Release Date: Jun 2, 2015
Record label: Warner Bros.
Genre(s): Pop, R&B, Pop/Rock, Dance-Pop, Contemporary R&B
The critical press has to be running out of reasons to dump on Jason Derulo. Last year's Talk Dirty, which fashioned bulletproof melodies to a string of impeccably produced bangers and ballads, found the singer excelling at both sides of his craft; critics fixated on the album's prevalence of sexual content, earning Derulo finger-wagging indictments despite the fact that his attitude toward the opposite sex is a great deal more accommodating, and playful, than that of his peers. Truth is, the gag reflex many seem to experience when it comes to Derulo probably has more to do with a rejection of broader tendencies in pop music toward racial and gender stereotyping.
For a man who’s best-known for singing his name enough times to fill an hour, Jason Desrouleaux’s music really ascended when he decided it needed no introduction. A chart hotshot who keeps his album running times as trim as his glutes and even slimmed down his surname to better grace a billboard (or Billboard), he gives the try-anything ethos a good name and pries it from the jaws of such pop baggage as a Cultivated Persona or a Social Media Presence. Last year’s excellent Talk Dirty almost didn’t see a U.S.
Jason Derulo released only one single in 2014, but that song, "Wiggle," was among the year's most distinctive hits and maintained the singer's mainstream presence. In early 2015, Derulo released the first single from Everything Is 4. "Want to Want Me" was roughly as effective as what preceded it, a Top 10 pop hit in a bunch of countries, including the U.S.
There's a vague poetry to Jason Derulo's latest album title, Everything is 4, and it's one he tried, even more vaguely, to summarize in a recent TIME interview: "The number four is a sense of completion, almost." It's easy to see what the 25-year-old singer might be getting at—the number suggests balance, structure, and rhythm, with plenty of musical and metaphysical significance—but Derulo seems more attracted to the general idea than the specifics. Clichés persist for a reason, after all: they can be incredibly effective. "We want to go see a great movie because we want to be moved," he said later in the same interview.
Everything Is 4 opens with the lush disco of lead single "Want to Want Me," creates dance-floor havoc with a few off-kilter EDM breakdowns and dips its toes into breezy Swedish island pop. Jason Derulo jumps into every track with equal enthusiasm, his reassuring voice adapting easily to each new setting and providing continuity across the LP. Strangest of all is "Broke," which features Keith Urban and Stevie Wonder and sounds like Kanye, Rihanna and Paul McCartney covering Pitbull and Kesha's "Timber." It's a jumble of banjo licks, hip-hop chants and harmonica drops, but Derulo makes it sound like a hit.
To understand the true chameleon that is Jason Derulo, it’s instructive to start with “Broke,” a collaboration with Mr. Derulo, Stevie Wonder and Keith Urban. There are no typos or factual errors in that sentence. “Broke” begins with Mr. Wonder singing “mo’ money, mo’ problems,.
Despite three inconsistent records, Jason Derulo has become a bona fide hitmaker, with an impressive string of cleverly produced singles heavy on irresistible hooks and innuendo. His fourth release is his most engaging, filled with carefully designed fluffernutter dance pop. While the disc seems born more out of calculation than inspiration (some songs have five writers) there’s an undeniable appeal to the savviest tracks (“Want to Want Me”).