As hot as a deep-frozen chicken fillet, this soulless Auto-Tune-fest is one to avoid.
Mike Diver 2010
BBC chart blog critic Fraser McAlpine summarised baby-faced American-Haitian RnB superstar Jason Derülo thusly, in a review of his single In My Head: “(he) is basically a one-man Lynx advert, where the version of reality he would most like to see happen is straight out of a 14-year-old boy's ideal of what girls are really like.”
If it wasn’t for the desire to get at least somewhere close to a rough-guide word count, we could just leave things there. This is music that rings shrilly with a deafening hollowness, an unashamed fakery akin to a dream-state where fantasy and reality have become mixed and hopelessly muddied. In Derülo’s world, the everyday is always a neat place to be, with saucy encounters only a shopping trip away and where every conversation is characterised by completely ridiculous Auto-Tune’d vocoder vocals.
Honestly, was nobody paying attention when Jay-Z released Death of Auto-Tune? That’s Jay-Z… y’know, the massively successful hip hop star who artists like Derülo should look up to as an example of an outsider overcoming the majority on largely his own terms. When Jay-Z releases an album, critics care; when he releases a single, the download-guzzling public go crazy for it. He’s harnessed a difficult dichotomy – mainstream acceptance and the respect of music writers who used to determine what was hot, and what was absolutely not.
Assessed on such old-school terms, this self-titled album is as hot as the frozen chicken fillets that’ve been sitting in the bottom of your freezer since you cancelled that barbecue at the last minute in the summer of 2006. You should chuck them out, really, but they’re lodged in there whether you like it or not. Again, a parallel presents itself: as undeniably terrible as these songs are, a select few do bore in deeply, albeit against one’s wishes.
Which, to an extent, is the sign of a fine pop song. On the other hand, the Crazy Frog did okay for himself (himself, right? He had a ding-a-ling, didn’t he?), and that song ranks among the ‘Greatest’ Pop Abominations Ever. So, yes, Whatcha Say – which rips both Imogen Heap and a not-particularly-funny Saturday Night Live sketch – and In My Head have a certain catchiness to them, and What If and Blind raise unintentional smiles. But all sorts of diseases are catchy, too, and just like Derülo’s debut album, you want rid of them as soon as possible.