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SELENA GOMEZ: STARS DANCE, A TRACK-BY-TRACK REVIEW

Stars Dance is Selena Gomez’s highly anticipated fourth album. It’s also her solo debut, following three albums with her band The Scene. The album’s first single, “Come & Get It,” was released on April 8, 2013 and made it all the way to the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming her most successful single to date. Her new single “Slow Down,” which was released on June 3, has only hit number 70 on Billboard so far, according to Wiki, but it’s generated strong internet buzz and has already become a fan favorite, making people all the more eager for the release of the album, following which Gomez will be going on a major arena tour.

Given that it’s one of the year’s hottest pop albums, it seemed only fitting that Love is Pop give it a proper track-by-track review!

1. “BIRTHDAY”

WRITTEN BY: Selena Gomez, Crista Russo, Bethany Clegg, Mike Del Rio and Jacob Kaser Hindlin

PRODUCED BY: Hindlin

“Tell ‘em that it’s my birthday / when I party like that,” Selena sing-speaks along to invigorating clapping as “Birthday,” the first track written for the album, begins with its simple but infectious chorus. The clapping is soon joined by purring, synthesized bass and snappy beats. “Come and meet the queen / cake and cream,” she coos as the sexy first verse ends “Blow your dreams / blow your dreams away with me,” goes the even sexier bridge. (Oh, the innuendo!) The song is a colorful mix of electro-informed pop and cheer squad-style dance with a dash of hip-hop attitude. It’s full of kinetic, whiplash energy and it’s a wickedly delicious, mighty propulsive opening track.

 

2. “SLOW DOWN”

WRITTEN BY: Lindy Robbins, Julia Michaels, Niles Hollowell-Dhar, David Kuncio, Freddy Wexler

PRODUCED BY: The Cataracs

“Slow Down” begins with a funky little guitar riff that’s soon joined by hard-driving, up-tempo dance beat. But it’s a little on the simple side. Until it hits the chorus and dives headfirst into dubstep. I know, I know — dubstep is starting to get as annoying as auto-tune, but it works beautifully here, as it does elsewhere on the album, giving the chorus a seductive groove and deep tone. “Breathe me in, breathe me out / the music’s got me going / breathe me in, breathe me out / no stoppin’ ’til the morning,” Selena sings like quite the little dynamo while the dubstep hums and throbs and it’ll certainly instigate plenty of dance moves wherever it’s played. My only complaint is that she gives The Cataracs a couple of shout outs during the song — “it’s The Cataracs” — which almost gives it the feel of a tagged, leaked track. But maybe that’s the point, to give it the air of forbidden fruit?

 

3. “STARS DANCE”

WRITTEN BY:Antonina Armato, Tim James, Adam Schmalholz

PRODUCED BY: Rock Mafia

The darkest track on the album, this exquisitely-produced mid-tempo tune features brief but potent flourishes of strings and dark synth with gloomy, trip-hop-ish beats along with low, burbling bass that sounds downright menacing. It’s a very lush song with layers and layers of other sounds as well. More attentive listeners will notice some creepy moaning, apparently there just to make sure the song sends a chill down your spine. “I can make the stars dance / light up the moon,” Selena sings during the mesmerizing chorus, like a wiccan casting a powerful love spell. This one is a serious contender for pop song of the year.

 

4. “LIKE A CHAMPION:

WRITTEN BY: Gomez, Daniel James, Leah Haywood, Peter Thomas, Bebe Rexha, mark Myrie, Leroy Sibbles

PRODUCED BY: Dreamlab

“Tonight we come alive / stand up ’cause you got the pride,” begins the first verse of “Like A Champion,” the album’s magnificent self-empowerment anthem. “Walk like a champion / talk like a champion / Rum-pah-pah-pam-pum,” goes the chorus (if I’m transcribing that last bit correctly), which has an air of reggae to it, both in terms of the percussion and the way Selena sings it. And the song actually begins with a guy who sounds like a genuine reggae artist singing the chorus, so I’m not imagining that.

 

5. “COME & GET IT”

WRITTEN BY: Ester Dean, Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen

PRODUCED BY: Stargate

If you haven’t heard this highly addictive piece of ear candy yet, you’re living on the moon because it’s been a smash pretty much everywhere in the world. And deservedly so. “Baby I’m addicted, no lie,” Selena sings, apparently getting sassy for her man, meanwhile seducing the listener like a siren calling sailors into stone. “When you’re ready, come and get it,” goes the red hot chorus. One of the most fascinating things about this song is that it manages to sound both Latin and Bollywood flavored all at once with its various percussive instruments. Suffice to say it’s got a strong world music vibe. (It reminds me of Mandy Moore’s fabulous “In My Pocket” in that way.) Wiki states that Rihanna recorded it for her sixth album but didn’t end up using it. I bet she regrets that now.

 

6. “FORGET FOREVER”

WRITTEN BY: Jason Evigan, Clarence Coffee Jr., Alexander Izquierdo, Jordan Johnson, Stefan Johnson, Marcus Lomax

PRODUCED BY: The Monsters and The Strangerz

This one starts off somewhat quietly with a simple guitar riff and subtle synth, but it gradually builds and builds, stacking bigger and bigger beats on top of each other until there’s a whole series of beats pounding away at your skull simultaneously. “Our love was made to rule the wooooorrlld,” Selena sings, showing just how much she’s grown all-around as a singer. (This time I’m sure I’m not transcribing it correctly, but you get the idea.) Range, power, control — she’s proving to be quite the force to be reckoned with and this song does a very fine job of showcasing that.

Selena Gomez Stars Dance album cover art large

7. “SAVE THE DAY”

WRITTEN BY: Mitch Allan, Jason Evigan, Livvi Franc

PRODUCED BY: The Suspex

Selena’s vocals soar sky high above a massive house beat — with occasional touches of dubstep — here. “It’s the end of the night, but the beginning of time / for you and I,” Selena beams, ready to end a hot, sweaty night at the club. You don’t even need to remix this one — it’s a track ready to dismantle any dancefloor it’s released upon.

 

8. “B.E.A.T.”

WRITTEN BY: Gomez, Freddy Wexler, Jai Marlon, Heather Jeanette Miley

PRODUCED BY: Wexler, Marlon

Selena starts off sing-speaking this fuzzy disco ball, which begins with the chorus, almost but not quite rapping it: “It’s a big bad world, but I ain’t ashamed / I like the lights in my hand and the beat in my face.” Her vocals are then spliced and diced and processed and stuttered until she finally starts singing the first verse roughly 45 seconds into the song. Later, her vocals are twisted even further. It’s the sort of thing that could easily be over the top if not downright irksome, but somehow it manages to be charming.

 

9. “WRITE YOUR NAME”

WRITTEN BY: D. James, Haywood, Arnthor Birgisson

PRODUCED BY: Dreamlab

“Gonna write your name,” Selena sings over dazzling synth. “Over every part.” “Across my heart.” It’s a sexually-charged romp and an irresistible one at that. The beats really *slam* during the chorus, making it the perfect music for getting down and dirty. Selena actually does rap a verse during this one and, shockingly, it’s not bad at all. In fact, it’s kind of hot.

 

10. “UNDERCOVER”

WRITTEN BY: Lindy Robbins, Julia Michaels, Niles hollowell-Dhar, Rome Ramirez

PRODUCED BY: The Cataracs

“You’re a sexy machine / you’re a Hollywood dream / and you’ve got me feeling like a homecoming queen,” Selena practically quavers during this mammoth beast of a club-killer. Her voice actually does flutter ever so slightly as she sings “I want you all to myself / and nobody else” and it’s the most precious thing I’ve heard in a long time, revealing just the right amount of vulnerability.

 

11. “LOVE WILL REMEMBER”

WRITTEN BY: Gomez, Armato, Desmond Child, David Jost, T. James

PRODUCED BY: Rock Mafia

While rumors about most of the songs on the album being about Selena’s relationship with Justin Bieber proved false, Selena has admitted that this particular track is about precisely that, also stating that she’s sure he’ll love it. “Even if we try to forget, love will remember,” she sings. If I was Justin and I heard this I would think that she wants me back and I’d go running to her.

 

BONUS TRACKS:

12. “NOBODY DOES IT LIKE YOU”

WRITTEN BY: Gomez, Toby Gad, Lindy Robbins

PRODUCED BY: Gad

“I want to be your bad girl / you bring out my wild side,” Selena purrs during this stellar bonus track. Boisterous beats, glittery synth and wubby dubstep parts make it of the best songs from the Stars Dance sessions for sure. And it’s one of the better pop songs to incorporate dubstep that I’ve heard to date.

 

13. “MUSIC FEELS BETTER”

WRITTEN BY: Gomez, Haywood, D. James, Jeremy Coleman

PRODUCED BY: Dreamlab

“With you the music’s better / just want us to be together / 24/7,” Selena declares during this deep disco dive, which probably has the most synth of all the songs on the album and that’s not a bad thing. This is a bright and shiny, carefree as a giggle, dance tune that’s sure to lift your spirits. I’m not sure if it’s intended to be a throwback, but it reminds me of various Thunderpuss remixes from the late ’90’s. And they were my favorite remixers back then by far.

UPDATED 7/23/13 – TARGET BONUS TRACKS:

14. “LOVER IN ME”

WRITTEN BY: Gomez, D. James, Haywood, Brian Lee Stuart Crichton

PRODUCED BY: Dreamlab

This one starts off with Selena simply singing along to pretty acoustic guitar.  “In the dark / we can see / feel your hand / touching me,” she croons, sexy as can be.   When the beat kicks in, it packs quite a punch and the song proves to be rather electrifying, some lovely synth making it shine all the more.  If I had to categorize this one I’d say it falls somewhere between electro-pop and house.  Whatever you call it, it’s entirely delicious.  “The lover in me is the lover in you,” goes the chorus.  Is that meant in an innocent way or in a super dirty way?  Guess you can look at it whichever way you want it.

 

15. “I LIKE IT THAT WAY”

WRITTEN BY: Joshua Coleman, Rickard Goransson, Fransisca Hall, Kasher Hindlin, Alexander Vasquez

PRODUCED BY: Ammo

Another super synthy dance pop number.  I can understand why this one was left as a bonus track, since there are plenty of other synth pop/dance tunes on the album, but that doesn’t mean that this track isn’t amazing.  Because it’s truly awesome.  In fact, it’s got some of the most dazzling synth on the album.  Sparkling stuff, really.  “We will never change / in another love / but I like it that way,” goes the chorus of the anthem for your inner die-hard romantic.

 

 

 

All in all, you could say that Stars Dance is a lusher, more fully realized take on the impressive pop of Selena’s last album with The Scene, When The Sun Goes Down. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s as flawless as mainstream pop albums come. No wonder it’s already winning her wider success. Stadiums, she is indeed ready for you.

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Written by

Paris365

An entertainment journalist for 20 years, Michael McCarthy was a columnist and contributing editor for the magazines Lollipop and LiveWire. He co-created and wrote for Cinezine, one of the '90's most popular movie E-zines. The only time he's not listening to music is when he's watching television shows and movies or reading, usually music magazines.

2 Comments to “SELENA GOMEZ: STARS DANCE, A TRACK-BY-TRACK REVIEW”

  1. jms177 says:

    Great review! I’ve only listened to the previews, so I can’t wait until I get her album.

  2. dakota says:

    Hi, I’m french so sorry for my english if it’s not right ;)
    I’ve listened the album and that’s really good !! You can listen every track without push the “next button” cause it has a good ” construction “.
    My favorite song is Undercover ( really nice beat )
    I’m not a Selena’s fan but I must admit that I’ll follow her work cause this album may be the beginning of something more personnal and atrtistic for her.
    She’s growing up and we can feel it with this album.
    Sorry again if my english is not good, have a good day everyone ;)

  3. […] a b McCarthy, Michael (July 16, 2013). “Selena Gomez: Stars Dance — A Track-by-Track Review”. Love is Pop Ltd. Retrieved July 18, […]

  4. […] McCarthy, Michael (July 16, 2013). “Selena Gomez: Stars Dance — A Track-by-Track Review”. Love is Pop Ltd. Retrieved July 18, […]

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