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Best Songs & Best Videos: Ciara’s “Promise”

Outside of “1, 2 Step,” the only other Ciara song that I am aware that I am aware of is 2006’s “Promise.” I don’t remember how I even caught it as I was very disconnected from music at the time as the result of transferring to a new college. Yet, the song—and video—has had a lasting impression.

Why? It’s an effective new interpretation of late twentieth century R&B lovemaking jams, the kind that feature spoken word and long, cascading vocal cries. These songs put sensuality and sexuality masked as love at the center of the production, positioning itself as a sex jam for parents.

“Promise” is and is not that. It’s just so inexplicably cool. Ciara sings and speaks over a vocoded vow to a man of her dreams—”someone that she can call boo”—and even laments her need for him with deliciously ridiculous lyrics like “you can be my teacher, I’ll do homework / you can give me extra credit, baby, I’ll do more work” and “you can be my prince, my knight / you can be my superman—save me, here I am.” The chorus is a communal breakdown at the heels of this man, a cry that she will be honest and faithful and committed to him: it’s a very sincere promise wrapped up in retro leaning synthetics. It is so good.

The video matches this, too. It’s a surprisingly start dance piece that see’s Ciara in her patented Not Lesbian™ tomboy chic of dance workout clothing paired with very tight legging-pants bottoms and crop tops. All the dancing is synchronized and in front of a brick wall, recalling that of Aaliyah. There’s even a hoop eared, pixie cut literal breakdown bridge that puts her guts onto the floor in addition to irresistible hip gyrations, floor humping, and silhouette and spotlight dancing.

Clearly this is one of the best (and unrecognized) pop songs of the past ten years that has an equally as satisfying video. It’s such a sexy delight. If you have not encountered this song, please take some time to enjoy it. It’s just so perfect.

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