Leighton Meester

Grade: 85/100

Many remember Leighton Meester for her role as Blair “Queen B” Waldorf in “Gossip Girl.”

However, in 2009, Meester made her step onto the music scene with the single “Somebody To Love” featuring Robin Thicke.

The dance-pop based track didn’t get much attention and faded fairly quickly. Meester tried again later that year with a Christmas single and then in 2010 with another dance-pop track “Your Love’s A Drug.” Again, she didn’t receive much attention, or praise for either of these.

So, when the news came out that Meester was releasing a whole album, not much was expected. The prediction of a record full of dance-pop tracks with badly written lyrics and poorly-sung high notes was all that was on the brain.

Then, Meester threw us something completely unexpected. “Heartstrings” is an album full of well-written and well-sung tracks that truly pull at the heartstrings.

Meester ditched the dance-pop tracks and sways toward the singer-songwriter genre with a hint of pop. She could now be compared to singers like Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles.

The record is nine tracks long and all of them include a well-played guitar, drum set and Meester’s soprano vocals. While some songs have a faster beat than others, they are primarily soft and slow tracks.

Songs like “Dreaming,” “Sweet,” “Entitled,” and the title track, “Heartstrings,” are all highlights of the album. “Dreaming” gives way to a soulful feel, showing Meester can be more than a pop princess. “Sweet” plays with string instruments, creating a new sound in the middle of the record that’s refreshing. “Entitled” is the final track of the record while “Heartstrings” is the beginning. Both do their jobs of creating a solid end and a high energy beginning.

Meester’s reinvention came as a surprise, but it is exactly what she needed.

When a celebrity makes the transition from actress to singer, it’s always nerve wracking for their fanbase. Can the celebrity sing? Does he or she have a sound?

Most, like Meester, start in what they expect to get heavy radio rotation and high iTunes sales. However, that overly produced pop sound can go bad incredibly quick. The music is badly written, auto-tuned and nothing special.

But sometimes the celebrity figures out it’s a bad decision and spends time in and out of the studio working to create something much better. Luckily, Meester did just that and has created a record that’s worth a listen or two.

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