Release Date: Oct 9, 2015
Record label: Interscope
Genre(s): Pop, Pop/Rock, Dance-Pop, Club/Dance
Selena Gomez wills a new era of her career into existence within the first two minutes of her second solo album. "It’s my time to butterfly," she sings on the self-care anthem "Revival." The Gomez of this relaxed, confident pop collection butterflies with such ease that it feels like she’s revealing her true personality for the first time. Where some former child stars tack toward aggressive maturity when they reach their twenties, Gomez finds ways to transcend that cliche.
F. Scott Fitzgerald's contention that there are no second acts in American lives has been discredited innumerable times in the last 75 years, not least of which by his own literary success after flunking out of college and attempting to reinvent himself as an ad man. But who could represent the infinite potentialities of the American dream better than a Disney princess turned teen-pop singer turned semi-serious indie actress? Selena Gomez, who's accomplished all that by 23, the same age Fitzgerald published his first novel, has even had multiple acts as a pop star, rebranding herself as a solo artist following three albums as Selena Gomez & the Scene.
The switch. A fascinating moment in the arc of any major pop act. Sometimes cynical, sometimes natural, the move from one extreme to another usually garners headlines but conviction – or lack thereof – ultimately tells. Recent years have presented Jessie J’s desperate grab at the American market, Ariana Grande swapping out garishly-painted Nickelodeon noise for sultry, adult-oriented belters and, but of course, Miley Cyrus’ reinvention as America’s most terrifying nightmare; a grown woman in control of her sexuality.
23-year-olds shouldn’t normally release albums titled Revival, but if you’re a Selena Gomez novice, this is LP number six. In 2009, she released the first of three albums with her pop-rock simulacrum act Selena Gomez & The Scene; in 2013, she put out the overproduced/distracted solo debut Stars Dance, and in 2014, a “greatest hits” collection called For You. The latter cleared out her contract with Disney’s Hollywood Records — thankfully — and featured “The Heart Wants What It Wants,” where Gomez’s actual instincts started flickering.
The path from child star to sexy emancipation was so firmly stomped into the pop map by Britney, Christina et al that Selena Gomez was following it before she even left Disney, loudly asserting her autonomy for three albums with emo-pop band Selena Gomez & the Scene and one cookie-cutter solo effort, Stars Dance. That leaves her, on this first record outside the Disney stable, free to explore without bluster. The most surprising thing about Revival is its understatement, despite the hit-making co-writers, from the softly bubbling beats of the title track and the lust-dream R&B of Good for You to the spooky Ashes to Ashes synths of winning Charli XCX collaboration Same Old Love.
During the short time since her last album, 2013's Stars Dance, and the release of Revival in 2015, Selena Gomez went through about a decade's worth of stuff. A label change (from Hollywood to Interscope), a very public breakup with longtime on-off boyfriend Justin Bieber, management issues, various rehab rumors, and even a few good things (a hit single, a charting collaboration with Zedd). Revival is something of a fresh start for Gomez, both musically and personally.
In the lead-up to her new album, Selena Gomez has talked at length about reclaiming her identity and feeling more confident. It wasn’t easy. The past year had been turbulent, from endless gossip about her relationship with her former flame, fellow pop star Justin Bieber, to online harassment about her weight and appearance. Also an actor (“Spring Breakers”) and a former Disney Channel star, Gomez has been in the public eye since she was a child.
The new album from Selena Gomez is "Revival." The new album from Selena Gomez is "Revival." Selena Gomez hit all the usual notes in the run-up to “Revival,” the first album this former Disney Channel star has made outside the House of Mouse. There was a sexed-up lead single, “Good for You,” with a roguish guest verse from rapper ASAP Rocky. There was the song’s music video, in which Gomez writhes on a sofa before jumping in the shower.