Music & Nightlife

Review: Is Selena Gomez more than just a bunch of hot hair?

ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

There was a moment a little more than halfway through Selena Gomez’s concert at Time Warner Cable Arena on Tuesday night that was – like the piano she sat in front of – grand.

While pressing French-manicured fingernails into keys, the 23-year-old singer sat alone onstage and perfectly produced the dulcet tones of Hillsong United’s cerebral gospel anthem, “Transfiguration,” as her two backup singers looked on silently, and as the engineer at the controls of her backing tracks took a much-needed break.

It was a bit of a labor of love, but it’s proof: There’s more to Gomez than pop songs that take seven people to write and an endless parade of sparkly bodysuits.

And if her spin on “Transfiguration” came off as indulgent? Well, I’d encourage her to indulge a little more often. Because too much of the rest of the show seemed to drown her voice under layers of synthesizers and guitars and drumbeats and pre-recorded vocals and those two backup singers, who were employed so tirelessly that they probably deserve twice their current wage.

I do struggle with this one, though; after all, as the parent of a teenage girl, it’s hard not to root for Gomez – who’s gone from “Barney & Friends” and “Wizards of Waverly Place” to “Spring Breakers” and “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” with apparent class/without going full Miley by resorting to incessant F-bombs and weed-worshipping.

Though she writhed provocatively with her male backup dancers on more than one occasion and flashed sideboob in a quick-cut video montage that ran during a costume change, Gomez found not a single good reason to use for profanity over the course of her 73-minute headlining set.

In fact, the only thing that misbehaved all night was her hair. And by misbehaved I just mean it didn’t seem to be following any rules.

Long, wavy and the color of salted caramel brownies, her mane seemed to catch a blast of air from a strategically placed wind machine every few seconds.

During songs that lean more toward rock, like “Survivors” and “Slow Down,” she whipped that hair into a frenzy – as if auditioning for a Warrant cover band. During songs that lean more toward Britney, like “Good for You” and “Hands to Myself,” she teased and tousled it – as if filming one of her Pantene ads.

In between, though, she had people like me practically tearing their own hair out – as she tossed around cliché after cliché. Stuff like “I’m so thankful for each and every one of you,” “How are you guys doing way in the back there?,” and other things that sounded like they were put together in a factory by writers who didn’t inherit the creative gene.

Now, pop stars don’t need to be the most charismatic people in the world, but come on; Gomez can say pretty much anything and her fans will scream. After listening to her spout platitudes at her shows for so many years, I keep hoping she’ll finally say something that will make fans shut up and listen.

Janes: 704-358-5897;

Twitter: @theodenjanes

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