Despite the silliness of "Birthday" which kicks off the album, Selena Gomez' first official solo collection represents a maturing artist willing to explore a wider range of styles beyond the mainstream teen pop that filled her three albums recording as Selena Gomez and the Scene. She reaches out and incorporates Bollywood beats, dubstep sounds, and even ventures into reggae territory. The result is a musically diverse collection united by Selena Gomez' winning vocals. The music is strong enough that it overshadows another theme of a number of the songs which is the emotions surrounding a very public breakup with boyfriend Justin Bieber. Selena Gomez continues her journey away from the Disney pop camp into the ranks of today's top female pop stars.
Call To the Dancefloor
As in her previous albums, Selena Gomez continues to sound at her most comfortable when she hits the dancefloor. The beat structures are more varied now, but she continues to shine when performing dance tracks. The new single "Slow Down" is anything but slow. The insistent beat will make you want to dance. Produced by the Cataracs, it incorporates a dubstep breakdown to sound current. The Suspex helm two of the top tracks of the entire collection. The bitterness of romance gone bad is swirled into gorgeous, danceable synths on the epic breakup song "Forget Forever." It is followed by the strongly percussive celebratory "Save the Day," a fantasy of perfect romance born on the dancefloor. Through four albums Selena Gomez has remained one of the most consistent of mainstream dance pop artists, and she has effortlessly made the transition from bright eyed teen to more emotionally mature young adult.
Occasional Derivative Weakness
The moments of weakness on Stars Dance are when Selena Gomez seems to venture into territory strongly derivative of other artists. The attempt to adopt Rihanna's island pop on "Like a Champion" simply doesn't work and sounds very disruptive to the flow of the rest of the album. Selena Gomez' voice is engaging on its own. There is no need to sound like another artist. Similarly "B.E.A.T." explores the territory that brought Dev to the upper reaches of pop charts, but it sounds uncomfortable for Selena Gomez. It is a stretch too far from the comfort zone. The Bollywood beats on top 10 hit "Come and Get It" skirt the borderline, but ultimately the sure hand of producers Stargate save the day and let their singer exhibit a bit of charming vocal swagger.
Top Tracks On 'Stars Dance'
- "Slow Down"
- "Stars Dance"
- "Forget Forever"
- "Save the Day"
Selena Gomez More Than Holds Her Own Moving Into Adulthood
Stars Dance is an important transitional album for the career of Selena Gomez. It is released the same week as her 21st birthday. It is also officially the first solo album in her career. Fortunately, she seems to easily hold her own as she moves into young adulthood. The sense of melancholy on a number of the songs, most notably on the dance ballad "Love Will Remember" that closes the album, works as well. Emotionally laden breakups are a part of growing up. The music on Stars Dance prove once again that the most comfortable niche for Selena Gomez is that of a dance pop artist. Her voice is stronger than many other female artists, and she wisely avoids over-reaching and efforts at vocal histrionics. The vocal restraint represents a new type of dance-pop diva. Long-term fans of Selena Gomez will be very pleased with Stars Dance and skeptics should take another long look. The pop music future looks bright for Selena Gomez.
Released July 2013 by Epic