Enter the latest American Idol contestant to jump into the album chart race. Last remembered by television viewers as the young R&B/pop songstress beat out by current chart topper Phillip Phillips in Season 11, Jessica Sanchez is back on the scene with new record deal, an upcoming role on Glee, and a full-length debut album You, Me and the Music.
While Sanchez is primarily remembered for her penchant for power ballads, it’s apparent that she’s been doing her homework the past year. Her Interscope release shows a much wider range, as Sanchez balances ballads like “Plastic Roses” with “Crazy Glue” with dance club tunes like power-opener “Right to Fall”, “You’ve Got the Love” and her Ne-Yo featured single “Tonight.” Solidly produced and well-arranged, You, Me and the Music reveals a Jessica Sanchez with both the energy and vocal mastery to become the next big pop star.
The question of the day is: will she?
The biggest obstacle with Sanchez’s musical direction here is not so much the quality of the record (because as a pop album, it’s formulaically flawless), nor her talent (which is beyond dispute)…but rather the playing field into which she has stepped. Modern pop is suffering from an ingrown oversaturation of similar sounds and beats, so that everything sounds like everything else. I’m pulling for Sanchez here, but at the same time I’m looking for some element, some factor, that makes her stand out among a slew of other female R&B-tinged pop stars, and I’m coming up short. The music is good, but it doesn’t really stand out. Again, it isn’t a matter of quality; it’s a matter of context.
What this means for Jessica Sanchez is that You, Me and the Music certainly has the potential to propel her to superstardom—but whether or not it actually does may be a matter of playing the lottery. She’s well-positioned with a well-produced and well-marketed debut, and Ne-Yo’s guest appearance on her single can only help. The sails are raised; the question is whether the winds of popularity will blow in her direction.
In short—her success from this point is largely up to her fans. For me, though, I don’t put a lot of faith in popular trends. It may take more than trendy dance rhythms and celebrity guest appearances to carry Sanchez for the long haul.