Zendaya, released on Tuesday (September 17), shows maturity well beyond her 17 years, as the 11-track album tackles issues of love and heartbreak over a mix of pop and R&B sounds.
“I’m kind of creating my own music and I’m kind of creating my own zone, my own lane as an artist. I want to do rhythmic pop,” Coleman told MTV News back in June while she was recording the album. “It’s not necessarily your average pop song. It has some kind of urban edge, some kind of more hip-hop-ish tones to it that kind of edge it up and do something a little different so it’s not just your stereotypical pop music.”
With vocals and sounds comparable to Jennifer Lopez and Ciara, Zendaya follows in the footsteps of Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus, who have all made the transition from Disney star to pop star. And she knows that having a strong debut is important in making this transition successful.
“I feel that it’s really important that when you’re young, you have to come out even stronger than anyone else, and you have to work extra hard to prove yourself and prove you’re worthy of being listened to,” she said. “So I try to create quality music.”
To show just how strong her debut is, MTV News listened Zendaya to pick out its four standout tracks.
Zendaya’s debut single sets the tone for the album as she leaves her sweetly polished Disney image behind for a grittier club-ready pop track. She revealed via Twitter that this song was originally written for another artist, but after months of persuasion was finally given the OK to record the track.
“Love You Forever”
This up-tempo ’90s throwback seems like it could have been taken out of a page of the late Aaliyah’s songbook. Co-produced by former Disney star Nick Jonas, it finds Zendaya singing about falling in love on the dance floor: “We on that all night, get it right/ If you keep on moving like that, I might love you forever/ We on that first time love high/ Just keep on moving/ ‘Cause I might love you forever.”
One of her favorite tracks off the album, “Fireflies” is a perfect blend of pop and R&B, as it introduces a heavy beat before pulling back to show off her impressive vocals. MTV News was in the studio with Zendaya when she recorded the track, which she wanted to be “perfect.”
“I’m very hands on. I want to make sure things are perfect,” she said. “My vision has to be complete, and you know, I don’t mind doing things over and over and over again until it’s perfect.”
The up-tempo pop track has Zendaya singing about trying to save a relationship because she is scared of being alone. The track was written by Tiffany Fred and Paul “Phamous” Shelton, and is described by Zendaya as having a Kanye West type of vibe — and she hopes it will be just as infectious.
“I have to be able to play my songs over and over and over again,” she explained. “I have to love them because if I don’t love them, how can I expect anyone else to want to play it a 1,000 times and love it?”
Full Zendaya track list:
» “Putcha Body Down”
» “Heaven Lost an Angel”
» “Cry for Love”
» “Only When You’re Close”
» “Bottle You Up”
» “Love You Forever”
» “My Baby”