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Selena Gomez, ‘When the Sun Goes Down’ – Album Review

Selena Gomez
Theo Wargo, Getty Images

Selena Gomez and the Scene’s new album ‘When the Sun Goes Down’ was originally titled ‘Otherside,’ but PopCrush prefers the second title that Gomez and her band chose, since the disc is full of sun-soaked pop that will light your world long after sunset. The album celebrates being young and having fun in spades.

We’d like to point out that two songs on the album share titles with Metallica songs  (‘Hit the Lights’ and ‘Whiplash’), but that’s about as rock as this standard issue of pop gets. And while Gomez’s music is squeaky clean and mostly PG and G-rated, her breathy, sunny delivery keeps it buoyant and memorable amidst a pack of peers.

We admit. We love Gomez like a love song. We get why Justin Bieber is so enamored by her.

1. ‘Love You Like a Love Song’
This is a dreamy, breathy, not-so-naughty love song with a mellow, ’80s-inspired looped beat on “repeat-peat-peat-peat-peat,” to quote Gomez herself. Her voice isn’t nearly as thin as many of her peers and the album opener allows her to cycle through a few ranges.

2. ‘Bang Bang Bang’
Gomez plays with a synthesizer-powered, new wave groove, which was also very popular in the ’80s, here. It’s a video game friendly tune laced with harmonies and follows the trend of what pop divas outside of Gomez’s age bracket are doing to keep things fresh — and that’s by remaining electronic. (Listen Here)

3. ‘Who Says’
There’s a reason ‘Who Says’ is the album’s lead single and that’s because it’s as infectious as a cold in the winter. It’s a bouncy, positive anthem about loving oneself that the parents of Gomez fans will love hearing their pre-teens singing. You know you grab a hair brush and sing the “Na na na na na na” part or “I’m no beauty queen / I’m just beautiful me” while looking in the mirror. This is one of those “dance like no one is watching” songs about loving yourself. It’s refreshing because it’s not a ballad a la Christina Aguilera‘s ‘Beautiful.’ This is the numero uno guilty pleasure of the summer. (Listen Here)

4. ‘We Own the Night’
Pixie Lott guests on this breathy semi-ballad, which is one of the album’s few somber spots, sonically speaking. It doesn’t leap out of the speakers with effervescence like much of the album. But even the harmonized pre-chorus gets us shaking our shoulders and nodding our heads in time with the melody. It’s probably the most musically advanced and layered. (Listen Here)

5. ‘Hit the Lights’
Gomez’s admitted Britney Spears worship rears its bleached blond head here. It’s a clubby, raise-your-glass dance song that isn’t one of the album’s strongest. There are better club rockers — we won’t go as far as to call ‘em “bangers”– on the album.

6. ‘Whiplash’
This is another clubby number and it’s not quite as G or even as PG as some of Gomez’s material. It’s also not the same easily digestible pop as much of the album, but it was reportedly co-written by Spears and meant for her 2008 release, ‘Circus.’ It has a beat reminiscent of Spears’ ‘Womanizer,’ too. It’s Selena at her sexiest. She is 18 and will be growing up before our eyes. (Listen Here)

7. ‘When the Sun Goes Down’

An electric guitar riff powers this party anthem, giving the album a bit of an edge and making use of the Scene. It’s also laced with lots of studio effects and it’s another retro throwback. We love the sped up vocals on the chorus. It sounds like Atari effects were used. (Listen Here)

8. ‘My Dilemma’
This is a breathy, sexy, dancefloor primed song that lets Gomez once again proudly display her Brit Brit worship. Gomez can’t decide how to free herself from a relationship that’s not really good for her. Even though she’s tense about the situation, the music remains footloose, with Gomez’s vocals treated by studio engineers. Even though Katy Perry didn’t co-pen his song, it sounds like she could have. (Listen Here)

9. ‘That’s More Like It’
This song was co-written by Katy Perry, so it features Perry’s signature sass rubbing off on Gomez, namely in the vocal delivery. Gomez’s cadence in the first verse is Perry-esque and the song boasts lots of synths and “I’m the boss” girl power lyrics, with Gomez telling her suitor what to do and when.

10 ‘Outlaw’
Seriously, by this track, you’ll wonder if Gomez OD’d on ’80s pop when she went into the studio. The use of synths is copious, but by track 10, it’s bordering on overkill. But we must admit, Gomez nips at Brit Brit’s stiletto heels on this song. She’s got Brit’s number.

11. ‘Middle of Nowhere’
The chunky beats are addictive on this techno-lit anthem. The chorus will ignite the hearts of the teenaged girls who heart Gomez and have them screaming along at her concerts. ‘Middle of Nowhere’ is another song that creates a direct connection between the artist and the fan. But like many of its predecessors, lots of cash was poured in mixing board acrobatics.

12. ‘Dices’
Gomez goes bilingual with the Spanish version of ‘Who Says.’ The song translates across languages without skipping a beat or losing any of its bounce-off-the-walls energy. Teen pop cannot be restrained by language barriers. It’s an unconventional close to the album. Props to Gomez for recognizing her heritage and other cultures on ‘When the Sun Goes Down.’ (Listen Here)

Listen to Selena Gomez and the Scene Full Album

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