Cassie. The Pussycat Dolls. The girl who sang the "Uh Ohh" song. What do they have in common?
They're all horrible.
Over the past few years, we've been treated to the depressing decibels of some of the least talented ladies on Earth. Today we'll look at Ciara and Ashanti, two I have dubbed the "best" of the worst singers on radio today.
And before anyone asks, yes, they're both better than Rihanna. So there.
Album covers: I can't find much fault with Ciara's cover. I'm sure Aaliyah fans will yell blasphemy for the blatant biting of their hero's style, but I can't hate. If you're going to steal, steal from one of the best. Not a fan of those BluBlockers she swiped from her grandma, though.
This sentence probably will be removed from this post by my jealous editor, but I find Ashanti to be an attractive woman. That being said, I'm not a fan of her cover. The evil demeanor, the vapid stare, the Thundercat hair, reminds me of...
Sasha Fierce herself. But here's the thing - The Declaration was released about four months BEFORE Beyonce's album. Hmmm.
But the point is, both those photos scare me.
Ciara 1, Ashanti 0
Album quality: I purchased The Evolution for the wife's birthday a few years ago. I decided to check it out one evening, just to make sure I wasn't missing out on some heat.
Ever had an album that you loved as a kid and as an adult you decided to give it a fresh listen - only to say "this is horrible! Why did I like this?" I imagine that's what Ciara's young fans will be saying years from now. They can certainly relate to songs like "Can't Leave 'Em Alone," her ode to bad boys, and the energetic Janet Jackson rip-offs "Get Up" and "I Proceed" but they're as hollow as a rotten tree stump. The only thing worth listening to is "Promise," which sorta sounds like a blend of Prince and Aaliyah. It's the lone standout on a pretty shallow album.
Don't look now, but The Declaration is Ashanti's best album to date! That might not be saying much, but it's really not that bad.
I think she took some vocal lessons during her four-year hiatus because she actually holds her own on tracks like "The Way That I Love You." It's not that her pipes have gotten stronger, it seems that she's better able to control them. Or maybe it's because she mostly stays in her lane - on playful songs like "Good Good" and more solemn numbers like "Struggle" she doesn't have to scream like Jennifer Hudson to get her point across. Too bad she falls back into old habits of off-key yelling and super-sappy lyrics on "Shine."
Ciara 1, Ashanti 1
Sales: The Evolution outsold Ciara's debut album by more than 100,000 copies and has reached platinum status in the U.S. She has sold about 3 million worldwide.
Poor Ashanti sold about 86,000 copies of The Declaration the first week and as far as I can tell hasn't even gone gold. Times is hard.
Ciara 2, Ashanti 1
"Best" worst celebrity boyfriend: Ciara dated the highly irritating Bow Wow a couple of years ago, and they collaborated on "Like You," which wasn't half bad, considering that it was a Ciara and Bow Wow song. Ciara soon came to her senses, realized that she was dating freakin' Bow Wow, and cut that puppy loose. These days Bow Wow is focusing on his acting career. He'd better hope someone drafts a script for "High School Musical: Ghetto Public School" or "Honey, I Shrunk the Hood."
Ashanti has, unfortunately, been linked to Nelly for about five years now. I never understood Nelly's appeal - he's like a one-hit wonder that just won't go away. I believe he's still the No. 3 top selling rapper of all time - behind Eminem and Jay-Z - yet I have yet to meet a person who has actually purchased a Nelly album.
And he just looks like the boogeyman to me.
It's only been recently that people have wised up and stopped purchasing his sorry songs, but he's still worth about 20 gajillion dollars, so Ashanti has that to fall back on.
Ciara 2, Ashanti 2
"Best" worst song ever: Ciara's first hit, "Goodies," made me want to toss my goodies. Here are three reasons why it bothered me - it sounded EXACTLY like Petey Pablo's irritating "Freek-a-Leek" song, which was played nonstop around the same time; it featured Lil Jon, perhaps the most overrated producer/artist at the time (The-Dream and T-Pain are currently giving him a run for his money); and she whispered her lyrics so softly that you could barely hear what she was saying. Yet people loved it for some sad, unexplainable reason.
It slipped by me at the time, but I noticed a couple years ago that just about every song on Ashanti's 2002 debut had a one-word title. "Foolish," "Unfoolish," "Baby," and so on. I thought to myself, "that sounds like something a 12-year-old would do." Well, no song better portrays that juvenile mentality than the sickeningly sweet "Happy." If Will Smith's son (the one from "The Pursuit of Happyness") and that little girl from the AT&T commercial who waits for her daddy to come home had a candy-coated baby, it would come out singing that song.
Ciara 2, Ashanti 2
"Best" worst rumor: Did you hear the one about Ciara actually being a man?
A few years ago, one of the kids in my youth group told me that she heard that Ciara was recently on the Oprah Winfrey Show, where she admitted that she had a sex change. Remember the line from "Goodies" where she said "keep on lookin' cuz they stay in the jar?" Well, allegedly her surgically removed body parts were in said jar.
I dismissed the rumor as idle playground chatter (kids talk about sex changes on the playground these days?) until I started hearing it everywhere.
Still, I knew it was false, mainly because at that point in her career Oprah wouldn't give Ciara the time of day, even if her name was once Clarence.
Did you hear the one about Ashanti posing for Playboy?
Yep, late last year word spread that Ashanti was considering doing a, um, spread. But that rumor quickly fizzled out.
I knew it was false because even though Ashanti's star has fallen, she has yet to hit the depraved levels of "if I take off my clothes will you pay attention to me again?"
Check back in a couple of years.
Anyway, that gossip was nowhere near as juicy as Ciara's imaginary jar of genitals.
Ciara 3, Ashanti 2
Legacy: Ciara's career is still going strong. She has a new album on the way and her new song "Love Sex Magic" single is all over the place. Plus she can dance, and people will look past your lack of harmony if you can do a backspin. Just ask Chris Brown, if they haven't locked him up yet.
Ashanti, however, has seen better days. Her last album didn't sell well at all, and she's since gone into hiding. I hear she has a new album on the way, but I think she'll have a tall mountain to climb to reach her previous success.
Ciara 4, Ashanti 2
Ciara wins, for now.