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Track Review

What kind of a song does a 20-year-old Miami hip-hopper debut with if he’s been penning tunes since the age of 8?

In Jason Derülo’s case, the answer is his chart-topper "Whatcha Say." Mixing his own lyrics and rhythm with a sample from Imogen Heap’s 2005 single "Hide and Seek," Jason lobbies for the cheating man to get another chance.

"I was so wrong for so long," he croons, "Only tryin’ to please myself/Girl, I was caught up in her lust/When I don’t really want no one else." Right. If Derülo’s smooth-talking lyrics weren’t set to such catchy beats, it’s a safe bet that this girl would have already tossed the cheater out on his ear.

Turns out the song’s backstory comes from his family. Jason says his brother once told him, "I cheated on my girl, and she just found out today. She dumped me, but I know if she gave me one more shot I could really be the man that she needs me to be." Jason replied, "Tell her that s‑‑‑! Tell her just like you told me, and she might give you another shot."

She did. Now the couple is engaged, and Derülo’s the story has inspired a No. 1 hit.

As for the song’s popularity, Jason said in an interview with The DJ Booth, "I’m pleasantly surprised it’s doin’ so well. People are really connecting to it, which is most important to me." And he told Artist Direct, "Art should mirror real life. I think that’s why people connect to what I say because it’s so real."

Real, indeed. As in really sad.

Of course we should sometimes graciously extend a second chance to someone when they fall on their face. Maybe even in the hypothetical case of "Whatcha Say." But this song’s token cad-turned-groveler waits till he’s caught to start begging. So is he sincerely sorry—or just sorry he’s found out? ("I don’t want you to leave me/Though you caught me cheatin.’") And he sheepishly says, "I know I shoulda treated you better/But me and you were meant to be forever." He also promises, "When I become a star we’ll be livin’ so large/ I’ll do anything for you."

I suppose that last bit is a sweet sentiment—not that wealth has anything to do with a man’s commitment to monogamy. But it still leaves me a little cold.

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