Selena Gomez & the Scene, WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN (Target version)

Kids grow up so fast -- or do they? Selena Gomez may be nearing the end of her ties with the Disney Channel as she approaches the "old age" of 19, but her new album When the Sun Goes Down is very kid-friendly and fairly cliche.

When the Sun Goes Down
is mostly about boys, from the opening tribute to one ("Love You Like a Love Song") to being abandoned by one ("Middle of Nowhere"). There are also songs about staying out late (the title track, plus "We Own the Night") empowerment ("Who Says," the first single off the album), and taking chances in life ("Hit the Lights"). It's fairly standard stuff for a pop album. But how is it executed?

The songs here vary, from average to poor. Gomez does have a nice voice that is quite servicable for pop music. The same can't be said for her bad the Scene, which could easily be replaced by one person who owns a synthesizer. The lyrics are often cliched, trite, and overly repetitive, whether it's a safe version of the bad boy ("You're an outlaw/you're an outlaw/you're an outlaw running from love") or the girl controlling her boyfriend ("That's more like it/Yeah, that's more like it/Make my dinner and bring it to me/ that's more like it... that's more like it"). Gomez may still be young, but with two albums before this one (not to mention various songs on Disney albums) someone should have taught her something about songwriting. Some of the tunes here are a little catchy, but even they aren't that memorable.

It's ironic that the cd booklet has Gomez dressing up in costumes from various times in the past -- 1950s glamour, 1980s new wave, 1960s housewife -- yet the songs are all very typical of pop music today. Time will tell if Selena Gomez follows in the footsteps of former Disney stars (from Britney to Miley) in going beyond the 'tween audience and making music for adults (along with controversy). For now, Selena Gomez may sing about staying out all night, but When the Sun Goes Down is still for kids.

(The Target version (disclaimer: I work for Target; and I'm a Scorpio) has three remixes and a Spanish version of "Ghost of You," none of which are terrible or necessary.)

Overall grade: C-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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