Ciara just “dropped a bomb” in the most literal sense. Her latest studio album, May 2015 effort Jackie “failed to connect.” Without speaking in phrases, riddles, or metaphors, the album didn’t sale worth crap. Jackie managed to secure a top 20 album by landing at #17 on the Billboard 200, but the pure sales were sub-20,000 (never good) and even when streaming is figured into the new Billboard 200 formula, Ciara only creeps up slightly. Basically, Jackie was a flop without question.
Those who are optimistic might suggest that characterizing an album a flop after the first week is harsh. True, some albums have come from obscurity and humbler beginnings and went on to be big hits. The problem is, that doesn’t seem likely with an R&B album in 2015 or Ciara herself. Her previous album performed much stronger, debuting at #2 and selling fewer than 60,000 copies. That was a downgrade from her biggest albums/sales (Goodies, The Evolution, and Fantasy Ride), but an improvement over Basic Instinct. Basic Instinct limped onto the charts at a tepid #44, but sold more than Jackie (37,000 copies).
Why does Basic Instinct, which debuted 27 spots lower trump the sales of Jackie? One reason is that Basic Instinct was a victim of bad timing, with the album arriving in December, a time that can kick the asses of the less heralded, ‘big name’ releases. No, it’s not that Ciara didn’t have fans back in 2010, but in the stacked fourth quarter, it’s ill advised to drop and album that has even a shot of being vulnerable. The other reason is that during the holiday season, sales are elevated and even debuting so low, Basic Instinct garnered respectable sales for its sales position. So Jackie is Ciara’s biggest flop of her career, even with a deceptive top 20 debut.
The question is, why did Ciara flop? Basically, it seems that many question her artistry. That’s not shading Ciara, but her vocals have often been the subject of criticism, and her musical preferences – pop and dance-oriented R&B with a few ballads sprinkled in here and there – don’t particularly help her cause. Ultimately, Ciara is in the lane that she needs to be to best suit her pipes, and she’s generally improved from her breathy vocals on debut Goodies and The Evolution. Still, compare her to other female R&B artists who she’s compared to fairly or not, and Ciara is often a ‘sounding board.’
Where does Ciara’s career go following another ‘bomb’? That’s a question that Epic will likely be exploring. Ciara’s two platinum albums came in ’04 and ’06. Otherwise, the R&B artist’s career looks spotty.