Never count Ciara out, because if you do, she will always return to hand you your ass while dancing hers off. A bolt out of the blue that just keeps zapping at 150+ BPM, “Level Up” is frenetic enough to be a surreal blur of stimulus. This is particularly true for its neon-tinged video, which was directed and choreographed by Parris Goebel. As they stomp, thrust their hips, and run in place while lying on the floor sideways, you have to wonder if Ciara and her troupe even have time to breathe.
The lyrics reference a controversial tweet of Ciara’s from earlier in 2018, which now seems like it happened 5,000 years ago and whose message regarding marriage was never very clear in the first place. Whatever! Now it’s empowerment. Magic. The J.R. Rotem-produced track is based on a sample of DJ Telly Tellz’s “Fuck It Up Challenge.” Could Ciara be the one to break the frenzied dance genre of Jersey club, from which her song’s source sample hails, into the mainstream? It’s as yet unclear, but for all this effort she gets an A++.