Jason Derulo has an anonymously decent voice, the personality of toast, and a knack for making hits. When he arrived on the scene in 2009 with “Whatcha Say,” I pegged him as a one-hit wonder and here we are, six years and four albums later, still talking about Jason Derulo. His most recent hit, “Want to Want Me,” is as infectious as anything he’s ever released and the album it comes from, Everything Is 4 (get it—it’s his fourth?!), is at least half great. I’d give it a 5 out of 12 (there are 12 songs on it; five are good), which is more than I’d give most pop albums that I’ve heard this year.
Spin’s Dan Weiss, though, gave it an 8 out of 10. In his effusive review, Weiss wrote, “Without ever getting deeper than ‘You’re blessed from behind / I’ma take you to church,’ Derulo’s latest, Everything Is 4, proves he’s a workhorse, with possibly even (gulp) a vision.” Weiss essentially said to Derulo, Hey man, I see you for what you are, and not only do I accept you, but I love you for it. Still this was not good enough for Derulo, who if you weren’t aware, is the kind of person to remind you that he’s “really fucking successful.”
The second time we speak is at Warner Brothers HQ, in a comfortable living room of sorts, next to a foosball table, the day before Everything Is 4 is released. My review of the album went live earlier in the day, and Derulo is editing that. “I felt like that one was just jab after jab after jab. Like, I thought you were the worst review that I’ve seen thus far,” he tells me, trying to pull it up on his phone. (I gave it an eight out of 10 and called it the pop album of the year.)
“It mostly mentioned, like, fourth-grade lyrics, and, Michael Jackson being eons and eons away. It was just unnecessary jabs,” he says. We have to agree to disagree on the cleverness of linking the juvenile lyrical content of his Summer of Ass-defining 2014 hit “Wiggle” to the recorder flute behind it, an instrument typically taught in elementary school. “But you didn’t make that clear though, not the way you wrote it!” he says. His eyes are gigantic.
After some back and forth where I surprise even myself, we reach a détente where I’m not convinced he understands that a review isn’t a press release, but he does seem to realize I’m a fan. “When I heard you singing song lyrics,” he observes — caught me singing along to Everything Is 4 over the stereo when his crew arrived — “It seems like you listened to the album and spent some time.” This exchange is a lot more polite and charitable than it reads, but every bit as intense.
“I like to hear what other people have to say,” Derulo relents. “Not that it actually matters, because you know at the end of the day, I’m really fucking successful.”
Congratulations on your fucking success, Derulo. Now stop reading your own press if you can’t handle it, ya big baby.
[Image via Getty]