She’ll! Never be alone again!…
Martin Skidmore: If the combination of Timberlake and Stargate production don’t break her in America, I can’t think what will. She sounds strong and confident on this, and it’s a good tune, and of course Justin pants all over it to sexy effect. I like Stargate, but this production feels a touch undercooked in places, as if it needs more drama here and there. Nonetheless, the charm and appeal of the singers makes it a definite winner.
Michaelangelo Matos: Awww: “bag of tricks,” “only friend,” “make you feel fine,” “if you need a fix.” They really don’t write ’em like they used to, huh?
Alex Ostroff: Say what you will about Ke$ha, but when she descends into cliche on “Your Love is My Drug”, at least she sounds like she’s jonesing for a fix. “Love Dealer” requires a performance imbued with temptation and a sense of danger on the part of Denters and, at the very least, a pulse from Timberlake. Neither is present here.
Renato Pagnani: JT plays the least convincing drug addict ever, and Demers can’t even pull off seductress, let alone pusher. How many times is Justin going to try and launch this girl’s career?
Edward Okulicz: Justin, stop trying to make
fetchEsmée Denters happen. Or if you’re going to do it, give her something suited to her personality – she’s a nice girl but has the sex appeal of grated cheese. Then again, on this song, so do you, you sound like you cry after sex.
Anthony Easton: Desperate attempt to remake Natasha Bedingfield’s success in order to avoid disaster for Timberlake’s fledging label; even as an asshole spouting the most obvious lyrical and musical cliches, he’s charming, I just miss the energy that was found on the string of singles from “Cry Me A River” to “4 Minutes”.
John Seroff: There are worse ways to position yourself to enter the American market than this: pay JT to phone in a chorus and some adlibs, pay Stargate to chew up and spit out “Controversy”, then get up on the resultant pedestal and shake whatcha momma gave you. What relegates “Love Dealer” to mid-tier at best is Denters’ glaring lack of personality and charisma; the most exotic thing about Esmée is the accent in her name. I expect eighteen remixes as the label tries to find a way to make their investment stick; may I humbly recommend a version with a different headliner?
Pete Baran: Ooh, that was surprising. A lovely slice of bubbly r’n’b pop. It does lean a bit on the Justified-era Timberlake groove, but since that was an almost unqualified success plenty more trips to that well is not a bad idea. Perhaps it lacks a final killer hook, and its breakdown could do with a bit more oomph when it comes back in but on the whole, tick VG!
Alfred Soto: Pipsqueaked singer makes like Stacy Q but ends up on the safe Nelly Furtado side of the street (I’m referring to Esmée, of course, not Justin). Gaga might have employed the poker metaphor to better effect, but the production influence of Justin makes for a weirder, headier time — like his multitracked vocals hitting a high note en masse at the 2:35 mark.
Katherine St Asaph: Surprisingly un-sleazy for a song called “Love Dealer,” but the metaphor is flimsy anyway — “Have a taste of my stuff” sounds like no drug I know, and “dealer” in the chorus sounds enough like “diva” that the whole conceit can be happily ignored. It’s all a bit slight, but Esmée’s voice is appealing enough to justify her being plucked out of the YouTube brambles.