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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Aaliyah: I Care 4 U

AALIYAH: I CARE 4 U (2002)

1) Back And Forth; 2) Are You That Somebody; 3) One In A Million; 4) I Care 4 U; 5) More Than A Woman; 6) Don't Know What To Tell Ya; 7) Try Again; 8) All I Need; 9) Miss You; 10) Don't Worry; 11) Come Over; 12) Erica Kane; 13) At Your Best; 14) Got To Give It Up (remix).

One thing the Blackground label did right was to name this compilation after Aaliyah's best song. One thing it did wrong, wrong, wrong, was to follow the hideous principle of 'best-and-lost', mixing well-known hits for neophytes with rarities and previously unreleased material for the fans. As a result, I don't see the neophyte falling head over heels in love with the late singer, and I see the fan in a thoroughly unsatisfied set of mind, yelling for more, more, more of these obscuri­ties and less of the hits that everyone already knows by heart.

Altogether, there are about five or six songs from Aaliyah's latest sessions that may or may not have constituted the bulk of her next album had she remained alive, a couple more B-sides and soundtrack tunes (from her starring vehicle Romeo Must Die and Dr. Dolittle), and then the hits. The hits are okay, except for 'Back And Forth' which never really suited her personality, but the new material is definitely as shoddy as the shoddiest stuff on Aaliyah.

Some of it is just bizarre, like the unexpected tribute to soap opera hero Erica Kane (!) which very quickly devolves into a trance-like chanting of the name and is oddly lifeless for a song supposed to express admiration for a character, even a soap opera one. Some is just dull in an adult contem­porary kind of way ('Come Over'). And some just seems to catch her uninspired, e. g. 'Miss You', which is supposed to sound about as desperate as 'I Care 4 U' but comes out very plastic, all empty, by-the-book melisma and no real feeling behind it. These auras are very hard to judge, of course, but if you play 'Miss You' back-to-back with 'I Care 4 U', you might understand my reaction better.

In the end, the only moderately interesting tracks are two oldies that involved the participation of Timbaland: 'Are You That Somebody?' and 'Try Again'. With Timbaland's trademark "futuristic" production, incorporating non-trivial bits of electronica, and repetitive, but not generic vocal hooks, they are two cool grooves that deserve attention. Too bad they really don't require Aali­yah's participation to make them interesting.

To make things worse, the compilation ends on a completely unnecessary and, I'd even say, ugly remix of 'Got To Give It Up', "toughening" up the original by inserting lots of extra clinketing noises that do nothing except take one's attention away from Aaliyah's sexy performance. (At least it's shorter than the original.) In short, I Care 4 U — much as I hate to admit it — is really just a cheap cash-in on the girl's tragedy, assembled hastily, without due respect or consideration, and presenting a far less adequate view of her achievements and talents than could have been possible. Perhaps today, several years after the fact, saying this won't be considered sacrilegious, especially since there are now much better Aaliyah compilations on the market, whereas the bulk of the "new" stuff on I Care 4 U is best relegated to history.

Thumbs down from all possible points of view, although let this final note on this final "album" not deter anyone from checking out her better stuff. Her death may have made her a legend far quicker and somewhat less deservedly than needed, but she obviously was a sweet, intelligent, even "classy" artist with a mild knack for innovation, and anybody with that pedigree deserves to be remembered, live or dead.

1 comment:

  1. Surprised to see that you are taking a pinch out of Wilson&Alroy and cover some 'urban music'.

    Not my most favorite genre, but there are some pretty good ones there (esp. in the vocal department). I recommend you to check Erykah Badu (often compared to Billie Holiday by idiots, but Ms. Badu is good on her own merits), a good introduction song would be "Appletree".

    Aaliyah as a whole is a thumbs down for me, though. I'll still take the mediocrity of Alicia Keys over Aaliyah anytime of the day.