Thursday 24 December 2015

the future that we hold is so unclear: selena gomez stripped back

2015 was a year of surprises (for me at least), and one of those surprises came in the form of selena gomez and her new album revival. however, i want to take it right back to before she revealed to the world, through her very naked album cover, but also its lyrical content, that she was no longer a disney star. it is clear that she has wanted to rid herself of this label for quite some time, beginning with her band, selena gomez & the scene, who released one of my all-time favourite songs, love you like a love song. following their hiatus in 2012, selena was intent on proving her prowess as a credible pop singer, and though she had gained notoriety for her relationship with justin bieber and her acting career prior to this, she wasn't somebody i had a particularly strong opinion about. my curiosity was piqued by the release of revival, and it was after the album's release that i wanted to find out more about her beyond what i already knew from the media's portrayal of her (not always an accurate one, as with anyone in the public eye). 

upon browsing through her earlier material, i stumbled upon one song, the heart wants what it wants, that made a real impact on me. i think it was the simplicity that drew me in. the minimalist sound; that mid-tempo pace, the black and white video. it was such a departure from the flashy, glamorous looks we're used to seeing selena wear. gone was the glossy, blown-out mane of hair and the heavy make-up. in fact, there was hardly any product adorning her tear-stained face throughout the video. whether the tears were real or fake is irrelevant; this was the first time i'd seen such a stripped back style from a world famous pop star. her hair is hurriedly shoved back in a bun, tendrils falling free as the video goes on. her outfit is the epitome of laid-back cool, a sheer top and shorts with a simple bralet underneath. the only glitz and glamour comes from her earrings that catch the light every now and then.

the lyrics hit me hard too. close up shots of selena show the pain on her face as she sings, there's a million reasons why i should give you up, but the heart wants what it wants. it's hard to pick out just a few lyrics that resonate with me because they all hit me right where it hurts. she details the highs and lows of love, as any good pop song should. you got me shattered in pieces, lighting me up like venus. they make you feel alive, like you're the only person in the world that matters. but then you disappear and make me wait, and every second's like torture. it is, it really is. just waiting for a sign that they care, that it's not all for nothing, even though you know deep down that it's over and can never go back to how it was. 

the video documents selena getting ready for and subsequently attending a party, though it's clear she's not really in the mood for it. she's distant, distracted, somewhere else entirely. even when she's with her love interest in the video, his interest is also elsewhere. cut to her leaving the party, and the part that really breaks my heart.

as she launches into the bridge, grainy footage of the two of them that looks like it was shot on an old VHS camcorder, shows happier times for the couple. it's so intimate, just the two of them, it almost feels like i'm intruding on a private moment, and that's why i like it so much, because it feels so real. of course, it's a music video, it's all staged and the two have probably never met before, but this is testament to gomez's acting talents, because it really feels like they have a connection. this is a modern fairytale, no happy ending, no wind in our sails, laments gomez. but i can't imagine a future without breathless moments, breaking me down, down, down. and that's exactly the problem. we know it's bad for us but we keep going back to it, hoping against hope that it will get better, it will work out, though that's not always the case. 

selena walks away from him at the end of the video, and i only wish i had the strength to walk away from situations i know are no good for me, but the heart wants what it wants. and clearly selena knows what she wants too, which is to be seen as a serious artist. but if this song and her latest album revival are anything to go by, she has nothing to worry about (except maybe those pesky justin bieber rumours).

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