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Music Review: Ashley Tisdale – Guilty Pleasure

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As Sharpay Evans in the preposterously popular High School Musical franchise, Ashley Tisdale stood out thanks to her lively and amusingly mischievous character. She brought something extra to the role — perhaps due to her being a little older than the other main HSM performers — and seemed somewhat more self-aware.

With the release of Guilty Pleasure, her second record, a 23-year-old Tisdale is attempting to sell the tween crowd on the proposal that she’s all grown up.

Disney’s proclivity for cranking out heaps of “talent” for the tween throng has become the stuff of legend, with the likes of Miley Cyrus and those damn Jonas Brothers plastered on every half-locker in the United States and beyond. Every so often, a slice of talent breaks through and produces something unique, interesting, and strangely natural.

No matter how charming or mischievous Tisdale might have been as Sharpay, though, it’s safe to say that none of that transfers to Guilty Pleasure. Instead, she comes up with awkward songs, spiritless attempts at sexuality, and very little in the way of imagination or distinctiveness.

It is interesting to note that Tisdale’s attempts to come off as grown-up sound a lot more like a tween trying to impress and less like a young woman blossoming into her own skin while finding her own voice. This is disappointing, as even Miley has demonstrated an ability to be strikingly sincere.

Musically, Guilty Pleasure is paint-by-numbers stuff. Tisdale’s band plonks out a sort of lame power pop, complete with wilted guitar progression and “sweeping” strings for the more “emotional” numbers. Completely in want of ingenuity and guts, it’s all just very dull.

The lyrical content is pretty emaciated. The bulk of the tunes cover the routine breakups-to-makeups province of modern pop music.

“What If,” which is Tisdale’s most personal piece on the album, resembles almost every other slushy piano ballad ever written. Co-written by Kara DioGuardi, the song questions a significant other as to where he’d be if really needed. Tisdale’s mundane, uninspired vocals do little to communicate any actual importance and the drawn-out fills don’t help, either.

Guilty Pleasure’s lead single, “It’s Alright, It’s OK,” owes a lot to Avril and sounds more like a 15-year-old trying to get over a hallway crush than a 23-year-old woman getting on with her life.

Slight segments of experimentation and exploration float through “Masquerade,” although the appealing intro soon gives way to more weak song production and Tisdale’s too-high, too-nasal tendencies.

Shoddy and cheesy, “How Do You Love Someone?” stands as an ode to a girl dealing with her divorced parents. Instead of offering something reliable and expressive, Tisdale follows the blueprint and builds tacky melodrama.

While Tisdale’s Guilty Pleasure will sell well to its anticipated tween audience, I couldn’t help but wish that her anticipated audience be a little closer to her own age. The record is a dodge, with cheap attempts at boldness hidden in feeble cuts like “Hot Mess” instead of front and center where more genuine attempts belong.

Entirely spineless and ineffectual, this Guilty Pleasure is about as sinful as sneaking an extra cookie from a jar and about as grown-up as an eighth grader’s MySpace page.

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About Jordan Richardson

  • Mel

    I have to agree with you. But for some reason, I still like this album. I reckon, if Ashley didn’t have such a SQUEAKY voice, maybe her songs wouldn’t seem so tween like… but yeah haha. We both have the same last name, btw 🙂

  • Melissa

    Oh the denial in most of the comments,

    Come on. This album is so listen-whorty, she expresses her feelings and emotions trough almost all songs and you review her totally amazing album like this. You could’ve been at least a bit positive. Anyway Ashley doesn’t have to spread nake pictures of herself on the net to gain respect and notoriety. I know Ashley will always stay her true self and doesn’t do fake things, she will do things that she personally likes, she’s not a Disney product like Miley. If you followed one of her steps during her GP-era, you would’ve at least known that she always wanted to this. She loves Rock anyway.

    This review is way too biased, rude, negative and disrespectful.

  • brandon

    tisdale is great…ok then…so what… she 24.. she great in 24-year old now in this album is about her life.. cn’t you see peopple… ashley is so sad… and all the boys..cheat on her…you see rihanna also 23 and beyonce same as ashley age you guys… don’t no her don’t talk peopple like that if you ashley tisdale get cheat by boys how do you feels

  • chris

    well i like it alot…… it is like nothing she has ever done…… 5/5

  • john_charmed3

    oh comon. the only reason you are criticizing this cd because it is not your type… Ofcourse Ashley T. has a different kind of voice, its her signature, and for me it’s unique, her songs are catchy and she sings live great… What can you ask more..? Miley is famous because of hanah montana but only shouts her songs unlike ashley who has all the melody together with demi lovato.. I think they are the only two stars in disney which can sing well, and ashley’s is for both the young and old, its the young who put her at the spotlight, she should not immediately let them go you know.

  • JanJan

    All i can say is.. if you hear other artist’s voice, it’s very much all common, but ashley, has a unique voice.. she can sing live thats for sure..

    but hey….Even the best, unique singer like her which is down to earth and extremely talented cannot please anyone ryt??

    She has great potential and can crash other music and get into the top of the charts…She is versatile…do u agree?

  • Cameron J Robinson

    I believe Ashley’s album is amazing! Before you judge the depth please read the lyrics, on the surface it may sound shallow but the concepts are amazing. “Acting Out” claims “Life’s too short to do what your told” and she is “suffocating and can’t breathe.” The frustration is evident. Sometimes we all wanna “Act out” even at 24 especially in the wreck we call the “Music” industry. It’s Alright.. talks about finding the strength and value within yourself to move forward. It’s a great encouraging record. Masquerade is very creative I haven’t heard anyone else use that concept that effortlessly since ummm Etta James.. “Is this love we’re imitating? Do we want what we got if not I, say so what!” amazing! “Overrated” talks about how overrated losing yourself in another can be, if it goes too far.. This record made me evaluate my life and relationships and I love that.. “Times up” is MONSTER if you don’t feel that track you are crazy.. I love her swag in this record. One thing is for sure I will bump this album through my system, because darn it it deserves to be! Way to hustle Ashley! Way to act out introducing the world to Ashley Tisdale. I applaud you!

  • Nix

    Oh and I find it very insulting that you said liking this album is “just a trend.”
    Do you think I would waste money on CD that I seriously do not like just to follow a trend…You are mistaken, if listening to Ashley was considered uncool or whatever, I can assure you I wouldn’t throw this CD away because it wasn’t considered trendy.

  • Nix

    I have recently bought my own copy of Guilty Pleasure, and despite how you criticized it in your review, I absolutely loved it. Her voice may not match her age exactly but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s good. I honestly do not know how you manged to find a fault in every single track. Look I’m not saying the CD’s perfect, I do find the track “Hair” very annoying, but just give her some credit.
    I still don’t exactly understand how you hated this album, but praise Miley Cyrus, and find her ever so “sincere,” and find her albums more grown up. After all, she has a song called “Old Blue Jeans.” Real mature. Personally I would rather chew off my own leg than listen to Miley cyrus!
    Well, this topic is clearly debatable so technically no one can be right. Everyone has different tastes, opinions and views, and I guess we just don’t see eye to eye in this particular discussion.

  • Quinton

    I think that you all are a little to hard on her. It’s only her second album. She isn’t use to being in studio recording her own music. Plus, “It’s Alright, It’s Ok” isn’t a bad song and gives her an amazing new look. Now the whole album is bad and that is sad by don’t attack her for a second attempt to find her sound.

  • LimeCat

    I think Ashley Tisdale’s album is great.I like Miley Cyrus,and others my 43-year-old mom does not really love.But she likes Ashley Tisdale’s album,she said she’d rather listen to Ashley Tisdale than Demi Lovato.And alot of people say that Demi Lovato is so much better,but I don’t think so.Unlike the reviewer,I think the album is very good.

  • mikefan

    look ashley is not a great live singer but her album is good i would listen to almost every song…who are u to judge hello…are u a singer…are u famous….no stop critiquing some one who has already made it when ur still trying to be someone

  • Brenda

    I 100% agree with your review. If there´s one word to describe this album that would be: FAKE.
    I wonder if you could review the sophomore album of Demi Lovato, “Here we go again”, too.

  • sdipa

    well,everyones got there own opinion and according to you she did’nt sound her age.
    but i personally liked her songs i think if you’re songwriter than you can express who you are but if youre given songs by writers than you have to just oick ones you like.
    I think that music is about the kind of music you like to make and here it does not have to deal with your age all the time.
    she is maturing in her own pace and so as she matures her tastes changes.
    P.S i am not an ashley tisdale fan

  • I completely agree with the reviewer. Tisdale just doesn’t have a good voice. It high and nasally, and she cannot hit the right notes when she actually chooses to sing live. She’s the last person out of the Disney bunch who should have gotten a record deal.

    Her lyrics aren’t believable coming from a 23 year old. She’s in a tight spot though, considering her demographic.

  • Jennifer T.

    This critic seems like a serious hater. Very jealous of how talented Ashley is. Please re-listen to Guilty Pleasure.

    “What If” is the most sincere song I’ve heard since Ashlee Simpson’s “Shadow”. The song is so personal to Ashley; it is like she is telling her life story to us. I cried when I first heard it. “It’s Alright, It’s OK” is very mature and the song P!nk wished she recorded. “Masquerade” is slinky and groovy, while “Delete You” is a fun twist on a break up song.

    Her vocals on “Me Without You” are heartaching. Ashley even co-wrote the song, with lyrics that could give Diane Warren a run for her money.

    Ashley is no longer appealing to tweens. Her audience with Guilty Pleasure is anyone from 1 to 100, who likes ROCK, DANCE, HIP HOP, and R&B. I know a lot of gay clubs that play Ashley’s song and everyone really likes it. Guilty Pleasure is the rare album that is both fun to listen to and highly personal.

    I suggest listening to the album again. Maybe your opinion will change.

  • Mikael

    this album is freakin awesome and screw this critic! huge asshole!

  • John Paul

    Guys..AShley Tisdale is very great!From Disney Girl to Miss IndePenDent I guess Guilty Pleasure is much better than her previous Album!Guilty Pleasure Is testament that She is Growing up a lot.Ashley Is already a Woman?she is not a kid anymore!she’s turning into woman.Not Just a “Disney Girl”It’s time for her to Acting out!She’s 23 not 15 years old.

  • donna

    WTF ASHLEY TISDALE IS A WONDERFUL PERSON SHES AWSOME okay atleast she aint like THAT DAMM VANESSA HUDGENSON taken nude picture ashley is 24 let her live she never did anything worng and now you ppl find it okay to talk bad about her music atleast shes doing something with her life and yes she did grow out of disney shes not gonna be a little girl for every i think ashley tisdale is fun and a wonderful person and if you dont like her music simply dont listen to it. Ashley remembers that this is her work and she put her best into everything she havent mess up and im not saying shes perfect because no one isnt but you ppl seriously got issue talking bad about her music why dont you go talk bad about someone else shes 24 SHE CAN MAKE HER OWN DICSION soo fall off

  • Janny


  • Jay

    Ashley you are cute.

  • Jess

    I understand everyone has their own opinion… but dissing a young girl who is having fun doing the job she loves isn’t gonna do anything. I understand if you put “Ashley Tisdale’s C.d. was a some what disapointment because I suspected her to do better” or what not. But things like, “awkward songs, spiritless attempts at sexuality, and very little in the way of imagination or distinctiveness” is just plain rude and mean to Ashley.

  • MHayward

    How on earth can you find a fault in evry damn thing on this CD??? huh?? honestly I think it’s really good and why take a hit at da Jonas Bro’s and miley?? it’s like you don’t have anything beta 2 do than giving bad reviews about young singers!! D-:

  • Nick

    This review is pure music snobbery at it’s best.
    Well done.

  • tomhartman

    What you must understand is that music is like a language, and if you don’t speak the language, any criticism you offer is null and void. Saying that the band “plonks out” ordinary stuff in at least the few songs I’ve heard from the album is silly. The reviewer has no idea what he/she is talking about. The music is so well done it’s ridiculous. There are great guitar parts throughout, very well thought out, a super drummer who in “Overrated” even throws in some retro tom fills almost with a wink of the eye, and Ashlees voice is super on this.

    Let’s get something straight….singing pop music is not supposed to be the Olympics. It isn’t about how many notes you can turn one syllable into. Pop music began in the 50s and was all about feeling, not technique. It’s gotten so that if a singer hasn’t won American Idol some critics just fall into the “she can’t sing a lick” mode. Tisdales voice on this perfect for the music, her range is very strong, and the harmonies and production are top notch.

    This just isn’t the reviewers kind of music. But it sure is mine.

    TH (professional musician, guitarist and producer, not a critic)

  • John

    Although, after reading some of your comments, I do see where you are coming from…

    Its around Ashleys age that Britney broke into the more sexy stuff and brushed off any “Tween pop vibes” she gave off.
    Britney’s In The Zone album was a turning point in her career… I do think its about time Ashley did it too.

  • John

    To be honest, i’m not a fan of Ashley Tisdale… but I must say, her album is great.
    Some of the comments you made in the review were quite harsh and uncalled for. You also criticise her voice… atleast she doesn’t have it computerized like so many artists today. If you hear Ashley sing live, she sounds exactly like she does on the album.

    Her lead single is great, it will go far.
    Normally, this isn’t the type of music that I would listen to, but from the very first time I listened to her lead single, I knew I had to listen to the album, and it was suprisingly good.
    I feel she may be trying to “steal” the sound of artists such as Kelly Clarkson and Katy Perry, but this style of music suits her.

  • Osama

    ashley tisdale is awsum!! and the critics has lost their mind!!

  • Poptasty

    Not At All, I think this Album bring some good point from “Funhouse , All I Ever Wanted & One Of Those Boys” including with great sound and her singing style

    Good Album but not for her live!!!

    3 with half star for this Album

  • karl

    give ashley a break maybe she’s just trying to cater to all her fans it’s like this ..

    she has fans even as young as 9 year olds she can’t just diss her young fans, they are the reason why ashley is famous now .. she can’t start an album about sex and stuff .. how about you guys try making an album that would cater to fans as young as 9 years old and old as i dunno maybe 35 years old or something ..

  • bernard

    you guys think miley is sincere ? have you seen her interviews ? all miley cares about is promoting her movie, promoting her songs and her book. try watching this video of her interview and this.

    you might wanna think twice about miley being sincere and all about her songs. she’s just trying to sell her songs to like what ashley is doing.

  • Jordan Richardson


    First of all, let me thank you for your civil and respectful approach in your comment. I appreciate it.

    It’s actually all about selling Cd’s

    Exactly my point and, in my opinion, exactly the problem. I think Tisdale is better than simply selling CDs to a target audience. As I said, I think she’s a talented individual.

    I absolutely agree that there is an attempt to disconnect her from the Disney image, but the problem comes without realizing who Ashley Tisdale is as a person or what she has to say as an artist. The album and its packaging are so image-focused that it becomes problematic to look for anything real at all.

    With Miley Cyrus, there’s at least some sliver of sincerity. With Tisdale, there’s none. The songs sound like they came from a 13-14-year-old (there’s nothing wrong with that if you’re actually that age). It’s not just the lyrics, either. It’s the whole tone and sound of the songs. Her voice is high and tinny, offering no maturity and no complexity.

    Now, if Tisdale has the talent and sincerity as an artist to sell to an older audience, it will work. To sell herself short to a tween audience in such a way just lacks integrity, in my opinion. How long does she intend to do this? When she’s in her 30s, will she finally be putting out an album for people in their late teens? Do you see the problem this could bring in terms of being a legitimate artist?

    I think Tisdale is, like many others, at a point in her career where she has to choose where she’s going to belong. Is she going to continue to pander to the same fan base and the same group of people or is she going to prove that she’s actually an individual? She’s got middling voice talents (and it shows on this album) but she has a good look and is very charismatic. Tisdale can work with that, but on Guilty Pleasure she just misses every opportunity.

    I agree that image is important, but the thing is that Tisdale, at this point and time, has none. Sure, she dyed her hair and got a “band,” but it rings so false on the album that it’s hard to take seriously. She needs to take a few risks and go beyond it to the next level. I saw a clip of her on some Spanish talk show (I think) where she was giving a “lap dance” to an Obama impersonator. That sort of sexy, grown-up vibe is certainly in her. It’s just not on this album at all.

    Thank you again for stopping by, Andre. I appreciate your point and am grateful that you expressed it so fluently and carefully. You are very thoughtful and considerate.

  • andre franca

    trying to correct some mistakes:
    *(if i didn’t i wouldn’ buy the album, duh!)
    *please tell me what you think about my point of view

  • andre franca

    I’m a really big fan of Ashley. I have both CDs and watched all HSM and I’m always on fansites looking for news of her, but I think we have to accept critics and think about them.
    For what I’ve just read, this CD don’t worth a sh*t in your opinion. I don’t agree, maybe because I’m fan or maybe because teens just don’t really care to depth in their icons. But I agree that her being 23, could say a lot more. But the thing is that although they are trying to disconnect her from the Disney image they can’t do it in a day because she is not inserted in the “mature” musical world.She still need the tween fan base and at the same time is make the way to a more mature song. So I have a theorie that they are doing it by steps: she is not singing If You Seek Amy and Oops I did it again neither. It’ kind of mid-term. Maybe in her next album they are advancing in this proccess. Think this cd is much more ‘original’ since is not only the basic classic pink pop any singer can do. Maybe a edgy cliché, but I still think it’s better than the Headstrong image.
    It’s actually all about selling Cd’s: she need to go to a older audience but she can’t disconnect from who made her famous. If she did that, she wasn’t going to sell a single CD. Plus there is a prejudice against people who beggin like her.
    Talking about vocals, I reaaly like her voice (if i didn’t I would buy the album duh!) but I don’t think she has the power to sing live what she sells. Maybe some lessons could make her have a more strong voice (no problems with taking lessons: maybe you don’t know but britney did it in her comeback). If she improves her voice power and make more mature lyrics, she probably can have a stable place in this competitive market. Because if you do it, just need to be good in selling your image. Britney and so many other prove that having a Susan Boyle voice is not the main requirement in show bussiness.

    Jordan Richardson, please tell me what you think about my point of you and forgive for my english mistakes.

  • Rebecca

    I couldn’t agree more with Nix.
    I love ashley tisdale and can’t wait for her album!

  • Jess

    I always forget she’s 23 and not a teen.

    To me her voice is an issue in that having heard several live performances from her recently, she really does not have the vocals. I think that was okay for her last album but the songs on this album could have been a lot better had it been done by someone who could really sing. Because live, it’s hard to listen to and on the album a lot of it doesn’t even sound like her.

    You mentioned there being a lack of sincerity which I think is pretty reflective of her life currently but I’m not sure really how to elaborate. But basically I think it makes sense that it would cross over to her album too.

    Overall I completely agree with your review, it’s a bit harsh and if I was a bigger fan I might be upset but still on this, I really think you were spot on.

  • popqueen

    I think she is a good singer and her music is very positive.

  • Louise

    I wouldn’t worry about worry about reviews like this guys, for some people it’s just easier to criticize than praise.

  • wow

    I can’t believe her fans would compare Ashley’s ‘live’ singing to Miley’s ‘live’ singing. I’m not a fan of Miley but have you heard her sing ‘live’?? and compare Ashley’s ‘live’ singing? Oh please.

  • jonoashley fan


  • Jordan Richardson


    If I liked Miley Cyrus’s album (she’s 16) but don’t like Ashley Tisdale’s album (she’s 23), what does my critique have to do with age?

    Ashley Tisdale should grow up musically, yes. She’s probably got some interesting stories to tell as a young woman, but this album finds her pandering to a tween audience for an easy paycheque thanks to “fans” that will swallow anything happily and defend it to the ends of the earth until the next trend comes along.

  • Nix

    Excuse me, just who do you think you are? What gives you the right to find fault in absolutely evry single song on this album.
    Ashley Tisdale is extremely talented and has an amazing voice. I love her single “It’s Alright, It’s Ok.” I bought her first album and absolutely love it.
    I cannot wait for Guilty Pleasure to hit stores…
    And Miley Cyrus? “Strikingly Sincere”? O c’mon, are you for real. That girl couldn’t sing even if she got lessons.
    You say Ashley should just grow up. What about Miley Cyrus? She’s still Hannah Montana-That is lame.
    So stop being so judgmental, Ashley is awesome and I’m sure her fans of the world can back me up on that.
    You don’t have to be so critical because she’s young and you are old.

  • lex

    Me too.
    I don’t know who she is and apparently she doesn’t either. I have the feeling that she doesn’t care about her music, just about how much money she can make with it.

  • annie

    I couldn’t agree more. and what disturbes me is that music should be a way to communicate who you truly are to the world. it’s such a spiritual way of sharing yourself, and now I’m more confused about her than ever. I don’t know who she is at all.

  • Huhu

    At least the Jonas Brothers give you something to sink your teeth into and work with…something that resemble the musical evolution of actual talented musical artists. Same for Miley. “Talents” like the Tiz & Mitchell Musso just make the JB’s & Miley’s jobs harder.Ptooey!

  • Jordan Richardson

    I think you misunderstand the critique, kjrn.

    First of all, I said that Miley Cyrus was “strikingly sincere.” That’s a compliment.

    Second, Ashley Tisdale is not sincere with this record. That has nothing to do with how old she is but rather how mature and valuable the record is. There’s a difference. A 15-year-old making a record talking about her life and her situation can be quite good, as Miley’s latest was. A 23-year-old selling a record to tweens and, in my opinion, selling herself short as a performer to do so isn’t very good.

    Britney Spears works because she sells albums that sound their age. Ashley Tisdale’s high, tinny vocals and fluffy songs don’t work, especially when it sounds like she’s trying so hard to sound “edgy” with her pop/rock vibe.

    It just doesn’t work and it’s not meant as an insult towards anyone young. If you googled my Miley Cyrus Breakout review, you’d see I’ve got nothing against youth whatsoever. It’s about sounding natural.

  • kjrn

    From the lead single, I admit that your review is probably correct. However, that doesn’t mean you have to take your opinion of this CD out on other artists such as Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers. It comes across as if you are biased against anyone who is young and appeals to anyone young rather than as a fair reviwe of a CD you didn’t like.