Selena Gomez Vulnerable and Confident on New Album ‘Rare’
Selena Gomez (cover photo) released her first album in five years. Screen grab from YouTube
Arts & Entertainment Staff Writer
On Jan. 10, Selena Gomez released her highly anticipated album “Rare.” In the five years between her last album, “Revival,” and “Rare,” Gomez released a few singles while focusing on her personal life.
Gomez has experienced and endured a lot more than an average 27-year-old including battling Lupus, managing her mental health, going through a toxic relationship and growing up in the spotlight, to name a few. On “Rare,” Selena displays a new version of herself that is much more confident, healthy and in touch with herself.
From start to finish, the album is a cohesive work of art with a strong message of self-love. The 13-track album begins with “Rare” and includes the singles “Lose You To Love Me” and “Look At Her Now.”
Even on the more emotional tracks like “People You Know,” “Vulnerable” and “Lose You To Love Me,” Selena remains the self-assured and empowered young woman she has become. Through this album, Gomez proves that a woman who knows her worth and demands respect is truly unstoppable.
“Rare” is easily Selena’s best work yet, primarily because it feels the most like her. The songs on the album seem better tuned to her voice, which thrive on tracks that cater to her breathy style of singing and vocal range.
The production of the album, which Gomez played a greater role in, is upbeat, fun and refreshing without being over the top. The lyrics on the album are both emotional and personal, allowing listeners to form connections to the music and the messages within them.
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“Lose You To Love Me,” the first single from the album, was released Oct. 23, 2019. The song reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100, making it Gomez’s first No. 1 single in the U.S. The song finds Gomez coming to terms with the end of a highly public and arguably very toxic relationship.
In the chorus, Gomez sings about how it was the relationship’s end that gave her the ability to love herself. At the end of the song, Gomez declares that chapter of her life “closed and done” and is ready to embrace what the future has in store.
Title track “Rare” displays a confident version of Gomez that wasn’t present in some of her previous songs, such as “Perfect” off her 2015 album “Revival” or “The Heart Wants What it Wants” from 2014 album “For You.” Although she admits to imperfections with lyrics like “I don’t have it all/ I’m not claiming to/ But I know that I’m special,” Gomez makes it clear that she knows her worth and just how rare she is.
Gomez says “Vulnerable,” the album’s sixth track, is one of her favorite songs because of the message it delivers.
In an interview with Billboard’s Jason Lipshutz, Gomez said, “I realized it is because one of my strengths, that I thought was a weakness, is being vulnerable.”
That realization became her inspiration for the song which is a delicate emotional ballad about remaining vulnerable even when it’s hard.
Also on the album are songs “Fun,” “Dance Again” and “Look At Her Now” that prove the artist finds herself in a better place. “Fun” is a playful song co-written by Gomez’s frequent collaborator, singer-songwriter Julia Michaels. Gomez sings of getting involved with someone for the thrill of it, despite knowing they’re not good for her.
The second track “Dance Again” was written with the help of another frequent collaborator, Justin Tranter, lead singer of the rock band Semi Precious Weapons. “Dance Again” is an infectious pop song that leaves listeners wanting to dance along.
There are two features on the album. Atlanta rapper 6LACK is featured on the song “Crowded Room” which seems to tell the story of love at first sight. On the final song on the album, “A Sweeter Place,” Gomez is joined by Kid Cudi. In an interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music’s Beats 1, Gomez shared that before being featured on the song, Kid Cudi had served as her inspiration for the song.
Though the reviews of the album have been mostly positive, the few critics of the album point out “overuse of autotune” and simple or cliche lyrics. While it can be argued that some of the songs off the album seem a little impersonal or distant, Gomez made it clear that she wants the focus of her music to be on where she is now – not any past relationship. Despite some negative feedback, “Rare” became Gomez’s third No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart.
As a whole, “Rare” is an uplifting and inspirational album. It tells the story of a young woman who overcame many obstacles throughout her life in the public eye, culminating in the last five years. Selena Gomez shows to us on this album that in the time that has passed between “Revival” in 2015 and “Rare,” she has grown wiser and more mature. It seems Selena Gomez is finally in a good place, and that’s truly inspirational.
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