Selena Gomez is an unlikely and miscalculated jewel in the crown of pop royalty. Her beginnings as a Disney Channel star turned pop singer could have been the death knell for her music career — many of Disney’s manufactured acts have an extremely short shelf life thanks in part to overexposure and underwhelming talent. Selena, however, has managed to make a career out of her penchant for creating pop hits. The days of Selena Gomez & The Scene spawned records like “Naturally”, “A Year Without Rain”, “Who Says” and “Love You Like A Love Song”. Her popularity and credibility went to new heights on her own with the release of Stars Dance and the hit “Come and Get It”.
With 2015’s Revival, a more mature, reflective and confident Selena is ready to put her demons behind her and focus on the positive. The titular track introduces listeners to a growing and changing Selena, a phoenix rising from the ashes. “I’ve been under self restoration, I’m becoming my own salvation,” Gomez croons. “Revival” serves as a beautiful slow jam about self love and acceptance. The second track (and fourth single), “Kill ‘Em With Kindness” is a simple song that works as Selena’s mantra to use peace to overcome obstacles. Selena realizes that living her life and not letting anger get the best of her can be the best revenge.
A sultry and flirty Selena finds herself falling for another bad boy on “Hands to Myself”. The track marks a change for Selena – the whispered lyrics and relaxed beat still feel authentic and never formulaic. Gomez’s collaboration with Justin Tranter (of Semi Precious Weapons) and Julia Michaels is a delight of synthpop perfection.
The second single from Revival, “Same Old Love” features none other than Charli XCX who, in addition to writing on the track, joins Gomez on the chorus. A rough relationship has left Selena worse for wear, but through her self discovery and evolution, she’s grown weary and is ready to stand up for herself like she knows she should have sooner. Selena is ready to eliminate the toxic relationship from her life, and “Same Old Love”‘s eerie piano loop and finger snaps make ditching a bad lover sound so good.
“Sober” is a goosebumps-inducing track about realizing that a lover only seems to care when they’re high or drunk. “When the bottle’s done you pull me closer, and you’re saying all the things that you’re supposed to, but you don’t know how to love me when you’re sober.” Selena knows this relationship is unhealthy and harming her mentally, but the high of her lover’s affection when he’s inebriated can’t be rivaled. To anyone that has experienced this, “Sober” is a heartbreakingly real song that will either bring about painful memories or hopefully be the push needed to leave a virulent relationship.
As Revival goes into its second half, Gomez continues to add hits to her repertoire with “Good For You”. Selena feels beautiful and wants to share her beauty with her lover. While at first listen, “Good For You” may sound like a simple love song, the message here is much more profound. Selena desires to look good for herself first and foremost, and through loving herself, she has more love to give to another. The collaboration with A$AP Rocky is actually brought down by his guest appearance on the verse, which breaks from the rest of the song and is a stark contrast to the rest of the message of “Good For You”. This is likely something Selena herself realized; A$AP Rocky’s contribution to the song is notably absent from the track’s music video.
“Camouflage” is Revival’s only ballad, and it serves its purposes of tugging at heartstrings. “If that’s the last time I’d see you again… I’ll never tell you just how I felt. You might just not care, and it might just not help.” “Camouflage” is raw and heartbreaking, as intended. If you’re going to listen to this song, bring some tissues. Or just don’t have a heart. “Camouflage” will tear it apart and take you back to your first heartache.
Thankfully, Selena gives you just enough time to dry your tears and throw away your cares as she moves to “Me & The Rhythm”. “Don’t you play a song about love” Selena warns — all she needs is this good beat and the power of music to forget her worries. “Me & The Rhythm”‘s bridge is incredibly infectious as Selena chants “If you feel like you’re the spark then come out of the dark.” This is Selena at her most disco, and it’s a standout album track.
Connecting to her Mexican ancestry, Selena sparks a fire on “Body Heat”. Selena’s passion with her lover is unmatchable, and together their bodies ignite. The standard edition of Revival winds down with “Rise”, an anthem to overcoming life and its trying times. Selena drives her point home, and “Rise” is the perfect bookend to the opening track “Revival”.
The deluxe edition of Revival features some of the album’s hidden gems. “Me & My Girls” is an incredible girl power record. “Outta My Hands (Loco)” finds Selena in the arms of another crazy bad boy – but she can’t help the attraction. Finally, “Cologne” is an endearing closer. Whether you interpret it as a song about feeling your lover’s presence even when apart or “Cologne” speaks to you as the words of a brokenhearted soul still replaying an ended relationship and yearning for the past, the song is a remarkable beauty.
Revival is Selena Gomez’s best album to date. Life has had its share of ups and downs for the singer, and channeling these experiences and emotions into her music has made for a wonderfully enjoyable and relatable listen. Purchase Revival on iTunes now.