Monday, May 20th, 2013

Jason Derulo – The Other Side

It’s Jasons Monday!


Scott Mildenhall: Jason Derulo (in fact, did it not use to be Derülo?) belongs to the Taio Cruz and Pixie Lott school of pop. All are, both musically and as “personalities.” completely unspectacular but somehow manage to just about cling to relevance, even ambling into multiple number one singles as they go. What sets Derulo apart, however, is that his mediocrity, while consistent, is offset by a tendency towards the ludicrous, especially samples from sources as diverse as Imogen Heap, Irene Cara, Johann Pachelbel, Harry Belafonte, Robin S, a Bulgarian choir and Toto. Disappointingly, “The Other Side” is a Derulo song without a sample. It’s Dec without Ant, Paul without Barry; unwittingly daft (“eating off my spoon”?), but lacking real, out and out silliness. Perhaps with the surreptitious removal of his umlaut, he lost all of his power.

Jonathan Bogart: He certainly sounds committed — did some executive pull him aside and tell him this is his last shot before being returned to wherever he came from? — but the circa-2010 production isn’t fresh enough to carry him along, not retro enough to be cool. So he’s left to fall back on his personality. Oops.

Will Adams: Jason Derulo feels like he’s living a teenage dream, though it’s not a dream that I’ve had or would like to have. Not with that howling, and definitely not with an ultimatum like “kiss me like it’s do or die.”

Patrick St. Michel: I know what will pump up Jason Derulo’s sagging career! A song about living for tonight, and about disturbing the peace, and treating everything like it’s “do or die.” Even better, make it sound like every dance-pop song of the last five years, and add nothing that could make this stand out from Chris Brown.

Alfred Soto: Vocals more indebted to Usher than ever but reluctant to change a second of his aerobicized Euroglide, Derulo sounds committed to a song he should have cheated on.

Jer Fairall: Falling in love with your best friend is a lyrical conceit that I’m particularly vulnerable to; why else would Alanis Morissette’s “Head Over Feet” have snuck onto so many of my high school-era mix tapes? Derulo rather sweetly captures some of the feeling of the anxiety that accompanies the possibility of crossing that line in the first couple of verses, but by the time he reaches his oversized chorus he’s reduced it all to so much generic sentiment. “Tonight, take me to the other side,” he commands, sounding far too confident for there to be all that much at stake here after all.

Anthony Easton: The hedonism here is so dull and hidebound that I cannot imagine what the other side might be. Is it the line between friends and lovers? Does Derulo realize that you cannot fuck your friends?

Katherine St Asaph: Just kiss her already. And think less about the friend zone. Or being Dr. Luke two years ago.

Brad Shoup: I listened to a couple things this weekend that “The Other Side” puts me in mind of. First is Pat Benatar’s “Shadows of the Night,” which winds up in the same place — give me one night, we’ll be together — but gets there with worn-smooth metaphors and an existential intensity. It’s quite possible Benatar plans to get there with drink and sex, but the idea of passion is much more fun than the practice of it. “The Other Girl” is prosaically prescriptive, with Derulo referencing a fairly specific meet-cute and predicting specific reactions (and nonchalantly implying a bit of drunk driving). The other side is nothing more than a bedroom door. The second thing was a brief NPR feature on Genesis P-Orridge’s marriage to Lady Jaye Breyer. Genesis and Jaye famously used a shitload of Rick Rubin’s money to modify their bodies so they would look as alike as possible. They saw themselves as one person stuck in two sets of moveable parts. Taking an idea of monogamy — couples eventually look and act alike, or so the joke goes — to a logical, induced terminus, they gave us a radical challenge to identity, as well as a wonderful little love story. Their “other side” was a mystical, spiritual union that transcended bullshit like aging and distance and stomach cancer. Jason’s, again, is pop’s desperate invocation of desperation at best, straight fucking with baggage at worst. (And what kind of merging is possible when he closes the track by shouting himself out?) Pop can portray taking the leap as a matter of fact, or a situation of massive import. The thudding kick and gritting synths of “The Other Side” split the difference miserably. There are no archetypes, and there is no swoon. It’s a means to an end, when no end should have ever been implied.

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