It's a new day for Selena Gomez.
With four long years between us and the pop princess' last album, 2015's Revival, she's finally kickstarted a new era. It's not as though it's been radio silence from her in the meantime, what with the handful of one-off singles like "Bad Liar" and "Back to You" and killer collabs like "Wolves" and "Taki Taki," but Sel's certainly kept us waiting for a more substantive release that would indicate the long-awaited next album was, at long last, on its way. With Rare dropping in less than 24 hours, that time has arrived.
After dropping self-love ballad "Lose You to Love Me" and slinky up-tempo bop "Look at Her Now" within 24 hours of one another back in October, the singer's finally ready to unveil the body of work that she's kept us anticipating for so long. Selena's not just back, but she's getting real in a way she never really has before. And after everything that's gone down since she's been away, can you really blame her?
Since Revival, Selena's not just starred in a couple of films and become a successful television producer, serving as EP for Netflix's wildly popular teen drama 13 Reasons Why as well as their just-released docu-series Living Undocumented, partnered with Coach and Puma, and been named Billboard Woman of the Year in 2017, but she faced more than her fair share of setbacks, as well. She made a return to rehab in 2016 to focus on her mental health, revealed in 2017 that she'd dipped out of the spotlight to receive a kidney transplant from friend Francia Raisa and subsequently recover from what proved to be a tougher than expected surgery, dated The Weeknd for a spell before splitting and reconciling with infamous former boyfriend Justin Bieber in late 2017, only to split for what would be the last time in March 2018, just months before he got back together with now-wife Hailey Bieber (nee Baldwin).
All the while, she was slowly chipping away at what will be her third solo studio album (which follow the three she released as frontwoman of the band Selena Gomez and the Scene beginning a decade ago). And, in fact, she very nearly released the LP two years ago, she revealed to Ryan Seacrest during an appearance to promote the new material last fall. "It's been four years since I've been working on this album and it's actually perfect timing because I was going to release it two years ago and none of the words that I'm speaking would have existed," she admitted without going too further into detail.
Whatever the reason, it allowed for her to incorporate parts of her story, most notably her recent heartbreaks, in the two newest tracks. On "Lose You," a song she co-wrote with frequent collaborators Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter, as well as Mattias Larsson and Robin Fredriksson, she makes direct references to the fallout from her final split with Bieber as she sings over sparse production courtesy of Billie Eilish's brother FINNEAS. "This song was inspired by many things that have happened in my life since releasing my last album," she said of the track in a press release. "I thought it was important to share the music, as I know many can relate to the fact that the road to self-discovery generally comes through the scars in one's life. I want people to feel hope and to know you will come out the other side stronger and a better version of yourself."
After revealing to Radio Disney host Candice Valdez that she wrote the emotional track over a year ago--"It's interesting to see how far I've come from that point to now. Me sharing my story is exactly what I've always done," she added. "I can't be unauthentic. I can't pretend that I'm not going through something when it's obvious that I had been."--she revealed to Seacrest that she never would've been able to release it at that time. "That wouldn't have happened," Selena conceded. "It took me a long time to get through it, but, now it's fun! I'm smiling. It's so great!"
She followed "Lose You" and its wrenching black-and-white accompanying video with the high-energy "Look at Her Now" and its video, a technicolor vision and a lesson in contrasts with its tight choreography and fierce looks. And while, thematically, the lyrics tread similar ground, here, Selena empowered both herself and the millions of people listening with the pertinent reminder: "She knows she'll find love only if she wants it."
"I wrote it as a story. I wanted that perspective because...I also wanna show that there's so much strength in being and claiming who you are, especially for me as a woman," she told Seacrest of the track, adding that wanted to release the track for her ride-or-die fans. "They've stood by me for years and years and they've walked with me through everything I've gone through," she said. "I just wanted to let them know I was good."
And if you're wondering how Bieber and his bride took the dual releases, the answer was, surprisingly, in stride. "It isn't ideal for Hailey but she understands the creative process of writing music and that Justin had a past," a source told E! News at the time. "Justin has completely moved on from that chapter of his life and understands that Selena is allowed to reflect on the past in her own way. Justin and Hailey both want Selena to be happy and in a good place and aren't phased by it."
While Selena's kept further details about the album, aside from a track list reveal that showed features from 6lack and Kid Cudi, close to the vest, she did promise her fans that the best was yet to come. "All I know is these two songs were me wrapping up a chapter in a pretty little bow and the rest of the album is all about where I am now and where I'm going," she told Seacrest in October. "So, in my opinion, these are great songs, but I've saved the best for later."
Luckily, later is about to become now. And we can hardly wait.
Rare drops Friday, Jan. 10.
(Originally published on October 25, 2019 at 4 a.m. PT.)