An Album a Day: Headstrong

March 25, Headstrong by Ashley Tisdale

Genre:  Pop
Year: 2006
Runtime: 43:49
Total tracks: 13*
Songs you might know:
– “He Said She Said”
– “Be Good to Me”
– “Not Like That”
– “Suddenly”

*originally there was a 1:09 “intro” track that was a medley of the other songs. All the major streaming platforms omit this track now, so I did too.

My prior relationship with this album: I think this was actually my most hated album of all the Disney stars. Tisdale’s voice was always annoying to me, and most of the tracks on here were overproduced dance pop that wasn’t my cup of tea in 2006. Note that Tisdale is one of the few “Disney stars” that didn’t actually sign with Hollywood Records, but instead signed with Warner Bros. This meant she had a lot of leeway to make more “mature” pop that people like Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez so perhaps I simply wasn’t the target market (I would’ve been 13 at the time).

My impressions this time around: This one is actually sad because there’s a LOT of really sick beats on here. Headstrong is definitely one of those albums where the person with their name on the cover had little to nothing to do with the creative direction of the album, and in this case the people who DID went above and beyond the call of duty. Most of these tracks have inventive beats and catchy hooks. I love the inclusion of strings on “Be Good to Me” and “Headstrong.” “Positivity” gets stuck in your head but the hook is good enough that I don’t mind. Here’s a list of tracks that show what I’m talking about:

– “So Much for You”
– “Be Good to Me”
– “Not Like That”
– “Positivity”
– “Goin’ Crazy”
– “Don’t Touch (the Zoom Song)”
– “Headstrong”

Unfortunately, I still can’t get past Tisdale’s voice. It’s high and nasally and far too childlike for the more mature sound she was going for. Sometimes the producers put weird effects on her voice to disguise it, which often makes matters worse. And again, I just think it’s sad, because so many of these songs could have been straight fire in the hands of Rihanna or Pink.

Tisdale’s voice is an even bigger problem on the ballads where they don’t bury it in dance beats. A decade ago I probably would’ve told you that “Don’t Touch (The Zoom Song)” was the worst song on this album. That’s largely because I wasn’t as welcoming to electropop. Now, I’d probably say it’s “Unlove You.” Any of the redeeming qualities that the upbeat tracks had are not present here, same goes for “Love Me for Me” and the oh so forgettable “We’ll Be Together.” The only ballad on the verge of working is “Suddenly” which I think is because she opts for a more quiet, delicate vocal and keeps the belting to a minimum.

Who would enjoy it? People who were dying to hear a collaboration between Britney Spears and the Pussycat Colls. Really? You weren’t dying to hear a collaboration between Britney Spears and the Pussycat Dolls? Yeah, that’s kinda my point.

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