Selena Gomez – Stars Dance – Review

Mitch Cole
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And so I find myself, on a stormy Friday evening, listening to the “sultry” tones of a certain Selena Gomez, trying to forcefully and shamelessly insert myself back into the top 40 generation. Unfortunately for me (and the realms of other directionless tweens and impressionable gays), this doesn’t seem to be the album I’d hoped it would be – promised an “Ellie Goulding-ish” effort, we have instead been ‘treated’ to what can only be described as a collection of F grade knock offs. Hear me out.

Gomez opens with ‘Birthday‘, a cheap and worn out attempt at being “naughty”, done better by just about every single other good girl gone bad, even post Britney. Speaking of pop royalty, ‘Slow Down‘ is a ‘Hold It Against Me’ by numbers, lacking both the originality and the highly sought after wow factor. Both ‘Like A Champion‘ and ‘Come & Get It‘ fall flat in Rihanna’s shadow – perhaps the “rum pa pa pum”s and “shine it up like diamonds in the sky” are intended to show appreciation and inspiration rather than a painful sense of theft?

The similarity between ‘B.E.A.T‘ and Dev’s ‘Bass Down Low‘ cannot be unintentional – this lawbreaking imitation is neither as fun nor as catchy. When listening to ‘Music Feels Better‘, you will go through a range of presumptions: “oh okay, she’s ripping off ‘Stardust‘ here… no, hang on, it’s more like Perry and Minaj’s awkward love child.” The rest of the album sounds like a poor man’s Carly Rae Jepsen tribute, who is beige enough without having a smaller (even more vanilla) doppelgänger. A pop album hasn’t infuriated me like this for a long time: the claws are out.

“Highlights” include ‘Slow Down”s reference to our favourite A-Team member (“Mr T, you say I’m ready for inspection”) and ‘Nobody Does It Like You”s hark back to lost love Bieber – “Your sexy kind of swag is the best I’ve ever had”. Her ghost writers sure know how to shit all over an already bleak song; thumbs down to everyone involved. It has to be said, though, that even through the barely listenable moments of pop excretion, there are a few slithers of undigested gold – such as the opener’s great hook “so yummy!” which I will eternally mime. The album, however, feels like a hesitant, half arsed middle finger to the ‘haters’ (including the aforementioned ex-boyfriend) before Gomez realises she’s “recently heartbroken” and that’s when the filler tracks pollute the headphones. Fortunately, by then, listeners have already had their mindless quota filled and needn’t burden themselves with further tales of hollow love or the hardships of being a talentless, multimillionaire adolescent.

The music on this album felt current about two and a half years ago, and Gomez’s shameless clutch on the club banger generation is disheartening. Peaking with ‘Love You Like A Love Song‘ meant her downward musical spiral was inevitable, and attempting to reach into a spectrum of genres without fully understanding “her” intent means this attempt feels directionless and clumsy. She possesses Madonna’s strained vocal range but harbours next to none of her well earned fame; the combination resulting in a tried, tested and failed method. I challenge this tiny star to sing any of these songs live, without autotune or any other mechanical fixing, and then I will find a trifle more respect for the girl.

I’ve almost taken in pride in the realisation that I’m borderline allergic to this album. The general consensus seems to be that when a gay is given a shallow, dance-heavy album shat out by a generic female ‘talent’, we fall in love with the airy, disco vibe and appreciate its quality regardless. This is so far from the case with our Selena tonight. There’s a ‘good’ way to do bad music and here I shine a light upon Bonnie Mckee. She hid in the Hollywood shadow for years, co-writing for some absolute diamonds (Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Britney, Xtina & Kylie to name a few) and now she’s making a proper outing with ‘American Girl‘, a self-aware, tongue in cheek, well written and perfectly crafted, current pop song. Mckee knows how to form a likeable persona (sickly sweet with a splash of stupid, bubbledumb if you will) which people will buy into. Take note, Gomez.

Whilst the producers of this album evidently invested an eternity of wasted time into each track, they need to get off of GarageBand and find a proper personality for the young singer. With pop music’s extensive and impressive track record, along with the omega-artists of the American Hierarchy already ticking most of the consumer’s boxes, there should be little room for Gomez to now thrive in: we’ve already got Gaga – the mad songwriter, Beyonce – the queen d-va, Katy Perry – the likeable fairy with roots, Rihanna – the “damaged goods gangster”, Miley – the Disney Queen gone awry, Ke$ha – the dirty, careless individual, Britney – the classic princess of pop along with so many others. This album does nothing for Gomez’s identity which really is a shame. Underneath the poorly written songs and underwhelming vocals beats the hearts of a little girl who might just really care about her music.

And so I end this angry piece with an even angrier quote, not from me, but from PopJustice, regarding Jahmene Douglas’ recent number 1 album. Whilst the tone and profanities are angry and aggressive, it echoes my sentiments about Miss Gomez’s album reaching #1 in America almost entirely (n.b please end the article here if you have an aversion to the word ‘shit’):

“What sort of message does it send out when an album as relentlessly piss poor as [this] gets to Number One? Well, the message is this: Please give us more shit. As much shit as we can take. Even when you think we can’t take any more shit, we’ll keep on taking it. Bathe us in shit. Allow us to wallow in shit. Give us shit for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Pump shit at us while we sleep. WE LOVE SHIT.”

And just like that, I’m not listening to Selena Gomez. I recommend you don’t either. Sorry.

About Mitch Cole

The love child of all seven dwarves, Bristol will always be home to me. With an unusual degree in Early Years Education, I'm keen to get my teeth into something new. Excited to write about anything and everything, I might even stimulate you with my emphatic opinions and disappointing vocabulary.

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