Mark Ballas

Hurtlovebox

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Dancing with the Stars regular Mark Ballas, who managed to spend a week on the upper half Billboard album chart (number 98) in March 2009 with BHB, an album by the Ballas Hough Band, jettisons his partner Derek Hough and goes it alone two years later with his solo debut CD HurtLoveBox. On the all-important album cover, Ballas seems to be channeling some combination of George Michael and Justin Timberlake, male pop predecessors whose success he no doubt hopes to emulate. Given that he makes his money as a dancer, the first thing to be said is that he can sing, with an adenoidal tenor that he frequently pushes into falsetto. That said, however, he is not a distinctive singer or songwriter, his efforts employing musical and lyrical clichés, as he addresses some female object of his affection (a stand-in for the potential buyer of the album) as "girl" and "baby," and assures her that she's beautiful and that he loves her. This is more Michael than Timberlake territory in that Ballas surprisingly doesn't dip at all into a hip-hop sound, contenting himself to come off like a ‘90s boy band of one. Maybe it's just as well that he's trying to use Dancing with the Stars as his springboard to stardom, since he wouldn't stand much of a chance on American Idol.

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