Even though he began his career writing hits for the likes of Diddy and Sean Kingston, singer/songwriter Jason Derülo always had his eye on becoming a solo performer. His Auto-Tuned, Imogen Heap-sampling debut single, “Watcha Say,” was an infectious, slick, and on-point way to launch a career, but his debut album is less satisfying, even with plenty of the same well-crafted, futuristic R&B as his breakthrough tune. Since Derulo seems entirely devoted to the song, the problem may lie with the album format itself.
"Nine hits, one album" claims the sticker on the front of this 20-year-old Floridian's debut – an optimistic way of selling a record that's produced precisely two hits to date. To give Jason Derülo credit, though, there will undoubtedly be more. He's followed an increasingly well-trodden path to R&B success by first serving an apprenticeship as a songwriter (for Lil' Wayne, Diddy, et al), so he's got the craft of making modern, hyper-slick tunes nailed.
This 20-year-old Miami native hit No. 1 last year with ”Whatcha Say,” a tasty club-pop confection built atop a sizable chunk of Imogen Heap’s 2005 hit ”Hide and Seek.” On Jason Derulo, though, Derulo has trouble making an impression. Sure, his precision-geared vocals are ?teen-dreamy enough, but tracks like the robo-folky ”Encore” and the dreary piano ballad ”What If”’ sound pilfered from Ne-Yo’s discard pile.
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.