e may be only 18 years old, but Darin Zanyar is one of the hardest working stars currently inhabiting planet pop. In 2004 he competed in the first series of Pop Idol in Sweden, and in 2005 he released two brilliant albums within seven months. The first, The Anthem, was produced by the almighty Max Martin with a songwriting line-up impressively including Robyn and Robin Thicke; Zanyar sounded like a one-man *N Sync, and the huge success it gained him in Sweden came as no surprise.
When I heard that Darin would be taking a more R & B direction for the follow-up, I thought that my love affair with this particular pop star would be ending. Yet I was reminded never to doubt the all-conquering Swedes, as Darin's second album (which he called simply Darin, taking Robyn's cue) was even better than his first.
The singles “Step Up” and “Want Ya” put Usher to shame, and there is plenty for the pop kids in the insanely catchy “B What U Wanna B” and the poptastic “Laura.” There's even a mid-tempo track, a Robyn cover called “Walk The Distance,” which my mum is obsessed with. The only disappointments are the ballads, particularly the two that close the album. But the single “Who's That Girl” does have a laid-back charm. However, it's the opening track “Move” that shows Darin at his very best—slick urban pop that couldn't fail to make even the most adamant R & B hater (if there is anyone who hates it more than me) leap onto the dancefloor.
It's when a pop star like Darin comes along that I dream of a UK pop scene that accepts a new Swedish singer as easily as whoever is doing well in America. Chris Brown, for example, would not stand a chance if he had Darin to compete with. He just doesn't have the songs or the general likeability factor, which is clear, even when he's speaking in Swedish, that Darin has in abundance. This boy has a big future ahead of him, but because he is Swedish, he is limited in terms of possible success. Still, there's always a chance, pop fans will hear him and recognize quality immediately. But as much as he completely deserves it, I have my doubts.
Reviewed by: Jessica Popper
Reviewed on: 2006-02-20