Music Review: “Kiss and Tell,” Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez's new album cover | Photo from selenagomezweb.com

Selena Gomez’s new album cover | Photo from selenagomezweb.com

Grace Shay ’10
Managing Editor

Selena Gomez's new album cover | Photo from selenagomezweb.com
Selena Gomez's new album cover | Photo from ##http://selenagomezweb.com##selenagomezweb.com##

The reign of Disney Channel actors-turned-singers began with Hilary Duff ( Lizzie McGuire) in 2001, continued with Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical’s Gabriella Montez) in 2006, and morphed into today’s Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana).

Now, Selena Gomez has proved to be the heiress to the Disney Channel throne, juggling her television show, “Wizards of Waverly Place,” with the September release of her debut album “Kiss and Tell” (Hollywood Records).

In an interview with MTV News, Gomez said, “I basically want to make music that is fun and that parents and kids can jump around to and have a good time to.” To that extent, Gomez succeeds: her best track is “Naturally,” which is reminiscent of Cascada, with its pulsing beat, sultry vocals, and a strong techno bass line.

“Falling Down,” the album’s lead single, is another catchy tune that features Gomez speak-singing to a ridiculously catchy hook. Gomez captures just the right amount of feisty playfulness and vengefulness towards an ex-boyfriend (“Your smile is elastic/You gave me roses but they’re all just made of plastic”).

The sole song on which Gomez receives partial songwriting credit, “I Won’t Apologize,” is a forgettable ballad full of teenage angst and banalities like “I thank you for this hopeless war/Cause through the pain now I’m stronger now than before.”

“I Don’t Miss You at All” has a promising start, but quickly turns into a techno-drugged, hyperactive mess. Midway through, the song changes genres and Gomez is inexplicably accompanied by a single acoustic guitar. When coupled with some vocoder-like vocals, it seems as though Gomez can’t decide if she’s singing a ballad or a breakup anthem.

With “I Got U,” however, Gomez finds redemption. Her whispered vocals evoke Madonna during the verses, and even the blatant auto-tune to fix her pitch problems is forgivable. Gomez shows some potential, too, as she gives her best Christina Aguilera melismas and “yeah-yeahs.”

Throughout the album, Gomez’s vocals are solid—not remarkable, but agreeable enough to merit a full listening. Her voice has a smooth quality that is generally free from the labored, over-sung shouts of Demi Lovato, another Disney star—but on a few of the up-tempo rock tracks, like the dreadful cover of Fefe Dobson’s “As a Blonde,” Gomez sounds strained (and also auto-tuned, to compensate).

Gomez’s main problem, however, lies in her identity as a singer and budding songwriter. Each of the current Disney Channel stars have created a niche within the company—Cyrus as a performer/actress, Lovato as a powerhouse singer, the Jonas Brothers as unblemished heartthrobs. Gomez, on the other hand, still needs to find her place. In contrast to Cyrus’ country-pop-rock genre and Lovato’s pop-rock-metal, Gomez’s album veers towards electronic and dance-pop…but still loses focus with self-indulgently earnest songs like “The Way I Loved You.”