Review: Gracefulness, optimism and simplicity shape the songs on Selena Gomez’s most recent pop/EDM album, Rare, a body of work that showcases the artist’s journey of self love and healing
By Mira Sripada (’22)
Most notably beginning her acting career as Alex Russo on the hit Disney TV series Wizards of Waverly Place, Selena Gomez is a singer, songwriter, actress and television producer born in Grand Prairie, Texas. In her career, Gomez has released three solo studio albums: Stars Dance, Revival which generated well – known hits like “Hands to Myself” and “Same Old Love” and Rare, a 13-track album released on January 10, 2020. Gomez has also collaborated with prominent artists like DJ Snake in “Taki Taki” and Kygo in “It Ain’t Me”. In addition to Gomez’s acting and singing career, she is the current executive producer of 13 Reasons Why, an extremely popular Netflix series.
In Rare, Selena Gomez provides her listeners with EDM-like beats while simultaneously managing to sound mature and graceful. This sound is best represented in the third song, “Look At Her Now”. This track could easily be considered the strongest one on the album due to its electric, upbeat and danceable nature. Furthermore, the song’s brevity prevents it from becoming repetitive and overplayed. This sound is also present in the song “Dance Again”, in which an electric synth and dance beat accentuate a sassy pre-chorus and passionate chorus.
Not only are listeners satisfied with danceable rhythms, but Rare also delivers with regards to its powerful messages. This is first clear in Gomez’s title song. “Rare” begins with a bass guitar accompanied by a tropical beat. As Gomez sings in her falsetto voice the lyrics “Why don’t you recognize I’m so rare?”, listeners get a taste of the most prominent message in the album: Self-love. This becomes more obvious in the sixth song on the album, “Vulnerable”. It is in this song that Gomez is quite literally vulnerable, clear when she breathily sings the lyrics, “If I was the greatest thing that happened to you, would you know it?” Here, Gomez is unapologetically confident, a trait that was maybe not present in some of her earlier pieces.
Although most tracks on the album are really well done, two songs in particular are not as “rare” as Gomez makes it seem. The tenth song on the album, “Kinda Crazy” parallels the format of many basic pop songs: no lyrical depth, a guitar and a few snaps here and there. The eleventh song, “Fun” also has a similar generic feel. The lyrics sound childish and don’t represent the growth the artist has so clearly experienced.
Also noteworthy on Rare are its collaborations. Although repetitive, the track “Crowded Room” which features 6LACK, is sentimental, light, melodic and catchy. The vocal performance of both Gomez and 6LACK sound beautiful and tranquil. Another collaboration in Rare is in “A Sweeter Place” which features Kid Cudi. In this song, listeners are satisfied when they hear the obnoxious, electronic outbursts of both Gomez and Kid Cudi. Furthermore, this track features an outrageous amount of autotune which contributes to the EDM feel of much of her album.
In addition to the songs mentioned above, listed below are some honorable mentions that contribute to the album’s memorability: “Ring” and “People You Know”
Selena Gomez is arguably one of the most prominent figures in pop culture. Whether it be for her Disney show, her collaboration with Netflix, or the endless amount of hits that she has generated over the years, Gomez’s presence in mainstream media is highly significant. And so because of her popularity, her fans and music lovers alike were highly anticipating the release of Rare, her first body of work since 2015. In Rare, Gomez stays true to her EDM/pop sound but deviates when it comes to her lyrics, which represent an artist with much more confidence and passion than before. Gomez may never have the vocal range of Ariana Grande but her simple, danceable and graceful songs prove that pop music comes in many different forms.