So Amazin' is Christina Milian's third studio album that was released on April 19, 2006 in Japan, May 8, 2006 in Europe and May 16, 2006 in the United States by Island Records.
Christina Milian's previous album, "It's About Time" was her second studio album, but served as her debut in the United States.
The critical response to the album was mixed to generally negative. The club tracks (most notably the lead single "Dip It Low") were praised; however, the ballads were said to be disappointing.
The album only performed modestly commercially; it debuted and peaked at number 14 on the Billboard 200 album chart, selling a total of 382,000 copies, but it managed to achieve Silver certification in the UK by the British Phonographic Industry. In 2005, it received a Grammy Award nomination for "Best Contemporary R&B Album."
Following the album's release, Milian was cast in a lead role in the horror film "Pulse" starring alongside Kristen Bell and Ian Somerhalder. She traveled to Romania for filming, and later discovered that her then-boyfriend Nick Cannon had cheated on her while she was away. Milian said in an interview, "it was heartbreaking for me. I was a good girl, a really loyal girl – and I got beat real."
Whereas Milian's previous albums had pop and R&B stylings, she was encouraged by Island Def Jam to target a new audience and release an urban record.
Explaining the change, Milian said that one of her main problems was that previous releases would often find mainstream success, but would be relatively unsuccessful on urban radio. As an R&B artist, she wanted to build her core audience–a true fan base that would support her through time–to increase her career's longevity. The main purpose of her genre change was to go back to the streets and add to her core audience
To create a more urban record, Milian had a list of producers that she wanted to work with for the album. She said that in most cases, even when she had R&B producers, most songs would end up being pop instead of R&B.
L.A. Reid suggested to Milian that she should work with Cool & Dre, with whom she ended up working with as the first people to start off the album. Although Milian was originally supposed to work with several different music producers, she felt that the chemistry they had in the first week was so "instant and real" that she felt she could not get a better "vibe" with anybody else other than them. Together, they produced four songs in the first few days, which prompted Milian to ask her label if she could continue working with the duo.
At the same time, Cool & Dre called their managers to ask if they could continue working with Milian. She felt that it was "just the perfect connection", and that working with them "just felt so original".
Milian described Cool & Dre as "beat makers", rather than just hip-hop producers, and believed that she was really able to express herself lyrically through their music. She ended up working with Cool & Dre on the majority of the production of the album, producing ten of the album's eleven tracks together.
She also wrote the track "Y'all Ain't Nothin'" with Ne-Yo, which was produced by The Heavyweights. The featured artists on the album include Three 6 Mafia, Young Jeezy, and Dre of Cool & Dre. While working on the song, "Who's Gonna Ride", Dre ran into Three 6 Mafia at the studio and they agreed to feature on the song.
The album completed within a three-month period, whereas Milian's previous albums would take six months to a year. Milian received writing credit for nine songs on the album. She did not try to write mainstream records for the radio; rather, she wrote about "everything, about your life and concentrate on you doing you."
For previous albums, Milian wrote about things that had happened in the past, whereas for "So Amazin'", she focused on the present.
She compared the writing process to writing a diary; whenever she would experience something that she thought would be important, she would write it down for future reference. Milian felt that by writing down true experiences, her songs were like "captured emotion"
When writing songs, Milian said that the amount of time it took to write varied. It would depend on what she was writing about, what was going on in her life, and if it pertained to that exact moment. Sometimes the process was quick, but other times it could take several hours to write an entire song.
Although Milian was a songwriter since her teenage years, she only felt real growth during the production sessions when Dre told her, "there are no rules." Previously, she would write songs that followed rules, where she would have a hook, a verse, and another verse with similar sound and melody. For the album, she wrote with a "no rules theory", which was her biggest obstacle while recording the album.
She said: "It was just, you know what? I can change up the melody I can do different things. Sometimes I might get stuck but wait half an hour and it'll come to you and end up being hot. So that's probably my biggest obstacle, just stepping away from doing the usual that I know and stepping into something new. Once I got past all that, it was just easy. With flying colors, I started writing all the records."
- Say I (featuring Young Jeezy)
- Gonna Tell Everybody
- Who's Gonna Ride (featuring Three 6 Mafia)
- So Amazing
- Hot Boy (featuring Dre)
- My Lovin' Goes
- Just A Little Bit
- Y'All Ain't Nuthin'
- She Don't Know
- Wind You Up
"So Amazin'" debuted and peaked at number 11 on the Billboard 200, selling 54,000 copies in its first week and 163,000 copies in total. Internationally, the album peaked at number 55 on the Swiss Albums Chart, 67 on the UK Albums Chart, and 139 on the France Albums Chart.
In June of 2006, Milian's representative confirmed that she had left Island Def Jam Although she was dropped from the label, she continued to promote the album through live appearances, performing on Power 106's Summer Splash.
Milian hoped to take "Gonna Tell Everybody" (the proposed second single from the album) to another label and shoot a video, but she was unable to
Milian revealed in an interview with Rap-Up that she was dropped two weeks after the release of her album. She stated that before the release of "So Amazin'", the record label and that L.A. Reid knew that the album wouldn't have immediate large sales since she was targeting a new urban audience, but he promised to support her.
However, after two weeks, L.A. Reid called to notify Milian that she had been dropped. Milian believed that it was a budget cut, and the label opted to spend money on Rihanna instead. She also dispelled rumors that she was originally offered Rihanna's song "SOS."
"So Amazin'" received mixed reviews from music critics. Metacritic gave the album a score of 59, signifying mixed or average reviews.
David Peisner of Maxim gave the album three out of five stars and said that Milian's "talent is real", and commended her "silky and sassy" voice. He praised Cool & Dre's "badass" production, as well as "intoxicating" lead single "Say I".
Clover Hope of Billboard wrote that Milian tried to transform from "sweet pop sweetheart" to "peppy urban soulstress", but the album could not "pinpoint her true identity" and could "only [scratch] the surface of who she really is." Hope praised lead single, "Say I", describing it as "instantly rousing".
Dan Gennoe of Yahoo! Music UK said that the production by Cool & Dre ensured for "a cohesive whole, with a clear, unmistakable identity."
He praised the single "Say I", saying it "shimmies to a feisty ghetto strut and Shaft-sized orchestrals", as well as the tracks "Twisted", "Hot Boy" and "Just A Little Bit". He described it as "almost the perfect R&B album", only missing "a couple of killer singles".
Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine wrote that while Milian claimed that she was "proudly displaying the various sides of her multifaceted personality", he felt that "only personality displayed on So Amazin' is that of her contemporaries and predecessors". He felt that contrary to the album's title, "So Amazin' proves to be anything but."
Andy Kellman, of review website Allmusic, felt that it was "Milian's strongest album yet, if only by a narrow margin". He said that the album was short on ideas, with Cool & Dre using beats from some of their recent hits.
He felt that Milian's weakness was ballads, which were "more like placeholders that merely apply some forced variety to the album"; but described the club tracks as "perfectly functional and appealing".
Spence Dookey of IGN gave the album a 6.9 out of 10 and said that "Milian glistens most brightly on the tracks that are the most stripped down, such as 'Gonna Tell Everybody'". He said given the nature of the style of music Milian was practicing, "there's a fair share of rump shaking club jams offsetting the more slow tempo fare".
Dookey described single "Say I" as "a poundingly theatrical ditty", and "Foolin'" as one of the "few tracks that genuinely attempts to lift Milian up from the generic R&B/club stylings".
The reviewer found the overall sound was the album's biggest flaw; "the production rings with a sense of detached hollowness ... The result is an album severely lacking any of the warmth that usually accompanies R&B. Milian's hauntingly beautiful voice deserves to be wrapped in a sunny glow of organic vibes."
Quentin B. Huff of PopMatters praised the album, "despite a few lyrical hiccups, a couple of lackluster hooks, and some obvious influences."