Ashley J – Dare Ya’

Ashley J – Dare Ya’

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Ashley J has already caused quite a stir in the pop scene in her short career. The up and coming singer-songwriter from Orlando has released two singles, both of which reached the top 20 in the Billboard Dance charts. Her latest release “Dare Ya” is set to take her fame to the next level- it’s the strongest song she’s released to date and a deliciously well crafted slice of classic pop goodness.

The song and its accompanying video find the young pop star singing words of encouragement to a troubled, disillusioned boyfriend, showing him what he’s really worth and offering the chance to “get up and go”. This theme of support and the “you can do it!” attitude places the song alongside Katy Perry’s “Firework”, but according to her website Ashley wrote the song based on messages of encouragement that she herself received. It’s this authenticity, along with Ashley’s absolute stunner of a voice and her ear for bold, joyous melodies that makes “Dare Ya” such a success. The song’s verse calls to mind Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone” both in its vocal melody and in the slick, propulsive guitar and drum backing. It’s a quiet, restrained start to the song, mirrored by the subdued colours of the video, and Ahsley’s performance as she sings straight into the camera gives it a real intimacy. After this restrained verse the chorus hits like a bolt of pure sunshine thanks to the pounding synths and the stellar vocal performance. Ashley has the voice and the charisma of a natural-born pop star, delivering each line with an exuberance that’s pretty irresistible. The song builds and drops in all the ways a classic pop song should, and Ashley’s voice fill every moment with an abundance of energy and charm. My only complaint musically is that the bridge lasts all of about six seconds, and it’s got such a great melody that I could’ve used a couple more runs through at least.

So it’s a great song- smartly written, well performed and given a clean, punchy production. Unfortunately the video doesn’t quite live up to it. The shots of Ashley and her suitably well-groomed band performing are fine, but the scenes of Ashley and boyfriend frolicking on the beach are super cheesy and feel a bit amateur. The actor who plays the boyfriend isn’t especially good and the shots of him staring broodily out to sea reminded me of Keeanu Reeves in Point Break, which probably isn’t what he was going for. I guess that’s the cost of not having a major record label and a million dollar budget behind you, but considering this is Ashley’s first ever music video it could certainly have been a lot worse.

Ashley J’s newest track doesn’t exactly reinvent the concept of a pop single- it would’ve sounded perfectly at home on the radio ten or even twenty years ago- but then it was never supposed to. This is simple, fun pop music in the vein of classics like Madonna and Whitney Houston, and fans of pop divas from any era will love it.


Review by Paul Ewbank