To suggest that Mya hasn't experienced any success during the course of her career wouldn't be fair. In 1998 when she was just 18, the now 29-year-old singer managed to muster up a couple of hit singles from her self-titled debut album, including the R&B hit Movin' On. Back then Mya captured mainstream attention by exploring subject matter that was more sexually suggestive than that of her contemporaries, like Monica or Aaliyah, while still appealing to the same teen fan base. While Monica was avoiding sex on the First Night, Mya was wondering "who's draws are these?," giving adolescent listeners who may not have waited quite as long as Monica a bit of validation. Though her success began to taper off upon the release of her sophomore album Fear of Flying, she still managed to secure another top 10 hit with the album's second single, Case of the Ex. Things began to look a little better for Mya after she teamed with fellow pop stars Pink and Christina Aguilera, along with 'Lil Kim for their Grammy-winning remake of LaBelle's Lady Marmalade, and her two successful 2004 solo singles My Love is Like…Wo and Fallen.
After that, things were pretty much a wrap. After switching records labels, Mya's 4th album Liberation, was delayed by Motown for more than two years before the label shelved the record permanently and dropped the singer after two failed singles, including the little heard Lock U Down, featuring rapper 'Lil Wayne. After a few months off the radar, earlier this year it was announced that Mya had signed a new recording contract with Japanese label Manhattan Records. That brings us to the limited release of her latest album, Sugar & Spice.
If Mya is looking for any sort of career resurgence, in the U.S. or abroad, Sugar & Spice is not the way to make it happen. Everything about the album is all wrong, from presentation to product, and that's disappointing considering that Mya's limited commercial success has never been reflective of the solid material she consistently delivers. First single Paradise is laughable at best, and the video is even worse. It's clear that Mya's budget for this project was zero to nothing, as the writing and production on most of the album's songs sound like something someone recorded for their YouTube channel.
"Listen to the beat of the Congo, like two animals in the jungle making love."
She would have been better off covering that I Gotta Crush on Obama mess; at least it would have been somewhat timely. Seriously, listen to it. It's embarrassingly engaging.
I won't waste my time reviewing the rest of an album that you'll probably never hear, or care to bootleg, but I use Mya's latest effort to illustrate my argument that she'll probably never experience any sort of career relevancy again. A few folks here and there will argue that Mya was never given a fair chance in terms of consistent promotion and commercial exposure, but that's a lame excuse. At the end of the day, Mya is just boring. In 1998, when a majority of her fan base was still in middle school, listening to the singer may have offered a sense of taboo or grown-up sensibility, but 10 years later sex isn't as mysterious, and Mya is hardly a necessity. That's not to say that she's no good, but when Mya's absent from the radio few people really miss her, as she satisfies no real niche on the airwaves.
While, I would love to stand corrected and see Mya develop some sense of self in today's overpopulated American music market, Sugar & Spice doesn't show any indication of that actually happening. Still, I won't belittle her past success, as I've copped and enjoyed every one of Mya's American releases, and I'm still waiting on Sugar and Spice to grow on me.
Below I've posted what I suppose can be referred to as the sequel to her 2004 hit Fallen, creatively titled Fallen 2. It's the only song from Sugar & Spice that's managed to capture any of my attention.
And here's the video for her single Paradise, in all of it's $20 glory.