Kristinia DeBarge ((Exposed))

(C/w will mean cowriter, cowritten, cowrote, etc... for the duration of this article and this blog. Thanks!)

19-year-old Kristinia DeBarge, daughter of James DeBarge of the group (can you guess...) DeBarge, is set to release her debut album tomorrow, July 28, 2009. DeBarge has been working on putting this album out, entitled Exposed, for about five years, finally signing with the label SodaPop on Def Jam Records. Sodapop is founded by Jeff Burroughs and "Babyface" Edmonds. Babyface is a key collaborator on this album with DeBarge, contributing writing credits to four tracks on the final release. Other contributors to this album include Evan "Kidd" Bogart, who has c/w such hits as "Halo" (Beyonce), "SOS" (Rihanna), and "Take You There" (Sean Kingston), along with Ryan Tedder known for his work on "Bleeding Love" (Leona Lewis), the upcoming "Already Gone" (Kelly Clarkson), and "Halo" (Beyonce).

Let's start with the first single, which is the fourth track on the album, called "Goodbye". This song samples a popular 1969 song by Steam, "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," which says, simply enough, "Na na na na. Na na na na. Hey hey hey. Goodbye." I personally believe that this was a great choice for the first single. It is very Rihanna-"SOS"-like, a very popular R&B/Pop/Dance sound.

The next single(s) will be a "double A-side" or a double-release of "Future Love" (track 2) and "Sabotage" (track 5). "Future Love" is a c/w of Bogart and Tedder, originally released by the U.S. boyband Varsity Fanclub in 2008. (While VFC is still active, their slated release date for their debut album was January of this year, but the world has yet to see an album dropped by VFC.) Listening to the two versions, DeBarge's is far less busy and has much softer instrumentation. Her voice adds to the, what I believe to be intended as, soft melodies. "Sabotage" is another Bogart c/w, but no Tedder on this one. This song is about a girl who sabotages herself in her ongoing struggle with the good-girl/bad-girl inside of her. Musically, it has a lot of elements of "Halo" (Beyonce) with a slightly rock-edge to the chorus (much like Kelly Clarkson). "Future Love", one of my favorites on the album, is being marketed to the pop stations, and "Sabotage" is going out to the Urban Crossover stations. This is a very Beyonce/Sasha Fierce move, and will probably gain her a lot of publicity as a new artist.

Overall, the album is actually quite good. She presents a little flavor of "new" Mary J. Blige and Beyonce (though not as mature), as well as a bit of a more mature JoJo and Jordin Sparks. She presents herself as a contemporary of Rihanna, which is a good place to start, since Rihanna has had FOUR number 1 hits in the U.S. in the past FOUR years. There's a lot of midtempo R&B/Pop songs, songs like "Cried Me A River" (c/w Babyface, DeBarge, et al.) make it interesting. Over all, it's at least a B+/A- album, and I can only hope for growth from this burgeoning young artist.

James Taylor, Jr.

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