By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
If the smash hit "Goodies" reminds you of Usher's "Yeah," that's because it's supposed to: Both were whipped up by Lil Jon, who, goes the story, decided his newly invented Crunk & B needed a queen and 18-year-old Ciara fit the suit. With lines like "You won't get no nookie or the cookies," words that surely have never been actually uttered in the course of human history, "Goodies" also suggests an excessively virginal "Milkshake": Ciara won't teach you, but she might have to charge anyway.
Goodies is filled with the sort of songs only a male hip-hop producer might think were empowering. "Don't want to disturb the flow," Ciara tells a randy suitor in "Next to You," written by R. Kelly. "But this is not my m.o." Any record that includes a discourse on teenage morality courtesy of R. Kelly (surprise! He's for it) is not a record afraid of irony, intentional or otherwise.
The rest of the disc is far less eventful, populated mostly by mealy ballads. Ciara's vocals are scrubbed clean of nuance, capable of sounding like Beyoncé on some tracks and Aaliyah on others. But her real counterpart is Ashantianother empty vessel with a sweet voice, capable of sounding slutty or virginal on cue.