Selena Gomez is many things — an actress, a sister, even an artist, as this article will further examine. Mostly, she’s been missing from the entertainment scene for a while. In experiencing the turbulence of her life splattered across the tabloids, there were periods where she had to rebirth herself into the woman she is now. It’s in the toughest downfalls where the hardest lessons lay, the very ones she analyzes in each of these tracks off of her newest album. In coming out of a relationship that nearly destroyed her, she not only chose herself but came to the fundamental conclusion she is extremely rare.
As with all starting beats of a soundtrack, the song “Rare” is the opening of a storybook we haven’t visited before. It’s in the tellings of the production, a sound we have some recognition with from her album prior Revival. But there is an edginess to it, which instantly makes us know Selena’s back and with her truth. Then, as the song unfolds, we come to a place of another acknowledgment where she’s beginning to ask why someone else doesn’t see the worth she is starting to find within herself. So often we’ve been there, whether a relationship or platonic friendship. The understanding we deserve more than what we’ve been given, yet we keep returning because they’ve become an addiction. The power play and real revival comes in when we slowly back away, retreating to the person we were in all of our rarest forms before we met them.
The second track, “Dance Again”, starts slow but gradually gets faster. At the pre-chorus, the lyric ‘I kickstart the rhythm’ is, although a metaphor for relationships. it could also be a metaphor for the actual song, which starts going into more of a faster beat as the chorus gets closer. At the bridge, we return to the slower tempo then quickly go back to the upbeat rhythm. This song is fun, but also, at the same time, it’s a message for letting yourself breathe. The main lyric, ‘Feel so, feel so good to dance again’, tethers the freedom you have after getting out of a relationship.
“Look At Her Now” continues the upbeat tempo and lyrically “freeing yourself” from a bad relationship. The song is all about getting over that special someone and becoming a better person because of it. This relationship, at first, seems like the best thing, ‘shiny till it wasn’t’ and through ‘of course she was sad, but now she’s glad she dodged a bullet’ we’re made aware that not all last. Sometimes, the worst thing can turn out to be the best.
Within the strike of a few piano keys, we’re transported back into the start of this era with “Lose You To Love Me”. The poetic ballad to do with those minutes when you’re suddenly awoken to the now. Not the supercut of memories flash-backing through your head as if it is its own highlight reel, but the vulnerability of what has transpired. As the darkness fades to lightness, one begins to see the signs highlighted as roadblocks along the journey of you and them. Sure, it’s hard removing those rose-colored glasses — as Selena recalls it, ‘set fire to my purpose and I let it burn.’ Yet magic is paired with rebirth. It comes with memories decorated as newly formed lessons and a newfound acceptance for ourselves. Grasping that we need to let go of all toxicity to get there. In that, we can do what was once unthinkable and cut the cord. We have to lose people to rediscover ourselves.
“Ring” has an entirely different sound than anything done before, and therefore for that reason, is a stand out on the album. With the combination of ‘they just like puppets on a string’ and an instrumental which can easily link to a circus, it has that playful atmosphere where the listener knows not to wholly take the lyrics seriously as it’s more satire in its form. From there, it leaves little to the imagination of what it’s about rather if the said ring is, in fact, an item or a symbol metaphorical of the person who has one.
“Vulnerable” returns the album to its sonically cohesive theme. The lyrics belonging to this number are yet another reminder of how incredibly personal Rare is, starting from ‘If my love was like a flower, would you plant it?’ to ‘If I give you all my trust, then would you fumble it and break it?’ When we come back to a person who has left while there’s a part of us that still craves them, there are so many questions forming in our head. Will things be different this time? Or will we continue the repetitive pattern of crashing and burning? It will spark intense anxiety. A trepidation, scared of diving in even if it’s shallower water for we know how chilly it can get.
In all of its simplicity, “People You Know” is perhaps the song that hits the hardest as it comes with the blanketed truth; in the blink of an eye, the person who was always there suddenly isn’t. We’re stuck with all of these memories circulating in our heads. Only the person in them is no longer the one standing in front of us. With time, situations change as do people, until all that’s left is the now. Then we see their lives play out through the blinds of social media rather than the place they always had next to us.
Right away, “Let Me Get Me” has an urban vibe to it that’s fast-tempo. The tone is very similar to songs like “Me and My Girls” on Selena’s Revival album. ‘Take that tired heart and go and turn it inside out’ ties into how you can be tired of being treated in a certain way, and therefore, decide to leave the pieces of the broken relationship on the floor. The repeating lyric of ‘I won’t let me get me’ is a revelation of the fact that one’s self can get in the way of happiness, no matter what that might be. One part of you could say that it’s right while the other part could say that it’s wrong. You shouldn’t be in the way of your happiness, even if you are scared.
It’s within the second of seeing someone, and knowing without reason, they’re meant to be more than the stranger standing across the “Crowded Room.” This track is a duet starring 6Lack, and holds the vibe of a club; every detail of it can come into mind from the low lights to the baseline thrumming into the curvatures of our bodies. It’s in the rebounds, the people who make us feel those threads of safety that were no longer present in our previous relationship where we’re able to return to the person who was adventurous.
“Kinda Crazy” has a soft, steady tempo throughout the song and is in reference to how someone could be considered “crazy” but that they might just be your type. While someone seems crazy doesn’t mean that they are crazy, but if they really are, then that may be a good thing. Just like the following song, “Fun”, states, it’s in taking a chance on someone who doesn’t seem like they could be your type.
Just like the title suggests, “Fun” is an upbeat song. The pre-chorus is slow while the chorus has a more steady tempo. It’s in relation to opposites attracting, and how someone who looks like trouble may be the best thing for you. Commonly, when we see that something might not go somewhere, we pull the breaks. However, when taking a chance in a relationship, something fun could very much turn into that. This song switches between slow and upbeat tempos, which could account for how relationships could be.
With its free-flowing rhythm, “Cut You Off” is the vibe we want to enter this new decade with. As humans, we have this ability to put nostalgia up on a pedestal, and therefore we hold onto things we should let go of. Maybe it’s from an act of self-preservation. If we stick around, then possibly we don’t have to come to the conclusion we played a part in letting them treat us the way they are or did. However, that slowly deteriorates and is enlightened through symptoms. The lyric, “When I’m without you I don’t overthink it, I just carry on’, is the perfect example of one. When we care so much about someone else, even if it’s no longer healthy, we lock into every detail, every pause of a conversation. Our true-self becomes affixed to the idea of becoming someone the other person wants us to be.
The final track on Rare features rapper Kid Cudi. “A Sweeter Place” begins with the chorus, starting off slow, then getting more upbeat as it gets to the first verse. The upbeat and steady tempo in the verses flows into the chorus, making for a flawless transition. Kid Cudi’s verse has a slower, but still steady rhythm that leads into the last chorus. This song is the ending note anent on finding your hideaway, a place where you can be to let all thoughts run free. That said, “Sweeter Place” is where you have no fear, and your head is clear. It’s a great way to end the album because some fans might believe that this album is their sweeter place.