There was a time when pop artists wouldn’t have dreamed of touching rap, and vice-versa, but...
DJBooth Album Review
Jason Derulo is not a particularly complicated album, and not a particularly complicated artist –and maybe that’s a good thing. Before you even press play for the first time you know exactly what you’re going to get; synth heavy production exclusively from teen hip-pop mastermind J.R. Rotem, hooks so catchy you’ll have to sing along in the car (after checking to make sure no one’s watching), sweet, occasionally auto-tuned vocals from Derulo and, of course, songs about falling in love, being in love, cheating, and breaking up with the girl you used to love (not necessarily in that order). If that sounds like good times then you’d be hard pressed to top Jason Derulo, and if it doesn’t than, well, I frankly don’t think you were planning on listening anyway.
It’s impossible to continue this review without touching on Whatcha Say, the almost impossibly huge single that instantly catapulted Jason Derulo from a behind the scenes songwriter for the likes of Sean Kingston and Cassie into a legitimate star in his own right. Whatcha Say’s brilliance is in its simplicity. Rotem crafts a beat that sticks to its guns without sounding over-simplistic and Derulo delivers a smooth yet emotional performance that’s truly talented. My only qualm with Whatcha Say is that, if you think about it, the uber-addictive hook doesn’t really make sense (Who only meant well? Jason? How could he have meant well by cheating? How is that possibly all for the best?). I’m committing a cardinal hip-pop sin – over thinking. While I don’t think Jason Derulo has another hit of Whatcha Say proportions on it – lighting rarely strike twice – it does contain no shortage of cuts that are at least in the same sonic ballpark. The slightly more rocking In My Head is already a minor sensation, thanks in no small part to yet another arresting hook (notice a theme) and I can already see a stadium of teenage girls crying as Derulo croons over the acoustic Fallen during a packed show. Add in the crossover smash Love Hangover, which isn’t nearly as racy as originally hoped, and the slowly burning Encore and we’re looking at the birth of an artist who looks poised to dominate the charts for foreseeable future.
The best thing, and worst thing, about Jason Derulo is how thoroughly inoffensively entertaining it is. While it’s hard to be absolutely in love with this album (I’m not) it’s also pretty hard for anyone but the most rabid hater to really get worked up about it. If there’s one thing the album proves, over and over again, is that Derulo is a good artist who makes good music. On Blind he displays the full range of his vocal abilities, but ultimately it feels like he and Rotem are just filling out the standard break-up ballad checklist. Piano melody? Check. String section? Check. Slow breakdown at the midpoint? Check. It’s a similar story The Sky’s the Limit, a electro-house jam that uses some 90s song as its melodic basis (I can’t place it exactly and it’s killing me) and the insanely over-committed What If (sweet baby Jesus, you just met the girl and you’re already house shopping?). Still, none of these tracks are bad, exactly, they’re just…good.
But so what? Since when is good not good enough? So while I honestly won’t be listening to Jason Derulo again, I’m sure it will find a coveted spot in someone’s stereo, and that person shouldn’t be ashamed to put this album on repeat until they either get tired of it or collapse in a fit of hyperventilating adoration. If Jason Derulo wants to become great, and I have no idea if he does, he’s going to have to push the boundaries harder than this, but for the time being, we’ve got one of the, um, “goodest” hip-pop albums we’ve heard in a minute on our hands. Enjoy.
DJBooth Rating - 3 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on Mar 04, 2010
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