Review | Jason Derulo’s ‘Everything Is 4’ disappoints by not being entirely terrible

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Everything Is 4

[Atlantic Records]

You’ve got to hand it to Jason Desrouleaux, A.K.A Jason Derulo. Firstly, he’s clearly loyal to the fans that he apparently has as he shovels out his disgustingly gimmicky and vanilla R&B pop albums at a rapid, yearly rate that would make even the likes of Rihanna blush. Secondly, he  must also care – at least somewhat – for  his  detractors considering that he likes to open his songs by generously crooning his own name in such ridiculous fashion that the only logical reason for doing so is that he wants to give listeners a chance to change the station to avoid the awfulness that will soon ensue.

Our Jason is generous like that. Last year, this ‘true auteur’ of modern times gave us the ear-bleedingly bad yet still somehow ubiquitous single ‘Wiggle’, a song so atrocious that it’s  memorable for all the wrong reasons. The hook alone could have been stumbled upon accidentlally by a toddler with a tin whistle.

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It comes as bit of a surprise then that  his new album, Everything Is 4, might actually be closer to be being decent than truly bad. For an artist with Derulo’s track record, however, maybe  making music that’s only okay is the worst crime of all. Take opener ‘Want to Want Me’ for example, an undeniably infectious stomp that stands out as the best thing the man’s released to date. That may be like saying The Rock is Michael’s Bay best work but in both cases, it just so happens to be true. It proves that the man is actually capable of being fun as  he cheerfully ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ on typically chirpy love song. Sure, it cheaply worms its way into your ear as you would expect, but at least it doesn’t make you reassess the notion that mankind is a progressive species like a song like ‘Trumpets’ does.

On other songs he’s even more successful. On the trap-influenced ‘Pull Up’, he gives us an interesting mish-mash of styles and displays a creative ambition that he has rarely shown before. It sounds like something off Yeezus but also somehow at the same time the kind of music we expected Justin Timberlake to make on his comeback. And yes, I did just write that.  This more eclectic sound is also apparent in the joyous club-like ‘Try Me’, a harmlessly affable track that features Jennifer Lopez, a likely future single. So where are all the embarrassingly bad songs and moments that usually make Derulo such an easy artist to hate? Well, they are here too, just not as  frequent as one might expect.

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On what may be my favourite moment on the album, Derulo has Meghan Trainor take over  the duty of carrying out that vocal trademark that everyone loves as she soulfully sings his name  on the intro of the mostly vacuous ‘Painkiller’.   Maybe Derulo  feels like he’s now successful enough where he  deserves a hype woman to take care  of  his sonic signature. I suppose no one told him that  a  bleach white, kitchsy pop star that doesn’t particularly  care for skinny women may not be the best champion to have if  he’s trying to build any sort of street creditability.

The album hits its lowest point on the weepy ‘Trade Hearts’ which is so  generic and corn fed that   it’s surprising that this isn’t the track that Trainor features on: “So I wish I could trade hearts with you/ So I can feel the same way you do”, he sings – empathy doesn’t get more lazily literal than this. It’s hard to believe  that Derulo is capable of sincerity at all anyway, when he claims that “mo money” = “mo problems” on ‘Broke’ which ironically sounds a little too much like a certain Timberlake song (‘Like I Love You’, for those interested). If Derulo –  who’s worth an estimated $8.5 Million- isn’t being disingenuous here, he must be more stressed out than a high-ranking FIFA official.

Overall the majority of the LP isn’t really all  that bad, rather it’s just fine. Perhaps though, by making music that’s so middle of the road, Derulo has become even less remarkable. In rising to the level of mediocre, his songs aren’t actually as memorable as something as laughably awful as ‘Wiggle’. Some credit is to be bestowed for this but Jason Derulo ultimately disappoints by not being terrible.


Featured Image Credit: Ben Watts