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Moodring is the third studio album by American singer Mýa. It was released on June 26, 2003, by A&M and Interscope Records. Before Mýa began to work on what would eventually be her third studio album, she participated in prior engagements which would result in the blockbuster success of 2001's "Lady Marmalade", a collaboration for the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack, and a supporting role in the 2002 film Chicago.

Moodring
Mya - Moodring.png
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 26, 2003 (2003-06-26)(J.P.),
July 22, 2003 (U.S.)
Recorded2001–2003
Studio
GenreR&B[1]
Length69:15
Label
Producer
Mýa chronology
Fear of Flying
(2000)
Moodring
(2003)
Liberation
(2007)
Singles from Moodring
  1. "My Love Is Like...Wo"
    Released: June 10, 2003
  2. "Fallen"
    Released: November 11, 2003

Production on Moodring was handled by a bevy of producers and songwriters. Mýa enlisted the assistance of producers: Ron Fair, Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Rockwilder, Damon Elliott, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and a handful of others. With this album, Mýa wrote "99.9%" of her own lyrics and co-produced many of the album's tracks.[2] While recording the album, Mýa funded her own studio time, and used several songs taken from her archive of music, recorded two years prior.[3] Described by Mýa as "[s]omewhat of a bi-polar album",[4] Moodring contains elements of R&B, hip hop, techno, pop, and reggae.[5]

The album received generally positive reviews from music critics, with AllMusic praising Mýa for coming up with her best and most varied set of songs yet.[6] Moodring debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 113,000 copies, marking Mýa's highest debut and first-week sales yet. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and has sold 589,000 copies in the United States. Moodring spawned two singles, "My Love Is Like...Wo" and "Fallen", with the former reaching the top 40 in several countries. To further promote the album, Mýa embarked on the Moodring Tour. In August 2005, after five years with Interscope Records, Mýa decided to part ways the label and her management.[7]

BackgroundEdit

In 1999, Mýa began production on an album that would eventually become her second studio effort Fear of Flying. Partially inspired by Erica Jong's 1973 novel of the same name, the album featured contributions from producers Rodney Jerkins, Swizz Beatz, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Knobody, and Wyclef Jean. The majority of Fear of Flying was co-written and co-produced by Mýa. Harrison was also heavily involved in the recording, producing, mixing, and mastering processes.[8] Released in April 2000, Fear of Flying debuted at number 15 on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 72,000 copies. Initially, the album stalled on the charts until the release of the album's second single, "Case of the Ex".[9] The song reached number two and three in the United States and United Kingdom, respectively.[10][11] Fear of Flying later earned Mýa a Soul Train Music Award nomination for R&B/Soul Album – Female and a MOBO nomination for Best Album in 2001.[12][13] The album sold over a million copies in the United States and received a platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on March 28, 2001.

In 2001, Mýa contributed vocals to the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge!, for which she collaborated with singers Christina Aguilera and P!nk, and rapper Lil' Kim on the remake of Labelle's 1975 song "Lady Marmalade". The single became a worldwide success. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 in its eighth week, spending five consecutive weeks at number one.[14] The song reached number one in over 15 countries, and became Mýa's first chart-topper and third non-consecutive top 10 entry on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[15] In February 2002, it won the quartet a Grammy Awards for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. Additionally, Mýa began to dabble in acting with a supporting role in the 2002 Academy Award-winning musical film, Chicago, for which she won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance.[16] In early 2003, Mýa appeared on hip-hop alternative group Jurassic 5's remix version of "Thin Line". Chosen as their second single and more R&B driven, "Thin Line" addressed the tension that often exists in platonic male-female relationships.[17][18] Speaking about the gap between albums, and her transition from one Interscope-distributed imprint University Music to A&M Records, Mýa told Billboard magazine, "this has been the biggest gap between projects. Not knowing when my album would come, working with someone like A&M Records president Ron Fair and the transition from moving from an independent label to Interscope sort of left us in limbo."[3]

DevelopmentEdit

Although Fear of Flying garnered critical and commercial success, Mýa felt unfulfilled and unsatisfied musically and had developed a complex with her last album because it felt more like a concession than her own body of work to her.[19] While speaking with Trace, Mýa admitted Fear of Flying was a political war at Interscope Records between her former manager Haqq Islam and CEO Steve Stoute competing with each other.[19] She expressed she was "tired of songs that didn't reveal her vocal capabilities."[19] While acknowledging, that her radio singles were "cool", "nice" and "happy" but didn't really display any of her vocal talent.[19] Mýa also bluntly dismissed Fear of Flying as a whole, commenting, "I wouldn't even have bought my last album off of what I presented! In order to buy my last album, I would want more from Mya!"[19]

Frustrated with label politics, she sought to take full control of her next studio effort.[19] Mýa named her next project Moodring because she felt there were many facets to this album‚ "ever changing moods, and ever changing colors".[19] With Moodring, Mýa objective was to record an album that she could firmly stand by, and be proud of.[19] Pushed by her newfound freedom, she was instrumental in all creative aspects on the album and credited as a co-writer, co-producer along with Ron Fair as well as served as executive producer.[19] Of her contributions on Moodring, Harrison commented ,"I found all my songs this time, with the exception of one or two. I didn't have a puppet master looking over my shoulder, telling me what to, and not do."[19] Convinced that Moodring was her best work to date, she acknowledged she "fronted her own money for studio time, so she could do her own thing. This was the first time in her entire career that she could say that she could breathe."[19]

RecordingEdit

Lloyd Banks (left) and Sean Paul (right) both make guest appearances each on the album

In the beginning stages of her third studio album, Mýa booked a lot of her own studio time and invested in equipment on her own. While on the road touring, she would record ideas on her tour bus or in her hotel room, singing to tracks from producers that she'd worked with before and people that she would just run into.[20] Commenting on the process, she elaborated: "I began to write and book studio time. That's how I came up with a lot of lyrical and melodic ideas. However, they weren't fully produced."[20] Impressed with the tracks Mýa had worked on while on the road, A&M president Ron Fair offered to serve as the album's executive producer. "He'd bring in a lot of musicians or orchestras or bring a hip-hop track to another level", she said of his contributions.[20] Mýa reportedly recorded 60 songs for the album; as a result, only the 16 songs were used.[21] Mýa had hoped to work with Shaggy and Prodigy from Mobb Deep, however collaborations failed to materialize.[2]

Tentatively titled Smoke & Mirrors, Moodring was initially characterized as a combination of G-funk, reggae and a little bit of pop rock. Prior to entering a recording studio, Mýa had 20 songs already written, produced and mastered before she decided to start recording new material for the album. Admittedly, Mýa hoped that the album would show her maturity as an artist. "I've grown up and gone through some things, so I'm expressing what I feel", she noted.[22] Unlike her second album Fear of Flying (2000), which addressed somewhat superficial relationship issues, the singer envisioned her new material to be more real and personal, prompting her to pen her own lyrics for this album, according to Damon Elliott, who produced six songs on the disc.[22] Elliott said Mýa's lyrical development was not a shock tactic or an effort to keep up with her racy peers – it is more a sign of her own maturation and her interest in being honest and open.[22] Concluding, "Mýa can stand on her own", Elliott said. "Her album is gonna be off the chain. It's gonna be off the hook, man."[22]

Music and compositionEdit

Previewed by Trace magazine, journalist Omar Dubois wrote, "thematically Moodring was more consistently optimistic than Fear of Flying which he declared was engulfed in adolescent cynicism.[19] Moodring opens with "Fallen", the titillating mid-tempo jeep-banger which cleverly interpolates the Pharcyde's "Runnin'."[19] Next up, the hypnotic, drum and keyboard-driven, Timbaland-laced "Step".[19] The album's fifth track, "Sophisticated Lady", previously known as "Cold Blooded", is a funk-baptized, palpitating bedding.[19] On this record, Trace magazine described Mýa as a spunky, seductive, femme-fatale.[19] An ode to Prince and Rick James, Mýa explained the concept behind the song, commenting, "I love that pretty s*$%, that pimp s*$%" "That's the s*$% that turns me on when I go to see a stage show. I love Rick like crazy, but Prince is the ultimate of that crazy, feminine, pretty man s*$%! I love it, it's drama! But it's still masculine, because it turns women on! And now, I just flipped it as a female."[19]

The sultry, invitingly delivered "No Sleep Tonight" served as the album's sixth track.[19] Ninth track, the pop soulish Marvin Gaye meets Neneh Cherry choon "Things Come & Go", featured dancehall rapper Sean Paul.[19] A garage-driven number, "Whatever Bitch" was primarily inspired by a gay dance called wagging, and drag queens at the KitKatClub in Berlin.[19] While previewing the album, Trace noted "Whatever Bitch" had all the potential of being a staple on the club scene stateside, and a contender for the prime position on the European club and pop charts.[19] Unbeknownst to the public, an artist had offered Mýa and her label a million dollars for the song.[19] Track fifteen, the soothing, acoustic guitar-laden "Take a Picture" was co-written by former collaborator Pink.[19] As with "Whatever Bitch", Trace noted "Take a Picture" had the potential to be a towering cross-over smash.[19]

Release and promotionEdit

Initially, Mýa's third studio album was scheduled for release in November or December 2002 with the album's first single expected to be out in September 2002; however, nothing ever materialized.[22] Speaking with Billboard, Mýa appointed the album's delay due to her transitioning within the Universal Music system from an independent label to A&M Records.[3] After much delay, Interscope released Moodring on June 26, 2003, in Japan.[23] A month later, Moodring arrived in stores on July 21, 2003, in the United Kingdom and the following day in the United States.[24][25] Subsequently, Moodring was released on September 8, 2003 in Germany.[26] As strategic marketing, her label, Interscope coupled Moodring with limited-edition calendars.[27] To kick off promotion for Moodring, Mýa appeared and performed "Turn The Beat Around" on The Disco Ball. Tapped in 2002, the ABC special aired on January 16, 2003.[28]

In late 2002, The Coca-Cola Company signed Mýa to star in their new advertising campaign. Joined by rapper Common, their spot featured the two singing an original song based on the 1960s jazz hook of Eddie Harris' "Compared to What". Interspersed are scenes of each singer casting an amused but skeptical eye on the trappings of celebrity. The 90-second commercial aired during the 30th American Music Awards on January 13, 2003.[29] During a press conference, Dominic Sandifer, senior VP of strategic marketing for Interscope, Geffen, and A&M at Universal Music Group, explained the motion behind the ideal joint project for labels nowadays, noting the Coca-Cola's campaign starring Mýa and Common. He commented, "the beverage company licensed the song 'Real Compared to What' for use in its spots, placed Mýa and Common in the ad and ran the campaign to coincide with the July release of Mýa's album Moodring which featured their version of 'Real Compared to What'. The campaign was worth more than $10 million in promotional TV and radio media for Moodring.[30]

During the album's release week, Mýa made guest appearances on Live! With Regis and Kelly, BET's 106 & Park, and NBC's Passions.[31][32][33] The following month in August, Mýa appeared on WB's Pepsi Smash.[34] On September 13, 2003, Mýa performed on the sketch comedy show MADTV.[35] In October 2003, Mýa performed at Lifetime's fourth annual "Women Rock!" benefit concert. She performed her own rendition of Lena Horne's "Stormy Weather."[36] She also performed at the GQ Men of The Year Awards.[37] In November 2003, she was invited to perform at 77th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.[38] Additionally, in November as well, she was featured on MTV's hidden camera-practical joke show Punk'd. [39] In December 2003 Mýa made an appearance on the Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn.[40] Filmed in November, Mýa performed on the CBS' fifth annual A Home for the Holidays special which aired in December as well.[41]

SinglesEdit

Moodring spawned two singles, including lead single "My Love Is Like...Wo", which peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 17 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The single was a commercial success due to its success on mainstream radio and became Mýa's fifth solo top-40 single. It was a moderate success internationally, charting within the top 40 in the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia. The second and final single, "Fallen", peaked at number 51 on the Billboard Hot 100, while reaching number 35 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. "Things Come & Go" featuring Sean Paul was initially planned as a single as well. Interscope had selected "Things Come & Go" as Moodring's second international single and commissioned a music video to be filmed in Miami. Interscope's intentions were to push "Things Come & Go" internationally since Sean Paul had achieved recent success, and was keen to make Mýa a success in international territories as well. The plans were later scrapped.[42]

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic63/100[43]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [6]
BBC MusicFavorable[44]
Blender     [45]
Entertainment WeeklyB−[46]
PeopleFavorable[47]
PopMatters4/10[48]
Rolling Stone     [49]
USA Today    [50]
Vibe     [51]
The Village VoiceFavorable[52]

Moodring received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 63, based on 9 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[43] Allmusic editor Andy Kellman gave the album 4 out of 5 stars and wrote that "with all the emotional and stylistic range that an album called Moodring should present Mýa comes up with her best and most varied set of songs yet." He felt that while "the constant changes of direction can be a little jarring on the first couple plays, they eventually become one of the album's charms."[6] Similarly, Lewis Dene of BBC Music declared the album her "most complete and accessible yet", noting that with Moodring "Mya's set to further remind listeners of her ability to shrewdly bridge the gap between pop/R&B and street-level hip hop."[44] Sasha Frere-Jones, writing for Slate, called Moodring the "most consistent R&B album of the year."[53]

Tracy E. Hopkins, writing for Rolling Stone, called the album an "ambitious third disc" that "reintroduces the former good girl as a sex kitten – a transformation that began with the Grammy-winning 'Lady Marmalade'." She noted that "whatever her emotion, the eclectic Moodring effectively captures the evolving sensibilities of this rising star."[49] In his review for USA Today, Steve Jones commenced that Mýa "has matured nicely since her debut nearly five years ago. She shows no fear of flying off in new, creative directions."[50] Vibe editor Dimitri Ehrlich noted that though Mýa "doesn't add any real depth to her artistic sack, she captivates by revealing another stage in her development – as a woman."[51] Entertainment Weekly's writer Neil Drumming gave the album a B− rating, commenting that "at best, Moodring exhibits some minor genre dabbling, but truthfully, Mýa's source material hasn't broadened much." In speaking of Mýa's voice, he said: "Without a commanding voice to override such outdated overtures, Mýa's efforts sound strikingly out of touch."[46]

People found that "at times Moodring, with its trip-hop beats and sensual slow jams, is reminiscent of Aaliyah; other times the disc’s pop-R&B sheen brings to mind a younger Janet Jackson. Like both of those singers, Mýa has developed a feathery sexiness to go along with the natural sweetness of her soprano, which nevertheless wouldn’t scare the competition on American Idol. Still, this is the stuff that real pop idols are made of."[47] Blender's James Hunter felt that "Mýa gets lost on Moodring. The album has no point of view, no way of joining the great Jam-Lewis moments with the crasser stuff. A lover of dance and Broadway who wants to communicate with teens as well as adults, she faces the tall order of making real mink connect with real asphalt, and being Halle Berry with a mic."[45] Terry Sawyer from PopMatters wrote that "for the most part, Moodring sinks like a stone." Declaring the album mixed to her disadvantage, while declaring Mýa's voice as "thin", she felt the album "is supposed to be sexy and yearning, but it doesn't rise to the sincerity of a soap opera." She continued by saying "without the vocal acrobatics, the slower numbers serve only to highlight the squeaky fringe of her voice."[48]

AccoladesEdit

Moodring was featured on The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop end of the year critics list.[54]

Year Ceremony Award Result Ref.
2003 Washington Area Music Awards Urban Contemporary Recording Nominated [55]

Commercial performanceEdit

In the United States, Moodring debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 and at number two on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart, selling 113,000 copies in its first week of release.[56] It marked the highest-selling week of her career up to that point, as well as Mýa's highest-peaking album yet on both charts.[56] In its second week, Moodring sold additional 59,700 copies, while dropping to number nine on the Billboard 200.[57] In total, it spent a total of 18 non-consecutive weeks on the chart and was eventually certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on September 25, 2003.[58] As of August 2006, it had sold 589,000 copies in the United States.[59]

Internationally, the album was less successful than her previous albums Mýa (1998) and Fear of Flying (2000). While Moodring debuted and peaked at number 74 on the Australian Albums Chart, it failed to enter the top 75 of the UK Albums Chart, peaking at number 197. It, however, debuted and peaked at number 25 on the Canadian Albums Chart, becoming Mýa's highest-charting album there to date, and peaked at number 53 on the Japan Oricon Albums Chart.

Track listingEdit

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."My Love Is Like...Wo"
3:29
2."Fallen"
  • Luiz Bonfá
  • Maria Toledo
  • Leonard "Hugg" Huggins
  • Richard Shelton
  • Loren Hill
  • Kevin Veney
  • Shelton
  • Hill
  • Veney
  • Fair
3:34
3."Why You Gotta Look So Good?" (featuring Lloyd Banks)
4:39
4."Step"
3:15
5."Sophisticated Lady"
3:51
6."No Sleep Tonight"
  • Stewart
  • Tab Nkhereanye
  • Currence
  • Jeff Oakes (interlude)
  • Mark Sparks (interlude)
  • Stewart
  • Harrison[a]
  • Fair[a]
  • Oakes (interlude)
  • Sparks (interlude)
4:12
7."Anatomy 1On1"
4:35
8."Hurry Up" (featuring Gunz)
4:29
9."Things Come & Go" (featuring Sean Paul)
3:57
10."You"
  • Shelton
  • Hill
  • Veney
  • Marthea "Buttah" Jackson
  • Shelton
  • Hill
  • Veney
  • Fair
  • Harrison[b]
4:08
11."After the Rain"
  • Shelton
  • Hill
  • Veney
  • Harrison[a]
3:57
12."Late"
  • Harrison
  • Harris
  • Lewis
  • B.R. Avila
  • I. Avila
  • Eddie Cole
  • Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis
  • B.R. Avila[a]
  • Iz[a]
  • Harrison[c]
4:44
13."Whatever Bitch"
  • D. Elliott
  • Harrison
4:20
14."Taste This"
4:36
15."Take a Picture"
3:29
16."Free Fallin'"
3:54

Notes

  • ^[a] signifies a co-producer
  • ^[b] signifies an additional producer
  • ^[c] signifies a vocal producer

Sample credits

PersonnelEdit

MusiciansEdit

ProductionEdit

  • Vocal production: Ron Fair, Mark Harrison
  • Vocal assistance: Patrice Bowie, Sue Ann Carwell, Eric Dawkins, Laurie Evans, Katrina Willis
  • Engineers: Mike Anzel, Dylan Dresdow, Bruce Buechner, Randy Bugnitz, Ian Cross, Jimmy Douglass, David Guerrero, Tal Herzberg, Troy Hightower, Pete Karam, Brian Summerville, Brian "B Luv" Thomas, Ryan West, Doug Wilson, Frank Wolf
  • Engineering assistance: Matt Marrin
  • Mixing: Dave Pensado
  • Mixing assistance: Ethan Willoughby
  • Mastering: Eddy Schreyer
  • A&R: Kathryn Keller Moss
  • Art direction: Drew FitzGerald
  • Photography: Marc Baptiste, Sheryl Nields

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[58] Gold 589,000[59]

Release historyEdit

Region Date Label
Japan[23] June 26, 2003 Interscope
United Kingdom[24] July 21, 2003
United States[25] July 22, 2003
Australia August 28, 2003
Germany[26] September 8, 2003
Austria October 29, 2003
Switzerland

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Tracks 1, 2, 4, 10, 11, 13, 16, "Moodring" and "Extacy"
  2. ^ Tracks 1–3, 5, 6, 10, 15, 16 and "Extacy"
  3. ^ Track 3
  4. ^ Tracks 3–5, 8, 13–16, "Moodring" and "Extacy"
  5. ^ Tracks 5 and 6
  6. ^ Engineering on tracks 7 and 12
  7. ^ Tracks 8, 10 and 14
  8. ^ Tracks 8 and 14
  9. ^ a b Track 8
  10. ^ a b c d Track 9
  11. ^ Tracks 10 and 11
  12. ^ Track 14
  13. ^ Track 15

ReferencesEdit

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