Review Summary: A generic and mediocre debut solo album from an artist capable of so much more.
Selena Gomez has certainly come a long way from staring on the hit Disney Channel show "Wizards of Waverly Place." As another cog in the Disney machine, it was no surprise that she became a pop star after "Wizards of Waverly Place" had reached its end. "Stars Dance" is Selena Gomez's attempt to shake off the stigma of a Disney Channel star and go into edgier territory, and it doesn't really work. The album is too generic, and Selena Gomez plays it way too safe for any significant change of public opinion to take place.
Compared to her previous group, "Selena Gomez and the Scene," which was arguably a pop-rock band, "Stars Dance" has many EDM influences. Very rarely do you hear a song off of the album that has an actually instrument in it. While there are a couple impressive bass drops to found here, most of the album consists of generic sounding "pop drops." For example, the song "Slow Down" has a decent enough build up, but is eventually reduced to a generic sounding pop beat with a chorus that mostly consists of the word 'woah.'
As is the case with most pop artists, the songwriting in "Stars Dance" is laughable. It would be unfair to pin this fault on Selena Gomez herself, as she likely didn't write her own music. Nevertheless, the poor songwriting does leave a negative impact on the album as a whole. With lyrics like "it's all I want to do/come and dance with me/pretty please," it's hard to imagine that Gomez is trying to shake any sort of innocent image. In fact, none of this album has any sort of edge to it, there wasn't even a single swear, which gives the impression that all "Stars Dance" is is another over-produced album aimed at pre-teens in an attempt to make the record studio as much money as possible.
Nothing in this album has any personality to it. Not once did I hear a song and think to myself, "only Selena Gomez could have pulled off this song," because literally every song on this album could have been done by any of today's pop artists with equal results. There are even one or two songs that sound like direct rip-offs of others. For example, the song "B.E.A.T." is an obvious copy of "Bass Down Low." It's a surprising step down from Selena's earlier work with "Selena Gomez and the Scene," because especially in their first two albums, Selena gave off this really friendly and charismatic vibe that was fun to listen to. You won't find any of that in "Stars Dance."
Not all of the album is bad though. Even despite the lack of personality and humorously bad songwriting, you can't deny that almost every song off this album is catchy in its own way. And like I mentioned earlier, there are a few impressive bass drops to be found in this album with songs like "Birthday" and "Come and Get It." Gomez's vocals are pretty good too; rarely is it obvious that she benefitted from auto-tune. Not to say that this album is auto-tune free, but it isn't used nearly as often as other pop artists.
Overall, "Stars Dance" is a mediocre pop album that is a surprising step down in Selena Gomez's post-Disney Channel career. While there are songs to tap your foot to and plenty of choruses that will get stuck in your head, the poor songwriting and lack or originality make this album very forgettable.
Highlight Songs: Birthday, Come and Get It
NOTE: This album is under the wrong name. Selena Gomez recorded this album as her first solo effort, she was no longer with "Selena Gomez and the Scene."