Many musicians hawk their songs to advertisers once they’ve earned a hit. Michael Fredo couldn’t wait for all that. He decided to sell out before anyone had even heard of him. The 20-year-old crooner could be the first pop contender ever to launch his career touting a product that has nothing whatsoever to do with music. For over a year, Fredo has been featured in a lavish print and TV assault for Tommy Hilfiger. Luckily for Fredo, we live in the post-credibility age, where the notion of ”selling out” has relevance only to fogies who barely buy records anymore anyway.
But Fredo deserves the spotlight. He brings something rare to teen pop. Whereas most boy acts adopt butch looks and urbanized R&B sounds, Fredo evokes an age when teen idols looked fey and sang like they came from Scarsdale. He’s got the figure and silken hair of David Cassidy, with a soft voice to match. To flatter Fredo’s honeyed falsetto, Introducing stresses mid-paced pop ballads. On Introducing, songs like ”Love All Over Again” soar on agile melodies — but the single, ”This Time Around,” steals the show. It’s the best bubble-gum ballad since the Backstreet Boys’ ”I Want It That Way.” With songs this sweet, Fredo can shill for whomever he likes.