Album review: ‘Revival’ by Selena Gomez
For fans of: Katy Perry, Nick Jonas
Songs to download: “Rise,” “Hands to Myself,” “Sober”
“More than just survival/This is my revival,” Selena Gomez sings on the opening and titular track of her newest album, “Revival.” With these words, she sets the vibe for the rest of the record. You’ll want to dance and fight for your independence as you journey through the album. The 14 tracks on the deluxe edition tell a story of the rebirth of a pop star and the independence and confidence that are all part of the “new” Selena Gomez.
If you like the album’s two previously released singles, “Good for You” and “Same Old Love,” you’ll love the rest of “Revival,” as the album maintains the pop dance beats and echoing vocals that we’ve come to associate with Gomez. Standouts include the “Me & the Rhythm,” “Rise” and the title track, and they anchor the album in terms of the revival theme, which is prevalent throughout. She uses the 14 tracks to reestablish herself as a versatile pop artist, as they alternate between slower ballads like “Camouflage” and upbeat dance tunes like “Me & My Girls.” No matter the song, however, it’s easy to find a dreamy beat to dance to, and the lyrics speak not only to Gomez’s newfound independence since her breakup with Justin Bieber, but also to the pressures of being in the spotlight and her new approach to dealing with the media.
“The world can be a nasty place,” she sings on “Kill Em With Kindness,” and she implores the listener to put down her weapons and “kill ’em with kindness.” The world that Selena lives in is one that spends a lot of time finding ways to criticize her relationships or appearance, and while it may be easy to respond with aggression, Gomez has generally kept her head down. She occasionally hangs with Taylor Swift’s squad but generally tries to maintain a low profile. Recently, in an interview with Billboard, she revealed she was diagnosed with lupus and the rehabilitation stint that the media profiled as a drug or alcohol problem was actually chemotherapy for the autoimmune disease. Instead of correcting the rumors, however, Gomez channeled her frustrations into this new album and spent time defining her sound and image. The Selena Gomez that emerged is an artist who is confident in her skin and her music, and the confidence beams throughout “Revival.”
Tracks like “Me & the Rhythm” and “Me & My Girls” show off her new attitude towards dating. On “Me & The Rhythm,” she sings, “Feeling like I’m truly free/I’m free in me”—this new Selena has moved past her relationship with Bieber and finds liberation in being herself. On “Me & My Girls,” she declares, “You don’t understand/I don’t need a man,” and reiterates her newfound independence. Lyrics like this aren’t uncommon in today’s music industry, especially when it comes to female artists. Artists are moving away from albums detailing relationship exploits and focusing on the power of the individual. With “Revival,” Gomez falls in line with other female pop artists who use their music to stress the importance of female independence, friendship and agency, like Hailee Steinfeld with “Love Myself,” Demi Lovato with “Confident” and Fifth Harmony with “BO$$.” Gomez joins the movement, and even though tracks like “Nobody” and “Hands to Myself” break slightly from this focus, Gomez’s newfound control over her sound and image is obvious in the cohesion of the album.
“Yes, I know there are those who will wanna bring you down/But you can rise,” Gomez sings on “Rise.” “Revival” is a powerful response to her critics, and the message is heard loud and clear: Selena is back, and she’s not letting anyone else speak for her.