Cody Simpson

Paradise

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Discovered via YouTube covers of pop songs, it's pretty easy to tag Cody Simpson as the Australian Justin Bieber -- particularly as the two pop singers share a manager. Simpson started a steady climb from the Internet into the real world of pop stardom, culminating in the 2012 release of Paradise. Produced by a bevy of producers, including Dr. Luke, Paradise does indeed sound light and breezy, Cody ably surfing its gentle tides. He isn't a powerful presence but he's possibly a more versatile singer than Bieber, sounding as comfortable with sweetly strummed acoustics as he does with thumping (but not too insistent) club beats and offhand allusions to Rihanna. And this Paradise very rarely gets rocky -- everything is clean and polished, accentuating Simpson's boy-next-door personality. Whatever Simpson lacks in mischief or danger, he compensates in sweetness, something that's reflected throughout this album. Paradise doesn't demand attention, but that's part of the appeal of the album and Cody himself; this is amiable, ingratiating music with a cheerful spirit. At its core, it's almost a throwback to the days when teen idols didn't text, they just sang about puppy love.

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