[THE WEEKLY READ]<br />
Dear Ciara

Hey, Ciara!

Long time, no hit. Wait, that’s not right. I need you to know I’m writing this with the best intentions. So before you feel like you need to grab a flashlight to finish reading this, let’s get to the positives about you.

You’re pretty. I haven’t seen your weave look bad since your first royalty check was cashed. That’s awesome. You’re flexible, which is an attribute that’s all too important to maintain in this sluggish economy. Plus, “Goodies” and all its blue-balls promoting glory will never not be hot.

And of course, you’re a survivor. You not gon' give up. You gon' work harder. Now whether you’re going to make it musically is the matter at hand and point of this piece.

Seriously, CiCi, you’ve got rhythm, but you continue to show us that you don’t have the music. Let’s take your most recent leaked song to the Web, “Wake Up, Turn Up.” First, as a native of Atlanta, why are you two years behind a trend started within your city limits? Be the change and help turn down “turn up” already.

Moving on, have you noticed not many people are talking about the track since it was leaked? Obviously, more people would be more interested in hearing Justin Timberlake’s new ode to music that gets middle-aged Black parents two-stepping in the hole in the wall clubs of America, but why is Kenya Moore getting more life off her fake-Fergie track, “Gone With The Wind Fabulous” than you are off yours?

How did this happen with so many of the right ingredients? You get Future to write you lyrics for a Mike Will Made It Track and it still comes across as “Pour It Up’s” less-attractive sister. Sis, that is like asking Jesus to bless your meal made by St. Joseph and everyone still ends up with food poisoning the next day. Did you piss off some voodoo-doing Creole in New Orleans?

Then there was that other song “Sorry,” a ballad (really?) that immediately had me questioning whether you were about to get sued by Ginuwine. There’s “Got Me Good,” which offered Janet Jackson “You Want This” realness. And what was that techno-light mess you released with Uncle 2 Chainz?

I mentioned this once before, but it bears repeating: I don’t understand your refusal to succeed.

Aaliyah is now leading God’s dance troupe, Mya is somewhere contemplating an offer to work at the strip club Stadium in D.C., and Ashanti is turning into Mario Lopez. Meanwhile, Keri Hilson is somewhere fixing Ursula the Sea Witch a plate in her new role as an indentured servant after she failed to hand in Beyoncé’s soul as agreed upon in the terms of their contract. And mother superior Janet Jackson’s official outlook on music appears to be, “My legacy is cemented so I might as well lay on this handsome billionaire.”

This should be your moment. Sorry to be a laptop label head, but repeat after me:

Looking for the goodies
Keep on lookin' cuz they stay in the jar
Oh-oh Oh-oh Oh-oh Oh-oh

Now recite the following:

(Everybody)
1,2 step,
We about to get it on

Lastly, sing-a-long:

He got a lot of chips
He's so messed up, I heard
He's been locked up, find somebody else
He ain't nothing but a thug
So what
So what
So what
So what

These songs did well because they each have catchy hooks, which your more recent works appear to treat such a novelty with a hint of Alzheimer’s. A lot of people have already counted you out, but if you would just invite Jazze Pha to Buffalo Wild Wings and hash it out because he’s right about y’all needing each other. CC Missy on the e-vite, too.

I bought your first two albums and am willing to buy another, but only if it’s worth it. You might not want to hear it in this fashion, but yo, there’s a reason there is an Amber alert out for your spot on the higher end of Billboard charts. You’ve got about five minutes left before the alarm goes off on your chance of becoming the Janet Jackson for the Joseline Hernadez generation.

Hurry…before Beyoncé drops her fifth album.

Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick