Jason Derulo’s ‘Everything Is 4’: Album Review

Kathy Iandoli | June 2, 2015 5:30 am
Over the span of five quick years, Jason Derulo has proved he’s never afraid to switch up his sound. From the moment his eponymous 2010 debut and its cutting single “Whatcha Say” dropped, Jason became an instant staple in the R&B/experimental pop periphery. Everything Is 4 (out ) marks his fourth studio album and a total overhaul on his sonic disposition. He’s changed his tune, but have we heard it all before?

Derulo’s third album Tattoos marked the real divergence from his staple sound. When he first arrived, the music industry was about to go all-in on that buzzword genre of EDM. The house that Pitbull and Ne-Yo built had pop producers sprinting to their synths to copycat that, and it even paid dividends for Derulo. But by Tattoos in 2013, that window was closing, so he flipped the script on his lyrics and beats.

With 4 he does it again. Lead single “Want To Want Me” is the best example, as the Maroon 5-adjacent track drums up images of a girl walking down the street being wooed, a la Michael Jackson in the “The Way You Make Me Feel” video. “Cheyenne” follows, with a dark ’80s undertone that fits alongside Nick Jonas’ latest trajectory. The same could be said of closer “X2CU.” Meanwhile, “Get Ugly” veers toward corniness with burpy ad-libs, as Derulo does his best impression of Bruno Mars impersonating Sisqo. “Pull Up” and “Love Me Down” RSVP to that same party, and it all feels so awkward.

The cameos are real saviors, forcing Jason to return to his familiar sound to stay in line with his collaborators. K. Michelle surprisingly comes to the rescue on “Love Like That” as does J.Lo on “Try Me.” “Painkiller” could easily be Meghan Trainor featuring Jason Derulo instead of the other way around, and no one stands a chance on “Broke” with Stevie Wonder in the mix (apologies to Keith Urban). Among all this, though, the most authentic-sounding track on the album is “Trade Hearts” with Julia Michaels. It’s an ethereal electro-soul deep cut that reminds us why Jason Derulo is so great.

Everything Is 4 sounds new for Jason; the problem is it also sounds like everything else. But when you’re a talent like Derulo, even when you don’t always sound like yourself, you still sound damn good.

Idolator Score: 3.5/5

— Kathy Iandoli