Selena Gomez explained the difference between her new album, “Rare,” and 2015’s “Revival” in an intimate conversation with radio personality JoJo Wright and fans at the iHeartRadio Theater LA on Thursday, ahead of “Rare’s” release.
“I feel like it is, not better, but it’s a piece of work that I think is better,” Gomez said. “And you can tell that I’ve evolved.”
Since the release of “Revival,” Gomez has been through physical and mental health diagnoses, battling both lupus and depression, and survived a 2017 kidney transplant that almost took her life. “Rare” marks her first album in more than four years, and features collaborations with Julia Michaels, who co-wrote “Fun”; 6lack on “Crowded Room”; and Kid Cudi, who produced “A Sweeter Place.”
Gomez admitted it was scary to ask Cudi to produce “A Sweeter Place” because she didn’t have a guide on how she wanted the song to develop.
“He hadn’t heard any of my other stuff. And so I just trusted,” Gomez explained. “We went into the studio for two days, and I watched him in awe laying the verse[s] down… When I was in the studio — sometimes I get burnt out — so I just said, ‘Let’s just do something weird.’ And, I mean this in a compliment, ‘Something weird like how Cudi does.'”
That Cudi weirdness made the song uniquely meaningful to Gomez.
“He knows exactly how to — I don’t know. He just has this charm, and this gift and he’s so talented,” Gomez said of Cudi, who’s one of her favorite artists. “So I was extremely honored to have worked with him.”
Before the album’s release, Gomez’s single “Lose You to Love Me” charted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Rolling Stone while dominating streaming services. For Gomez, having that happen “was pretty awesome.”
“I never really was one that necessarily cared for the numbers and the charts because I feel like music in general is incredible, and I think there’s room for everyone,” Gomez said. “I think what it meant to me is, ‘Oh, I get it.’ I felt like I had come through so much and I had always wondered why I put myself through that, and then I thought, ‘This is why.’ I finally get this was the broken part and it completed everything I needed. And then I got to share that message with the world.”
“Lose You to Love Me” is the most powerful song that she has ever written, Gomez told Wright.
“I just think I stopped being scared. I felt that even in the hardest situations I found myself protecting people even if that means they were hurting me,” Gomez said. “I just needed it, [the habit], to be something I had to purge. It helped me feel better and comfortable with myself.”
“Rare” pushed Gomez creatively, as she partnered with Apple to shoot music videos for “Lose You to Love Me” and “Look at Her Now” on the iPhone 11 Pro.
“I’ve seen directors also work with [iPhones] on films as well… but as far as music and how we shot it? It wasn’t done,” Gomez said. “Sophie Muller, who directed the video, she was able to just know where [the iPhone] was supposed to go. But, in the beginning it was hilarious. She was like, ‘What am I supposed to do with this? How am I going to shoot this?’… And after a few kinks, we got it worked out, and it was pretty awesome.”
Gomez released “Lose You to Love Me” and “Look at Her Now” one day apart from each other, and Wright asked, “Why did you decide to release two songs just boom, boom?”
“Well the boom, boom was actually something I had wanted to do,” Gomez said. “At the beginning of the year I wrote ‘Lose You to Love Me,’ which obviously, I was in a different place. By the time we shot ‘Lose You to Love Me,’ the song had a different meaning. You could tell that I was happy. I wanted people to know that I am not a victim. I don’t act in the manner that I always need to be down on myself… this is a chapter ending.”