Stars Dance (Bonus Track Version)

Stars Dance (Bonus Track Version)

Having graduated from her Disney Channel era with 2012’s wrapping up of Wizards of Waverly Place, Selena Gomez decided to take a clean break from her teen-pop past in the early 2010s, putting her band Selena Gomez & The Scene on hiatus and embarking on a solo career. Stars Dance, her first album as a solo artist, moves on from the punkier music Gomez released with The Scene, elevating her into a versatile dance-pop artist. Working with of-the-moment producers like The Cataracs (Far East Movement, Dev) and Stargate (Katy Perry, Rihanna), Gomez travels the world on her 2013 solo debut, collaging elements of pop from around the globe and melding them into upbeat bangers that showcase her chameleonic voice and beguiling presence. While the pumping, forceful “Come & Get It,” which spins out of a tabla beat, was the album’s big hit and firmly established Gomez as a serious player in the adult-pop world, Stars Dance is full of surprising moments that spotlight her vocal power and willingness to play with sonic ideas. “Like a Champion” possesses a dancehall swagger that brightly highlights its own-the-room lyrics; “Birthday” builds out of a zipper-pull synth, with Gomez, backed by an insistent gang, fully indulging her brattiest impulses as she parties extravagantly. Stars Dance also gives Gomez the opportunity to show that she can hang with the early-2010s electro-pop crowd. “Slow Down” has speedy verses that crash-land into a sinuous chorus, the singer abandoning her fast-paced flirtations for a full-on come-on in which she invites her chosen paramour to “break it down and drop it low.” She infuses the vocals of “Write Your Name” with a sweetness that energizes the glitchy synths surrounding her; “Forget Forever” is a bittersweet breakup song that nevertheless sounds triumphant, its careening keyboards and relentless beat giving Gomez’ order to “forget you ever knew my name” added potency. Its message of moving on parallels that of Stars Dance, a reintroduction of Selena Gomez as a strong, savvy, grown-up pop force.

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