Photographers: Brian Bowen-Smith; Anders Overgaard.
Jason Derulo released only one single in 2014, but that song, "Wiggle," was among the year's most distinctive hits and maintained the singer's mainstream presence. In early 2015, Derulo released the first single from Everything Is 4. "Want to Want Me" was roughly as effective as what preceded it, a Top 10 pop hit in a bunch of countries, including the U.S. Like much of its parent album, the song is outfitted with sharp hooks and slightly retro and lightly funky touches. Just the same, it's eager for commercial radio play with bounding energy brimming over somewhat heartfelt but ultimately frivolous pop constructions. Any song that bears a hint of drama is immediately followed by an oat-sowing club record. The heartstrings-tugging "Trade Hearts," for instance, is trailed by "X2CU," where Derulo gleefully expresses his intent to display a new conquest as an act of revenge. A four-song stretch in the middle packs all but one of the album's guest appearances, and each one is high in profile. "Love Like That" is not likely to get much of the attention, but it's the best of the collaborations, a conflicted and tension-filled ballad with ideal sparring partner K. Michelle. "Broke," however, is a low point for all of the involved -- Derulo, Stevie Wonder, Toby Keith, anyone else who played a role in its instigation or creation. The "Kenny Rogers-Pharoahe Monch Dub Plate" of 2015, it manages to sound like a parody of three genres at once, and is one of two songs that incorporate a booming bass/group "ay-ay-ay" combination. No one's looking to Derulo for advanced stylistic hybrids or deep thoughts. When Everything Is 4 avoids those creative impulses, as it tends to do, it's easily Derulo's most pleasing work. ~ Andy Kellman