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Album Review

James Durbin's latest effort takes a refreshingly honest turn toward pop. It’s a marked change considering that Durbin played the role of the rocker during his run on the 2010 season of American Idol. Sure, he had previously fronted the L.A. rock band Hollywood Scars, who covered Guns N' Roses, Iron Maiden, and Mötley Crüe, but he was no more Axl Rose than Adam Lambert was Freddie Mercury. Nonetheless, Durbin, with his hair spiked and eyes rimmed in kohl, could hit the high notes with enough resonant nasal squelch and stage passion to evince the stock character of the rock star, or at least the Broadway version of one. His post-Idol debut, 2011's Memories of a Beautiful Disaster, bore this out as it showcased his ability to sell both emo-inflected rock tunes, electronic-infused pop songs, and the occasional, obligatory ballad. Durbin's follow-up, 2014's Celebrate, finds him moving almost completely away from the faux-hard rock of Memories, and embracing a shiny, mainstream pop sound. Produced by Scott "The Ninja" Stevens, who previously contributed to Daughtry's 2013 album Baptized, Celebrate is in all ways a pop record. Cuts like the lead-off "Children Under the Sun," "Parachute" and "Issues" are shimmering, U2-influenced anthems arranged with sparkling guitars, exuberant synths, and in the case of "Issues," a string section. Similarly, cuts like "Fool for You," and "Live Right Now," mix Daniel Powter-esque aphorisms with catchy melodies and a mix of live and programmed drums. In that sense, the album feels a lot more in tune with Durbin's bright, positive-minded persona and huge voice. As he sings on"You Can't Believe," "You Can't believe/What people say about you/You gotta be/Yourself in your own virtue." Ultimately, by letting go of his outer rocker, Durbin is free to embrace his inner pop singer, and the result is definitely something for him to Celebrate.

Customer Reviews

Where's the metal

I loved the first Record after idol but I hope these two songs aren't the best tracks on the entire record! Where's the metal we all loved on idol. James your voice was meant to Rock not Pop!!!


I've had the pleasure of hearing all but two of the tracks from Celebrate performed live many times now and James does NOT disappoint whatsoever in this album. Lighter and overall happier, more positive in feel, James has said he's writing about how he feels right now in his life and counting his blessings, and it shows. The lyrics are uplifting and supportive, I love every track! The production version of Celebrate has a KILLER addictive bass line and Parachute is totally radio-ready with great hooks. Yes, I love James' heavier music - but I love this side of him as well. And I really appreciate that he is staying true to who he is and writing music from his heart and soul. Well done, James!!! I can't wait to hear the magic you and producer Scott Stevens have made on the rest of the studio tracks! #FanForLife

Parachute single

LOVE this new single by the amazing talented James is really jumping good fun!!!


Born: January 6, 1989 in Santa Cruz, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '10s

Every season of American Idol has at least one rocker vying for the crown, but few have an honest-to-god metalhead like James Durbin, who wailed his way to a fourth-place finish during the show's 2011 season. Born in 1989, Durbin was raised in Santa Cruz, California, where he was diagnosed with Tourette's and Asperger's syndrome at nine years old. Uncomfortable in social situations, he turned to music instead, developing a larger-than-life stage presence as part of a local theater group and singing...
Full Bio
CELEBRATE, James Durbin
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Rock, Adult Alternative
  • Released: Apr 08, 2014

Customer Ratings