Selena Gomez makes nursing a broken heart seem like a cleansing, terpsichorean exercise in her first solo album, “Stars Dance”—which bowed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 recently.
While it’s true that her breakup with Justin Bieber looms large in the 11-track electro-pop recording, the 21-year-old performer chooses not to cry over spilled milk and opts to dance her romantic blues away.
On the surface, Gomez’s songs sound like innocuous but enjoyable confections that compliantly follow a hit-churning, pop-music template. However, repeated spins of the disc reveal a more substantial core—from the stylish dubstep flourishes of the title track and the JLo-meets-rave number, “Slow Down,” to the Rihanna-esque sensibility of “Like A Champion” and “Write Your Name.”
Unlike Taylor Swift, Gomez’s intimations about her failed relationship aren’t catty or damaging. In fact, she isn’t closing her doors to her misbehaving former beau, as she discloses in the Bhangra music-garnished carrier single, “Come & Get It,” her first Top 10 hit on the Hot 100 chart: “I’ll be waiting on standby/I hate the way I love you/Maybe I’m addicted for life/When you’re ready, come and get it/This love isn’t finished yet.”
“Forget Forever” is embellished with potent riffs, even if its lyrics are similarly tinged with regret.
The album’s standard edition caps its lineup with the wistful “Love Will Remember,” which has Selena reminiscing about the short-lived romance: “All your promises/ The trips we dreamed of taking/The tags left on the map/We used to be inseparable/I used to think that I was irreplaceable/
What happened to that?”
Another version of the breakup song on YouTube is even more revealing. It begins with a voice message from a guy who eerily sounds like Bieber, declaring his unending love for Gomez: “Hey, babe. I just want to tell you that I love you so much. You are my princess—and you are the love of my life.” —No wonder Selena’s finding it hard to move on! But, how can she start fresh if she dwells on it?
Last week, Robin Thicke edged Gomez out of the Billboard 200’s top spot with the release of “Blurred Lines,” his glossy sixth studio album—and the biggest hit of his career. He’s wary of the “blue-eyed soul” tag, but it’s hard to find a more suitable category for his music, especially with the way he shuttles between his characteristic R ‘n’ B make-out jams (“4 the Rest of My Life”) and his latest foray into pop. He explains, “I wanted to have fun—to dance and feel young again!”
The record-breaking carrier single, “Blurred Lines” (with T.I. and Pharrell Williams), has been the Hot 100 chart’s No. 1 tune for nine consecutive weeks. But, the collection has other catchy tunes (“Top of the World”) that melodically uncompromising listeners can savor. Its delectable funk-and-soul concoctions recall the bubbly pep of the ’70s—from the smooth and sexy “Ooo La La” to the soaring disco romp, “Ain’t No Hat For That.”
Will.i.am incorporates light trance to the sleek “Feel Good”—and, despite its vulgarity and lyrical crassness, it’s hard to resist grooving to “Give It 2 U,” his controversial collaboration with Kendrick Lamar.
How did “Blurred Lines” come about? The 36-year-old son of actor Alan Thicke (“Growing Pains”) and singer Gloria Loring (“Friends and Lovers”) explains: “We think we live in a black or white world, or on a straight path—but, as we get older, we realize that we actually live on blurred lines, and we don’t know as much as we think we do. So, we better pay attention—and keep learning!”