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Superficial (album)

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Superficial (album)

Superficial
Heidi Montag
Released January 11, 2010 (2010-01-11)
Recorded 2007–09
Genre Pop, dance-pop, electropop, synthpop
Length 40:24
Label Warner Music Group
Producer
Singles from Superficial
  1. "Superficial"
    Released: November 22, 2009

Superficial is the debut studio album by American television personality Heidi Montag, digitally released on January 11, 2010, by Warner Music Group. After being cast in the reality television series The Hills and subsequently achieving public notability, she entered the music industry and began recording the project in 2007, expecting to release it the following year. However, it underwent several setbacks after recorded material was leaked and released singles proved unsuccessful. Montag enlisted collaborators Steve Morales, Chris Rojas, The Runners, Sebastian Jacome, Fingazz during its production.

Upon its release, Superficial received overwhelmingly negative reviews from music critics, who panned the songwriting and lack of originality. The album sold an estimated 1,000 copies in first-week sales, and failed to chart on any major charts worldwide. However, it debuted at number 41 on the US Billboard Top Heatseekers chart. Montag stated that she spent nearly $2 million on the album, and was confident that she would make back the money spent in its first week of availability.[1] Afterwards, she credited its lack of success to poor promotion.[2] Due to its failure, Superficial became her only release through Warner Music Group.

The title track "Superficial" was released as the only single from the album on November 22, 2009. Its accompanying music video was directed by her husband Spencer Pratt and was released in April 2010. Several promotional singles were released before the album's launch, though most were not included on the final record. Montag also released two extended plays to promote the album, both featuring some of Montag's leaked songs and songs that were later included on the album. She performed at the 2009 edition of Miss Universe, where she performed her debut single "Body Language". The performance received a generally negative reception, though the event was viewed by an estimated one billion viewers.[3]

Background and release

After being cast in the reality television series The Hills and subsequently achieving public notability in 2006, Montag entered the music industry and began recording her debut studio album in 2007.[4] She began recording with producer Steve Morales, who had previously worked with artist such as Jessica Simpson and Celine Dion.[5] Montag worked with David Foster on the album, who helped Montag record the song "Touch Me", which eventually didn't make the album's final cut. It did, however, leak online in December 2007.[6] In 2009, Montag hired Cathy Dennis, who had previously worked with Britney Spears and Katy Perry, to write songs for the album.[7] Montag also recorded "Blackout" for the album, a song written by actress and rock star Taylor Momsen. According to Momsen, she wrote the song when she was 8 years old and recorded it as a demo with a producer.[8] Montag released the song as a digital only single, with the music video being directed by her husband Spencer Pratt. Momsen commented about the recording: "I'm like, okay, dude, you're singing an 8-year-old's words, but that's cool. It's so funny because I didn't shop it or anything and I get this call going, 'Did you write a song for Heidi Montag'? And I'm like 'What?'".[8] On recording the album over a three-year period, Montag commented "If you look back throughout history it used to take that long to put albums together. Now it’s more manufactured. I really wanted to take my time, and every song means so much to me. Every song was a true journey. I had to track down the songs myself, because it was just Spencer and I doing it independently. We really took our time with every process."[9]

A few months after the album's announcement, in August 2007, a rough demo version of Montag's song "Body Language" was leaked on On Air with Ryan Seacrest. The song featured Montag's boyfriend Spencer Pratt rapping at one point. Montag has claimed she was unhappy with the leak, as the song was a "joke" and she did not want that to be the first thing people heard from her musically.[10][11][12] She began working with producer David Foster for the album, with one of their collaborations "Touch Me" leaking in December 2007.[6] Montag released the promo single, "Higher" along with an accompanying video shot by Pratt to iTunes on February 5, 2008. The song and the video immediately elicited a negative response from the online community.[13] Two weeks later, a ballad titled "No More" was leaked online, and Montag later released it as a promotional single the following month.[14] Two more songs, "Fashion"[15] and "One More Drink" appeared on the internet in June 2008.[16] These were followed by Montag's second promotional single, "Overdosin'"[17] Another song, titled "Party's Wherever I Am" leaked online as well.[18] Following the several track leaks, Montag released her debut extended play, titled Wherever I Am, featuring three previously leaked songs, as well as two new songs. She later released a second extended play, Here She Is..., which featured more of Montag's leaked songs. Following the album's release, Montag stated "I've actually gone broke putting every dollar I've ever made and my heart and soul into this music. For me, I have a different appreciation, a different understanding, and a different love of my music and for my album than any other artist possibly could."[19] Montag later confirmed she spent nearly $2 million on the album.[20][21][22]

Initially due for release in 2008, Superficial underwent several release date changes. The album also had several track listing changes. Initially, the album was to include Montag's debut single, "Body Language", but the song was later removed from the final product. The ballad "No More", which had previously been released as a promotional single, was also set to be featured on the album, but was later scrapped for unknown reasons. Two other songs, "Sex Ed" and "Trash Me", were announced as potential album songs, but eventually were not placed on the album. Both songs were later released for digital download on February 15, 2010 as promotional singles for the album. After numerous release dates were announced, the album was eventually released on January 11, 2010 for digital download.[23]

Superficial also went through various title changes throughout the recording process. It was originally announced to be titled Heidi Montag, later Independent, and eventually The One. In 2009, Montag stated that the record would be titled Superficial, commenting that "that’s the world [she lives] in and how people think [she is] but it’s really just the surface".[24] Its intended cover was shot by Liz Ciganovich, who commented that it was inspired by Montag's earlier music video for her song "Overdosin'" and "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John.[25][26] It depicted Montag dressed in a strapless, polka-dotted leotard in front of a wall of cassettes, which she described as a "shout out to the ’80s" and "makes you remember when you just had to run out to the record store and get your favorite album".[27][28] However, the official cover was later revealed to be an image of Montag in a short black dress posing in front of a large camera lens.

Composition

"There is so much darkness in the world right now, I just wanted to bring some light and some fun into it."

— Montag, on the album's composition.[29]

In an interview with People, Montag described Superficial as "a fun, empowering mix that you could really dance to."[30] Montag later described the album to MTV as "...different. Not every song is in the same genre. Some are more pop. Some are more ballady. Some are a little more rock. Some are a little bit edgier, but they all go together in some way. It's like a group of rocks. They're all rocks, but they're so different."[31] The first song, "Look How I"m Doing", is described as a "kiss off to a former flame", while "Blackout" is an ode to Montag's husband, Spencer Pratt.[29][32] "Turn Ya Head" has been described as an uptempo track with "electronic" influences. The song has also been described as "urban pop". "Fanatic" is an uptempo song with "an 80's feel", and has been compared to works by Kylie Minogue. Title track "Superficial" sees Montag singing about her public image, over a "dancefloor" beat, while aiming at Montag's critics. "More Is More" has been described as a "club hit", as well as "loud and intense."

"One More Drink" involves Montag singing about drinking too much in a club, while "Twisted" shows Montag singing about a former lover. "Hey Boy" features Montag singing about a boy who's "no good for her", with a beat that differs from the rest of the "synthpop" album. "My Parade" has been described as both a "party anthem" as well as a jab at her "haters". "Love It or Leave It" deals with a similar theme as "My Parade", in which Montag reveals that her critics don't upset her. The song "I'll Do It" caused a buzz after its release due to the song's sexually explicit lyrics, most notably the line "come eat my panties off of me."[33] Montag addressed the issue by stating "I love it. I'm a very sexual person and I'm married, so it's okay. I think every woman ... has an alter ego. We all have that really sexual, fun side. I just thought the lyrics were so fun and so sexy. They empower women. That song, when my friends hear it, they feel sexier. They have more fun, because the song is like, 'I'll do whatever you want, but I'm still kind of in charge here.' The lyrics are definitely a little edgy - and I'm sorry to the little girls - but I am married. Eat the panties off when you're married."[34]

Singles

The record's only single, the title track "Superficial", was released on November 22, 2009.[35] The song's music video was released in April 2010, and featured various video clips of Montag in the media, including her Miss Universe performance of "Body Language". Initially, "Body Language" was slated to be the album's lead single, but was ultimately scrapped from the album. Shortly after the album's release, Montag announced "Fanatic" would be the album's second single, but the plans were ultimately scrapped.[36] The songs "Look How I'm Doing" and "Your Love Found Me" were also released as promotional singles, along with "More Is More", which became Montag's first and only chart entry, reaching number 27 on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart in the United States.

Promotion

Montag promoted the album with the release of two promotional extended plays in 2009, Wherever I Am and Here She Is....[37] The Wherever I Am album featured a remix of "Look How I'm Doing" which featured rapper Machine Gun Kelly on guest vocals.[38] Songs such as "Turn Ya Head" and "More Is More" were also included on the five song album, which were both later used on Superficial. The Here She Is... album featured promotional singles such as "No More" and "Overdosin'", as well as "Your Love Found Me", which was first introduced on her previous EP. Both albums were released independently through Pratt Productions.[39] Both albums featured previousy leaked songs of Montag's, some of which were featured on the finished version of Superficial. Both albums were released exclusively for digital download, and failed to chart due to their promotional release. Montag also promoted the album by performing at the 2009 edition of Miss Universe during the fashion shoot presentation.[40][41] Montag's performance was negatively received from viewers, including other celebrities such as Anderson Cooper, who revealed his dislike for the performance on CNN. Montag herself addressed Cooper's comments, stating "I am so incredibly flattered that [Anderson Cooper] is talking about me."[34]

Critical reception

Critically, Superficial received generally negative reviews. Pittnews commented "Superficial is chock full of poorly produced, synthesized, and — worst of all — instantly forgettable tracks that are mildly irritating at best, but are usually insufferable."[42] TheChannels said "The lyrics are no better than the rest of the album. Montag sings about these ideas: how hard it is to handle the paparazzi, how she turns heads everywhere she goes, and how she ignores those that rain on her parade."[43] Limelife gave the album a mixed review, calling some of the songs "catchy", but also said the album "sounds so manufactured, I have no idea what Heidi would sound like without all this technology behind her."[44] HollywoodLife was also gave the album a mixed review, writing "Superficial is just as over-produced as you’d expect a Heidi album to be. In fact, there are some points when you can barely hear Heidi’s breathy words over busy beats and sporadic whooshing sounds." They did, however, praise the songs "My Parade" and "I'll Do It".[45] Superficial did receive some positive reviews, however, most notably from the LGBT community. Homorazzi gave the album a positive review, and cited songs "Fanatic", "Superficial", and "More Is More" as highlights of the album.[46] MuuMuse also praised the album, calling it "fun", while calling several of the songs "guilty pleasures."[19]

Commercial performance

Superficial sold slightly over 1,000 copies in its first week of release.[47][48] In total, the songs on the album were downloaded 6,000 times during the first week of release, with none of them charting.[49] Montag has since publicly stated she felt the album was a commercial flop due to its lack of promotion.[50]

Track listing

No. TitleMusic Length
1. "Look How I'm Doing"  
3:28
2. "Turn Ya Head"  
  • Morales
  • Dennis
  • Keithin Pittman
3:37
3. "Fanatic"   3:25
4. "Superficial"  
  • Morales
  • Atozzio Townes
  • Harold St. Louis
3:08
5. "More Is More"  
  • Morales
  • Laura Pergolizzi
  • St. Louis
3:05
6. "One More Drink"   3:37
7. "Twisted"  
3:48
8. "Hey Boy"  
  • Jacome
  • Pergolizzi
2:54
9. "My Parade"  
3:23
10. "Blackout"  
3:29
11. "I'll Do It"  
  • Morales
  • Stacy Barthe
  • Pittman
3:30
12. "Love It Or Leave It"  
  • Jacome
  • Pergolizzi
3:00

Credits and personnel

  • Producers: Steve Morales, Chris Rojas, The Runners, Sebastian Jacome, Fingazz
  • Engineer: Ariel Chobaz
  • Mixers: Manny Marroquin, Dave Pemado, Jaycen Joshua
  • Mastering: Bernie "Big Bass" Gardner
  • Additional Engineering: Steve Morales, Ariel Chobaz
  • Legal: Dan Black, Ken Burry, Peter Lopez, Laura DeMichele
  • Photography: Jordan Nuttall
  • Production Design: Liz Ciganovich
  • Art direction: Liz Ciganovich
  • LP Cover Design: Liz Ciganovich
  • LP Logo Design: Casey Ryder
  • Logo Design: Casey Ryder
  • Packaging: Chris Leach

Charts

Charts (2010) Peak
position
US Heatseekers Album Chart 41

References

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