Selena Gomez evolves with ‘Rare’


Illustration by Lillie Busch

Selena Gomez’s latest studio album “Rare” surprisingly stands as her strongest body of work even with its few blips. Gomez has spent the past few years as one of the world’s biggest stars, and this album serves as a nonchalant, poppy response to her public struggle.

The past few years have been pretty wild for Selena Gomez and her heavily publicized health and relationship troubles. After an extended break to work on herself, the once-most followed person on Instagram finally returned on Oct. 23, 2019 with lead single “Lose You to Love Me.” The song, while a bit basic, made it known that Gomez’s album would contain central themes of self-love and discovery.

“Rare” shows how much work Gomez has put into loving herself since her previous album, 2015’s “Revival.” Gomez confesses to being imperfect on a number of tracks, like the title track that deals with faux-quirky scenarios of burnt toast. Even though these moments may come across as being surface-level, nearly every track on “Rare” has a catchy hook and a sense of earnestness.

The hooks on “Rare” are immensely catchy and playful with tracks like “Fun” and “Dance Again” celebrating pleasure as a form of self-care. “Ring” shines among the other tracks, though, with its “Havana”-esque beat and flirty lyrics about controlling men. If any track deserves attention, praise and mainstream success off of this album, it is “Ring.” 

One of the better things about “Rare” is how it is short and sweet, something that is too often absent in the age of streaming and content-overload. All of the songs are cute, short and ready for radio except for the longest track on the album, “A Sweeter Place” featuring Kid Cudi.

For the most part, “Rare” is a strong pop album, which is why ending it with the too-long “A Sweeter Place” leaves a stink over the whole album experience. The sound of “A Sweeter Place” just does not fit the overall sound and theme of “Rare.” It sounds like it could be an old Kid Cudi feature or a demo off of “Revival.”

Apart from the Kid Cudi track and the occasional filler tracks like “People You Know” and “Let Me Get Me,” the album “Rare” remains intriguing, personal and shockingly succinct for an ex-Disney act. Gomez might not be letting listeners read her whole diary, but she is allowing a peek. “Lose You to Love Me,” even though not very fun-sounding, is Gomez’s most personal track to-date as she sings about having to rid herself of those who are bringing her down in order for herself to grow. 

This idea of ridding oneself of negative people and energy continues on tracks like “Cut You Off” where Gomez weighs out the idea of going ghost. These moments are not too deep, intense or unheard of. That being said, having self-love and wellness promoted through midtempo, bubbly pop songs sung by one of this generation’s more troubled stars makes a difference.

Gomez has spent the past two decades in the industry and continues to have her personal issues displayed for the masses. “Rare” features Gomez coming back with a new vision of who she is and who she wants to be after nearly five years since her previous album. The topics are not too deep, and the album is just fine. But it is her best work and a step in the right direction from the child star turned pop sensation.