|“||I wanted to age [my album] up a little bit and I really wanted it to be different and fun. It's kind of a little bit European sounding too with the repetitive fun beats, baselines and things we've added. The lyric content is really fun, kind of cheeky and different for me. The imaging and artwork was really fun and I got to experiment with different eras, got to have wigs and wear crazy make-up!||”|
– Selena Gomez in an interview with Digital Spy
When the Sun Goes Down is the third studio album by American band Selena Gomez & the Scene, released on June 28, 2011, by Hollywood Records. The band worked with several artists on this album, including writers and producers from their debut, Kiss & Tell (2009), and their second album, A Year Without Rain (2010), such as Rock Mafia duo Tim James and Antonina Armato, as well as Katy Perry, Devrim "DK" Karaoglu, and Toby Gad. New contributors to this album included Britney Spears, Priscilla Renea, Emanuel Kiriakou, Dreamlab, and Sandy Vee.
When the Sun Goes Down spawned three singles. The lead single from the album, "Who Says" was released on March 14, 2011, peaking at number 21 in the United States and in the top twenty in Canada and New Zealand. The acoustic pop song also went Platinum in the United States. The second single from the album is "Love You Like a Love Song" charted in the top forty in Belgium, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. The third single, "Hit the Lights" was released on November 17, 2011, and reached number 11 in Belgium. The fourth single off When the Sun Goes Down was going to be "My Dilemma", however producer, Rock Mafia then tweeted that Hollywood Records has decided not to release the remix featuring Flo Rida titled "My Dilemma 2.0" as the fourth single. The album debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 with sales 78,000 copies, surpassing the first-week sales of their first two albums. The album rose to number three in its second week.
In 2009, the band released their debut album, Kiss & Tell, and quickly followed-up with 2010's A Year Without Rain. After the release of the latter Gomez said that she was not in a rush to release another album, but after hearing "Who Says", she decided to begin another release, calling the song "amazing" and crediting it for inspiring her. "Who Says" debuted on radio show On Air with Ryan Seacrest as the first single of the album. On March 18, 2011, in an interview with MTV, Gomez revealed, "the third record is really fun, and there's a song called 'Hit the Lights' that I love, and it's basically about every missed opportunity that you've had," she said. "But it's also a dance track. There's a lot more depth [on this album]". Gomez also revealed British recording artist Pixie Lott and German producer Toby Gad had both penned tracks for the album while confirming its release for Summer 2011. A few days later, the singer revealed her team and the band "haven't decided [a] title [yet for the album] and we're dealing with the album artwork, 'cause it is very different and I'm growing up. It's a lot more mature". MTV News later confirmed that American recording artist Britney Spears had also written a song for the album titled "Whiplash". On June 1, 2011, the album's name, When the Sun Goes Down, and track listing were revealed through Gomez's official website. After several songs from When the Sun Goes Down started to leak online, Gomez posted several video messages on her YouTube official channel featuring commentaries about each song of the album. When the Sun Goes Down was released on June 28, 2011 by Hollywood Records.
Musically, When the Sun Goes Down expands on the electropop and synthpop themes of its predecessor A Year Without Rain, with a lighter and sassier feel, according to Tim Sendra of Allmusic Guide. Tracks like "Hit the Lights" have disco influences, as they pair ballad lyrics with uptempo and midtempo dance music. The album also explores organic instrumentation. Both the first single "Who Says" and the fourth track "We Own the Night" featuring Pixie Lott features more acoustic, indie pop sounds, which was originally intended for Kelly Clarkson's fifth album Stronger. They are the only songs on the album devoid of synthesized instrumentation. The first track, "Love You Like a Love Song", was written by Antonina Armato, Tim James, Adam Schmalholz and was produced by Rock Mafia. Also serving as the album's second single, the song contains deep, whispered vocals and incorporates a eurodisco rhythm and a soft dubstep influence. Gomez described the promotional single "Bang Bang Bang" as fun and cheeky. It is made up of 1980s electro-disco synths and sees Gomez praising her new boyfriend while mocking her ex. The track was also compared to British electropop duo La Roux's 2009 hit "Bulletproof". "Who Says" is an acoustic self-empowerment anthem where the singer extends kindness and sympathy to her critics. Serving as the album's first single, it debuted on the Hot 100 at number twenty-four and peaked at number twenty-one, standing as the group's highest charting single in the U.S., Canada and New Zealand. "We Own the Night" was written by Toby Gad and British electronic soul singer-songwriter Pixie Lott, who is also featured on backing vocals. The track has a largely acoustic, harmonic sound paired with escapist lyrics in the style of Jimmy Buffett. "Hit the Lights" written by Leah Haywood, Daniel James, Tony Nilsson and produced by Dreamlab is an dance song about overcoming anxiety and living in the moment. American pop singer Britney Spears composed the album's sixth track titled "Whiplash". It is an electropop song described as electro glam that is about an intense romance, featuring transportation imagery. The song has gained notability for Britney Spears' involvement in the composition, Gomez' faux-English accent in the spoken word verse before the chorus, and for being one of the band's more mature songs.
The title track features the use of electric guitars and stuttering synthesizers. Selena Gomez stated that "When the Sun Goes Down" held a special meaning for her and her bass player, Joey Clement, because of their collaborative involvement in the track's composition. Gomez commented "I got to rewrite the bridge of it as well. It felt like we got to do that as a band." The eighth track on the album is "My Dilemma", a Kelly Clarkson-esque pop-rock song about conflicted feelings towards a potential breakup. "That's More Like It", the following track, is penned by Katy Perry and was inspired by American women of the 1950s and their relegation to domesticity. In the song, Gomez demands that her negligent man does the cooking, cleaning, and housework, commanding him "Make me dinner and bring it to me." "Outlaw" is a bleak cautionary tale and revenge ballad lyrically similar to Carrie Underwood's "Cowboy Casanova" and Lady Gaga's "Monster". The lyrics also make use of Wild West imagery and references to Gomez's home state of Texas, "I'm from the Lone-Star state, and I'm here to bring you in." The album's final song "Middle of Nowhere" is a dance-pop ballad that features electropop beats and synthesizers along with bells and chimes. In the song, Gomez laments being left behind by a manipulative ex lover, for whom she made drastic personal changes. The song's bridge is a deep and heavily-breathed spoken-word recitation of the song's chorus, much in the style of Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson. A Spanish-language version of the lead single "Who Says" titled "Dices" is featured as a bonus track.
The album's lead single, "Who Says", was co-written and produced by Emanuel Kiriakou, Priscilla Hamilton, and was released on March 14, 2011. The song has been met with generally positive reviews from most music critics, with many praising its theme of self-empowerment and Bill Lamb of About.com even called the band "the most consistent Disney pop hitmaker in recent years." The song proved moderately successful, debuting at number twenty-four and so far peaking at number twenty-one on the Billboard Hot 100 and has gone on to sell over a million copies in the United States, and was certified platinum by RIAA. "Who Says" also reached number seventeen in Canada and fifteen in New Zealand, becoming the band's highest charting single on those countries. The song also managed to peak inside the top fifty in Germany and Ireland and appeared on the main charts in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Australia, Austria, Thailand and Vietnam. On June 17, "Love You Like a Love Song", the album's official second single was released. Gomez started filming the music video for "Hit the Lights" in September 2011. The video was released in November 2011, the song has currently attained the top thirty chart position in Belgium and debuted on the Canadian Hot 100 at number ninety-three. "Hit the Lights" was officially released as the third international single, starting from January 20, 2012. On May 29, 2012, it was announced that a remix of the song "My Dilemma" featuring rapper Flo Rida would be released as the album's fourth official single. Producer, Rock Mafia then tweeted that Hollywood Records has decided not to release the remix titled My Dilemma 2.0 as the fourth single. Rock Mafia announced on September 6, 2012 via Twitter that My Dilemma 2.0 may be on Selena's next album.
In preparation for the albums release, the bands record label decided to release two buzz singles. On June 7, 2011, iTunes released a couple promotional tracks from the album. Beginning with "Bang Bang Bang", which peaked ninety-four in the Billboard Hot 100.
Metacritic gave the album a score of 58/100 based on 6 reviews. So far, the album has been met with mixed reception. Mikael Wood from Entertainment Weekly wrote, "[Gomez] sounds fully invested in tart electro-disco ditties like "Bang Bang Bang," and "top-shelf collaborators don't hurt — see: the grinding "Whiplash," co-penned by one Britney Spears." Bill Lamb from About.com commented, "It is all wrapped up in smart pop melodies, electropop flourishes, and winning emotional engagement. This is Selena Gomez's best vocal album yet." Jody Rosen from Rolling Stone wrote, "Gomez may be the most boring teen-pop star of her generation. She makes Ashley Tisdale seem like Lady Gaga."
When the Sun Goes Down was released on June 28, 2011. In the week of July, 4, 2011, it debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 with the band's highest sales week to date, selling 78,000 copies in its first week. The next week the album rose to number three, making it the band's highest charting album. In Canada, the album debuted at #2 on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 9,000 copies in its first week. The album debuted in Spain at number two on the Spanish Albums Chart. The album peaked there for three weeks, during the debut week and the fifth and sixth week on the chart. In Belgium, the album debuted at number twenty-one on the Belgian Albums Chart and jumped to its peak position at number six. The album debuted and peaked at number six in Mexico. The album debuted at number sixteen in Norway and rose to its peak position at number 6 in its eighth week. In the month of November 2011, the album increased in sales to 248% to its regular sales and has sold 500,000 copies in the United States and was officially certified gold by RIAA on November 17, 2011. As of 2012 the album as sold 700,000 copies in the US and 2 million worldwide.
|"Love You Like a Love Song"||Antonina Armato, Tim James, Adam Schmalholz||3:08|
|"Bang Bang Bang"||Toby Gad, Meleni Smith, Priscilla Hamilton, Selena Gomez||3:15|
|"Who Says"||Emanuel Kiriakou, Hamilton||3:16|
|"We Own the Night"||Gad, Pixie Lott||3:47|
|"Hit the Lights"||Leah Haywood, Daniel James, Tony Nilsson||3:14|
|"Whiplash"||Greg Kurstin, Nicole Morier, Britney Spears||3:40|
|"When the Sun Goes Down"||Selena Gomez, Joey Clement, Steve Sulikowski, Stefan Abingdon||3:16|
|"My Dilemma"||Armato, James, Karaoglu||3:10|
|"That's More Like It"||Josh Alexander, Billy Steinberg, Katy Perry||3:09|
|"Outlaw"||Gomez, Armato, James, Thomas Armato Sturges||3:22|
|"Middle of Nowhere"||Espen Lind, Amund Bjorklund, Sandy Wilhelm, Carmen Michelle Key||3:27|
|"Dices"||Kiriakou, Hamilton, Edgar Cortazar, Mark Portmann||3:16|
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