Release Date: January 10th 2020
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Dance Again
- Look At Her Now
- Lose You To Love Me
- People You Know
- Let Me Get Me
- Crowded Room (Feat. 6LACK)
- Kinda Crazy
- Cut You Off
- A Sweeter Place (feat. Kid Cudi)
- Bad Liar
- Fetish (feat. Gucci Mane)
- It Ain’t Me (with Kygo)
- Back To You
- Wolves (with Marshmello)
Even if you’re not a fan of mainstream pop music, (like myself until around about a year ago- and even then, I’m still not a fan, just more appreciative of different music styles!); I reckon everyone (and I mean everyone!) would know about actor, activist, songwriter, and pop superstar Selena Gomez’s highly publicised on again/off again relationship with Justin Bieber. You may have some thoughts about it- you may ship the two of them together (or you still may, even with Justin recently married to Hailey Baldwin!), or you may be anti both of Selena and Justin together. Or you could be like me and be indifferent to the whole ordeal. Cause it’s their lives outside of the spotlight…like is their relationship or lack of one going to help me in my own personal life? No, definitely not! But alas, we as common folk and the public like a good story and love to follow celebrities’ lives (and I mean their whole lives!) for some strange, weird reason that I can’t seem to figure out. We stalk celebrities lives on facebook, twitter, Instagram and other social media profiles…until we’re blocked! We’re a weird bunch, aren’t we? Nevertheless, Selena and Justin’s rocky relationship permanently ended last year, and even if you aren’t a fan of Selena’s music, or haven’t heard much of her music, there’s no denying the emotion and vulnerability surrounding her most recent two singles which released last year.
Now I’m not the biggest Selena Gomez fan. I’ve heard some of her songs here and there- enough for me to say that her influence will keep on growing over the next few months and years (her growing influence is explored in another post!). But what I will say is this- that the world stood up and took notice with these songs “Lose You To Love Me” and “Look At Her Now”. They hung onto every word being sung, every emotional note being played. No doubt this is probably one of the most vulnerable periods they public has been exposed to with regards to Selena’s private life, and for that reason alone I figured that it was time to voice my thoughts. Selena recently released her 3rd solo studio album Rare about a month ago- and boy what a journey Selena has been on. So are you ready to hear my analysis of Rare, even though I’m definitely not a ‘Selenator’, just more appreciative of her style of music now? Of course you are!
“Lose You To Love Me” chronicles Selena’s yo-yo emotions dealing with her permanent breakup with Justin, declaring in the heartfelt piano ballad that ‘…I needed to hate you to love me…’, while “Look At Her Now” is sung from a third person’s point of view, pointing out that Selena has healed from her break-up beyond imagination and is in a good place and space now. It’s probably not the catchiest of songs (“Lose You To Love Me” is much more poignant, personal and emotional, while “Look At Her Now” is more poppy and bouncy), but I reckon these two tracks especially from Rare are some of her most vulnerable and emotional tracks ever. Some would say that these songs are Selena hating on Justin for no apparent reason, but I reckon it’s not the case, as Selena’s vulnerability and raw emotion reveal that she just wants to move on, rather than be petty and dwell upon what went wrong during the relationship. The fact that I found “Lose You To Love Me” and “Look At Her Now” to be compelling and relevant to society right now, doesn’t mean I’m officially a Selenator now (the name of her fan base!). In the same way that listening to other types of music this year from what Jon is writing about, has given me a better appreciation and more of an understanding as to how other types of music can be beneficial for my soul and my growth as a person; so too has Selena’s music altered my line of thinking, and has me believing that not all pop is bad- that some pop will be good. And indeed a deeper look at the remainder of the tracks on Rare as well as Selena’s deluxe edition tracks only available at Target and JB Hi-Fi, reveal probably the most strongest pop album of the year thus far and one of the contenders of album of the year in my personal list to be written at the end of the year!
“…The moment we started four years ago, I just said, before we finished anything: ‘This is going to be the name of my album.’ The word is so special and it means a lot, and I think, in this time, where everyone is obsessed with feeling like they need to look the same way, or get things done, or whatever it may be—and I mean I obviously don’t judge—I’m just saying some girls are hurting because they feel like they don’t fit in, but this word is eliminating that, because you weren’t meant to look like everyone else. You’re meant to be who you are, and that’s unique, and that’s rare…” Album opener and title track “Rare” opens proceedings with a bang and a slick, pulsating head-banger of a dance number, chronicling Selena’s opinions on how she believes she is a rare person and that everyone on earth is rare- that’s an incredibly good thing, that we each are unique and we each are our own person. A song celebrating individuality and uniqueness and identity; the title track sounds on the surface as if Selena is singing to an ex reminding him the reasons why he’s missing out- but even though that may be how I viewed the song at first, the subtle nuances of the message of what Selena is trying to communicate here is pretty deep and meaningful- as Selena has reiterated that “…[Rare] actually is a word that sums up what the purpose of my position is, which is letting people know that they are completely unique within who they are. That’s the biggest thing, right? It’s like, they don’t fit in, or they feel like they need to be a certain way… it’s very scary to know who they’re looking up to. I think it was such a perfect description of how I think girls, or women, are meant to feel. It’s even acknowledging- I don’t have it all, but I do know that I’m worth something. I’m not gonna settle and I’m gonna wait, ‘cause there is something out there that is gonna give me that feeling that I deserve and I want…”.
“Dance Again” brings up the tempo to something extremely danceable, as Selena celebrates her journey over the past four years and dances because she has overcome so much adversity, heartache, and sickness. Essentially this is a celebratory song about living life and being happy, which is something that we as humans have overall forgotten how to act and be. “Ring”, one of the weirdest tracks on the album, dives deep into the psyche of a sadistic person who loves dishing our pain on others, although the song could be about the intricacies of how Selena might want to treat Justin after all he’s done and put her through; while the most relevant and honest track on Rare is “Vulnerable”, an EDM/dance type track whereby Selena concludes that even though entering a relationship is risky and there’s a chance of heartache, she will continue to stay vulnerable because the alternative is not opening up at all and being alone the rest of her life. Kind of like a therapy session for herself in relation of how to act post-Justin Bieber. Selena even has said that “Vulnerable” is her favourite song on the album, as “…I think it was a way of me hoping—like, hoping I could be a voice for people who are in the same situation I’m in, whether it’s mentally that people struggle with or relationships, friendships. I wanted to be as honest as I could, and the only thing that I wanted was to make people feel good, and, you know, during all the mess [in the world] that’s happening, I think that I’m very lucky to be in a position where I can make people feel good…”
“People You Know” is a warning of sorts, a chill back pop tune that describes the breaking down of a friendship or a relationship, and speaks about how friendships can change and evolve. Which is ok- that’s part of life that best friends one day can be strangers the next. It’s sad but nothing can be done if olive branches are completely shunned. It’s unknown if Selena is singing about Justin or her former bestie Demi Lovato, but either way, Selena is closing the book on some of her previous friends, not be choice but because of circumstance. “Let Me Get Me”, another happy-go-lucky tune, is the spiritual sequel to “Dance Again”, and is once again confirmation that Selena is in a happy, satisfied and contented place, while “Crowded Room” is also Selena in her happy place as she outlines how she wants her future relationships to look like- though the track is repetitive, Selena’s passion in the chorus makes this track shine, as well as 6LACK’s guest rap.
The eye opening and confronting “Kinda Crazy”, sung about a stalker and how they always want to cling onto the other person and project an obsessive and unhealthy fixation that becomes creepier by the minute, could be sung about Justin Bieber- or Selena could be singing from the persona of a friend; while “Fun” carries on from “Kinda Crazy” and is sung about the same relationship (although “Fun” is about earlier on in the relationship than “Kinda Crazy”) as Selena sings about a persona who knows her new relationship is bad for her but dives into it anyway because it’s ‘fun’. Why are these tracks included on a tracklist that is so far inspiring and hopeful? Maybe it’s because Selena wanted to let loose and show us a side of herself that we don’t normally see, or maybe these songs serve as what we need to seriously listen to- helping us and guiding us to better relationships. Either way, these couple of songs are something different, and it’s great that Selena has stretched herself musically, delivering songs with a message, even though not a positive one. The laid back guitar led acoustic type ballad “Cut You Off” seems to be another track about Justin Bieber and about how she wants to cut him off out of her life, while the standard album ends with the introspective and reflective ballad “A Sweeter Place”, where Selena and rapper Kid Cudi both ask the definitive question of where is the ‘sweeter place’ where they can just relax and forget about today’s troubles. Are they asking about Heaven? It could be, but the ambiguity is in fact a good thing, as we are met with a song of searching, asking questions- and no doubt when you ask questions, God will show up and answer you. Well done Selena for an album that is lyrically, musically and thematically strong and relevant for 2020.
“…there are certain things which I wish hadn’t happened to me. But without them I wouldn’t have been the voice I am for people who have gone through the same thing. You know, going through the lupus thing and the kidney transplant, I was dealing with fame and with being run-down, dealing with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues that I had. It was all a bit confusing. When (2019 single) ‘Lose You to Love Me’ came out, I stood back and had this moment, like, ‘Oh… this is a huge reason why I’ve pushed myself through this. This is why.’ I was able to release a song that hopefully helps to heal some people, or just lets them know they are not alone. I was actually letting it go personally and when that happened something inside of me just left. And that’s why I am grateful for the chapters of my life. I’m not saying that it’s gonna be easy from now on, but I have a lot more strength and a lot more courage and a bigger voice to stand up for what I deserve…” With Selena Gomez’s previous 5 singles in 2017 (“Bad Liar”, “It Ain’t Me”, “Fetish”, “Back To You” and “Wolves”) being on the deluxe edition of Rare (only available at Target and JB Hi-Fi), Rare only gets stronger and stronger as we are presented with the deluxe edition. And if you’d told me that I’d actively listen to a Selena Gomez album last year, I’d laugh in your face. But such is this past year and musical growth that I have had- now I’m comfortable in listening to something that is not completely in my ‘genre’. If anything, this album Rare has taught me that I need to redefine my preferred genre of music, or at least expand it a bit. The rest of Rare was as awesome and inspiring as “Lose You To Love Me” and “Look At Her Now” (which I hoped!)- so look out world because maybe the album of the year is already out- but ask me again in December! Well done Selena, for being brave and showing us he journey that you’ve been on and are still on- and let us hope and pray that whatever comes next inspires and challenges just this album has!
5 songs to listen to: Rare, Lose You To Love Me, Vulnerable, A Sweeter Place, Wolves
RIYL: Taylor Swift, Demi Lovato, Britt Nicole, Cimorelli, Ed Sheeran, Kelly Clarkson