No matter how old you are or where you come from, everyone should be able to see the value in pop music. I’m kind of joking, but there’s definitely a place for cheesy pop music in everyone’s life, and some of my favorite artists and songs have been mindless, radio-ready pop. Christina Aguilera’s self-titled debut was the first album I owned, only to be followed by Destiny’s Child’s The Writing’s on the Wall. I’m a big Britney fan — I never let it phase me when my dad consistently refers to her music as “crapola” — and Avril Lavigne’s Let Go is easily one of my favorite albums of all time. In high school I even went through a major Danity Kane phase.

But as much as I love all of this wonderfully user-friendly music, no pop act has managed to take the same grip on my heart as my one true love. Selena Gomez. I’ve been a fan of Selena’s pretty much since the beginning, starting way back when she was a child actress on the Disney Channel show “Wizards of Waverly Place,” and although I was slightly wary of her highly calculated venture into music, I instantly fell for her band’s first official single “Falling Down.”

Selena Gomez & The Scene quickly became one of my favorite bands, and although I wasn’t completely blown away by their first album, Kiss & Tell, in 2009, it certainly didn’t disappoint me. In addition to “Falling Down,” the album produced the charming “Naturally,” a song that you all remember from every high school dance you went to in the ’09-’10 school year. Much in the same vein, “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” was a semi-hit that exudes the same youthful sass.

There wasn’t much musical development between the band’s first album and their second effort, A Year Without Rain, but the songs did show some personal growth on Selena’s part and reflected more mature reflections and emotions on love and life. Much to my astonishment, I liked every song on the album. Though some songs are cheesy enough to make me cringe (see “Rock God”), there are some serious treasures on the album. “Round & Round,” “A Year Without Rain” and “Spotlight” are all great examples of sincere, straightforward pop music. They may be easy to digest, but that doesn’t make these songs any less enjoyable to listen to.

It was with their next album in 2011 that the band really stepped out of the Disney box, adding some new elements to their catchy brand of pop such as the experimental synth in songs like “Love You Like a Love Song.” For fans, When the Sun Goes Down was highly anticipated after the release of both “Who Says” and “Bang Bang Bang.” For me, the album was especially personal, and “Who Says” became my anthem during the college decision process. Waiting to hear back from colleges was one of the most traumatic, intimidating and distressing periods of my life. As lame as it may sound, “Who Says” really helped me through it. It’s a truly inspirational song in the unexpected guise of bubblegumpop. “We Own the Night” became the soundtrack of my friends’ and my last summer together and even prompted us to make the drive from Nashville to Atlanta to see her in concert — we were touched by her music.

I listen to a lot of music, and pop is but a small category of what I enjoy. Since I’ve started to look more critically at the music I like, I have come to realize that not all pop is what you hear on the radio — there is some great stuff out there if you’re willing to give it an honest listen and take it for what it is. You’d be surprised at the meaning you may find in unexpected songs, even “crapola” like Britney or Selena. I’ve come to realize something important: Truly bad music is rare, so never let preconceived notions dictate your taste. Here are my picks for the sassiest Selena singles.

“Falling Down”

“Round & Round”


“A Year Without Rain”

“Bang Bang Bang”

“Who Says”

“When the Sun Goes Down”

“We Own the Night”

“Love You Like a Love Song”


Zach Gordon is a sophomore in the College. LIFE PLUGGED IN appears every other Friday in the guide.

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