Selena Gomez's Back Catalog: Her Top 10 Pre-'Stars Dance' Highlights

Selena Gomez

Diego Uchitel

For a pop star still a couple days away from drinking age -- she turns 21 on Monday, so get your birthday cards ready this weekend -- Selena Gomez has already amassed a fairly impressive back catalog, having released three full-length albums with her former backing band The Scene as well as a bevy of solo tracks for various Disney-related soundtracks and compilations. Gomez adds a significant entry to her discography on Tuesday (July 23) with the release of "Stars Dance," her first LP sans Scene, and her most obvious attempt yet to break from her teen-pop roots and be taken seriously as a solo artist.

More Back Catalog Explorations: Justin Bieber | Demi Lovato

But before you get too deep into her new album, take a minute to learn up on the songs you might not already be so familiar with from her first half-decade of music. Beyond hits like "Round & Round," "Love You Like a Love Song" and the recent top ten smash "Come & Get It," Selena has a fairly impressive repertoire of album tracks and soundtrack cuts, songs that show a different side of her and see her stretching her creative boundaries, sometimes with the aid of high-profile collaborators. Here are our 10 favorites.

10. "Kiss & Tell"
Found On: "Kiss & Tell"

The lead song and title track from Selena's debut album, "Kiss & Tell" is a swinging blast of energetic, irresistible pop that reminds you that it wasn't that long ago that the default pop sound was still more based in rock than dance. Listen closely and you can even hear echoes of Garbage's Shirley Manson in Selena's heavily processed, multi-tracked vocals on the chorus.

9. "Ghost of You"
Found On: "A Year Without Rain"

Selena's first attempt at a haunting (pun semi-intended) torch-song ballad, "Ghost of You" works thanks to the starkness of its thudding beat and the ethereal prettiness of its backwards-playing hook. The singer does an impressive job carrying the heavy track, sounding more like her pal Demi Lovato as she cries, "I'm breathing in, I'm breathing out / Isn't that what it's all about?"

8. "Trust in Me"
Found On: "Disneymania 7"

One of a couple classic Disney covers performed by Selena over the years, following her version of "Cruella de Vil" from "101 Dalmatians," "Trust in Me" does an impressive job of turning the sinister original ballad (sung by the treacherous python character Kaa in "The Jungle Book") into something like a siren's song -- seductive without totally losing its sense of mystery and danger.

7. "Middle of Nowhere"
Found On: "When the Sun Goes Down"

The final original song on her third (and to date, final) album with the Scene, "Middle of Nowhere" takes Gomez's heartbreak out on the dancefloor, with a strong melodic hook and some well-deployed bell sound effects on the chorus. You get the sense that were it released in the late '70s, it would have been a huge pop smash.

6. "As a Blonde"
Found On: "Kiss & Tell"

Gomez has often found success on her albums by enlisting her pop peers to help, first on this cut off her debut album, co-written by one of Gomez's pop idols, Fefe Dobson. Dobson lends "Blonde" a sneering attitude normally missing from Selena's gentler pop numbers, and though it's a little chuckle-worthy to hear a teen idol pop star like Selena sarcastically pining for a better life through a new hair color ("I'll be ever so enticing / Take a lot of icing / Never have to watch my weight"), the song is fun and catchy enough that you won't begrudge her for it.

5. "A Year Without Rain (EK's Future Classic Radio Edit)"
Found On: "A Year Without Rain" (Deluxe Edition)

"A Year Without Rain" found radio success as the second single from Gomez's sophomore album of the same name, but far superior to the version that appears on the album proper is the dancier remix, courtesy of French DJ Eric Kupper. Stretched out and given room to breathe, the song finds new life as a David Morales-esque early-'90s house cut.

4. "I Don't Miss You At All"
Found On: "Kiss & Tell"

A double-time synth-pop banger reminiscent of the Veronicas' late-'00s hit "Untouched" -- a logical comparison, given that both songs were helmed by German writer/producer Toby Gad -- "Miss You" is one of Selena's more addictive pop jams, so relentless in its pogoing energy that it gives her breakup-themed lyrics a gleefulness that keeps them from sounding wallowing or self-pitying.

3. "Whiplash"
Found On: "When the Sun Goes Down"

With its electro-pop sheen, driving beat and shuffling glam-rock rhythms, "Whiplash" fondly recalls Britney Spears' chart-topping "Womanizer," and indeed, Ms. Spears is a credit co-writer on "Whiplash," along with frequent Spears collaborator Nicole Morier and pop guru Greg Kurstin. The song has hooks and energy to spare, with Selena's spoken-word ranting on the pre-chorus (that British accent!) one of the most unapologetically silly and fun things appear on one of her records.

2. "We Own the Night"
Found On: "When the Sun Goes Down"

Possibly Gomez's most accomplished ballad to date -- even counting the single "Who Says?" -- the Pixie Lott-featuring "We Own the Night" is a teenage romance anthem worthy of soundtracking a thousand post-prom parties. "Night" wisely keeps its bearings throughout, never bursting into either full torch-song histrionics or a dance throwdown, instead letting the gently chugging rhythm, echoing guitar riff and imminently relateable lyrics carry the song, which they do beautifully.

1. "Rock God"
Found On: "A Year Without Rain"

Selena's first real superstar collaboration, "Rock God" was co-written by Katy Perry, and given how well the song turned out, you wonder if maybe Katy wished she'd held onto it for her own "Teenage Dream" a year later. Uncharacteristically strutting for early Selena, "Rock God" is built around a hard-hitting, throbbing electro-pop pulse, with Gomez's addictive "OH NO!!" exhortations on the chorus -- as in "oh no, I can't believe how into this Rock God guy I am" -- packing a sense of release she's usually too composed to flaunt.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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