It seems like Debbie Gibson has been around forever, the illusion fostered by incredible success at a young age. She began moving the first of her estimated 10 million albums sold in 1987, when she was all of 16.
But lackluster response to her last album has raised questions about whether the magic behind such megahits as “Out of the Blue,””Shake Your Love” and “Electric Youth” has vanished, putting additional pressure on the performance of her new Atlantic release, “Body Mind Soul,” which hits stores Jan. 19.
Gibson is aware people are watching, but isn’t bothered. “I’m 22 and making a comeback,” she says, laughing. “Yeahhh. The last album only had one hit on it. People might see (the new record) as that, but I really don’t know. I haven’t stopped working.”
Gibson, fresh off a Broadway stint as Eponine in “Les Miserables,” has enlisted songwriters Carole Bayer Sager, Narada Michael Walden and Rhythm Syndicate for material. The album is produced by Phil Ramone, Elliot Wolf and Rhythm Syndicate, sharing duties with Gibson on 10 of the 11 tracks.
“For me, this album just meant growth,” Gibson says. “This is kind of a more intense version of the other albums. I’ve always included love, message and dance songs. The arrangements, messages, melodies and every area have just gotten more complex.”
The new disc’s first single, “Losin’ Myself,” is a midtempo ballad co-written with Rhythm Syndicate’s Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers that has just arrived at radio. The song features an accompanying video featuring Gibson playing a stripper, not the usual fit for her All-American image.
“For me, everything I’ve done is natural to how I felt,” she says. “With the latest video, I had to be sexier. If I was losing myself over somebody, it would have to be contradictory to how I looked and acted in everyday life. I always try to do what’s appropriate for the song and be true to how I feel at the time.”
More acting is unquestionably in Gibson’s future. “I would love to do film and definitely more theatre,” she says. “What I really want to do is play a role comparable to Barbra Streisand’s Fanny Brice, a character that’s strong and witty. I’m not interested in playing cheerleaders.”
A summer tour in support of “Body Mind Soul” is planned, with Gibson promoting the album with a series of industry events until then.