Post-Spring Breakers, is this the new, grown-up Selena Gomez?
On screen, Gomez has broken out of her cutesy Disney image with some chutzpah, so she's got a chance to flower as a pop star too. And, after Justin, might there be a morsel of salacious gossip as well?
There are traces of naughtiness right away in the strident, crunky Birthday where Gomez blares, "Tell 'em that it's my birthday/When I party like that," already making excuses for a new-found wild persona. It's not enormously convincing. Bieber detectives might find clues in Forget Forever's bitter line, "Our love was made to rule the world/You came and broke the perfect girl". It's also the album's best track, a chiming blast of dance-rock with a rare hook.
Those are the slim pickings. Stars Dance suffers otherwise from a gaping hole where Gomez's personality should be. A characterless voice doesn't help, but the songs feel off-the-peg. Off J.Lo's peg mainly, certainly on the charmless likes of Slow Down or Like A Champion, where Gomez unveils a Jamaican accent worse than anything The Saturdays can muster.
It's all too identikit, could be anyone with a grasp of average dance-pop, and no dubstep drags or Ke$ha impressions on B.E.A.T. can save it.