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Stars Dance is the debut solo studio album by American singer and actress Selena Gomez, which was released on July 19, 2013, by Hollywood Records. It is her fourth record overall, having previously released three albums with her band Selena Gomez & The Scene between 2009 and 2011. Gomez stated that the record was influenced by artists including Britney Spears and Skrillex. Musically, Stars Dance is an electronic album rooted in pop, dance and dubstep, while heavily incorporating elements of techno, disco, and worldbeat. Its lyrics discuss love and relationships, namely Gomez's highly-publicized relationship with pop singer Justin Bieber.
Upon its release, Stars Dance received generally mixed reviews from music critics, who complimented Gomez's maturing image and lyrical content, though criticized its generic and electronic-heavy production. The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, with a first week sales of 97,000 copies, thus making it her highest first week sales as well as her first album to debut and peak at number one. The album also debuted at number one in Canada later being certified gold.
Its lead single Come & Get It peaked at number six on the US Billboard Hot 100. The dubstep-influenced track Slow Down was available as an instant digital download with the iTunes Store pre-order of the album and on August 13, 2013, it will be sent to US mainstream radio as the second single from the album. The album has been promoted through live performances including the Billboard Music Awards and the MTV Movie Awards, and is additionally set to embark on the Stars Dance Tour throughout 2013.
Selena Gomez & The Scene's 2011 third studio album, When The Sun Goes Down, was musically rooted in pop and electro-disco, while containing elements of electropop, indie pop, and dance music, similar to the group's sophomore album, A Year Without Rain (2010). Although reviews from contemporary music critics were mixed, the album was a commercial success, selling over 650,000 copies as of July 2013. In January 2012, Gomez announced that she would put her music career on hold in order to focus on her acting career, and that the band would be taking a hiatus: "my band and I are going our separate ways for a while. This year is all about films and acting and I want my band to play music wherever with whoever. We will be back but, it will be a good while."
Despite her earlier statements, Gomez first confirmed in October 2012 that work had begun on an upcoming album, and later said it would be her solo debut album, rather than her band's fourth album. Gomez announced in March that the album's lead single would be released the following month, and that the album would follow that Summer. On April 15, Gomez revealed plans of her first world tour, known as the Stars Dance Tour. Gomez officially confirmed on June 3 that the album would be titled Stars Dance, and also revealed the album's track listing and cover art.
On her return to music, Gomez stated "I miss it. I want to be able to write about things I’ve never talked about before and tell a story with this album, because I’ve never actually had time to go in and do that." For the album, Gomez worked with production team The Cataracs, as well as Norwegian production team Stargate. Gomez also worked with Rock Mafia on numerous tracks on the album, having previously worked with them on previous singles with The Scene. For Stars Dance, Gomez attempted to have more creative control over her music, stating "It’s definitely the hardest I have ever worked on a record, that’s for sure. I wanted to have more creative control over the album’s direction." Jason Evigan, who worked with Gomez on the album, said "She's not a little girl anymore. She wants to be like that and be respected like the great pop artists out there [...] And I think she is. I think this album is really gonna blossom her into a new realm of electronic pop dance artist." Prior to the album's release, Gomez announced she would be taking a musical hiatus after Stars Dance, commenting "I've been saying that I worked really hard on this record and I feel like it might be my last one for a while [...] I definitely love acting and I love film and I don't feel like I've done enough of that."
Following the album's announcement, numerous sources began claiming that the majority of the album was written about Gomez's relationship with Justin Bieber. These rumors continued to rise in popularity following the release of Come & Get It. These rumors prompted Gomez to confirm that the song was not about Bieber. She later confirmed, however, that the song Love Will Remember was about her relationship with Bieber. She later stated the song was "the most personal track on the record", and later added "I think it’s a sweet way of releasing it. It’s not an aggressive approach to what people are probably expecting. I’m sure he’ll love it too." The song Birthday was the first song recorded for the album. Gomez has listed Forget Forever as one of her favorite songs on the album saying, "It’s a really beautiful song. It has meaning behind it and it was a really special time in the studio. I got to be with the writers and just enjoy being in that moment. That was a really fun emotional song for me to sing but then I just kind of wanted to dance after I released it because it felt like I got to release this feeling that I had and it’s a beautiful song." She later spoke of Forget Forever by stating "It’s forgetting all the troubles, about the past, just enjoying everything else." Recording artist Jennifer Lopez wanted to record the song Save The Day for her 2013 album, however, failed to get it from Gomez. Come & Get It was initially recorded by Barbadian recording artist Rihanna for her sixth studio album, however, she decided against using the song.
Musically, Stars Dance is an electronic album, rooted stylistically in pop, dance and dubstep, while also containing strong elements of techno and disco. Jocelyn Vena of MTV News described the music on Stars Dance as "dance-song-heavy" dubstep, that contains "wobbly synths, loopy vocals, fist-pumping beats and crunchy breakdowns". The album contains a highly diverse musical composition, highlighted by Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian as "darting efficiently from EDM to Bollywood". The majority of the album contains dubstep breakdowns, requisite stabs of synths, and according to Jim Farber of New York Daily News, "features a frisson of sex previously absent from this good-girl singer's work." Jason Evigan said of the album's musical style, "She's got some really cool like ethnic influence, kind of tribally dance drums and stuff like that", stating that it was similar to music by Jennifer Lopez. August Brown of the Los Angeles Times called Stars Dance as "sassy" pop-EDM album, noting its composition included "oxygen-sucking" sub-bass, trap snares. Brown noted the influence of Spring Breakers on the album, saying that Gomez wasn't ready to leave the "neon-splattered emotional hellscape of Spring Breakers just yet". He further went on to say: "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."
Gomez has listed pop singer Britney Spears as one of the album's biggest influences, and later cited both Spears and Janet Jackson as influences. She later listed dubstep producer Skrillex as an influence to the album, with him having previously worked on the soundtrack for Gomez's film Spring Breakers. She later stated "Doing Spring Breakers was really fun, because Skrillex and Cliff Martinez did the soundtrack, and [Skrillex] kind of inspired me with a baby dubstep, because I have a few songs that have that." Gomez has since also listed Taylor Swift as an influence on the album. Jim Farber of New York Daily News noted influences of Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Janet Jackson, although going on to say "Gomez's writer and producers have aped other stars' tricks gamely enough to create a pretty good time. It helps that Gomez boasts a far richer voice than her idols, Britney, J.Lo and Janet."
The album opens with Birthday, an electro punk and dance song which contains sparse drums, vocal chants, and influences of hip hop, and has been described by Julia Rubin of Headlines and Global News as a: "candy-coated, clap-happy club anthem with plenty of girl power and sex appeal, much like a bubblegum version of Rihanna's Cockiness (Love It). Slow Down is a high-octane, uptempo dance-pop and EDM song, that has been described as "wobbly club thumper" by Robert Copsey of Digital Spy. It features a dubstep chorus, funk guitars, a four on the floor beat, and a spoken word outro. Lyrically, the song speaks of taking a relationship slowly rather than rushing into things. Stars Dance, the albums title track, is a "breathy and sultry" dubstep song, which contains an orchestral-dubstep beat. The song contains "brief but potent" flourishes of strings, dark synths with gloomy, trip hop beats along with low, burbling bass. According to Rubin, "Gomez's soft voice takes center stage over sexy synth-beats, icy choruses and wallowing melodies." Stars Dance has also received comparisons to the works of Britney Spears. Like A Champion is a dancehall song, with influences of funk, reggae, and soca music, and features Gomez singing the song in a Bajan accent. The song has received heavy comparisons to the works of Rihanna, with critics noting the songs breezy and carefree vocal delivery. Come & Get It is a tribal electropop and worldbeat song, which contains a Bhangra beat, sonic drops, and influences of reggae and Indian music. Lyrically, the song is about female lover's attempts to rekindle a previously ended romance.
Forget Forever is a dance-pop and synthpop song which contains an EDM beat and house music breakdowns. Lyrically, the song is about a breakup. Sam Lansky of Idolator said the song is an "electrifying dance-pop banger with a monolithically great chorus and a storming, anthemic beat, plus a big house break." Nate Jones of Popdust called the song "bright and expansive", and going onto say that Gomez's vocals "fly over an EDM beat that can’t help getting us ready for summer." Save The Day is a "thumping" Latin pop and house music song with influences of dubstep. B.E.A.T. is a "sexy" urban hip hop song, described by Jon O'Brien of Yahoo! Music as "minimal spoken word electro". Throughout the song, Gomez's vocals are chopped and processed to create the effect of stuttering. Christina Drill of Popdust said the song was "infectious and definitely racier than usual for Selena (the chorus: “It’s a big bad world but I’m not ashamed / I like the lights in my hand and the beat in my face”)". "Write Your Name" has been described as an "exotic" sounding electronic dance and house music song. The song contains a rap verse by Gomez, as well as elements of dubstep. O'Brien of Yahoo! Music said that: "Forget Forever and Write Your Name both manage to tiptoe into 'hands in the air' territory without succumbing to the usual Guetta-style bombast." Nobody Does It Like You has been described as "one of the better pop songs to incorporate dubstep" while Music Feels Better as a "deep disco dive". Michael McCarthy of Love Is Pop called it "a bright and shiny, carefree as a giggle, dance tune that’s sure to lift your spirits", comparing the track with "various Thunderpuss remixes from the late ’90′s."
The album's title track was described by Gomez as being "kind of sensual", while Like A Champion is said to feature Spanish and reggae influences. When talking about the song Save The Day, Gomez stated "Do you ever have moments where you don’t ever want them to end? I’ve had those moments. It’s about saving those moments and never wanting it to go away." The song Write Your Name is about the feeling of falling in love. Gomez described B.E.A.T. by saying "The song is cool and the lyrics are great, but it was more, 'I can't wait to perform this song onstage because I love the way I feel when I hear this song.' It's just dope." Gomez later stated that Undercover was her favorite song on the album, commenting "I've never had the confidence to do different licks and melody changes. I messed up a lot [while recording] that one." The album's lead single, Come & Get It, has been described as featuring "Bollywood" influences, as well as reggae music. On-air personality Peter Dee noted that the song featured various electro-pop elements. Slow Down is noted as featuring various dubstep influences, while the song's lyrics speak of taking a relationship slowly rather than rushing into things.
Come & Get It, was released as the lead single from the album on April 8, 2013. The single went on to become Gomez's most successful single as of July 2013, peaking inside the top 10 of the US Billboard Hot 100 and the Canadian Hot 100. The music video premiered on MTV on May 7, and was directed by Anthony Mandler.
Slow Down, was initially released as a promo single on June 3, 2013 via an instant digital download with the pre-order of the album on iTunes, and was co-produced by The Cataracs and David Kuncio. It debuted at number 70 on the Billboard Hot 100. The official video was uploaded to YouTube on July 19, 2013. On August 13, 2013, the song was officially serviced to US mainstream radio as the second commercial single from the album.
Upon its release, Stars Dance received mixed reviews from music critics. Positive remarks went toward the overall production of the album, as well as its lyrics. Mixed-to-unfavorable reviews went towards Gomez's vocals and her inability to create her own musical identity; she was compared to singer Rihanna on several occasions. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from critics, the album received an average score of 58, which indicates "mixed or average reviews". Tim Sendra from Allmusic awarded the album three-and-a-half stars out of five. As he highlighted Slow Down, Save The Day and Undercover as highlights, he said "Selena's reliably string 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." Stephen Unwin from Express.co.uk compared the new effort to Vanessa Hudgens and said "Both [[[Selena Gomez|Gomez]] and Hudgens] have now turned their attention to themes of a more adult nature, this new album of Selena's being one of them and she's just about pulled it off." First Stop News reacted positively to the album, calling it "inventive" and praising Gomez for her transition to a "unique and mature sound" that would attract new listeners and was "musically relevant", however stated that Gomez's vocals were generally unimpressive.
Two Guardian reviews were issued. The first, observed by Kitty Empire, awarded the album three stars out of five. Conversely, the second Guardian review, observed by Hermione Hoby, was mixed and awarded it two stars out of five. She clarified that "if she really wants to be considered a grown-up pop star, Selena Gomez is going to have to find some better hit-makers." She compared the work, including Like A Champion, towards Rihanna. August Brown from the LA Times found that the album was "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 [...]" Natalie Palmer from Entertainmentwise took perspective of other critics and commentators, saying the album should have been praised for "trying something new." She discussed "Stars Dance isn’t what you would expect from a girl who was once a Disney princess. Many often go for the bubblegum pop or the angry rock chick but the 21-year-old has opted for an edgier genre and a unique sound." Matthew Horton from Virgin Media awarded the album two stars. He criticized her lack of personality in most songs and felt her vocal abilities on this particular "doesn't help." He concluded saying "It's all too identikit, could be anyone with a grasp of average dance-pop". Simon Price from The Independent awarded one star out of the five, criticizing the lack of effort saying that "Even given these facts, it's a pop record, which means one killer track would redeem everything. Predictably enough, it never comes." Ron Harris from The Huffington Post felt the album didn't live up to expectations, citing her as an "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." He also pointed out that the album had less personality than her previous records with The Scene.
Stars Dance made its official debut on the New Zealand Albums Chart, entering in the top five at number five itself. Stars Dance debuted at number one at the US Billboard 200, with first week sales of 97,000 copies. This marks her highest first week sales as well as her first album to debut at number one. The album slipped to number 8, selling over 31,000 copies in its second week. The album has been certified gold in Brazil with over 20,000 copies sold. The album has been certified gold in Canada with over 40,000 copies sold.
|1||Birthday||Crista Russo, Mike Del Rio, Jacob Kasher Hindlin||Mike Del Rio, Matt Beckley (vocal)||3:20|
|2||Slow Down||Lindy Robbins, Julia Michaels, Niles Hollowell-Dhar, David Kuncio, Freddy Wexler||The Cataracs, Kuncio||3:30|
|3||Stars Dance||Antonina Armato, Tim James, Adam Schmalholz||Rock Mafia||3:37|
|4||Like A Champion||Daniel James, Leah Haywood, Peter Thomas, Bebe Rexha, Mark Myrie, Leroy Sibbles||Dreamlab, Thomas (co)||2:55|
|5||Come & Get It||Ester Dean, M.S. Eriksen, T.E. Hermansen||Stargate||3:51|
|6||Forget Forever||Jason Evigan, Clarence Coffee, Alexander Izquierdo, Jordan Johnson, Stefan Johnson, Marcus Lomax||The Monsters & Strangerz, Evigan, Dan Brook (vocal)||4:11|
|7||Save The Day||Mitch Allan, Evigan, Livvi Franc||Allan, Evigan||3:52|
|8||B.E.A.T.||Wexler, Jai Marlon, Heather Jeanette Miley||Wexler, Marlon||3:04|
|9||Write Your Name||D. James, Haywood, Arnthor Birgisson||Dreamlab||3:16|
|10||Undercover||Hollowell-Dhar, Robbins Michaels, Rome Ramirez||The Cataracs, Hollowell-Dhar (vocal)||3:53|
|11||Love Will Remember||Armato, Desmond Child, David Jost, T. James||Rock Mafia, Dubkiller (add)||3:30|