So I start this post with one simple question: am I really reviewing Selena Gomez's new album Stars Dance? The twenty-one year old Disney Channel star released her first solo album (via Hollywood Records) this past weekend that is currently streaming on iTunes and features what else but typical dance beats coupled with a little bit of heartbreak! It's funny how we have immediate questions when pop stars release albums such as Taylor Swift. The first thing we always wonder is, "what guy is each song about?" Well, with Selena's new album, there isn't any doubt. Most of our sources and fellow media reports have laid it out fairly simple for us: BIEBER.
So we'll take you track by track (eleven in all) behind the debut solo album from the former Wizards of Waverly Place star.
Selena's debut solo album kicks off with a catch tune entitled "Birthday." The chanting and on and off claps remind me a bit of a young Gwen Stefani in the stylistic elements of her chart toppers. I wouldn't be surprised to see the young teenage girls push this track to the limit to only hear it repeat time in and time out on pop radio across the country.
2. “Slow Down”
The second track off of Stars Dance has already been released as Selena's second single. As I said in my introduction, there's no surprise with the 'top 40' club beat elements in the track that will be blasted all summer long. So, will this track ever get the level that EDM maniacs are at with their progressive house and dirty electro beats? Well, probably not.
3. “Stars Dance”
Do I understand the use of electric violins in the beginning leading into Selena's vocals? No. This trippy orchestra-dubstep esque beat really isn't my style, but it seems like Selena is trying to sing about her ability to make stars dance by using an edgy beat. This one isn't working for me.
4. “Like a Champion”
This one definitely has the summer flavor that I'm sure people can relate to. The Barbadian / island accent in the chorus most definitely shows that Selena is looking to go a bit more uptempo that has a 100% Rihanna connection (Bieber doesn't walk nor talk like a champion) to it. Sure maybe the twenty-one year old got some advice from the LA Reid prodigy, but hey, the reggae-inflected tone works!
5. “Come & Get It”
So this one has already been blasted and overplayed on pop radio across the country. Of course, this is the single Hollywood Records wanted to be the smash hit of the summer and the industry is truly pushing for that. The "na na na's" are definitely an expression of Selena's sassier side and probably a direct hit onto Justin that he doesn't have much of a chance to come back and get it. Fierce Selena, just fierce.
6. “Forget Forever”
If this isn't a direct reference to her relationship with Justin Bieber, then I really don't know what to think about pop music anymore. This song was first introduced as "Rule the World," but was changed last minute to "Forget Forever" to better fit the song's feel (length of her relationship with the Biebs). The victorious feeling chords in the chorus and power vocals are definitely something we haven't seen before, but still an uplifting track for those people who are looking for a sense of 'inspiration' (if you can truly find that in Selena).
7. “Save the Day”
With this review counting the number of time Selena drops Justin Bieber hints in the background, we can confidently say this song is NOT about Justin Bieber, WOO! And once again, we have a pop producer's attempt to make a chorus dubstep like but then going back into a verse with simple off beat chords then building up to a distorted Selena chorus vocal to match the melodic touches. Well, to be honest, this one probably uses acoustic, dub, pop, and random vocal elements that make it super confusing. Eh!
It seems like the agenda of Hollywood Records on this song was to LEGIT COPY Dev's intro to Bass Down Low, coupled with a bad-ass Britney influence. The lyrics in the chorus read: "It’s a big bad world but I’m not ashamed / I like the lights in my hand and the beat in my face." Not only does that match exactly with the breaths of Dev's intro when she says "If you wanna get with me There's some things you gotta know I like my beats fast And my bass down low." There you have it ladies and gentleman!
9. “Write Your Name”
Well, what have we here? Another reference to Justin Bieber?! As one media outlet put it, this song is something "DJ Paris Hilton would play." Let's just say this song is the ugly girl with red hair equivalent to the album.
We are just about wrapping up here with the second to last track on the album. If you are still here, well God Bless your soul! I'm pretty surprised with Selena's falsetto in this one. It uses the classic electronic siren to make this track a bit distorted, but it does in fact go along with the song title, Undercover. Typical Selena-esque dropped. Not surprised,
11. “Love Will Remember”
A voicemail to begin the last track on her album?! Really? I just called to say that you're my princess? If you skip to 00:30, or if you don't and instantly forget the creepy voicemail by a Bieber 'impersonator,' then this song isn't half bad. This is the most acoustic centered song off the album. The piano chords are uplifting, the 'ooo's & ah's' in the background vocals make for a bridge that sets up the belting of Selena, but unfortunately, we never come to that part. We're expecting more from the pop-star vocally and we don't get it. Her lower register is of course, one that we will always know for its catchy melodies, but c'mon Selena! In order to enter the pop-diva club we need to hear from belting on an emotional slower song.
So I now conclude my eleven track review of the once Wizards of Waverly Place star's first solo album, Stars Dance. I understand most of the reasoning behind the lyrics and meaning of the album as a whole. But honestly Gomez, you can't copy your best friend Taylor Swift. We've seen where that's gone (cough Bad Kids Clothing tank). Sure your sit-down interview with Ryan Seacrest was sweet, but does Stars Dance really live up to the chart-topping dance music albums out there? Not really. It doesn't embrace a cultural movement towards the great festivals of our day (Electric Daisy Carnival, Tomorrowland, Ultra Music Festival) similar to that of Armin van Buuren's Imagine. But do I really have the right to put Selena Gomez up there with Armin? No way. So all in all, as one aficionado put it, "Stars Dance is a dance album that makes me want to find a seat and start drinking heavily." So in honor of that, let's raise a class and cheers to the freakin' ex-Bieber girlfriend, I drink to that, yeah yeah!
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