Like her former BFF Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez is the most recent of Disney starlets to hit the tabloid covers. Recently hospitalized for that perennial celebrity ailment ― “exhaustion” ― and as the girlfriend of the new pop prince, Justin Bieber, Gomez is almost certainly more notable for her personal life than her music with fellow band members, the Scene. And, that’s probably how it should be. With their sophomore album, When the Sun Goes Down, Selena Gomez and the Scene continue to prove they’re nothing more than Disney factory products, complete with shiny packaging.
If the album cover of When the Sun Goes Down, with its airbrushed exterior and highly stylized sheen, weren’t artificial enough, the actual musical content emerges as something far worse. With already tired messages of teen crushes, unrequited love and iPhone texts, Gomez’s lyrics would be offensively trite if they could only be heard though the insufferable autotune and synth-heavy electropop. Techno-infused tracks like “Hit the Lights” or the monotonous “Outlaw” are a clear attempt to cater to a more adult, dance audience. But, the effort is wasted. Despite a move towards more overtly sexual lyrics and imagery, there is no semblance of maturity with When the Sun Goes Down.
Selena Gomez may have a pretty face and decent vocal abilities, but those features are certainly not enough to carry a full album. When the best song has a melody containing the enlightening words of “na na na,” you know it’s not going to be good. Not that anybody thought it was going to be. When the Sun Goes Down is a grotesque indulgence in cheap vanity and nothing more.