Battle for album of the year : Beyoncé v. Ciara (+ Britney)

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Ott 15 2008, 21:54

If people think back to 2006, the biggest and best R&B albums of the year (at least in my opinion) were Beyoncé's B'day, and Ciara's Evolution. I could not, even now, choose which album I like more, but both of them are STILL in heavy rotation on my ipod. Ciara was the new Janet Jackson, Beyoncé the new Tina Turner, and yet with enough modern style for the new millennium.

Once past the stumbling block of Déjà Vu, Beyoncé hit the nail on the head with Ring The Alarm and then the smash Irreplaceable, still my favourite song of hers. In fact, every song on the album (let's not speak about the rerelease and disastrous Beautiful Liar) was FIRE. I can start the album at Suga Mama and let it play every time. The vocals were on fire, the album had a cohesive, horn-driven R&B sound that grabbed you by the throat and did not let go until the end. The barrage of uptempos gave way at the end to exceptionally soulful ballads, and the album is practically faultless. Like I said, the original version is the one to get. Start at track 3. It is gold (or triple-platinum, actually).

Ciara on the other hand, reinvigorated R&B music and video with "Promise", and then finished it off with "Like A Boy". Her performances were hot, her album was incredible, and yet it was cut short with the stellar "That's Right" barely getting a look in past the electric performance at BET. People finally stopped comparing her to Aaliyah and started to see her as an innovative performer in her own right (yes, I know I compared her to Janet Jackson, but that's more in spirit). From beginning to end, the album was a masterclass in coming of age and daring to exude your own style on an album.

Both discs had their own sound and gave their creators a cohesive identity. The question is, with I Am... and Fantasy Ride coming up, can they do it again? Up until now, the best album of the year has been Danity Kane's effort, with Mariah Carey riding a close second. Beyoncé has two hot singles, the elegant "If I Were a Boy" and the watered-down-Get Me Bodied "Single Ladies". Both have iconic black and white videos, both have addictive hooks. Ciara's 8 songs that leaked from Fantasy Ride include real bangers such as "That's Right", "Echo" and "Work", as well as the beautiful "Keep Dancing" and "Yearbook". Yet she's releasing "Go Girl", which is growing on me but largely thanks to the futuristic video where Ciara shows she is a dancer unparallelled by other females on the scene. Yet despite choosing the worst of a great clutch of songs to lead off her album, she still shows a lot of promise (ha.). I'm eagerly awaiting both projects. What do you think? Who will come out on top?

Let's not discount Britney Spears (best album of 2007) who has made a record-breaking leap to the top of Billboard with "Womanizer". Another great song, another legend resurrected. Circus is rumoured to be fire, but I can't help but suspect it will be a Blackout clone. Yet with her last 3 projects, Britney has exceeded my expectations every time. And that is something all too rare in the music industry these days. What do you think? Who's your pick?

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