Album Review: Justin Guarini, “Justin Guarini” (2003)

Last summer, I was one of the many people who religiously watched American Idol every week. I laughed at the deluded rejects, sometimes agreed with Simon’s brutally honest critiques, and sympathized with those who didn’t receive enough votes to make it to the next round. Like most, I had my favourite “Idols” who I would root for and occasionally throw a few votes to. If you guessed my favourite last year was Justin Guarini, you’d be correct.

Now, almost a year later, Justin has released his self-titled debut effort. It’s full of R&B tracks, heart-felt ballads, and up-tempo dance tracks; leaving me not the least bit disappointed. In fact, it’s much better than I expected.

The disc opens with “One Heart Too Many”, which has a sort of “Latin” vibe to it. I’ve noticed that almost every R&B singer has a “Latin” song on their album. The whole thing is a bit boring, and I have to admit this song is too. It’s unfortunate that they picked such a weak song to start off such a great album.

Justin originally debuted “I Saw Your Face” on AI, and I loved it then. I love it even more now. Justin’s voice comes off much smoother on the studio version, and he actually purrs “I wanna get closer to ya, baby”, during a music break. Sexy man.  “Be A Heartbreaker” is an up-tempo R&B song in which Justin warns a girl about guys who are “players”. The song itself is actually very sweet, but I don’t care for it. Although the chorus is very catchy, I hate listening to it, because it seems Justin’s voice is lost among the back-up singers. Another complaint I have with this song is the talking in the background. It wouldn’t bother me so much if the male voice belonged to Justin, but since it’s just the producer, it’s quite annoying. This song reminds me of many of the songs on Usher’s 8701, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing (seeing as how I love that album). This song isn’t a skip, but not one of my favorites.

I had my issues with “Unchained Melody” when Justin sang it on AI. I think it wasn’t one of his best performances, and when I heard it was to be released as a single, I nearly fainted. Now that I’ve heard the album version, I actually love it. Justin’s voice is crystal clear in the song, and quite beautiful. It’s surprisingly one of my favorites off the album, seeing as how I hated it before.

Being one of the more “funkier” tracks on the album, “Sorry” has been chosen as the first single. A wise choice, in my opinion. From the pounding drums in the beginning of the song, to Justin’s sultry delivery, there’s a lot to love. I can see it being a big hit. From other reviews I have read, listeners either love or hate “Inner Child.” I love it. Justin pulls you in on the first note, and keeps you hooked to the last. Sure, the song is pure fluff, but it’s fun fluff. It’s the perfect thing to listen to before a night out with your friends. A great summer anthem.

Brian McKnight loaned “Condition Of My Heart” to Justin, and you can tell. It has Brian written all over it- from the melody to the “my heart is broken, but I’ll be alright” lyrics. Justin sings it wonderfully, though, without coming off as a Brian Mcknight impersonator. “Doin’ Things (We’re Not Supposed To)” is the only song on the album that I absolutely don’t like. I anticipated listening to this particular song after reading the title ,but once I heard it, I felt cheated. Justin is very sexy, and this song obviously tries to cash in on that, but ends up coming off as very contrived. It seems like Justin is trying way too hard to be sexy, and at the same time earn street cred (by using “slang”) in this song, and it makes me want to roll my eyes.

My only complaint about Wade Robson (co-writer and producer of “If You Wanna”) is that all his songs have the same type of futuristic/ Micheal Jackson type beat. Compare this song to the title track off of *NSYNC’s Celebrity album, and What It’s Like To Be Me, a song Wade produced on Britney Spears’ last album, Britney, and you basically have the same song. It seems like Wade is recycling beats or something. With my rant out of the way, I’d like to say that I do like this song, and it’s more than listenable.

“Thinking Of You” is one of my favorite songs on the album. The lyrics are very sweet and humble, and reminds me of a Justin Timberlake’s song, Let’s Take A Ride (probably due to the fact that Timberlake co-wrote the song). This song is much better, though. Justin’s voice is, again, very smooth and clear. Absolutely beautiful.

I thought I was tired of “Get Here” by now (and I should be, seeing as how Justin was made to sing it at every appearance he made after the AI finale), but the album cut is simply stunning. I can’t seem to stress how amazing Justin’s voice is, but this song really proves that he has the vocals to back up his place as runner-up on AI1.

The album ends with “Timeless”, a duet with Kelly Clarkson, which also appears in the movie, From Justin: To Kelly. The song would come off a lot better if Clarkson’s power-house vocals didn’t drown out Justin during the chorus. Justin resurfaces towards the end, eventually ending the song on a good note.

Justin Guarini’s self-titled debut is a solid effort.  The mix of R&B and pop songs suit him well, and makes for a satisfying release.

Rating: 200px-4_stars.svg

Track Listing
1. One Heart Too Many
2. I Saw Your Face
3. Be a Heartbreaker
4. Unchained Melody
5. Sorry
6. How Will You Know
7. Inner Child
8. Condition of My Heart
9. Doin’ Things (We’re Not Supposed to)
10. If You Wanna
11. Thinking of You
12. Get Here
13. Timeless

*This is a brittpinkie “classic” review. I have edited this review for content and formatting, though retained my original opinion of the product.

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