Monday, July 25th, 2011

Selena Gomez and The Scene – Love You Like A Love Song

Jason Castro or Jared Leto?


Katherine St Asaph: Selena Gomez loves Justin Bieber you like a love song, evidently one by Iyaz. Her team loves wobbly synths like a dubstep song. They all love circular, cutesy meta songs. But pity melodic and dramatic progression, all alone with the unloved songs.

Anthony Easton: Meta love songs are the best kind of love songs, especially if they feature sexy karaoke and Mozart drag. I like dreamy floaty portions that push in and out the more rhythmic bits. This is meticulously constructed and historically minded.

Zach Lyon: A little bit “Silly Love Songs,” a little bit “Deeper than the Holler” (“and this is just another way of saying the same thing”), a little bit… well, there are too many meta love songs to count and too many to really allow a new one to set itself apart. So forget the lyrics. Every other bit of the song is some grown-up posturing for Selena, and despite the fact that she still sounds like a kid, the song tries so damn hard to set her apart that it’s irresistible in its quirks — the spareness of the wobble wobbles and the drums, the melody’s minuscule range that still sounds tame when she goes high in the middle eight, her pronunciation of “BEBBIE.” This was produced by Rock Mafia, who seem to be the in-house producers for Disney stars, but this had me convinced Selena left the shell to work with some almost-experimental nerds who saw a lot more in her but didn’t know quite what it was until they finished the song.

Brad Shoup: Man, this song is kinda squelchy, which is funny because I’m faintly hearing the high drama of bygone major-label disco. Love the internal near-rhyme of “centerfold” with “miracle” and “incredible”. A fun slice of intertextual teen pop.

Andy Hutchins: Tauter tautology hasn’t happened in 2011. Who knew Robert Palmer could be reincarnated as a Tejana Disney product? And a must-watch video!

Alfred Soto: If you’re going to love like a love song, be sure your love song is a song first, not just a couple of fetching synth farts.

Ian Mathers: I’m actually annoyed that I’d read things that made me think this song was going to be clever. You COULD do something interesting with “I love you like a love song,” but Gomez doesn’t; the phrase becomes a tautology instead, about as deep as the “wacky” video. And distressingly, like “Naturally” (which at least had a compelling chorus), it’s another single about Gomez supplicating herself at the feet of a guy with seemingly magical powers. Take “I am hypnotized by your destiny,” for example, which for some reason is worse than if you replace “destiny” with “beauty” or another quality. Selena’s man isn’t just purty, he’s the fucking Ubermensch, and all she has to/can do is sing love songs about love songs at him.

Sally O’Rourke: Selena’s flattery is a lot more convincing when it sounds like she’s getting something out of it.

Jer Fairall: I don’t know what’s in Selena’s purported record collection, but if the trashy electro-funk of this one is any indication, I fear that she has serious misconceptions about what constitutes a love song. If this is the route she’s intent on pursuing, someone get her some Scissor Sisters records so she can learn a thing or ten.

Pete Baran: Selena moans that all the love songs have already been written. Which may be true, but that’s no reason to nick the tune of “Woman In Love” by Barbra Streisand. Pointing out that pop history is over is not the best basis for an ongoing pop career. She also does not say WHAT love song she loves you like, which is problematic, as love songs come in a wide range from stalker anthems to break-up tearjerkers.

Edward Okulicz: The chorus is a nothing I can’t see the point of, but the verses glide so luxuriously by that I can hear both “I Will Survive” and “The Logical Song” in the chords and the words, and it’s like a blissful dream.

Martin Skidmore: The crude “peat-peat-peat” fragment here sounds too mechanical for me, breaking up her usual warmth. The electropop backing is bright and smooth. It’s a shame the chorus sounds so like low-rent Eurodance, irritating me a little, because the other parts of this are very good.

Michaela Drapes: I mentioned rollerskates and a wind machine the other day; this is even more pop in the Xanadu mode. You can almost even hear it done by Olivia Newton-John, and I mean this in the best possible way. The big fat synths and brisk and skippy high hat keep things modern, and the wholesomeness of the proceedings is almost novel.

Jake Cleland: Oh my god, when her voice broke on the first line I fell in love. When Selena Gomez announced she was embarking on a music career, I had high hopes that she’d displace Miley Cyrus, both because I love underdogs and I love Wizards of Waverly Place. Until she does something that syncs with a Biggie track to create one of the most sublime mashups in musical history, she’ll have work to do. The eerie and unnerving thing about this song is that it sounds so joyless, a rote description of passion with none of the passion in its delivery. Much like “Friday,” no matter how much the singer smiles in the video, it still sounds disconcertingly inhuman.

Jonathan Bogart: I still wish she sang without the little hiccuppy tics, the too-prevalent wrenching-her-voice-out-of-her-throat affectation that I guess is supposed to mean she really feels it, but if I got used to Britney Spears, I can deal here too. Because the rest of the song fulfills the electropop promise of “Naturally,” a deliberately artificial construct that reflects back only its own plastic artifice, recursive to the point of infinity. Can love songs love? Do they dream of electric sheep? Long after humanity extinguishes itself, this will drift from dead satellite to dead satellite, a robot record of itself.

Isabel Cole: I love this like a… wait, no I don’t.

32 Responses to “Selena Gomez and The Scene – Love You Like A Love Song”

  1. Seriously, this was such a missed opportunity.

  2. Gomez (SHE WILL NEVER BE SELENA TO ME!) really is the Hillary Duff to Miley’s Lindsay Lohan. Classy, restrained, tuneful, and a little boring. This song is great though. Surprised it got so many low ratings…

  3. Wonder if we’d have liked the radio promo “Bang Bang Bang” more. But she should have gone with “Whiplash” as the single because, um, Rachel Stevens rip-off written by Britney Spears = COME TO ME.

  4. “Bang Bang Bang” is fucking dismal. It’s as if everyone decided overnight that the Selena Gomez album was great, when its material is weak, every song is underwritten, and (not to start Disney feuds, but) Demi Lovato has already written one song that kicks everything’s ass that Gomez has done.

  5. Spoiler alert, surely, Katherine. We’re getting to it!

    (Unless you mean some other song.)

  6. Hey, I’m on public record with my thoughts on [redacted].

  7. Urgh. Finding it hard to bite my tongue about Demi Lovato. I can wait till we blurb it but … URGH.

    I was also surprised so few people liked this. Then again, I’ve been having flashbacks for the past few weeks to late 90’s halcyon days of teenpop, where I was endlessly mocked by my hipper, more cynical friends for falling hard for the former Mouseketeers and Kids, Inc. crowd. The more things change, etc.

  8. ps — “Bang Bang Bang” is like, the best freestyle track in about a thousand years.

  9. “Bang Bang Bang” baffles me. It’s like a light version of “Bulletproof,” a song where the only redeeming factor was how cluttered it was; Gomez barely bothers singing on it; the metaphor doesn’t even start to go nowhere; and to top it off, talk about your fucking Ubermensch.

  10. Er, right. It’s a the best freestyle track in about a thousand years. (Though, come to think of it, so was “Bulletproof”!)

    You’ve lost me with that last bit, though. Ubermensch who?

  11. Re: Ian’s blurb.

  12. Oh, that. I’d glossed over it because wow, totally don’t agree. Obvi.

  13. Oh, wait — I’m slow sometimes. Are you speaking literally or figuratively here? Becaus um, I’m not sure that her bassist can really help that he’s looks so … ubermensch-y. You know? I thought that bit with him on the beach was supposed to be funny.

  14. As far as the lyrics. I don’t hear it in this song, but “Bang Bang Bang”? Definitely. (The Ubermensch in this case is, of course, the Bieb.)

  15. I don’t really follow — this figurative ubermensch is in all her songs, then? I feel like you’re building a philosophical straw man out of conflating C.Gomez’s personal life with her pop persona. Which is to say, I still don’t agree, obvi.

    And sorry, maybe I’m just old and cranky and out of touch, but a perennially pubescent baby-faced heartthrob is not exactly someone I would label an ubermensch. He’ll just be tossed aside like so many teen idols before him. Maybe if he goes the Justin Timberlake route, we can revisit this question in a few years, and I might take your argument under advisement at that point.

  16. Like I said, I don’t hear it in this song at all. Just “Bang Bang Bang,” which borders on absolutely ridiculous.

    As far as conflating personal life vs. persona, it may or may not be valid, but everyone’s going to do it, especially fans of one or the other. (I’d never label him an ubermensch either, but um, well, there are people who really disagree.)

  17. All I hear in “Bang Bang Bang” is your standard teenage kiss-off. Of course her new boyfriend is better than her old flame. Nothing particularly deep going on there. Now, if you want to get Shavian on that song and read it with George Bernard Shaw’s spin on Nietzsche — that women are the life force intent on preserving the perpetuation of the species by ruling male/female relations with an iron fist — well, one might be on to something there, then.

    Also, I’m not particularly interested in the fact that millions of teenage girls are going to read things into all these songs that aren’t there w/r/t to her relationship with the Bieb. I don’t particularly feel that I have any critical obligation to acknowledge this fact at all, actually.

  18. Oh, it was always hyperbolic.

    As far as the millions of teenage girls reading things into these songs, that might not be interesting to you at all, but you can’t pretend this isn’t, if not the entire reason, at least a major reason why Selena Gomez’s had a career upgrade lately. Doesn’t mean you or anyone else has to dwell on it, but I’m surprised I was the only one to mention or even allude to it.

  19. Because this isn’t an ONTD comment thread.

  20. That was… harsh? It’s hard to infer tone here. Any Bieber-coding was too hidden for me to pick up on it, but if people have free reign to reference music videos in their blurbs, I don’t have any problem with people digging up the texts for objects of address.

  21. I think it’s valid, just as valid as referencing Britney Spears’ breakdown or the shitstorm around Cults or the marketing of The Weeknd or whatever. The only people who think they listen to music in a vacuum are reviewers, and even they don’t.

  22. Interesting conversation, but I wasn’t actually trying to make a philosophical point when I used the phrase “he’s the fucking Ubermensch.” I do think that the tendancy I’ve heard in some of Gomez’s songs to rave on and on about how special the guy is – not in terms of how he treats her or loves her or even in terms of how much she _likes_ him, but in terms of “destiny” and shit like that is weird, offputting, and comes across as a little bit self-negating. But that had nothing to do with Bieber or her personal life or anything other than the fact that it irks me when I hear it in her songs.

    Why read TSJ at all, if you’re only going to read the bits that you already agree with?

  23. @Ian: Thanks for clarifying. Somebody got on my case for invoking Andrew WK, I’d say the same about dropping the term ubermensch, I guess. Too loaded, and not in a way that I feel is useful in this context. Also, glossing over isn’t the same thing as not reading, promise.

  24. @katherine & brad: This is a stalemate. I don’t review things in a vacuum, but I cannot endorse dipping to a performer’s personal life to “explain” every song. I can count maybe a few instances where this is okay — “You’re So Vain,” would be one, I suppose. And sure, 360-degree view of an artist’s entire catalog in tandem with their career trajectory can be enlightening certain circumstances, usually with a bit of carefully-considered distance (c.f. Amy Winehouse, sadly, or anyone else in the 27 club). But in general, I feel like leaning on a myopic interpretation of an artist’s public persona as a crutch in a review is an intellectually immature critical philosophy to employ on a regular basis.

  25. “I cannot endorse dipping to a performer’s personal life to “explain” every song”
    “I feel like leaning on a myopic interpretation of an artist’s public persona as a crutch in a review is an intellectually immature critical philosophy to employ on a regular basis”

    Michaela, neither of these are things that Brad and Katherine (or anyone else here that I’m aware of) are doing or advocating doing. Yes, those are bad things, we agree. No, mentioning Bieber during a blurb on Selena Gomez (or “referencing Britney Spears’ breakdown or the shitstorm around Cults or the marketing of The Weeknd or whatever”) is not the same thing.

  26. I can’t take on all three of you at once, geez. I give up.

  27. I think I slightly come down on your side Michaela. The reason I didn’t give this song higher is because I don’t feel _anything_ in the chorus, it’s so detached and robotised, I just can’t process Bieber, Ubermensch or anything from it. (The verses are world-beating still!) I definitely hear that level of vague ick in other tracks on the album like “Outlaw”. I guess… Gomez doesn’t have a great deal of agency here for me to hang her personal context on to…

  28. Opposite day, Edward — I mostly love the chorus and little else here. Anyway yeah, the thing about looking at biographical context here is that you can only really do it from a POV of reception, right? You can examine how the public interacts with the song from that angle, but Selena Gomez didn’t write this song. It might not have been written for her, and there’s a good chance it was written before she and Bieber were a public thing. Her context might have something to do with the fact that it was released as a single and the possibility of it being popular, but she still didn’t write it.

  29. True, she didn’t write it. Although it’s entirely possible she and however many executive producers got into a room with the songwriters and requested that they put something together that captures the “honeymoon phase,” as Gomez is quoted on Wikipedia, describing the song. Who knows? No one? Five label execs? Thousands of single-downloading tweens?

    I’ll claim to rate a song as it hits my ears, but of course I don’t. I’m filtering a lifetime of listening practices, preferences, and prior knowledge. I can say Hot Chelle Rae sounds like All-American Rejects, or Metronomy is warmed-over Sparks, or that such-and-such is clearly the Difficult Third Record, but unless I read every available interview, I could very well be inventing connections out of whole cloth. That’s the risk. It would seem that most artists don’t have much to do with a single’s video other than saying “yes” or “no,” but visuals get referenced on the SJ all the time. It’s one thing to turn every pop single into insta-biography, but something else entirely to tease at the events that may shape a song’s creation and reception.

    Anyway, my initial comment was mostly concerned with tone. I’ve stayed off the Jukebox all day because I was afraid it read like I was hectoring Michaela or fighting a battle on behalf of someone who doesn’t give a care. And I’ll admit that I have always found the entertainment inclinations of millions of girls (and boys) inherently interesting, but no one’s under a similar obligation.

  30. Yeah, I didn’t want it to come off as I was hectoring anybody at all. Apologies if it did.

  31. I think her not writing it is not necessarily important if she sings it with conviction and feeling which I don’t know, I don’t think she does.

    Lame I know, but I think she really sells the chorus of “Who Says” which makes me think going “hey, Selena Gomez is saying THIS when she is THIS and INSERT OTHER CONTEXTUAL FACTOR HERE” is easier for that song than this one.

  32. Frustrating because the yearning is there, subsumed by an incongruous commitment to those razor-blade synths, clumsy lyrics, missed opportunities. I hear Gloria Scott, Gaynor, maybe Loleatta Holloway… because somewhere lost in this song is gorgeous, lilting disco bliss.