Thursday, July 18, 2013

Stars Dance | Selena Gomez

Rating: ★★★★☆

After months of anticipating Selena Gomez's first album without her backup band, the wait time has been cut short. A few days ago, Stars Dance leaked online, and all of the songs can now be found streaming on YouTube. Of course, I took a listen right away, and I'm already prepared to make a verdict.

Previously, I went over "Come & Get It" and "Slow Down" on this blog, and I thoroughly enjoyed them both. "Come & Get It" was an amazing choice for the lead single, as it toyed around with different influences that usually aren't heard on Top 40 radio, while "Slow Down" played more on the safe side with a electronic dance beat produced by the Cataracs.

Although not released as one yet, "Like a Champion" would be great single material. While "Come & Get It" nods towards Indian and Bollywood sounds, "Like a Champion" has obvious notes of inspiration from reggae music. The song can get really repetitive, with much of the song being filled with the same two lines of "Walk like a champion, talk like a champion / Ram pa pa pam pam / Ram pa pa pam pam," but it's still a strangely addictive song.

The Internet has exploded over the fact that "Like a Champion" contains the line of lyrics "Shine bright like diamonds in the sky," as Rihanna's "Diamonds" shares the same line. Even professional music journalists have claimed that the song could have been a demo that missed the cut for Rihanna's seventh album, Unapologetic. The coincidence is strange, but I feel like it was a simple nod towards Rihanna, not plagiarism of her work.

From what I've been able to gather, one of the fan-favorites from the album thus far is "B.E.A.T." As noted by many others, the song does bare some resemblance to Far East Movement's "Like a G6," especially the way Gomez's voice is edited during the chorus as she sings "It's a big bad world but I ain't ashamed to like the lights in my hand / And the beat in my face." I like it, but its resemblance to the one hit wonder is uncanny.

Another song that most everybody has taken a liking to is the title track, and I can understand why. "Stars Dance" is a great electronic song with plenty of dubstep elements. It's a really smooth and seductive song that I can't stop listening to. Once in a while, I run across a song that I really love, but I can't describe exactly why I love it so much, and "Stars Dance" is one of those songs.

Despite all of these great songs, there's one rotten apple in the bunch: "Birthday." With a simple and pointless hook of "Tonight's my birthday / Tonight's my birthday / Tonight's my birthday when I party like that" and a dated instrumental, it sounds like a demo from an old Hannah Montana record. I really wish somebody would have told Gomez that the song doesn't belong on the album; it's the one track that I haven't been able to listen to more than once.

And finally, after listening to ten of the eleven tracks of Stars Dance, Gomez delivers what everybody was asking for: a song that explicitly covers her relationship with Justin Bieber. Bringing up the rear of the track listing is "Love Will Remember," which is almost undoubtedly about her realtionship with the Biebs. In fact, the track even commences with a genuine voicemail that the disgusting faux-hood rat Bieber left Gomez, in which he says that Gomez is 'his princess' and that he loves her 'so, so, so, so much.'

The meaning behind "Love Will Remember" really annoys me because it represents such a messy relationship which may or may not still be on; nobody really knows what they're doing. But looking past the meaning, it is a nice and slow closing to Stars Dance.

I had been looking forward to this album for a while, and I can honestly say that it lived up to what I was expecting. I was afraid that Stars Dance would end up like Demi Lovato's DEMI, with superb single choices but an unimpressive overall album. However, "Come & Get It" and "Slow Down" are both on par with what the album is like: a nice dance album. By no stretch of the imagination is the album completely groundbreaking or revolutionary, but it's still a good pop album that will definitely be worth its purchase price when it is released on Tuesday.

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