Review Summary: i only miss you when i'm breathing
While it’s hard to separate him from the innumerable R&B singers that share his chart-dominating success, I’ve always suspected that Jason Derulo had more about him than someone like Chris Brown. Derulo could never be described as being lyrically intelligent, but unlike Brown he seems to understand when subtlety is a necessity. His self-titled album was a mash-up of sleek pop rock and mournful R&B. Derulo’s tales of relationship drama unfolded surprisingly well through his fantastic voice, and with gorgeous production to back him there was no way his slick ballads couldn’t worm their way into popular culture. His sophomore record embraced the dancefloor far more with massive lead single Don’t Wanna Go Home, which contained the first in a succession of cheesy samples to work their way into the man’s music. This record was a little more one dimensional, but it proved that club tunes were not out of his comfort range.
When his third record Tattoos dropped in 2013, it was immediately obvious that the best of both worlds had collided at last. The title track featured the same acoustic guitar production as previous hit It Girl, spliced together with the most heartfelt, woeful lyrics of his career. A lament to someone he feels such a strong sexual chemistry with that the very fibre of his being is being altered by the second, it encapsulated the love-struck theme of the album perfectly. Talk Dirty, the reissue of this album, neglects to include this song, and maybe it’s a metaphor for Derulo’s acceptance of his love for girlfriend Jordin Sparks (who unsurprisingly turns up on both versions for rousing ballad Vertigo).
The remnants of Derulo’s club-fodder period can be glimpsed here in The Other Side, which once again sees Derulo overcome with newfound emotion. Here we witness his beautiful falsetto, which puts many of his peers to shame and avoids sounding strangulated even during some of the more eye-roll inducing lyrical moments ‘you were eating off my spoon’. Talk Dirty and Trumpets, the other two singles, have little resemblance to anything pre-2012, with grinding basslines and bombastic horns signalling Derulo’s arrival into the world of seductive R&B. With lyrics so stupid one would mistake them for satire, it becomes obvious that Derulo’s aim is not to dazzle his listeners with his odes to undying love, but to make some of the catchiest pop out there.
And this formula works. Current hit and re-issue track Wiggle (which recruits an increasingly embarrassing Snoop Dogg for guest vocals) is just as infectious as those that preceded it. ‘You know what to do with that big fat butt’ claims Derulo like a true wordsmith. But who cares about lyrics in pop music? This is fantastic fun and one of the most unashamedly raucous and crude records of the year. Even in his more heartfelt moments like on Stupid Love he gives his reason for loving despite being warned off as ‘they ain’t never seen you naked’. It’s pretty clear that while Tattoos was a dedication to love, Talk Dirty embraces sex, and does so with a wide array of impressive producers (DJ Mustard, Timbaland) to provide beats and guest vocalists (Kid Ink, Tyga) to deliver the more raunchier, grittier parts.