Selena Gomez – [Album]

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Selena Gomez "just want[s] to party all night/ in the neon light" ("Slow Down"), and she makes no excuses about it. Oh, wait, yes she does. "Tell them it's my birthday," she sings, "when I party like that" ("Birthday").

Stars Dance is supposedly the album where Gomez grows up. Or, at least, stops being a squeaky clean Disney queen. Which, apparently, means dance all night and, maybe, even have sex. As we have seen, the party all night is pretty blatant.

The sex is a little subtler. Lines like "I just want to feel your body next to mine" and "you know I'm good with mouth to mouth resuscitation" (from "Slow Down") and "I want to find a place where we can be alone in the dark/ and you can navigate me like a map you know by heart" ("Undercover") are designed to slide past the censors and the more naive teenage ears, while clearly signaling to the rest of us what's up.

But that brings up my first problem with this approach, and with the album as a whole. This is still a teenager's notion of adulthood. The freedom to stay up all night and, maybe even get it on. She may be trying to grow up, but she still can't leave her core audience behind.

And here's the point when I turn into an old prude. When did partying and sex become equivalent to adulthood? Okay, I do get it, I've been there myself. Sex is certainly one of the clearest markers we have that you have progressed, to some degree, into adulthood. And the party all night thing is often a rite of passage we go through on our way to maturity.

But that's the thing. There is a huge difference between being an adult and being mature. While Gomez may be dealing with "adult" themes here, there is not a whiff of maturity; it's all, "I want it, now!" Maybe this album is a similar rite of passage for Gomez, feeling the new freedoms and pleasures of adulthood. In my mind, that question is when, and even if, she can make the next step, and take a mature attitude towards life.That will be the true test of whether she can mature as an artist, and find a new audience; of whether she even has a future as a musical artist.

You may notice I haven't even touched on the actual music on Stars Dance. To a degree, that's unnecessary. You already know what it sounds like. The beats are relentless, and so are the hooks. This is music which was more constructed than composed, the various pieces stuck into their proper places to create something infectious and inescapable. It's total ear candy. And it works – there are even a couple of songs here ("Slow Down" and "Forget Forever") which will remain on my iPod after I've finished this review. The rest of it? Well, it was created to be disposable, and that's exactly what's going to happen to it.



Stars Dance
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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