Jason Derulo - Talk Dirty Review
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 04.15.2014
R&B star Jason Derulo is back with Talk Dirty, his third American studio LP! But is this collection of club songs able to put him back on top or is it just a collection of soulless pop schmaltz? 411's Jeremy Thomas checks in with his full review!
It's been a while since American audiences have heard much from Jason Derulo. The pop/R&B singer made quite a splash when he released his self-titled debut LP in 2010, bolstered with the megahits of "Whatcha Say" and "In My Head." The album wasn't big with critics but it made the singer a household name not only in the United States but overseas. His 2011 sophomore effort Future History saw him push his musical maturity forward a bit, but didn't quite have the same penetration domestically as the previous effort. With a few years off in the US, Derulo focused his efforts overseas where he was having more commercial success and released a third album, titled Tattoos, which never saw a commercial release in North America late last year. Now he's back here in his home country as the American version of Tattoos, Talk Dirty, drops domestically in the hopes of regaining his luster among US music listeners.
For Talk Dirty, Derulo took several tracks off of Tattoos and put them together with new music for an American audience that hadn't yet heard most of the music on radio or in stores. Of the eleven tracks on the new album, seven appeared on the old one and one would assume he chose the best pieces of music, in order to put his best foot forward. Sadly, the only foot forward he's looking for is chart success. And let's not be coy about this; there's nothing wrong with seeking chart success. The music industry is in fact an industry and if you're not making money for yourself and your label then you're not getting very far. But it is entirely possible to create music that is catchy and built for radio play while also having levels of quality lyrical content.
And lyrical quality is exactly what's missing throughout most of Talk Dirty. The problem is obvious right from the opener, which is the 2 Chainz-featured title track that also serves as the first official domestic single. While the Ricky Reed-produced track has some great production moments--most prevalently the inspired use of horns in the chorus--the song isn't just empty from a lyrical standpoint; it's flat-out lazy. The hook of "Been around the world, don't speak the language/but your booty don't need explaining" is silly and when we get to the breakdown before Chainz' typically-uninspired verse ("Her pussy's so good, I bought her a pet"), Derulo tries to rhyme Rio with "me-yo" and "ménage a three, though." That's the kind of lyrics we're dealing with here, and it makes for an occasionally-pretty but hollow mess of a song.
That lyrical problem runs throughout the entirety of the album. "Wiggle" is a club banger about butt-shaking, with Snoop Dogg popping in to drop a quip every now and then while Derulo sings about making girls "famous on Instagram" if they shake it. The slide whistle between the chorus and verses punctuates the song okay but the beat is garden-variety and Reed doesn't do all that much to save this one. "Trumpets" is up next and in this one, Derulo can't even come up with creative analogies so instead he resorts to letting his girl know that her various body parts remind her of songs from other famous artists like Kanye West, Katy Perry and Coldplay. The song practically screams "I can't figure out how to come up with a good line myself, so try to think of these songs and they'll do the work for me."
The most frustrating about this album is that Derulo is a talented singer. He's like Chris Brown without the tabloid baggage and anger-control issues; a talented pop/R&B singer who can't write a worthy song to save his life. And even that's not entirely true because there are a couple of good songs on here. The first is "Vertigo," a powerful duet with his significant other Jordin Sparks that uses both of their voices to maximum effect with a minimal piano arrangement in the background and a cohesive lyrical concept as well. "The Other Side" is a nice mid-tempo number that is built for radio (it already made its way onto the charts last year on the strength of the music video) and shows Derulo at his best from a mainstream, commercial standpoint. There's also "Stupid Love," with a nice production set from RedOne and Rush & BeatGeek; it sees Derulo channeling the best of his R&B tendencies into a pop-flavored number that blows most recent efforts by his contemporaries out of the water.
Sadly, these moments are very few and far between on an eleven-track album where he's recycling not only from Tattoos, but from his own songs for the few originals. "Kama Sutra" shares "Wiggle" and "Trumpets'" tendencies for banal and ridiculously bad lyrics, including one awful moment where he tries to use "hentai" as a seductive term. Certainly animated Japanese tentacle pornography is what every girl wants to be thinking of when they're in the mood for a sexy jam. And Kid Ink's contribution shows that he doesn't have a lot to offer beyond the mediocre effort that was his own 2014 LP My Own Lane; he delivers what amounts to the cookie-cutter rap contribution over the dull DJ Mustard-produced musical track.
The biggest problem with Talk Dirty isn't a specific lyric here or there, though. It isn't the half-hearted verses from the featured rappers, and it isn't even the occasionally dull production work. (If you're looking for all of these problems at once by the way, check out the hilariously awful Tyga-featured "Bubblegum.") These all contribute of course, but it all points to a systematic issue running through the entire album. At its core, Talk Dirty represents the height of club-pop mediocrity. The album isn't so much about saying anything new and sexy as it is about going through the motions so you can climb the charts; it's like repeating the same pick-up lines you've heard everyone else say, only to the exact same people you saw them used on.
Standout Tracks: "Vertigo," "The Other Side," "Stupid Love"
The 411: Jason Derulo's third American LP Talk Dirty is the latest in a line of empty, half-hearted pop/R&B that is sure to infect (and indeed, already has infected) the singles charts with catchy but terrifyingly bad efforts. While Derulo is a talented singer who has a lot to offer when matched up with a solid song, the production lets him down and the lyrics doubly so, leaving this as a mess of an album that will hopefully be forgotten by the music-listening public in short order.