Heart Beats

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Reality talent shows are an undeniably good showcase for aspiring young pop singers, but it's relatively rare that contestants who fail to make the Top Three enjoy any significant chart success. So perhaps it's something of a surprise to see Danny Saucedo, sixth-placed finalist in the 2006 season of Swedish Idol, enjoying a pair of number one hits preceding the release of this, his debut album. One listen to Heart Beats makes this success easy to understand, though. Unlike many reality stars, Saucedo has not rushed out an album of cover versions and weak ballads. Instead, his label has wisely taken its time, pairing him up with good producers and songwriters, and as a result has delivered one of the most enjoyable pop records of the year. The producers behind dance act September have a hand in several tracks on this album, and their influence is easy to spot. Heart Beats is packed with clever, catchy, '80s-inspired dance tracks, such as the chart-topping "Tokyo," which makes good use of Saucedo's impressive falsetto, and the funky "Hey (I've Been Feeling Kind of Lonely)," a massive track that could well take him global if given the opportunity. The pace on the album doesn't dip until the very end, with the drippy closing ballad "Stay" being the only misstep. Everything else is smart, modern, thoroughly entertaining dance music. Undoubtedly one of the surprise triumphs of the year.

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