Bay Area R&B fans have some tasty decision-making on the calendar come Aug. 31. That evening, Beyoncé will perform at Oakland's Oracle Arena, while Ciara will headline the KMEL Screamfest in San Jose. As it's impossible to catch both divas in any sort of meaningful way, we offer a rating system matching these hit-makers against one another. Let the weave-pulling begin. (Each category is rated on a scale of 1 to 5; 1 for turds and 5 for truffles.)
Beyoncé's got time on her side, as her tight, all-female band should offer the longer performance of the two. But the girl's still mild compared to Ciara. The street-savvy songs on Ciara's sophomore album Promise flirt with danger like a Catholic schoolgirl on a prison bus; she even risks contracting aural STDs with "Can't Leave 'Em Alone," her collaboration with 50 Cent. In contrast, Beyoncé's most recent album, B'Day, offers tepid jilted-girlfriend joints like "Irreplaceable" and materialistic braggadocio like "Upgrade U" and "Sugar Mama," giving her album the edge of a butter knife.
Match: Ciara, 3 points; Beyoncé, 1 point
Underneath all the hair extensions, Swarovski crystals, and drag-queen makeup, Ciara and Beyoncé are probably both lovely fellas, er, ladies. Beyoncé, however, has her follicle game on lock, taking a cue from the Beach Blanket Babylon school of bigger-is-better. In her last Oakland appearance, she was carried through the crowd on a lounge by shirtless Greek gods, who scattered rose petals on her path. The singer changed elaborate outfits seven times — understated, she is not. Hooray for high-maintenance bitches!
Match: Beyoncé, 5 points; Ciara, 2 points
Ciara's Screamfest, a national tour scheduled to stop in 21 cities, offers a wider spectrum musically. Her co-headliner is hip-hop heartthrob T.I. (the top-selling rapper of last year), and the concert also features urban-pop-charting acts like Lloyd, Yung Joc, and T-Pain — the latter of whom has been apparently stealing the show most nights. Beyoncé's gig features only one supporting act: blue-eyed soul singer Robin Thicke, son of actor Alan Thicke of Growing Pains fame. The guy's falsetto shtick wears Victoria Beckham-thin in the blink of a ballad.
Match: Ciara, 5 points; Beyoncé, 3 points
It'll be tough to eat sweets — or anything from the concession stand, for that matter — after buying tickets to Beyoncé's show. Admission is almost $60 for the "cheap seats." Sure, Ciara's songs are often bubblegum, but Screamfest tickets cost half as much, leaving concertgoers with some spare cash to floss. Bottom line: Ciara won't rot your wallet as fast.
Match: Ciara, 5 points; Beyoncé, 0 points
Ciara, 15 points; Beyoncé, 9 points
Both women display some flavor and, occasionally, some taste. But for the best all-around bang for your buck, Ciara is ultimately the jawbreaker.