Gomez has managed to do the near impossible and that's straddle the line between a teen audience and a more adult one without sacrificing either.
Selena Gomez is one of the few Disney starts to scathe through the transition of child star to adulthood with her reputation still intact. Gomez manages to glide elegantly into adulthood with her fourth studio album, Stars Dance.
The baby-faced pop starlet reveals her sultry, dark, synth-heavy side with a fifteen track dance fuelled album. Although she has been in the public eye for over a decade, the child actress-turned-pop star has managed to slip under the radar of scrutiny (apart from her very public relationship with Justin Bieber.)
I’ve never understood why Disney turns every child actress into a pop star, some people are just not meant to sing and as harsh as it sounds Selena Gomez is one of them. She has a nice voice, but it is average compared to her BFF Demi Lovato who could give Aguilera a run for her money.
What Gomez does bring to the table is her sugary-sweet charm and lovey-dovey electro-pop sound. Like every other Disney star she is trying to fight off the Disney persona that she is branded by.
Gomez attempts this by starring in the thriller Spring Breakers and sexing it up ever so slightly in the wardrobe department. I have to commend her for making such a smooth transition, unlike her peers Gomez has slowly entered into the adult world of the music industry.
Stars Dance is far from the gumball teen pop displayed on her previous albums, including the widely popular track Naturally, A Year without Rain and Love You like a Love Song. The fun party anthem Birthday is a perfect album opener, with cool lyrics like ‘Tel ‘em that it’s my birthday/When I party like that’, the song shouldn’t be taken too seriously – it’s just a bit of fun (A theme present throughout most of the album.)
‘If you want me I'm accepting applications’ Gomez proclaims on this peppy, dance-pop track. As far as current trends go, Slow Down checks each one on the list, a pseudo-dub step pre-chorus breakdown, stretched-out staccato vocal loops and not-too-naughty-for Disney lyrics ‘You know I'm good with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation’ for good measure. Harmless, fun music that is drenched in reverb and echo.
The title track Stars Dance has a similar fuzzy, mid-tempo beat similar to track five Come & Get It; this particular track shows off Gomez's most distinctive vocals. Layered with Rock Mafia's signature drum beats, Stars Dance is a stylish standout.
Like A Champion is an unusual choice for this album, it begins with a reggae speech introduction and then it quickly falls into a similar beat present in a few of the beginning tracks. Like A Champion doesn't do much for establishing her own musical identity. It is my least favourite on the album.
Track five Come & Get It was originally written for Rihanna but I have to say I think it shines now that Gomez has placed her stamp on it. From the very first few Bhangra-infused seconds of Come & Get It, the lead single from Stars Dance that debuted in April, it was already obvious that Selena was exploring new territory. This is my favourite on the album.
The sultry electronic track is distinctive enough to set her apart from other pop starlets on the music scenes. We see Selena explicitly flaunting her sex appeal more than ever before not only in the lyrics such as ‘I’m not too shy to show I love you…I got no regrets,’ but in the video we see a whole new side to the Pop princess too.
Forget Forever is probably the first track that is rumoured to be lyrically addressing her split from Bieber, this track finds Gomez mourning the loss of love and she also points the finger in his direction by saying ‘Our love was made to rule the world / you came and broke the perfect girl/ you left me wanting what we were,’ She sings the chorus as squiggly beats and electric piano pile on top of the melody.
Track seven Save the Day is another infectious song with club beats, it doesn’t stand out but it isn’t faded into the background either. B.E.A.T. is bass heavy but has far too much reverb; Gomez has a pretty quality to her voice but covers it up the chops she does possess with lots of auto-correction and echo.
Write Your Name is a charming track, with delicate vocals and choruses fuelled by guitars and harmonies. Undercover is the tenth track on the album and after a while, Stars Dance begins to sound like an exceptionally produced Disney workout playlist.
Undercover is a little bit too similar to her previous records. The first half of the album was distinctive and heading in a different direction. However, Undercover falls back into the Disney category. The heavy synths are the only part of the song that creates a darker anti-Disney vibe.
The gem of the album has to be the ballad Love Will Remember, beginning with a voice clip stating ‘Hey baby it's me. I just wanted to call and tell you that I love you so, so, so, so much. I just wanted to let you know that you are my princess, you are worthy of all the love in the world, you are the love of my life.’
Very sweet, Gomez reminisces about the good times as she sings ‘The trips we dreamed of taking / The tacks left on the map / What happened to that?’ she sings poignantly over a thumping beat. It’s a beautiful and bittersweet way to end the record.
Now for the deluxe tracks on the album, Nobody Does It like You is a fast-paced track with more preppy lyrics such as ‘Nobody does it like you/ you got me feeling so caught up/ I’m loving all the crazy things you make me do.’
Music Feels Better is a lovely track, surrounded by typical pop beats and reverb soaked vocals it could have been on a previous album. It is quirky and fun like previous tracks Slow Down and Stars Dance.
Lover in Me begins with soft guitars, which is a nice change from the powerhouse dance introductions. The beat creeps in slowly, with more guitars and drum beats. The song reveals some of Gomez’s vocal talent that we rarely see. Although, we never know what are her true vocals or the talent of auto-correction.
I Like It That Way is the final track on the deluxe edition, with more lyrics dripping in bubble-gum pop ‘we will never change, in and out of love/ But I like you that way. I want you to stay up all night and cross the line.’
A lot of the tracks are unlikely to bring Gomez commercial success, Come and Get it, Slow Down and Love Will Remember are the highlights of the record. So Selena will never be the next Mariah Carey but she always produces fun, dance-pop songs that are nice to sing along too. What she lacks in vocal chops she gains in perseverance.
Stars Dance may be full of Britney-like-vocals and generic teenage girl lyrics but there are a few glints of lyrical potential. Selena Gomez doesn’t have powerhouse vocals or show-stopping choreography but she puts her heart into her music and you can definitely feel that behind some of her poignant lyrics.
Artist direct state and I agree 'The album is sweet enough to keep her teen fans enthralled and this shift in sound won't upset their parents. But it's also sultry enough to attract fans that are able to drink legally. Gomez has managed to do the near impossible and that's straddle the line between a teen audience and a more adult one without sacrificing either. The music is accessible and danceable, and it's also memorable.'
Unlike Miley, who’s been getting blazed in the studio and brainstorming ways to shake — err, twerk up the pop music scene and Demi, who’s crafting angst-addled pop-rock anthems that toe the line between appeasing young fans and addressing a particularly heavy past, Selena’s just trying to have herself a good time and there’s nothing wrong with that.
It makes sense, then, that Stars Dance has arrived just in time to become the album of the summer: It’s light, happy and perfectly danceable pop escapism — if only until the sun goes down.
Stars Dance is available now.