As I lay in bed eating animal crackers on this lovely gray day, I find myself developing a slight migraine listening to Selena Gomez’s latest album, Revival. Though Gomez proclaimed this album as her music revival, she falls nothing but short of her intentions.
Gomez, who recently revealed that she underwent chemotherapy to combat her Lupus diagnosis, has had a tumultuous few years. Between her illness and notorious rocky relationship with Justin Bieber, Gomez has been put through the wringer. In 2014, she spent time in rehab, underwent chemotherapy, experienced heartbreak after heartbreak with Bieber and delivered an emotional performance of “The Heart Wants What It Wants” at the 2014 American Music Awards. Her 11-track album, Revival, seems to be her way of saying, “I’m OK now; I’m getting better,” but the real message I took away was, “Play this album at all Bar Mitzvah parties for the next five years.”
Predominantly produced by Rock Mafia and Hit Boy, Gomez only partially contributed to the writing of six out of the 11 songs on the album. For an artist to say this album is her fresh start and revival and not even call the songs her own is a bit disappointing. Sure, there are a few songs that are catchy for 30 seconds, but halfway through the song you can’t help but want to hit “next.” Occasionally, Gomez will belt out lyrics with a rich tone, but more often than not, the only vocals she provides for each song are weak and strained ones.
For instance, in “Same Old Love,” Gomez’s potentially solid voice is destroyed by the song’s annoyingly repetitive and mundane lyrics. The only lyrics she seemed to sing for three and a half minutes were “Same old love, same old love, same old love.” We get it Selena, same old love. Another song gone wrong is “Me & The Rhythm.” Obviously, I couldn’t help but dance around my dorm room while listening to this song; it’s undoubtedly catchy and true to its name. The rhythm is great, but the lyrics are poorly written and the vocals simply disappear into the background of the strong beats and instrumentals. On a more positive note, the best song that challenges the overall over-produced feel of Revival is “Camouflage”; stripped down, the track forgoes the unnecessary electronic-pop overtones, proving the most genuine and natural song, elements that an album with a title such as Revival should have explored further.
At the end of the day, the central problem in Revival is the lack of organic material. Every song on the album sounds the same and lacks the emotion that should be present if this is actually supposed to be a revival. Gomez has been relatively transparent about her struggles over the past few years, so for her to suggest that this album is her big breakthrough is a bit misleading considering there is not a single song that is truly honest and her own. Every song has the potential to be decent, but the heavy electronic beats combined with corny lyrics and weak vocals make the album nothing more than an annoying and otherwise ephemeral piece of art.