Illustration of Selena Gomez, who recently released album Rare
Selena Gomez is back. (Illustration by Ashawna L. Linyard, Georgia State University)

Selena Gomez Returns to the Spotlight With Her Hit Album ‘Rare’

The past four years have not been easy for the pop star, but she’s back in the music world and she’s making her mark.

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Illustration of Selena Gomez, who recently released album Rare

The past four years have not been easy for the pop star, but she’s back in the music world and she’s making her mark.

After four long years, pop princess Selena Gomez is officially back in the music game. Following the release of her smash hit “Revival,” Gomez took a break from music to focus on her mental and physical health. The past four years have not been easy for the singer, but she pushed through and used her struggles to inspire her new album, “Rare.”

From 2016 to 2020, the singer has been pushed down multiple times. From her kidney transplant to her very public breakup with fellow singer The Weeknd, Gomez has not been able to catch a break. In an interview on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” Gomez revealed that “It took [her] four years now to even feel at a good place with this album, and it’s just because [she] had such huge moments that happened in [her] life personally.”

In 2015, the singer was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease that tricks the body into attacking its own cells, and had to undergo chemotherapy. In the summer of 2017, the singer underwent a kidney transplant, which she opened up about on her Instagram after the surgery. Gomez struggled with her mental health during this time, and fell into periods of depression and anxiety. She took herself out of the spotlight multiple times to get privacy and, with the support of those close to her and her fans, she was able to bounce back.

Following this, Gomez went through a very public breakup with The Weeknd. The two were reportedly dating for 10 months until they decided to end things. The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, ended the relationship due to both of their busy schedules.

Justin Bieber and Gomez have a long and complicated history that dates back to 2014. In 2017, the two were seen biking in LA right after the news broke that Gomez and The Weeknd had split up. After this, the pair were photographed hanging out a lot, but they were never officially back together. Instead the two were taking it slow and seeing where things would lead.

This didn’t last long however, because in March 2018, the two ended whatever they might have had. Bieber then married Hailey Rhode in September 2018. These moments greatly contributed to the album and were the basis for a lot of her songs.

As Gomez calls it, “Rare” is a diary of all her thoughts and feelings from the past few years. In an interview with NPR, she said, “I want to be able to tell my story the way that I want to tell it. And all of these things happened, and I wasn’t going to deny that, I wasn’t going to pretend to put a smile on when it actually was awful — a few of the worst moments of my life.” Everything Gomez went through over the last few years was public and, at times, twisted by the media. In this album, Gomez is taking back her voice and telling her story the way she wants to, which is one of the many reasons why “Rare” is a major success.

“Rare” is made up of 13 songs, all with their own messages, but the album as a whole has three central themes: resilience, heartbreak and self-love. “Lose You to Love Me” was the first single released and it gave fans a good idea of what the album would be like. This ballad captured Gomez’s struggles with self-love and the sacrifices she made to make relationships work, and how she lost herself in that process.

Following this, the singer released “Look at Her Now,” which is the opposite of the first single. “Look at Her Now” is upbeat and focuses more on putting yourself first. These two songs were a good representation of the album’s diary-like nature.

Along with these two songs, fans fell in love with “Crowded Room,” “Fun” and “Rare.” “Crowded Room,” another well-received track, is a collaboration with Gomez and 6LACK about a couple who only want to be with each other.

Fun” is similar to “Look at Her Now” in terms of energy, but the underlying meaning isn’t so uplifting. The song is about falling for someone that’s bad for Gomez. Some fans speculate that the song might be about her ex Bieber, but nothing is confirmed. The song showcases Gomez’s struggles of trying to stay away from the person, because she knows it won’t end well for her, but still ends up falling for them in the end.

The title track “Rare” focuses on self-love and knowing your self-worth. The song is about being with someone who doesn’t value Gomez as much as they should. The medium-tempo song became a fan favorite almost instantly. Fans fell in love with the way Gomez was able to successfully find her self-worth and how she’s now at a high point.

“Rare” shows sides of Gomez that fans didn’t see in her first two albums. It helps her rebrand herself as an established musician and not a Disney star anymore. The pop star has come a long way since “Stars Dance,” one of her first albums post-Disney. The album was heavily autotuned and had a lot of techno-pop characteristics to it. In general, it sounded generic.

“Rare” is more raw and down to earth. It’s different from Gomez’s old work because it’s so personal. Branding the album as a diary also makes it stand out. It makes fans feel much closer to the star. It really shows just how much time and effort really went into the album. Overall, it was definitely worth the wait.

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