Nice Hits! is a Reverb column that unironically dissects, reviews, and appreciates the best songs of the current Top 40. It is unsnobbishly premised on>"/>
Nice Hits! is a Reverb column that unironically dissects, reviews, and appreciates the best songs of the current Top 40. It is unsnobbishly premised on the logic that just because a lot of the music on the radio is crap doesn't mean all the music on the radio is crap.
The hit: "Love You Like a Love Song," Selena Gomez & The Scene (off When the Sun Goes Down).
Current chart position: #59 on the Billboard Hot 100 (it's only ever peaked at #35).
The team: "Love Song" was written and produced by Antonina Armato and Tim James, a husband-and-wife team who work under the moniker Rock Mafia. Back in the '80s, Armato wrote "I Still Believe," the tremendous Brenda K. Starr ballad that was later famously covered and done better by Mariah Carey. These days, Rock Mafia's primary work is with Disney starlets--they've written a string of forgettable and occasionally cringeworthy tunes for Gomez's contemporaries Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Vanessa Hudgens, and Miranda Cosgrove. Rock Mafia also created one of Gomez's first singles, "Naturally," but "Love Song" represents a sophisticated departure for both the singer and the songwriters.
Breakdown: At this point, Gomez, 18, is better known for being a Disney star and Justin Bieber's girlfriend than for being a singer. When the Sun Goes Down is her third album, but her music has mostly been forgettable fluff; When the Sun Goes Down's first single, "Who Says," is a good example--it's sweet but too cheesy to appeal to anyone older than the Disney crowd. "Love Song" doesn't suffer from that problem. The setup is sparse--it's powered by a dubstep wobble bass, and the song is mostly composed of just that bass, a steady drum beat, and Gomez's vocals. The verses flow smoothly and harmoniously, there are some quietly sweeping strings, and the repetitive chorus is infectious in its simplicity. It's eminently danceable. In this song (and video), Gomez pulls off being sultry without the vulgar desperation that Miley Cyrus has been resorting to in her songs. "Love Song" is electropop magic--inoffensive but still sexy enough for the adults.
P.S. The above video is the one that originally featured some horses dyed pink, which angered Pink and PETA. I bet they liked being pink and fancy.