Zendaya is hardly a stranger to savvy tweens, but it was when the precocious Disney starlet appeared on the hit ballroom competition "Dancing With the Stars" that this young woman revealed herself a formidable talent. Her presence easily mesmerized the judges as the audience at home cheered her elegance through each week's challenge. It left little surprise when it was announced that "Zendaya" the debut album was readily in the works.
That the charismatically already proven entertainer was also a gifted auteur of pop licks and hooks was a pleasant surprise. On Zendaya's premiere effort she co-wrote at least a third of the track list. Ambitious? In today's pop world? Very! A triple threat preparing to outshine her contemporaries, Zendaya launched on the radio airwaves with her first single "Replay" which has all the trappings necessary to cinch its place on the radio charts.
With a voice that has a distinct tone and definite quality, Zendaya coos her way with little trepidation on sexy dance floor churners like "Fireflies" and "Butterflies." Both tracks have a distinct Rihanna-like sense to them, but where Rhi Rhi has an established confidence which suits her well in her studio performances, Zendaya comes up just a little short - though not in a way that doesn't still make these tracks worthy of engagement. "Putcha Body Down" is also a significantly well-produced track that showcases Zendaya well.
The potential is present; the proof is in the pudding. The more R&B/pop tracks that lead the listener out of this journey, "Love You Forever" and "My Baby," are standouts worth hitting the replay button. With Zendaya's star still on the rise, this is an extremely respectable first album, but in the shadow of other former Disney stars turned pop-princesses including Britney, Christina and of course most recently Miley Cyrus, maybe we have to wait for Zendaya to get herself a little dirty, scrape her knees some, before we can let her into our club. The girl's got moxie though - and in today's world of popular music that goes a long way.
"Zendaya" the self-titled debut album
is available now on CD and most digital download stores for $9.99