Ciara's Comeback Single "Sorry" Is a Graceful Throwback to Classic '90s R&B

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Nice Hits! is a Reverb column that unironically dissects, reviews, and appreciates the best songs of the current Top 40. It is unsnobbishly premised on

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Ciara's Comeback Single "Sorry" Is a Graceful Throwback to Classic '90s R&B

  • Ciara's Comeback Single "Sorry" Is a Graceful Throwback to Classic '90s R&B

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    Nice Hits! is a Reverb column that unironically dissects, reviews, and appreciates the best songs of the current Top 40. It is unsnobbishly premised on the logic that just because a lot of the music on the radio is crap doesn't mean all the music on the radio is crap.

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    The hit: "Sorry," Ciara, off the upcoming One Woman Army.

    Current chart position: #162 on iTunes, #13 on iTunes R&B/Soul, #96 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.

    The team: Ciara co-wrote and co-produced "Sorry" with the Atlanta native Jasper Cameron, who was featured in a 2011 Billboard article titled "Urban Songwriters To Watch." Cameron's most notable work to date has been co-writing the 2002 Christina Aguilera raunch-fest "Dirrty"; he's since written songs for Monica, Nelly, Lloyd, and Mario. His work has previously appeared on two Ciara albums--2004's Goodies and 2009's Fantasy Ride. On "Sorry," Ciara and Cameron share co-writing credits with Elvis Williams, aka Blac Elvis, who's worked on previous tracks for Ciara ("Promise," "Never Ever"), as well as Beyonce ("Ego") and Fergie ("Glamorous," "London Bridge").

    Breakdown: Ciara's biggest career hits so far--"Goodies," "1, 2 Step," "Promise," "Love Sex Magic"--have been sexy come-ons, designed and destined for the dancefloor. She's a fantastic dancer, and she does the slinky, sensual style--the type of aura that reads sexy without shoving raunch your face--better than most post-Aaliyah R&B stars. "Sorry" finds Ciara doing something different than a dance jam (although she does execute some smooth moves in the video)--it's a break-up song, one that she's said brought her to tears when she wrote it.

    The sad passion is palpable in the song, especially in the pre-chorus, when she pours out, "'Cause I tried and tried/And I cried and cried/Up late at night and I hurt/And I tried to fight and I cried to God/Oh please let it just work." That torrent of words makes for a nice contrast to the chorus itself, which slows down and stretches out to plead its main verse--"All you have to do is that I'm sorry." The two tempos do well in expressing two sides of grief--mad passion and dark sorrow. Ciara's vocals sound sugary smooth and at particular heightened moments take on an emotional husk that add to the song's regretful effect.

    Despite its subject of emotional upheaval, "Sorry" is a sonically smooth ride. The woozy, slowly descending synth melody, the vocoded male backing vocal and lilting female backing vocals all give the song a classic '90s R&B sound. It's a style that lends the song an air of grace, so that Ciara, despite the state of sorrow she sings about, comes across as a woman with her dignity intact.

     
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