Ciara is onto “Better Thangs.” Her newly released single featuring Summer Walker is a feel-good, uptempo R&B anthem that inspires listeners to let go of things they can’t control and continuously level up.
Following Ciara’s new label deal with Republic Record and Uptown Records (in partnership with her own Beauty Marks Entertainment) and the July release of her single “Jump,” “Better Thangs” continues to embody positive vibes. The song comes right on time, as the feeling of joy and experiencing the better things in life is quite literally how Ciara says she’s been feeling lately. During a Zoom interview with Billboard, Ciara discussed the making of her new song, describing it as “a feel-good record” that she hopes “people hear and feel inspired by.
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“For me, joy is the ultimate feeling that I was feeling [when creating ‘Better Thangs’], and I wanted for people to feel that with this record,” Ciara tells Billboard. The Grammy-winning artist says that both “Jump” and “Better Thangs” will appear on her forthcoming studio album that will serve as a follow-up to her 2019 release, Beauty Marks.
“Better Thangs” also marks the second time that Ciara and Summer Walker have collaborated, following her narration on “Ciara’s Prayer,” which appeared on Walker’s 2021 project, Still Over It. The two R&B songstresses embody a light, fun energy together throughout the track and visual.
Billboard spoke to Ciara about “Better Thangs,” how the single fits into the theme of her upcoming album, working with Walker and more.
Why was Summer Walker the perfect addition to “Better Thangs”?
There’s a strong R&B core on this [upcoming] album. [Summer] and I had been able to really connect and grow as friends over time. So it was really an organic thing with having her be on the album and be on this song with me, which I love. I think that’s so key when you do collaborations. For me, I’ve always done collaborations because it felt right, it was authentic. It felt like the artist was going to bring a certain flair to this song that it needed… I played her a few songs on the album and I’m not going to lie, this is the one song that I thought was perfect for her, but I wanted it for her because she also really liked it.
It was cool to see that she liked this song just as much as I did for us. That really sweetened the process. She laid her vocals on the song, and as soon as I heard it, I was like, “This is special.” It felt so good. It’s two friends jamming out to a song together, which is super sweet.
“Better Thangs” has a strong feel-good energy to it. What’s the main message that you want listeners to take away from this track?
I hope that people hear this song and they feel inspired. I hope it sparks something in their thoughts that they need to just elevate. It is about going to that next level and pursuing the better things in life across the board. Whether it’s work goals or self goals. I just really hope people feel inspired to go and get what’s theirs and get what they deserve. Obviously, the record also has a groove and a bounce to it. So I hope people want to dance as well, and that dancing brings joy. It really is that laid-back, feel-good vibe and energy, but it’s still upbeat at the same time.
Between the matching outfits and the choreography, the video looked like so much fun to shoot! What was the creative thought process behind the visual?
It’s definitely the ultimate girl vibes. The song to me is very colorful, so I wanted to make sure that when you’re watching the video, you felt the energy through what we were wearing. It was really cute. We basically [were] twins throughout the whole video with each other. Mia Barnes directed it – which I love the girl power of that as well. We have a cute moment where we’re out on the lawn, sipping on some Ten To One, and just having a good time. The song and video just represent girl power and the strength of us.
The last time you collaborated with Summer Walker was for “Ciara’s Prayer.” The ladies want to know, what are the main components that go into your prayer? And does that play a role in your life and/or the music you make?
That’s funny. I pray a lot. I do believe in the power of prayer. When you pray just be intentional. There’s power in word, there’s power in the tongue, and the Bible says there’s life and death in the tongue. So my philosophy is that we speak about sacred things, right? So when you give life into yourself, you give life into the universe. When you pray, be intentional. Don’t pray small, pray big, don’t limit yourself. You gotta go after everything that you dream of. There’s not one specific prayer that I pray every time I do something. I pray what my heart tells me and I think about the things that I desire and that I’m hoping for.
Within the last year, you’ve embarked on a few new ventures, from launching a skincare line to becoming a co-owner of an alcohol brand. How would you describe your personal and musical growth from the last year to now?
I think for me, this time in my life and career I feel like things are continuing to come together in a beautiful way. The process isn’t always the easiest, because when you are dreaming of doing things at a high level, it requires a lot of work, determination, and ambition. Just thinking about this past year, I’ve launched my skin care line, I’ve launched my rum Ten To One, the house of LR&C. I’ve actually reached my first year of my woman’s brand, Lita by Ciara, which falls under the house of LR&C, which is a fashion house.
But just thinking about this incredible journey that I’ve been able to go on professionally and most importantly personally, I love where I am as a woman. I love where I am as a mom. I love being there for my babies. And finding that balance has been a challenge for sure. But it’s been really beautiful to just look up and see myself doing it all. That’s better things for me. I like where I am as far as my energy, doing my best to get to joy as quickly as possible.
Do you have any words of advice for young women who are inspired by your journey?
Like I always say, never limit yourself. I think that my girls need to know you’re never limited by your gender or the color of your skin. The sky really is the limit. If you dream big, believe in your big dream. Know that there are big plans in store for you. You have to really channel what that is for you. Be in tune with yourself so that no matter what anybody says to you, they can’t sway you on your mission of what you’re trying to accomplish. Be relentless in what you want to do in life, be relentless on your pursuit of better things for yourself. Like, why not? Get what’s yours.
What are some examples of the better things that you’re currently enjoying in your life?
Being in tune spiritually has been important for me. I feel like the closer I get to God, the more blessings continue to pour into my life and the more peace I have. Having love for my enemies is better things, you know? I think sometimes it takes a second to get to that place. But the more you lead with love, the lighter life is, the less weight you carry. Forgiveness is so important. Forgiveness is better things to me, cause sometimes it’s not easy.
But man, how good it feels to be full of joy, even if someone is negative on the other side, they can’t penetrate you. They can’t penetrate your soul. They can’t penetrate your heart – you’re just above it. Better things is dedicating time to things and people when I need to, you know … my babies, my husband and date nights, like really trying to keep the phone turned over. Uninterrupted time with my loved ones is better things for me. Giving myself grace, you know. Leveling up and taking care of my skin. Leveling up how I’m loving on myself. That’s better things to me.