Charlie Puth, Billboard

Ramona Rosales

UPDATE: Despite the Hollywood speculation, a source assures E! News that nothing romantic happened between Charlie Puth and Selena Gomez

"They have never been anything more than friends," our source shared with us. 

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Charlie Puth's fling with Selena Gomez hit him harder than most people realized.

Gracing the cover of Billboard's Feb. 3 issue, the 26-year-old pop singer opens up about their 2016 collaboration, "We Don't Talk Anymore," and the brief romance that ensued. "It's about a particular moment in my life, when someone very close to me wanted the attention of somebody else," Puth tells the magazine. "When I found that out and we ended it, I might have done some shady things too, and she might have asked me, 'How long has this been going on?'"                                                             

Without saying it outright, Puth implied that his songs "Attention" and "How Long" were inspired by Gomez, who is dating Justin Bieber again. "I don't kiss and tell, but the only way a song like that can come across as real is if there's something else going on behind the scenes. And that's what was happening. Very short-lived, very small, but very impactful. And it really messed me up. I'm trying to put this the best way possible: It wasn't like I was the only person on her mind," Puth explains. "And I think I knew that going in—what I was getting myself into."

"You gather up a bunch of emotion with the life shovel, throw it in the life bucket, mix it up. And she evoked such good emotion on that song, it was a pleasure working with her," Puth adds. "That's why I'm always happy to sing it, even though it came from a dark point in my life."

Puth made happier memories recording, Voicenotes, especially compared to Nine Track Mind. That album was rushed, he explains, resulting in "a mishmash pile of music." His own worst critic, Puth claims it sounds like "flossing with aluminum foil" and "bitten nails on a chalkboard."

"Everything I didn't want to happen to me—typical things you hear about a young kid getting signed in the music industry—happened to me," the pop star tells Billboard. "I was being told to do this, this and this. I didn't want to do any of it, and I was just going along with the punches."

Regarding "Attention," he says, "It's s--t-talking. It's a mean song." Either way, it did its job. "I didn't feel like an artist until 'Attention' came out. And I feel like people are just starting to get it. I'm not mad that they're just finding out—they're getting the message I wasn't allowed to say before. Attention' is me saying, 'F--ck everybody: I'm doing this song the way I want to do it.'"

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