A Time for Poptimism: The Party Starts ‘When the Sun Goes Down,’ Selena Gomez Alleged

Courtesy of Hollywood RecordsSelena Gomez & The Scene released “When the Sun Goes Down” in June 2011.
Graphic by Alec Karam “A TIme for Poptimism” is A&E Editor Alec Karam’s column about music appreciation.

The week of Oct. 6, 2011 saw “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 reign supreme for its fourth week at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, with Adele’s “Someone Like You” and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” helping round out the top five.

Rising on the backburner was Selena Gomez & the Scene’s “Love You Like a Love Song” at 56. The electropop hit ­— the definitive track of the Disney Channel’s star early career — stands tall on the third (and final) Selena Gomez & the Scene album, “When the Sun Goes Down.”

The 2011 album was a finale to not only the so-called band (did any members of the Scene ever truly exist? Please come forward, if so), but to Gomez’s Disney career as a whole. With “Wizards of Waverly Place” wrapping in January 2012, it was the end of a triumphant era.

This week in “Poptimism,” we continue traveling the barriers of space and time, landing on yet another schticky, overproduced pop album.

Look — this column came about in March 2020 when I thought this pandemic would last a few months. But here we are in October 2021, Nicki Minaj fans spearheading the war against vaccines and my aunt Ashley arguing masks are “child abuse” at my grandpa’s 92nd birthday dinner.

Thankfully, he and my grandma are vaccinated — shout out to them. They read print newspapers, not Facebook.

While the world is still a dire place, we’ll continue to escape. “When the Sun Goes Down” is a formidable pick-me-up, an album which drags you out of your mood and into the groove.

Although Gomez has gone on to disown her early work, dubbing her 2015 album “Revival” and 2019 album “Rare” “SG1” and “SG2,” her lack of personal taste has no effect on ours.

“When the Sun Goes Down” is top-tier, electropop art. Emulating Britney Spears’ “Blackout” and Lady Gaga’s “The Fame,” Gomez successfully channeled the pop greats with this work.

Spears actually co-wrote “Whiplash,” a standout track in Gomez’s discography. Yes, the same Britney Spears who some have claimed can’t write her own music. Well, she writes and rocks — take that, “Austin & Ally.”

Gomez’s album — winner of three Teen Choice Awards — was misunderstood by critics. Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone gave the album a paltry two stars and wrote, “Gomez may be the most boring teen-pop star of her generation. She makes Ashley Tisdale seem like Lady Gaga.”

While Rosen radiated on a different echelon than those of us with taste — further exemplified by her implication Ashley Tisdale isn’t a revolutionary herself — “When the Sun Goes Down” has stood the test of time.

In the hit single “Who Says,” Gomez asked, “Who says you’re not perfect?” Apparently, Jody Rosen.

To appreciate the album, one has to transcend pretension and remember it’s OK for music to simply be enjoyable. No, not a single lyric in this album is profound. You can know not a lick of English and savor it the same, maybe even more.

A contender for album lyrical highlight is “You make me so upset sometimes / I feel like I could lose my mind” from “My Dilemma.” What “My Dilemma” lacks in lyrical prowess, though, it makes up for in the exceptional pop-rock production. Co-producer Rock Mafia also made Miley Cyrus’ Earth-shattering “Can’t be Tamed,” snapping even further with this banger.

The title track is an anthem. “I check my iPhone / Let me see what’s going on,” Gomez sings in a sharply relatable first verse.

“The party doesn’t start until the sun goes down / That’s when everything starts movin’,” she proclaims in the chorus.

As the semester kicks into high-gear and sleep becomes more of an option than an expectation — I’m writing this at 12:33 a.m. with the full intention to read two articles about GMOs tonight— take back the power of being a night owl.

When the sun goes down, we are contractually obliged to start moving. No excuses.

“When the Sun Goes Down” is available on all streaming services.

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