For almost two decades, Ciara—EBONY's September/October cover star—has been one of the most prominent artists who shaped the sound and aesthetics of contemporary R&B, dance and pop music. Since she first arrived on the scene, Ciara has captivated audiences with her sultry vocals, infectious songwriting and her energetic dance moves that are second to none.
Before she launched her solo career, she earned her first writing credits on Blu Cantrell's debut album, So Blu, penning "10,000 Times." She also wrote "Got Me Waiting" for Fantasia Barrino's debut album, Free Yourself.
When she finally stepped out from the background, she went on to release several multi-platinum albums and singles—and she is still going strong.
To take your back down memory lane, here's a list of 10 of Ciara's most iconic songs.
1. “Goodies,” featuring Petey Pablo (2004)
On her debut single, Ciara put the world on notice that she was a force to be reckoned with. Released on June 8, 2004, “Goodies” became an immediate anthem for young Black women who embraced their sexuality on their own terms. Produced by Lil Jon as an answer to Petey Pablo's hit single, "Freek-a-Leek," and written by Sean Garret and Ciara, “Goodies” peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, becoming the longest-running number-one debut single by a female artist on the chart since 1977. Internationally, "Goodies" topped the charts in the United Kingdom and peaked in the top 10 on charts in Germany, New Zealand and Switzerland. After the single became a global sensation, Ciara was hailed as the "Princess of Crunk&B."
2. “1, 2 Step” featuring Missy Elliot (2004)
Inspired by the electro music of the 1980s, Ciara delivered another club anthem with “1,2 Step.” Produced by Jazzy Pha, and written by Ciara and Missy Elliot, the track was the second single from CiCi's debut album and proved to be a game-changer. Ciara even choreographed a dance for the video that everyone was doing in 2004. "1,2 Step" shot to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained there for seven weeks. The chemistry between Ciara and Missy was on full display and they would collaborate several more times throughout their careers.
3. “Oh” featuring Ludacris (2004)
Ciara's single “Oh!” personifies the Atlanta sound that emerged on the music landscape in the early 2000s. Produced by Dre and Vadal, the track features a knocking bass line, plus a smoking guest verse from her fellow Atlantan Ludacris, that was destined to be a club banger. Who could forget Ciara climbing up the car and killing it with her dance moves in the video? "Oh" peaked at number two in the United States, becoming Caira’s third consecutive top three hit on the Billboard 100.
4. “Like a Boy” (2006)
“Like a Boy" was written by Ciara, Candice Nelson, Balewa Muhammad, J. Que, Ezekiel Lewis, and Calvin Kenon. Ciara described the track as a commentary on how when a woman does something, it could be perceived negatively as opposed to a man who could get away with the same thing. In one of Ciara’s most memorable visuals, the black and white music video was directed by Diane Martel and featured former NFL running back Reggie Bush as her leading man. Donning various androgynous looks with her signature choreography, Ciara was giving big feminist vibes on "Like a Boy." The track was a hit and reached number 19 on the Billboard 100.
5. “Lose Control” featuring Ciara (2005)
As the lead single from Elliott's sixth studio album, The Cookbook, “Lose Control” was custom-made for Ciara to sing, rap and dance. Explaining the meaning of the song, Ciara said in an interview with MTV, "It's about music, how music makes you feel and makes you lose control." Added Missy, "The only person who can pull something off with me [on this track] is Ciara because it's a record with speed." Containing samples from Hot Streak's "Body Work" and Cybotron's "Clear,” with additional vocals from Fat Man Scoop, “Lose Control” became an instant classic and a favorite of B-girls and B-boys alike. Eventually, it landed at number three on the Billboard Hot 100.
6. “Ride” featuring Ludacris (2010)
As the lead single from her fourth studio album, Basic Instinct, “Ride” marked the fourth time that Ciara collaborated with Ludacris. Produced by Tricky Stewart and co-written by Ciara and The-Dream, the suggestive track was not aired on BET and banned from UK music channels for its “provocative” imagery. The-Dream recalled that it was his idea to add Ludacris on the song. “I brought Luda in because I felt like Ciara and Luda have had so much success together. They just sound right together. Especially on that record, "Ride," that's the first record me and Trick did for Basic Instinct. It sounded like Luda, and it sounded like Ciara so we blessed the summertime with both of them." The success between Ciara and Ludacris continued as “Ride” reached number 3 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.
7. “Body Party” (2013)
With a sample of the Ghosttown DJ’s classic “My Boo,” Ciara’s “Body Party” unapologetically revealed her sultry side. Although she gained a well-earned reputation for creating dance tracks where her impeccable dance skills are on display, “Body Party” is bedroom music. In an interview, Ciara said the song reminded her of a time when "guys were in the club and weren't too cool to slow dance." Produced by Mike WiLL Made, the song charted at number six on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and peaked at 22 on the Billboard 100. Rolling Stone ranked "Body Party" at number 22 for The Best Songs of 2013, making it the highest R&B song on the list.
8. “Level Up” (2019)
“Level Up” is Ciara’s take on Jersey club music and she knocked it out of the park. Produced by J.R. Rotem, the track was her first single release since marrying NFL superstar Russell Wilson in July 2016. The empowering anthem became an immediate cultural phenomenon. At the time of its release, it was the number one trending video on YouTube and spawned the #LevelUpChallenge on social media, featuring fans and celebrities alike who recorded their own versions of Ciara's amazing choreography. "Level Up" was a showcase of Ciara's evolution as an artist and a woman. ”My mission is to inject love and inspire and make the world dance, and this song allowed me to do exactly that," she said. "I hope I can inspire people to level up and be their best selves and do that by taking them on a journey with me." Mission accomplished.
9.“Get Up” featuring Chamillionaire (2006)
Produced by long-time collaborator Jazzy Pha, “Get Up” is another scorching hot dance track from Ciara. Featuring a guest verse from Chamillionaire, the song appeared on her sophomore project Ciara: The Evolution and on the film soundtrack for the film Step Up. “Get Up” peaked at number seven on the Hot 100 and landed in the top ten in New Zealand becoming another platinum hit for Ciara. The track is an often-overlooked gem in Ciara's discography.
10. “Love Sex Magic” featuring Justin Timberlake (2009)
When two of the best performers collaborate, magic should be the result. On “Love Sex Magic,” the lead single from her Fantasy Ride album, Ciara linked up with Justin Timberlake, who also co-wrote and co-produced the track, The duo did not disappoint on this seductive, funk-inspired jam. Interestingly, the song was the first song by a female artist to reach the Top 10 of the Hot 100, which contained the word "sex" in the title. Several male singers had previously accomplished this feat, and now CeCe has joined their ranks.