Consider Selena's ambitions when creating this album: she wanted to create a completely dance record for her fans, show her transition into womanhood, and say goodbye to music (to pursue a fulfilling acting career) with a sort of pop .. I mean pomp and circumstance.
I think most of her detractors (and published music critics) fail to realize that about Selena Gomez. She is not a vocal powerhouse like Demi Lovato or Miley Cyrus, and never set out to be. Like 99% of the Disney girls before her (and the ones waiting in the wings), a music career was handed to her on a silver platter to enhance her brand image. Knowing this, does that mean that the music (the product) is automatically bad?
No. Not at all.
Selena Gomez has topped the charts, went on tours, and sold millions of albums. Not because Disney was forcing people to buy into it, but because Selena actually is a talented, charismatic, artist that people pay attention to. Her "it" factor is exactly what's made this album go number one on iTunes almost instantly. She puts her heart into her music, and each album of hers has gotten progressively more polished and emotionally mature.
"Stars Dance" is a cohesive, exciting, textured album that keeps everyone dancing. Even the stodgiest of listeners can't help but coo along with Selena on the chorus of "Come & Get It". Selena experiments with dubstep (because she loves the genre, not because it's music's "flavor of the moment"), dancehall, and even urban hip-hop.
I've listened to this album at least 10 times when it was available on iTunes a week in advance and I can honestly say that almost all of the songs stand out as pieces of pop perfection. Whether it be the stuttered choruses of "Slow Down" and "Save The Day", or the light-as-air electro waves of "Write Your Name" and "Undercover", each song has something new to offer.
"Birthday" is admittedly the most risque song of the album, featuring moans and plenty of double entendre lyrics. On the end of album, "Love Will Remember" is the complete opposite: a somber ballad co-written by Gomez.
Every album has a weak point, and in this one it's "Like A Champion" which sounds too much like a Rihanna copycat with it's fake accent and "rum pa pa pum's".
Other than that, I've enjoyed every one of these songs, even the Target exclusive bonus tracks: "Lover In Me" and "I Like It That Way". Selena's vocal attitude varies from sassy to sweet and she makes each song her own. It's hard not to think of her relationship troubles with Justin Bieber on songs like "Forget Forever". Regardless of whether or not Selena relates to every single lyric of every single song, she knows how to execute them with conviction or emotion when the time is right.
Of course all the credit can't go to Selena alone. The brilliant production credits go to The Cataracs, Rock Mafia, & theSUSPEX. The catchy lyrics come from pop-writing heavyweights Ester Dean, Toby Gad, Daniel James, and a plethora of others (with co-writing efforts from Gomez herself).
All in all, I would recommend this album to the pop enthusiast or anyone looking for party/workout music, because this fits the bill. I'm looking forward to how Selena translates this album into dance for her Stars Dance 2013 Tour!