Justin Guarini

Justin Guarini

4.6 25
by Justin Guarini
     
 

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With his self-titled debut, American Idol's first-season heartthrob Justin Guarini proves that nice guys don't always finish last. Sometimes they finish second, which suits the mop-topped singer just fine. On the teen-friendly R&B- and pop-driven disc, it's clear why the charismatic-yet-vocally limited Guarini lost to theSee more details below

Overview

With his self-titled debut, American Idol's first-season heartthrob Justin Guarini proves that nice guys don't always finish last. Sometimes they finish second, which suits the mop-topped singer just fine. On the teen-friendly R&B- and pop-driven disc, it's clear why the charismatic-yet-vocally limited Guarini lost to the powerhouse pipes of Kelly Clarkson. But with pop legend Clive Davis and veteran producers including Babyface at the helm, Guarini's falsetto is tweaked to new heights. 'Face co-wrote and co-produced several tracks, including the playful, Tyrese-reminiscent single "I Saw Your Face" while Soulshock & Karlin check in with the infectious, Michael Jackson ringer "Sorry." That said, the 23-year-old is glaringly out of his league on a dreadful cover of the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" (sung flawlessly during American Idol's second season by runner-up Clay Aiken), and "Inner Child" has all the makings of a soccer anthem. Still, the Doylestown, Pennsylvania, native redeems himself on two winning Babyface ballads -- the Brian McKnight–penned "Condition of My Heart and "Thinking of You," co-written by Justin Timberlake. Wisely, the disc closes with "Timeless," a dynamic duet with Clarkson -- readying fans for their forthcoming movie musical, From Justin to Kelly. With American Idol's popularity still soaring, this record is Justin time.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Heather Phares
Arriving a discreet amount of time after American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson's chart-topping debut, Thankful, and just before the release of their movie, From Justin to Kelly, Justin Guarini's self-titled album is, at the very least, positioned for almost certain success on a massive scale. Fortunately, though, Justin Guarini has more than just marketing and calculation going for it -- much like Thankful, the album is much better than might be expected, providing a smooth transition from his AmIdol roots into more adventurous musical territory. Of course, "adventurous" is a relative term when it comes to crafting an album that must appeal to as many different types of people as possible. At times, it just means putting a crunchy, slightly urban beat behind his signature American Idol songs like "Unchained Melody" and "Get Here" to give them a bit of an "edge" without straying too far from mainstream pop territory. But considering that RCA could probably sell millions of copies of an album that featured nothing but songs like these, the musical risks that Guarini does take are welcome and work surprisingly well. Most of the album takes its cue from urban and teen pop; indeed, songs like "Be a Heartbreaker," "I Saw Your Face," and "Thinking of You" mix those styles so seamlessly that they suggest what Justin Timberlake's Justified might've sounded like if he'd had a less forward-thinking production team than the Neptunes at the helm. Likewise, Justin Guarini's most progressive-sounding tracks, such as "Sorry," recall the futuristic spin on Michael Jackson's Off the Wall that the other Justin's album offered. Though it nods to Latin pop with "One Heart Too Many," the majority of the album sticks to an urban/teen pop/mainstream pop fusion that plays to Guarini's strengths as a performer and a persona, which is a savvy decision by the people behind American Idol. Along with its similarities to the variety shows of the '60s and '70s, the series' star-making process recalls old Hollywood's star system, where teams of experts would mold promising newcomers into archetypal performers, refining everything from their looks to the way they walked and talked. American Idol's team cast Kelly Clarkson as the girl next door who occasionally takes a walk on the wild side, and Guarini has been cast as a relatively chaste sex symbol. Granted, this role has been around since pop music's infancy, but on Justin Guarini the singer occasionally seems overly confined by it, particularly on the limp ballad "Condition of My Heart" and the album's low point, the cloyingly up-tempo "Inner Child." It's a little strange that Guarini's sex appeal is curtailed as much as it is, since he was generally considered the sexiest (or at least, most conventionally sexy) of the finalists, and also since Thankful made a point of emphasizing Clarkson's sexiness in a classy way. When Guarini does get to let loose, it makes for some of the album's best moments, such as "Doin' Things (We're Not Supposed to Do)," a sultry song that sounds both appropriate for a pop star in his early twenties to sing and for his preteen fans to hear; "If You Wanna" is a tougher, more urban-flavored song that is all the more promising because Guarini co-wrote it. In the end, this album isn't as surprising or diverse a debut as Thankful was, but its solid quality proves that the forces behind American Idol want their winners to make good pop albums, as opposed to one mega-hit single backed by 11 throwaway tracks. Justin Guarini might be calculated, but it's not cynical.

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Product Details

Release Date:
06/10/2003
Label:
Sony Mod - Afw Line
UPC:
0078636818825
catalogNumber:
68188
Rank:
173161

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Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Justin Guarini   Primary Artist,Background Vocals
Mae McKenna   Background Vocals
Edwin Bonilla   Percussion
Luis Conte   Percussion
Nathan East   Bass
David Frank   Drums,Keyboards
Paul Jackson   Electric Guitar
Fridrik Karlsson   Guitar
Greg Kurstin   Keyboards
Ricky Lawson   Drums
Steve Pearce   Bass Guitar
Greg Phillinganes   Piano,Keyboards
John Pierce   Bass
Tim Pierce   Guitar
Ramon Stagnaro   Guitar (Nylon String)
Gavyn Wright   Strings
Sean Hurley   Bass
Dave Arch   Keyboards
Michael Hart Thompson   Guitar
Eric Dawkins   Background Vocals
Tony Dixon   Keyboards
Manuel Lopez   Guitar (Nylon String)
Nancy Anderson   Background Vocals
Steve Mac   Keyboards
Stockholm Session Orchestra   Strings
Eric D. Jackson   Guitar
Jeanette Olsson   Background Vocals
Nate Butler   Background Vocals
Tuff Singers   Background Vocals
Janson & Janson   Conductor
Oscar Merner   Guitar (Nylon String)
Party Man   Keyboards

Technical Credits

Bag   Arranger
Steve Kipner   Vocal Arrangements
Clive Davis   Executive Producer
David Frank   Programming,Producer,Vocal Arrangements
Chris Garcia   Engineer
Bill Malina   Engineer
Lester Mendez   Producer
Bob Rosa   Assistant Vocal Engineer
Soulshock   Arranger,Producer
Karlin   Arranger
Dave Arch   Orchestral Arrangements
Matt Howe   Engineer
Paul Boutin   Engineer
Ryan Freeland   Engineer
Dave Russell   Engineer
Joe Yannece   Mastering
Steve Mac   Producer
Chris Laws   Engineer
Wade Robson   Producer,Engineer,Vocal Arrangements
Wayne Rodrigues   drum programming,Pro-Tools
Damon Sharpe   Producer,Engineer
Kelly Clarkson   Duet
Juan Cristobal Losada   Engineer
Peer Astrom   Arranger,Producer,Engineer
Nate Butler   Vocal Arrangements
Havana Hustlers   Programming
Janson & Janson   String Arrangements
Underdogs   Producer

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