The Queen of “Cool” brings out the summery sunshine early this year
(Originally blogged: October 16, 2015)
I approached this album with the thought of ‘Confident’ being Demi Lovato’s bid for her first Grammy nomination. The bar was set pretty high. Do I believe this is a Grammy-worthy collection of tracks? No, but I wouldn’t write-off this album entirely. Though few and far in-between, there are a few shining moments.
Expectations for this album were pretty high because she introduced it as her most “confident” and “best” album to date. I’m doubtful it took much confidence to produce an album that is a near-complete rehash of melodies and sounds from her previous albums. Nor are there any new lyrical themes to aid and intrigue to the vulnerability she’s also attempting to express. And if she’s not repeating herself, she borrows Iggy Azalea to give a Demi-version of “Black Widow” with their collaboration “Kingdom Come”.
Demi Lovato hits the triumphant mark she’s (always) aiming for with the standout mid-tempo track “Lionheart”, which has all the optimism and energy you’d expect from her. Few tracks like “Old Ways” and “Waiting for You” seem to benefit from an urban/trap influence under her Disney-rocker vocals. The album ends with “Father”, a well-written song about her late father, which really didn’t deserve that overzealous and overstated gospel production it was given.
‘Confident’ is hardly a departure from her previous albums. Lovatics should still be pleased with the offerings of this album. Although I wouldn’t bet a penny on her getting an album nomination at the Grammys, hopefully there’s a pot of gold or a genie lamp she can wish upon to have “Cool for the Summer” nominated in a pop category.
(Originally blogged: October 10, 2015)
Selena Gomez has the arduous task of proving to everyone that she can be taken seriously as a mainstream pop star.
After her successful 4-album stint as a teen pop sensation, she’s left Disney’s Hollywood Records and signed to a proper music label, Interscope. ‘Revival’ is not as exciting nor has a fraction of the energy ‘Stars Dance’ had but it offers all the sensuality and depth its predecessor lacked.
Coming off the energy of ‘Stars Dance’, ‘Revival’ is like coming home after few drinks with your friends and finding your home lit only by candles with a trail of rose petals leading up to your bedroom. At first, you’re thrown off by the change of energy. But the curiosity moves you slowly through the candlelit foyer to the sensual vibes of tracks like “Same Old Love” and “Sober” before making it to the hallway. This is where Selena reminisces of previous relationships and offers the mysterious sounds of “Good For You” and “Camouflage”. Here, she proclaims she has, “so much shit to say.” You finally reach the bedroom to find it empty. The climax is not a lover but actually yourself with self-empowering tracks like “Survivors” and the finale track “Rise”.
The album takes your mind outside of the “schoolyard crushes” and “intro to house parties” environments that her previous teen albums seemed to have taken place. And this successfully allows Selena to tell her story as an empowered and mature young woman. Though mostly a sensual #BedroomMusic vibe through the entire album, tracks like “Body Heat” and “Me and the Rhythm” give a spark of fire to keep the album interesting and fun.
Overall, I think Selena Gomez perfectly executed her emancipation (in her own way) from the teen image she once had and offers a cohesive album for the more experienced listener.
(Originally blogged: October 5, 2015)
Basically this is the new veteran standard: Release an understated album to support a major tour. This album honestly gives me familiar feelings. She’s made a retrospective album with a lot of sounds similar to some of her previous work. The album’s theme is like getting a grateful hug from Queen Janet! So cheesy, but if you love Janet it is worth the commitment it takes to listen to the 17-track album. Janet has nothing to prove anymore. It’s almost like this album is asking you to prove something to yourself. Inspirations by Janet.
The album is an eclectic mix of vocal and musical styling but entirely cohesive with its set theme of relationships. It is literally the musical manifestation of the old beat up shoe box in the darkest corner of your closet that collects memorabilia of all of your different past relationships (know what I’m talking about?). She’s got that young-sneakers-just-got-your-first-car-throwback kind of love with her song “Catfish”. The soulful-gotta-jump-and-profess-to-the-congregation kind of love with “Simple Things”. I could praise each individual song but I’ll conclude with her finale track “KING”. It’s got that Diane Warren/David Foster vibe to perfectly summarize the album. And she THOROUGHLY ANNIHILATES her execution of the vocals and love she has for her “King”.
Her last album was very polarizing with the juxtaposition of ratchet twerk anthems over solid power R&B ballads. But with this album she’s really settled into a mature sound that still allows her to have a few youthful moments to snap to. I’m just Tamar’s biggest cheerleader. Can you tell?