Tweet: Southern Hummingbird

Tweet: Southern Hummingbird

In today's unforgiving, attention-span-impaired pop-music climate, a killer first single can mean the difference between instant stardom and a ticket back to nowhere. As the man behind "X," "My Name Is," "What's My Name?," and others, Dr. Dre reigns supreme as the king of the introductory single, but Timbaland has made a serious run at the title with "Ugly," "The Rain," "Raise Up," and, most recently, Tweet's "Oops (Oh My)." An irresistible ode to onanism powered by Timbaland's hothouse production and Tweet's sultry, teasing vocals, "Oops" stands as the most cheekily subversive nod to female sexual empowerment since TLC urged listeners to "take the southern route" in "Red Light Special." But while "Oops" takes men out of the sexual equation, the rest of Tweet's striking debut, Southern Hummingbird, fixates on the opposite sex with an intensity that borders on pathological. The disc opens with the singer writhing in a pit of suicidal despair, and before it's over, she's chastised cheating men, pined for the commitment-phobic, offered to take back lovers, and generally behaved like a strong woman whose happiness is nevertheless dependent almost entirely on her romantic entanglements. At her most desperate, Tweet even devotes a song ("Always Will") to trying to convince a reticent lover that he loves her as much as she thinks he does. While Southern Hummingbird's tendency to mistake masochism for romanticism comes off as regressive, she has the force of personality to make her romantic travails resonate. Like the late Aaliyah (another protégé of Timbaland and Missy Elliott), Tweet recognizes the value of subtlety and understatement, but she also skillfully writes and produces or co-produces much of her own material. Timbaland and Elliott have shown excellent taste in collaborators, and with Tweet, they continue their winning streak.

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