Selena Gomez’s comeback album was worth the wait

Rare delivers a powerful message to listeners about self-love

Though repetitive, Gomez's album is worth the listen.
Screenshot from YouTube

With the release of her first full-length album since 2015, Rare, Selena Gomez has delivered an empowering message about loving yourself and removing toxic relationships from your life. 

The album’s title track, “Rare,” immediately offers an exciting start to the album’s trajectory. Gomez says goodbye to a lover who doesn’t appreciate her, singing, “It feels like you don’t care / Why don’t you recognize that I’m so rare?” The track inspires listeners not to settle for someone who doesn’t recognize their value.

Standout tracks include “Ring,” a sexy, indulgent tune in which Gomez sings about keeping up with her many love interests, “Lose You to Love Me,” in which Gomez’s raw, emotional vocals take centre stage as she laments losing herself in a toxic relationship, and “People You Know,” a song anyone who’s experienced a painful breakup can relate to. The line, “What hurts the most is people can go / From people you know to people you don’t,” really hits home in the latter track.

The album also features two collaborations— “Crowded Room,” featuring 6LACK, and “A Sweeter Place,” featuring Kid Cudi—both of which are catchy, memorable tunes.

The album’s weaker tracks include “Vulnerable,” which lacks musical excitement due to the monotonous tune, and “Fun,” which has unmemorable lyrics. Lines such as “You may not be the one / But you look like fun” are clichés in pop music, and this song is no exception to that rule.  

In “Dance Again,” Gomez’s vocals sound highly autotuned at certain points in the song, which might turn some listeners off. As a whole, however, the song is a fun listen because it encourages listeners to take control of their lives and choose happiness—something Gomez has advocated for after speaking publicly about her lupus diagnosis and kidney transplant. 

The album’s main downside is that it doesn’t provide much variety, both musically and in terms of lyrical content. Most of the tracks use the same set of sounds, such as heavy synthetic bass lines, powerful beats, and layered vocals. While this sound is catchy and appealing to pop listeners, it causes several of the album’s songs to sound quite similar.  Furthermore, the songs are either upbeat pop tunes or slower ballads, all with the verse-chorus-bridge structure typical of pop songs, with little exploration in structure or mood. 

The only tracks deviating from the rest of the album’s sound are “Ring,” with an acoustic guitar being the most prominent instrument, and “Kinda Crazy,” which features several natural instruments including piano, electric guitar, and trumpet, creating a unique jazzy sound.

Similarly, few of the songs stray far from the album’s theme of self-prioritization and eliminating toxic relationships. This, of course, is an important message, but one that Gomez potentially repeats too often in Rare.

Despite its flaws, this album is worth the wait. It marks an important milestone in pop music. Self-love and independence can make it to the hit charts, and that songs don’t have to romanticize relationships in order to be appealing. By empowering listeners and reminding them that it’s alright to put themselves first, Rare has the power to resonate with people everywhere.

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