Don't even try to pretend like you didn't know every word to Ciara's 2004 look-but-don't-touch, sizzling debut single, "Goodies" after listen numero uno. A couple years, a slew of hits and a 2008 Billboard Woman of the Year award later, the international superstar, 24, who's toured the world with Jay-Z and Britney Spears, returns -- and is taking it back to the basics with her forthcoming album, the aptly titled Basic Instinct. Bringing it back to the basics for Ciara translates into great, bass-thumping jams that make you really feel thangs -- and may result in viewers attempting to impersonate CiCi's naughty dance routine for the BET-banned music video for "Ride" in the privacy of one's own living room. We recently chatted with the pop star.
Tricky Stewart and the Dream executive produced the entire new album, Basic Instinct. Do you remember what you discussed when sitting down with the boys to get started on the album? Why did you choose them?
Absolutely. I actually chose them because it's something I wanted to do for years. I've always felt like once we got in the room together it was gonna be crazy. They both understand the whole core of who I am. And that was a really important part of this process and making this record. I needed someone to understand the core of what I do. My overall vision was that my hardcore fans be completely happy -- that when they put on my album they'll dance. To bring my fans the Ciara that they always knew and love -- that was a mission. We were all in sync with each other. We sat down, we shot it straight to each other. It was a great meeting.
Your video for "Ride," which has over 10 million hits on YouTube, was banned from BET. Why is it acceptable for BET to play videos with the booty shaking "video girls" but not a confident woman expressing herself sensually through dance?
Well, it was unexpected for me. In my past experience with my videos with BET in particular, I've been used to cutting things out here and there. But when I heard it was banned and would never be played, it was definitely a surprise for me. I didn't expect that. However, it's just one of those things... I of course want my video to be played on all networks, but at this point it's all good. Thank God for new technology and that there are so many ways for my fans to see my video.
Everyone's taking a shot at dance music nowadays, but no one's really giving it to us as hard as you do. Why is dance important to you? When recording songs, are you thinking of dance moves that can go along with the song right away?
Well, dancing is important to me because it's just organically a part of something that I do that comes natural to me. It's another way for me to interpret my music and express my music and express myself. I just thank God that I guess I have the natural ability to do it. It's just one of those things that I just love doing. It's an important ingredient to what makes me a performer. It also allows me to find my world -- it's just something I organically connect to and do.
How important are music videos for you?
They're very important for me because they help me to sell my vision or share my vision, and again, performing is another way to bring lyrics to life. So for example, for the "Ride" song, I service the video and the song at the same time. I guess sometimes my fans expect for me to have a faster tempo record sometimes. However, with the right song I wanted to give my vision in its entirety. So for me, in my perspective, videos are really important because they allow me to completely share my vision and make it clear.
What were your favorite music videos growing up?
I love everything from Michael. And of course Janet. Just everything. Michael and Janet together for "Scream" of course. Janet and Busta Rhymes' video was hot. And "Rhythm Nation." What's the one that goes... [hums the intro of "If."] Oh, yeah... I Ioved "If." I loved "Smooth Criminal" and "Remember the Time." I loved anything by Michael and Janet.
Would you ever consider doing a Janet Jackson cover? You would kill "Pleasure Principle."
It's so funny that you say that because in a perfect world, I would love to do a song with her. A cover though? I'm not sure how to do that honestly. Maybe a tribute, but I'm not so sure about doing a cover.
What do you think of today's popular female pop stars? Would you ever want to duet with any of them?
I give respect to any woman who's being successful in our music industry. It's a tough world and tough at times to push through and really, really create your own thing and make it solid. I'm all for it -- I'm super supportive of any woman being successful in music, especially in this day and age. If I could work with someone it'd be Fergie. I love her energy, her attitude. I love her swag. I think it'd be fun and really a lot of attitude.
You've done some major modeling lately. How is expressing yourself through modeling different from a live show or a music video? Is it just as powerful?
It's always been one of my dreams. I worked with Ricardo Tisci from Givenchy for French Vogue. Modeling is one of my aspirations and always something I aspired to do. I'm working on merging the world of modeling with my music. It's exciting to take that journey alongside my music journey as well.
I definitely think modeling is as powerful as performing -- expressing yourself through what you wear. Music is a really important element of modeling, too. When you're doing a photo shoot or walking the runway, you thrive off the music that's there for you. However, for me the difference between modeling and my music --you're not singing, but you're really trying to tell the story for the theme of the actual shoot.
Do you have a style icon?
Honestly, I used to always try to create one. I don't think I really have one. But someone's fashion that I've loved over the years is Jennifer Lopez. I think she's been very consistent and has done such a great job when it comes to fashion. But I get inspired by the everyday girl that's fly. When I see a fly girl, I think, "That's hot." I'm inspired by that.
How would you describe the overall sound of Basic Instinct?
Bringing back the basics even more. I've been having fun and I've been able to experiment. On my last record, Fantasy Ride, I experimented the most. But Basic Instinct is about taking it back to the basics and it's really, really about my fans. It's definitely about having fun and it is time to bring back the bass even heavier.
Is it safe to say this is a dance record?
It's the best of both worlds. The dancing music you want, and also the feel-good ballads. It's a substance record. There's a variety on my album and while dancing is a very strong force, it's really important for me that I show as many layers of me as possible. If you wanna relax, you can relax and vibe out. And also, I gotta cover my ladies -- my ladies are really important to me on this record.
What is your ultimate goal as a musician?
My ultimate goal for myself as an artist is to be known as an icon, a legend. I do hope to be very wealthy. Beyond just my career, I hope to create a legacy for my family that's never been created before. And to be an icon, to be a legend one day. Tons of Grammy's would be great one day. I hope to travel around the world and to meet every possible fan I can meet around the world. I would love to be an icon that's so amazing and so strong that one day people can be like, "You can be the next Ciara."
There's no stopping Ciara!
That's always been my thing -- not taking no for an answer. "So Daddy, I really can't have this lollipop or these Jordans? There's no way I can have this?" No was never an option for me growing up. I've always been very driven. It's always been a key part of who I am as a person.
What are some of your guilty pleasures?
I do love searching the Internet. I like looking at fun videos on YouTube, surfing some of the sites. Even when I do go on the gossip sites, I'm not really into reading comments unless the headline is good stuff then sometimes I'll look. But I like looking at the photos, and just like looking at media in general. You know what I was watching last night? I love Forensic Files. I love that they show how they solve murder mysteries.
What's the best and worst part of being famous?
The best part is being able to travel everywhere, being able to reach and touch millions of people -- that's really cool. Cool gifts are cool. The worst part? It would have to be maybe just like... at this point, I don't know. I had a worst part a while ago sacrificing time with family. But at this point in my career, it's all good.