With “Come & Get It” becoming one of the biggest hits of her career, Selena Gomez was prime to release an album that could catapult her from the Disney bubble and into major pop star status. Stars Dance, Gomez’s fourth studio album and first since dropping “the Scene,” is admittedly the actress-turned-singer’s most mature album yet. But instead of creating a sound of her own, she often falls back on tracks that sound like they pair better with her pop contemporaries.
In our own review, we rated the album 3 out of 5 stars, finding a handful of noteworthy tracks: ”The title track is a brilliant swirling nugget and ‘B.E.A.T.’ is appealingly weird and slight, but ‘Come & Get It,’ with its hypnotic rhythm and nonsensical hook, begins to feel like the best thing here, and probably is.” Here at Idolator, we love a good pop track when we hear one, but we must admit Stars Dance lacks any sense of artistic direction. However, Gomez’s target demographic probably won’t mind: “It doesn’t feel like an artistic statement; it doesn’t resemble any kind of cohesive whole; it doesn’t matter. Her fans will be satisfied. The songs will continue to demolish the dance charts, in all likelihood. Everybody wins.”
But that’s our take. Head below to see a roundup of Stars Dance reviews from other music critics.
:: AllMusic were overall fans of Gomez’s latest effort, awarding it 3.5 out of 5 stars: “Gomez and her team of writers and producers don’t stray far from the dancefloor and party jams, and these are the strongest songs on the album. It’s hard to resist the jumping beats, shiny synths, and Gomez’s cheery vocals on tracks like ‘Slow Down,’ ‘Undercover,; and the disco-y ‘Save the Day.’ …Thanks to the strong songs, Selena’s reliably strong vocals, and the variety of sounds, it adds up to be another fine entry in her catalog and just another example of why Selena Gomez is one of the best pop stars making music in 2013.”
:: The Guardian addresses the album’s weakness, but finds it enjoyable overall: “You don’t expect lacerating intimacy from a former Disney star, but Gomez fails to impose so much as a trace of personality: from the electro-punk opener ‘Birthday’ onward, she’s competent and entirely impersonal. But that’s no impediment to enjoying the record, which darts efficiently from EDM to Bollywood to – Beliebers, look away now – sappiness inspired by her on-off boyfriend, Justin Bieber…Gomez’s tweeny public must be starting to outgrow her, but Stars Dance is vibrant enough to keep them loyal a bit longer.”
:: Los Angeles Times gave the album 2.5 out of 5 stars: “Stars Dance is exactly the kind of album one makes in 2013 if you want to keep the pop sugar of the Disney tween cabal but mix in some broken glass and a club bathroom nosebleed. Its productions are rooted in today’s pop-EDM default mode, but as that stuff goes, ‘Slow Down’ is pretty capable, and the bhangra-appropriating ‘Come & Get It’ is guilelessly silly enough to work.”
:: New York Daily News rewarded the former-Disney star with 3/5: ”Gomez’s new album has hit written all over it, not because it’s particularly great, but because it’s uncommonly craven. Stars Dance — which has already ushered in Gomez’s first Top 10 single (‘Come & Get It’) — offers a virtual master course in how to nick the styles of as many other pop stars as possible, all while skirting the laws of copyright infringement.”
:: Newsday gave the album a C-, claiming the majority of the tracks would be better off performed by other female pop stars: “ It’s actually incredible how many different musical styles Gomez tries that really don’t suit her. The opening track, ‘Birthday,’ is a decent song, but it doesn’t work for Gomez, who can’t handle the sassy, cheerleader-like banter well. On ‘Champion,’ she ill-advisedly adopts what sounds like a Jamaican accent. She channels Ke$ha on the chorus of ‘B.E.A.T.’ but can’t keep it up for the whole song.”
:: Rolling Stone brings up more comparisons to larger pop acts like Britney Spears and Rihanna: “Stars Dance is her first album without her band, the Scene, and the first to feature orgasmic moans – see ‘Birthday,’ featuring 16 seconds of what sure sounds like simulated sex. But though she nods at Rihanna-style slither and Britney-esque grind, this is the sound of Gomez gliding gracefully into adulthood.”
:: USA Today gives Gomez a middling review, stating Gomez is only as good as her producers: “As ‘Come & Get It,’ the lead single from Stars Dance has shown, Gomez is making more commercially viable music now, but she’s still only as good as her producers, who now include Rock Mafia, Stargate and the Cataracs.”
:: Huffington Post claimed the album felt like an overall inorganic production: ”Indeed, this feels like a job. This feels like a vibrant young woman of Disney pedigree simply punched the clock and worked through an already cooked musical plot foisted upon her. Gomez might be an incredibly talented and interesting person with much to offer artistically, but we’ll never find out at this rate.”
:: Slant Magazine didn’t hold back on the criticism, giving Stars Dance 1 star of out 5: ”It’s not that she can’t execute a solid hook here and there, but rather that she lacks the confidence and ability to elevate the material above paint-by-numbers pop. On songs like ‘Save the Day’ and the ‘Tik Tok’-inspired ‘B.E.A.T.,’ Gomez adopts different personae, but such shapeshifting doesn’t add any diversity to the album; instead, it feels like an attempt to cover as many contemporary trends as possible. The result is an incoherent, rudderless effort.”
:: The Independent also gave the album 1 out of 5: “Consisting of standard, supermarket-own-brand, sub-Britney sexpop, this album has been given to her to wear, just like a stylist giving her an outfit for a photo shoot. Even given these facts, it’s a pop record, which means one killer track would redeem everything. Predictably enough, it never comes.”