Selena Gomez and the Scene: A Year Without Rain Reviews - Portrait Reviews

Selena Gomez and the Scene: A Year Without Rain
Review by: Amanda

If any of you read my review of Selena (and her band's) debut album last year, you know that I wasn't a huge fan of her as a singer. But it wasn't Selena herself that gave me so much trouble with that album, it was the song choice. Her first album was full of pop tracks that all sounded the same, songs that all relied way too much on electronic assistance instead of Selena's vocals. This time around though, she's got song writers like Fefe Dobson and Katy Perry giving her some help, and she's definitely matured a bit over the last year, so my hopes were a little bit higher.

Round and Round is the first single from the album, and I think it was a smart choice for the track list to be led with the first single. It's good to give fans something they already know the words to right at the beginning. Now, it has a lot of the dance-pop elements that her first CD was full of, but this track is done so much better than anything on the debut album. The speaking part isn't all that great, but the song is addictive. And Selena's voice is actually recognizable instead of digitally altered beyond recognition. Always a plus.

A Year Without Rain is the second single, and it holds on to that dance-pop genre. I don't like it as much as the first track, but it shows that Selena has definitely allowed her sound to mature. Her voice sounds great on the song; she even plays around with singing in her upper register. So even though it isn't exactly my favorite, I applaud the effort here.

Rock God has such an awesome sound. It is so much more rock than anything I've ever heard from Selena before, and she sounds even better here than she does in her pop comfort zone. It is such a turn around, and such a mature sound, compared to her other stuff. It's great. I wish more of her tracks were like this. Of course, seeing how this is co-written by Katy Perry, and Katy's even got some backing vocals in there, I can't say that I'm surprised that I really enjoyed this. Katy's got a knack for penning songs that you want to listen to over and over until you wear the CD out. But with Selena's vocals, she could easily learn from Katy and take this route.

Off The Chain has a similar sound to a techno-dance song by Cascada, with the exception that Selena is singing in her normal lower register for most of the song. I really don't like it. But, that's only because it isn't really my style. It's definitely something you could dance to though if you do like the “club sound.”

Summer's Not Hot is another dance-pop track with a bit of a techno feel, but it has a more fun sound to it that “Off the Chain.” I have a feeling if she would have released this as a single over the summer, it probably would have hit really well, even better than the two she did release. Again, it's not my favorite, but this one isn't bad either.

Intuition has a lot of vocal distortion going on, but, here, it works to Selena's advantage. It gives the song a bit more depth than it would have had without it. The male vocals on the track are provided by one of the writers for the song, and it's interesting, but I don't think it was really necessary. Although... I feel like Selena got to do mainly the chorus on this, not the regular verses, so it doesn't feel like it's entirely her song.

Spotlight works well as a “girl power” song, intent on making sure everyone knows that everyone has bad days. And honestly, it reminds me of a Hannah Montana song or two, except that it's even more manufactured. There's just so much editing on her voice and it starts to get grating after a while. Definitely one of the songs I liked least on the album.

Ghost of You finally allows Selena to open a song with just her voice. And she sounds really good on this track. For a ballad, the song is a little repetitive, but she does a good job of trying to get you to pay attention to the way the song should make you feel instead of just listening to the refrains.

Sick of You has that club beat in the background with quick music that is easy to dance to and a pop sound. Pretty typical Selena, but much better than the earlier dance-pop tracks. I think it's too middle of the road to ever be made into a single, but it's a nice addition to the disc.

Live Like There's No Tomorrow finishes the album off with a mellow sounding, and super Disney friendly, message of living your life to the fullest. It's something that could be on the soundtrack to any Disney movie, but also, something that could easily make it on to any adult easy listening radio station. It's a nice way to end the album. Definitely a welcome change from the dance tracks that Selena seems to gravitate towards.

Though Selena does seem intent on holding fast to the dance-pop style, with a bit of techno thrown in here and there for good measure, just like she did on her first album, the tracks she's got here are a definite improvement over her previous effort. She's trying out new things and experimenting a little with her sound. I was actually able to listen to this album all the way through without getting a migraine, which, I'm sorry to say, I couldn't do on her first. Because I think that she is such a talented person, I can't be happier with this album. Yes, there are a few tracks that, now that I've heard them, I don't really care to listen to again, but overall, this is a great album.