Ten years ago Ciara was one of the hottest pop stars around. She had platinum albums, a promising acting career, and was slowly becoming the face of R&B – a tweener of sorts that melded the tender caress of a Kelly Rowland with the queen bee sting of a Beyoncê. It was poor management from her then label Jive Records that prompted her to jump ship to Epic for her latest, self-titled album. And lyrically it’s about what you would expect from Ciara – southern hooks laced with enough analogies and double entendres to keep listeners entertained. Nothing in the way of a classic here, just solid pop R&B – fun and noncommittal. At this juncture, Ciara is ready to step into a new role as a hybrid star – one with mainstream rep and indie appeal. If you can look past some of the obnoxious beats and annoying collaborations, there’ll be plenty to grind to as you cozy up to your loved one for the evening.

I’m Out

Post break up celebrations aren’t exclusively reserved for intimate relationships. It can be between an underrated R&B princess and a label that didn’t do diddly for her last two albums. Perhaps that’s what Ciara is celebrating in this nut cracking anthem featuring the abominable Nicki Minaj: [LISTEN]

"I'm Out"

Sophomore

How different sex ed. would have been had it been Ciara teaching it rather than the driver’s ed. instructor. She’s not new to the art of seduction, which is fine so long as she treats it with the same slow lather and sexy disposition she’s been working with for the past decade: [LISTEN]

"Sophomore"

Body Party

Ciara breaks her slump with a token “crush on you” jam. Inspired by a time when house parties were the ultimate pick-up spots, and pop princesses could proudly brandish their boy crazy cards without having to turn out. The only thing missing from this mid ’90s, R&B joint is the sound of a pager: [LISTEN]

"Body Party"

Keep on Lookin

When malevolence spills from Ciara’s mouth it does so in slow dramatic fashion like that fat guy getting shot in the stomach with a cannonball. You don’t want to be that guy or the cannonball. She’s particularly adept at owning kitschy phrases, which doesn’t bode well for her enemies: [LISTEN]

"Keep on Lookin'"

Read My Lips

Another ’90s baby jam, which a year ago would have easily fallen through the cracks. Ciara keeps it classy while still being able to play the sexy card, something Kelly Rowland has been trying to do for years. Innocent and playful with just the right amount of decadence: [LISTEN]

"Read My Lips"

Where You Go

One of the less obnoxious relationships occupying the r&b strata, Future and Ciara seem to be hitting a nice little stride together – one were they both can enjoy each other’s company without loosing their respective edge. They’re basking in real emotions, rather than just indulging in the moment: [LISTEN]

"Where You Go"

Super Turnt Up

Once past the shitty EDM drop and mildly retarded hook, there’s something insightful about what Ciara is trying to say. It’s not completely fixated on sex, but instead explores the charge that runs through the body when a certain amount of vulnerability is allowed to seep in: [LISTEN]

"Super Turnt Up"

DUI

If you were to absorb the lyrics, and the lyrics alone, this sultry jam would read like a 911 emergency call. Still, despite the confusing nature of the song, Ciara manages to let her climax reach all sorts of peaks and valleys. Excellent for her, but for pedestrians, not so much: [LISTEN]

"DUI"

Livin’ It Up

Ciara really likes to give herself pep talks, and unless you’re a person with really low self-esteem it can get a little redundant. Nevertheless it could be much worse considering the maniacal lolita Nicki Minaj is pokin’ her nose in this project. Give Ciara credit, she’s covering a lot of bases: [LISTEN]

"Livin' it Up"

 ‘Overdose

There’s a thin line between a cheesy pickup line and a slick compliment, and in this case that line is Ciara. If you’re not her and you said some of these things in public, you’d be on the fast track to a black eye or at the very least a drink in the face. It’s all in whose delivering it: [LISTEN]

"Overdose"

Body Party (Remix)

Some say three’s company, but in this case it’s all third wheel. Future gets a pass for obvious reasons, but B.o.B is pestering around needlessly – bringing with him a cacophony of hi-hats and generic drum kits. Should have been left where it was found – on the cutting room floor: [LISTEN]

"Body Party (Remix)"

Backseat Love

This one differs in that Ciara extends the narration through to the end. Credit some savvy production from the Underdogs, and Ciara for being able to add a steamy conclusion without running the song thin – an approach that she should take more often: [LISTEN]

"Backseat Love"

Boy Outta Here

The last thing anyone needs while fantasizing about Ciara is Rick Ross barging in with food all over his face. If you can tune him out, she’s actually making a firm statement. That no amount of money – or power for that matter – can ever buy her affection: [LISTEN]

"Boy Outta Here"