintage as the song's instrumental is, it can't help but beg the question; which songs missed Ultraviolence altogether; no standard or deluxe version? Admittedly, this does come across as an acid-trip version of the The Wizard of Oz in terms of execution. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but the pacing and cadence of the song went too fast. Psychedelia is supposed to be dealt with much like the substances the music came from; in "dabs". Meaning a dab will do; it is not quantity dependent*

*PSA Moment: Don't do drugs. Motivational groups are scheduled each and every time a young person touches the "illicits". Oh and it can kill you if you don't end up arrested and convicted on possession charges. Don't do drugs.*

Despite that, it is a decent closing track to an overall trippy sounding album.

OVERALL Grade: A very generous B+
Let's get the bad out of the way; cohesion matters and Ultraviolence doesn't fully deliver on that. 2-3 tracks don't have the intended album brief of 60s psychedelic inspiration; one of those tracks sounding like a "barely missed the list" of Born to Die. The "Shades of Cool" instrumental was not like the online version on the album and that really is unacceptable.
The good? For the most part, Auerbach's production of the album did fit Del Rey's style. None more beautiful than "West Coast" and even "Shades of Cool" despite the instrumental gripe. The allure of Del Rey is still as gripping as ever as her singing is some of the most distinctive in the modern field. Her vocals are able to fit the psychedelic briefs because of the theatrics she's known for delivering.
Ultraviolence is worth the buy, even if there are some disconcerting moments production wise.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Won the War: Rihanna V.S. Ciara

This is a series inspired by a tweet from perpetual lightning rod for controversy Azealia Banks when she inferred that although Michael Jackson won the battle, Prince won the war. This will be my take on which two rivals in packaging in the U.S. Music Industry, won the war in terms of longer success.

Round 2 of Won the War involves inadvertent umbrella-ella-ella-ay-ay-ay spokesperson Rihanna and Ciara who is rebounding from a Fantasy Ride gone awry. When they debuted in the early/mid aughts [00s], both were initially written off as One Hit Wonders. Getting another hit under their belts in the short term was easy. Now having careers in the 2010 onward era let's figure out...

In longevity terms, who merely won the battle...and who Won the War?

As of 2014, Rihanna has 7 albums under her belt; the most recent effort being the 2012 released Unapologetic. Ciara has 5 albums to her name; the most recent, being her 2013 released self titled effort.
Here's their album peaks from highest to lowest...

- Unapologetic at #1
- Good Girl Gone Bad at #2
- Loud at #3
- Talk That Talk at #3
- Rated R at #4
- A Girl Like Me at #5
- Music of the Sun at #10

- Ciara: The Evolution at #1
- Ciara at #2
- Goodies at #3
- Fantasy Ride at #3
- Basic Instinct at #44

Due to the fact that these two have made something of a name for themselves, radio has played their songs every now and again. In terms of longevity when was their last #1 hit on the Hot 100?
*Reminder: Hot 100 ranking does matter if you're absolutely looking for a gauge of where an artist is in terms of popularity*

Rihanna had her last #1 hit with "Diamonds" from 2012 and off of her most recent album of the same year. Two years ago? Not bad.
Ciara had her last #1 hit with "Goodies"...from 2004 off of her debut of the same name...10 years ago O_O.

The last Top 10 hit? Rihanna had "Stay" going to #3 in 2013 off of her most recent album. Ciara's last Top 10 hit was "Love Sex Magic" ft. Justin Timberlake at 2009 off of her 3rd album...5 years ago. O_O.

Singing is not the only thing these two have done. Both Rihanna and Ciara have done some acting in bit parts, but guilt by association here.(because Rihanna played herself in Seth Rogen's This Is The End, I will not use this movie for her analysis.) Here's the Rotten Tomatoes scores of their movies as of June 2, 2014...

Rihanna's 2012 movie Battleship
Tomatometer [critics]: 34% at an average of 4.6 out of 10 rating
Audience: 55% at an average of 3.4 out of 5 rating

Ciara's 2012 movie That's My Boy
Tomatometer [critics]: 20% at an average of 3.4 out of 10 rating
Audience: 52% at an average of 3.3 out of 5 rating

Musically, there are naturally some weak points in an artists' career when say...a lead single doesn't go to #1 or released singles chart really low. These are the positions at the lowest of Rihanna and Ciara's careers...

Rihanna's Lowest Charting Singles
- Lowest Charting Lead Single: "Russian Roulette" at #9 on the Hot 100
- Lowest Charting Released Single: "Rockstar 101" ft. Slash at #64 on the Hot 100 [For posterity, both of these singles are from Rated R]

Ciara's Lowest Charting Singles
- Lowest Charting Lead Single: [this one was tough to determine because either way it's from Fantasy Ride but technically because this was included on the standard album] "Never Ever" ft. Young Jeezy at #66 on the Hot 100.
- Lowest Charting Released Single: "And I" at #96 on the Hot 100.

Their chart nadirs are rather interesting. With Rihanna, both of her major chart nadirs come from the same controversy capitalizing effort Rated R; keep in mind this is the same album that spawned 3 Top 10 hits [with "Rude Boy" going to #1]. This was the era in which she switched up her look to be edgy; mainly as a way to convey the anger she had with her abusive boyfriend, R&B singer Chris Brown.
Just like Rated R as an album, Rihanna's singles while bearable edgy Pop/Rock/R&B cuts, they were wildly inconsistent in terms of reception and cohesion if you remember that "Russian Roulette" is on the same album as "Rude Boy" [which for posterity sake has the following lyrics...]

"You like it boy
I want, want want
What you want, want, want?
Give it to me baby
Like boom, boom boom
What I want, want, want
Is what you want, want, want
Come here Rude Boy, boy
Can you get it up?
Come here Rude Boy, boy
Is you big enough?"
- Rihanna on the song "Rude Boy"

Ciara's lowest charting single in general on the other hand, ended up because of a terrible and unnecessary 4th single from her debut album; keep in mind her previous 3 songs from her debut: "Goodies", "1,2 Step" and "Oh" ft. Ludacris went #1, #2 and #2 respectively. Someone should've put the kibosh on anymore singles being released because those chart positions did their job.
Her lowest lead single depending on the #1 in Japan "Go Girl" ft. T-Pain or "Never Ever" ft. Young Jeezy is a touch telling of guest artist fallibility. By 2008, with the exception of "Chopped and Skrewed" ft. Ludacris and "Freeze" ft. Chris Brown, T-Pain had 5 Top 10 songs. His commercial pull should've been able to save "Go Girl" had it meant to be released in the U.S. With "Never Ever", Young Jeezy was enjoying album rank success because by 2008, he had 3 Top 3 albums in the country. O_O
This could simply add up as a case of bad luck, but this is just singles wise...

Album wise, their nadirs tell two different stories; one of "Wait and See" and the other "If Only". Rihanna's low point album wise, was her debut effort peaking at #10 despite the #2 song "Pon de Replay". The "Wait and See" narrative for her was simply to see if she could shake off a Top 5 earworm; when "SOS" from her second album was released and went #1, that certainly showed that an earworm can be shaken. Add in "Umbrella" ft. Jay-Z the next year and things have been relatively smooth for her [at least musically] ever since.

Ciara's narrative of "If Only" stems from a not too severe at first, case of bad luck. When her debut effort and 3 singles were released, they were part of a now defunct niche genre called "Crunk&B". This was when rapper/producer Lil' Jon [WHAT?! OK!] was a go-to producer and was at the infancy of his mainstream career. Having previously produced hits for Usher and Petey Pablo, his touch on Ciara's career proved to be fleeting because by 2006, "Crunk&B" was dead. She rebounded with a #1 sophomore album, but apart from the lead single [also on the Step Up soundtrack], the chart magic was diminishing.
By Fantasy Ride and "Love Sex Magic" being her last big hit, Ciara was facing the Sword of Damocles ever so closer. Basic Instinct would end up having been sliced and diced from the sword as it is her lowest charting album to date. Even though she had production help from another relatively major producer; by 2010's Basic Instinct producer Terius Nash AKA The-Dream had enjoyed some moderate solo success and had some commercial pull on his side when by Basic Instinct he had 3 Top 5 albums. Yet due to minimal promotion and bad luck, the album despite it being a critical success was a commercial bust.
Her most recent effort seemed doomed after leaked tracks and an album title change. Yet with it debuting and peaking at #2 and "Body Party" being in the Top 25 of the Hot 100 and going to #6 on the R&B chart [and being something to the tune of Fuse countdown fluff] showed her not being down for the count.

Now for the final points: iconic singles AKA, the one single people know is by that artist.

With Rihanna, the single people [and retrospectives can't shut the fuck up about] is her #1 hit "Umbrella" because this was perceived as her breakthrough single [even though "SOS" is the better song and did that a year before "Umbrella"]
With Ciara, the single people remember her for is her #2 hit "1.2 Step". This is R&B/Dance music at its finest and Missy Elliott is "filet mignon" on this song.

Some last bits of info for posterity. Both of these acts have relied on certain elements of sex and videography to add to their musical star-power. With Rihanna, she switches up hairstyles and levels of sex every album and song AND video.
Ciara, on the other hand has a bit of Janet Jackson started Paula Abdul perfected habit of "Dancing in videos makes up for lack of strong singing". Videos of even commercial lackluster of bust songs prove her visual effectiveness being greater than her sonic effectiveness. Her most viewed video on YouTube/VEVO? "Like a Boy" with 76,618,604 views as of today. The song itself peaked at #19 on the Hot 100.

One has had 7 Top 10 albums; one has had 4 Top 5 albums; one is something of a constant diva/bitch on wheels; one is an under-appreciated chanteuse of Modern R&B...the result is as follows...