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|1. Still Standing featuring Ludacris|
|2. One In A Lifetime|
|3. Stay Or Go|
|4. Everything To Me|
|5. If You Were My Man|
|7. Here I Am|
|9. Love All Over Me|
|10. Believing In Me|
2010 release from the multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning R&B artist. Producers joining her in the studio on the new project include Neyo, Missy Elliot, Jermaine Dupri, Brian Cox, Stargate and Carlos McKinney. Monica recently completed production on her own reality show also titled Still Standing, which began airing on BET to record ratings after the BET Hip Hop Awards on October 28th. The show features Monica's daily grind; juggling the roles of motherhood and recording artist, all the while trying to reclaim her slot at the top of the charts. Features the first single, 'Everything To Me'.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Filled with songs about getting to love, appreciating a significant other, being at a crossroads in a relationship and even getting out of a bad one, Monica leaves no stone unturned when it comes to relationships on "Still Standing".
Kicked off with the title track "Still Standing," Monica taps Ludacris for the album's lone collaboration, leaving listeners with an empowering and truthful account of her past, singing "see this is more than just a song to me `cause I been up against the ropes, everything you're going through I been there before". While the record was first heard early 2009, it is still one of the album's stand out songs, catching Monica near her best as a strong songstress telling an empowering story. That theme, which fits Monica well, can be heard on another standout track titled "Believing In Me".
The final track on the album, "Believing In Me" features Monica finding the strength to leave a one way relationship, meaning the man she fell in love with does not love her the same way. Produced by Stargate, "Believing In Me" is both relatable yet fitting for Monica who sings "didn't know that I was selling my soul to someone who didn't care at all," before delivering the words "I've moved on and I'm strong. I'm going back to the place where I know I belong.. cause I'm right and you're wrong, this time I'm believing in me.... I'm never letting go of my dreams."
While Monica spends time taking a stance on songs like "Still Standing" and "Believing In Me," the majority of the album is spent adoring the love of her life. Before we get there however, she takes a detour with Ne-Yo and Polow Da Don on "Here I Am" and "Stay or Go". Unfortunately, both songs seem to go nowhere. The latter of the two especially, "Stay or Go" is surprisingly the least attractive song on the album, which is even more surprising with Ne-Yo credited. On the song, Monica sings "You either wanna be with me or you don't. Let me know what you're going to do cause I'm not waiting". "Here I Am," as seen on the reality series "Monica: Still Standing" is credited to Polow Da Don. While the song, like "Stay or Go," starts out well and is more `contemporary' than others, it fails as the seconds roll on with lyrics like "Why don't you come and pick me up and take me to the crib and do the things that I have told you he won't," followed by "boy stop tripping cause it's just me and you". Neither are horrible songs however, just not the best. These songs, along with the Missy Elliott produced 80s like track "If You Were My Man (Betcha)," are simply okay, not thrilling or songs you would run and share with a friend.
The remainder of "Still Standing" is Monica at her best. Perhaps because of an admiration for the father of her children during the album's recording, Monica comes off soulful, truthful and at peace on "Everything To Me," "One In A Lifetime," "Mirror," "Superman" and "Love All Over Me". All timeless, these songs are perhaps what listeners expect from Monica at this point in time. Not trying to gravitate towards today's pop-friendly R&B records or earn a cosign from Hip Hopper's with another "Everytime The Beat Drop," Monica delivers here.
"Everything To Me," the album's official first single, leads the pack as a classic and timeless ballad about a love that is second to none ("you're everything to me, the air that I breathe.."). Monica then takes it up a notch on "One In A Lifetime," produced by Los Da Mystro. A record that could easily be another single, "One In A Lifetime" is comparable to "Mirror," another stand out track and potential hit single.
Produced by Jim Jonsin, "Mirror" is lyrically and not just vocally sound with Monica singing "I used to have my share of lonely days beneath the makeup and the darkest shades. But ever since you came I know the meaning of true love again. It's not the bags or the trips or the clothes. It's not the fans or the sold-out shows. It's the way that you see through my soul." Laying it down, Monica goes on to sing "When I look in the mirror I don't recognize the girl all about the glitter, cause now I see you by my side. Now nothing's ever going to be the same, forget the fortune you can keep the fame."
Picking up where she left off on "Everything To Me," Monica admires her man, comparing being with him to a movie, in this case "Superman," singing "waking up with you is just like waking up next to superman." Produced by Bryan Michael Cox, "Superman" is laid back in comparison to the last two songs, but nonetheless seamless.
Last but not least, the Jermaine Dupri and Bryan Michael Cox produced "Love All Over Me" rounds out "Still Standing" as another laid back, yet soulful track filled with admiration.
As she sings on "Love All Over Me," "you showered me with a new beginning, now I'm clean"... "Still Standing" is a new beginning for Monica. A solid effort filled with mature songs about getting to love, appreciating a significant other, being at a crossroads in a relationship and even getting out of a bad one, "Still Standing" should keep Monica up for some time.
If you must download instead of picking up the whole album, "Mirror," "Everything To Me," Superman," and "One In a Lifetime" are the top picks, with "Love All Over Me," "Still Standing" and "Believing In Me" as bonus tracks you might want to grab legally.
The title track and theme song of the reality show details the struggles Monica's been through and how she's used the pain to keep her going. "I been up against ropes/Everything you're going through/I been there before, seen them all come/And I seen them all go/You can bet your last that/My head won't hit the floor, never/And I'm still standing!" Love the rap from Ludacris (did you know Monica's his cousin?), although I don't care for the generic hip-hop background much.
The lush Once In A Lifetime is a realization that the one you walked away from was "the one". "And I can't believe that I almost missed the signs/Right in front of my eyes/And now I know the love is real, its hard to say why." Stay Or Go is the ultimatum given to a wishy washy boyfriend that's worked Miss Thang's nerve for the last time. "So let me know/Whatcha gonna do/Stay or go/Cuz I'm not waiting/Boy, yes or no/I'm about to decide for you/Stay or go!"
Lead single Everything To Me marvels at and luxuriates in the love of a good man with starry-eyed lyrics like "You're everything to me/The air that I breathe/Sign so I'll see, oh Lord/You're everything to me!" The Deniece Williams sample is gorgeous! The funky 80's retro feel of If You Were My Man will make you break out the Cabbage Patch, Running Man, and Roger Rabbit. The Missy Elliott shout-outs might annoy some, but I like them. Monica's flow is nice too. "See, baby, she can't love you like I do/She just a chick tryna be like me/You wanna go and hang around all them crazy fools/Cuz in ya face she shake her booty/See, baby, that's not I/I'm a classy girl/Guaranteed boy to rock ya world/So let her go, let her go/I'm just lettin' ya know/I'm not a hoe call me your black pearl!" *SNAP*
It took me a while to warm up to Mirror, but it's definitely grown on me. Although slightly weakened from a generic clubby production, Monica's vocals and the message of the song got me hooked. "When I look at myself in the mirror/I don't have to feel ashamed/Now it couldn't be much clearer/I'll never have to search again/When I look at myself in the mirror/I don't even recognize/The girl all about the glitter/Cuz now I sit by my side/When I look at myself in the mirror."
Monica's fluid vocals work it's magic with the hazy background of Here I Am. Fed up with a negligent boyfriend, Miss Thang lets a better guy know she's interested in getting with him. "So why don't you come/Pick me up and take me to the crib/And do the things/That I have told you he won't do?/So now you know/Baby boy, stop trippin'/Cuz it is just me and you!" Superman isn't as strong, but it's still enjoyable with sweet references to the fictional superhero. "It's a bird, it's a plane/It's Superman/I can be your Lois Lane."
The glossy ballad Love All Over Me is absolutely stunning. Praising a new man for showing her that true love is real, Monica sings "Took me by surprise when you ran up on me/I came to life baby in that moment/You put your hands on my heart and baby/now it beats!" Her voice gets a chance to soar without a trace of unnecessary melisma or runs. Excellent second single! The downtempo acoustic closer Believing In Me basks in the freedom gained after ending a painful relationship. "And I'm glad that you're gone/Cuz your not what I need/I'm believing in me/I've moved on/And I'm strong/Going back to the place where I know I belong/Cuz I'm right and your wrong/You were not what I need/I'm finally believing in me!"
As if the girl wasn't amazing already, she's done a great job with Still Standing. That voice of hers is even richer than before and that's a major plus! The album's strength is it's R&B/Soul roots tied to the 80's and 90's. The golden age of music imo. Welcome back, Miss Thang! We missed you, girl.
In the beginning, I actually liked that album a lot. We listened to it in the car and I couldn't find a song I hated. The 90's nostalgia that this album gives off excited me and made me want to have a copy of the album for myself.
Upon listening to it later though, I found that my initial excitement died down significantly.
This album seems to suffer in many areas. First off I will say that I disagree with those that say that the album is full of filler. That is not the case. The songs all have about the same amount of production quality and if you watched the show a lot of thought was put into picking the tracks.
The album seems to suffer though from tired lyrics: Few songs stand out because they're all roughly about the same things, and unstructured melodies: listen to the melodies of "Here I am" and then listen to everything else...as well as a lack of creativity: "If You Were My Man" could've been so much more than it was. Choruses at times are boring and don't stand out from the song: "Still Standing" is an example of this. The album ends up coming off as an okay listen at first but once every song is heard only a few stand out which is sad considering that there are only 10 tracks to begin with.
"Here I am" and "Once In A Lifetime" and "Superman" were standouts for me. I will however point out that the only song to truly shine through was "Here I am." Lyrically it might be the same tired old theme of leaving her man for someone better, but lyrically the song flows well, it has beautiful melodies and it builds nicely. It is overall a well written song and pretty much makes the flaws in all the other tracks on the album apparent. Monica's voice is also very beautiful in the song especially in the opening verse.
"If You Were My Man" stands out for all the wrong reasons. They basically took the original song "Betcha She Don't Love You" by Evelyn Champagne and practically just sung over it as is was. The theme of the song was practically even the same. But the chorus was horrible. She would have faired so much better if she had just covered the original song. I was disappointed seeing as this song has such a good beat. Definitely could've been better.
If Monica truly wants to stand out she first off needs to stick to one producer. The mixture of producers didn't hurt her too badly seeing as the album is actually fairly consistent. But having one producer, and a talented on at that, would increase her chances of having developing stronger songs. Constantly working with one person would allow her to develop more as an artist as opposed to just going from one to the next and singing over their beats. One person would be able to focus on her throughout the songwriting process and point out her strengths and weaknesses. Monica, on the show, seemed to put her all into this effort and if that's the best she has then she really still has a lot of growing to do as an artist. There is a way of creating serious R&B songs without trying to sound like contemporary artists and this is not it. The album suffers most in it's songwriting and even if Monica didn't write all of the songs she still heard them, approved them and sang them and that says a lot right there.
Hopefully future efforts will not only feature quality control on production but songwriting as well. The songwriting, lyrics and melodies are average at best and bring this album down. A year from now i'll only remember "Here I am." and the rest will be just as forgettable as Monica's previous efforts.
Download: "Here I Am", "Superman", "Once In A Lifetime"
Preview: "Love All Over Me", "Believing In Me", "Everything To Me"