#MusicMix: Selena Gomez proves she’s rarer than anything American pop music has ever made with album ‘Rare’

Sometimes you put an album on and instantly feel it was exactly what you needed to hear following some traumatic experiences.

That’s what Rare started out as for me. Like a private message or a text from a close friend about what you went through, what you feel, and how to get past it, this album was the healing soundtrack I needed to press play on.

Like even the week it was released January 10, 2020 was so timely, and divinely gifted to me when I didn’t know how to feel about the first week of the year which was jam packed with chaos and a cacophony of bullshit.

Channeling Paula Abdul for the 21st century, Gomez’s third studio album quickly charted the Billboard 200 at #1.

It’s a midtempo pop and dance album with influences from electronic, latin pop, and R& B. Lyrically, it’s themes are self-love, acceptance, and empowerment.

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Click the above graphic to listen to the album while reading this review.

Rare: Gomez’s favorite song off this new album with a sound of compromised backing vocals and muffled instruments as if the whole thing has been dunked underwater. The song is a self-empowerment anthem about independence and self-love.

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Dance Again: Blended genres of funk, dance, electro, and electropop. It’s lowkey yet infectious musically. It’s main message is acceptance.

I kickstart the rhythm. All the trauma’s in remission. No, I don’t need permission.

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Look at Her Now: Reviewed in a previous post but this is an upbeat song about becoming stronger person after a turbulent relationship. Acknowledging that you mess up and you go through stuff but you always come out of it just feeling like a boss.

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Lose You to Love Me: The only ballad on this album. It has bare bones production, plucked violins, booming bass, tearjerker piano, an orchestra, and multi-layered vocals from Gomez. It was produced and co-written with Billie Eillish’s partner in crime Finneas. The melancholy lyrics talk about her split from ex, Justin Bieber.

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Ring: The latin-influenced track has musicality that is likened to Goyte’s Somebody I Used to Know and Santana’s Smooth. It’s about expecting the best & realizing you deserve the best.

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Vulnerable: My favorite song off the album because of it’s unbreakable huge heart type love themes and so many beautiful lyrics. A warm disco and electropop record with a moody synth groove and elements of italo disco and tropical house.

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People You Know: Electropop musicality contrast this melancholy song about the pain of come and go people friends, lovers, and acquaintances.

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Let Me Get Me: Influences of Latin music on the upbeat and dance-floor ready song about lyrically coming out of body and detaching herself from the thoughts in her head, and she doesn’t want the joy she feels to be shot down.

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Crowded Room: R&B song about the instant connection you have with someone across a crowded room.

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Kinda Crazy: Tongue in cheek tune and sinuous kiss-off driven by a clean bluesy guitar lick and accompanying horns, about a lover who mixed his signals and changed his tune.

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Fun: Playful and catchy co-written with Julia Michaels about a casual relationship with someone not good for her

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Cut You Off: A slinky downtempo pop song with influences of funk and a slam jam about moving on from a relationship and the empowerment you feel.

How could I confuse that shit for love?

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A Sweeter Place: An R&B collaboration with Kid Cudi about finding a place free of worry and brighter days are ahead.

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Gomez hits it out of the park with this treasure of a musical masterpiece. It proves she’s a strong artist, strong human, and yes in fact, very rare in today’s musical scope.

 

#MusicMuses: June Music Mix

I have actually found that for a while there it looked like less music was coming out and I wasn’t sure how I would survive without new music. So I waited until I had more than five songs to discuss and highlight. For this month’s mix, it’s a mix of new pop and some new Christian/inspirational that I found while the COVID-19 pandemic has been going on.

Despite the pandemic, many artists still put out the albums they had worked so hard on, and I look forward to reviewing those. Until then, here’s a summer playlist for you curated by yours truly.

June Music Mix

Click the above graphic to listen to the playlist while you read.

Boyfriend: I remember the first time I heard this. I went for my morning walk and was instantly into the backbeat of this song. It makes this simple song go from whiny and complaining about being single and occasionally lonely into a dance party. It’s almost like a fun pop twist on the saying, “It takes two to tango.”

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I Love Yous: Sampling “No More I Love Yous” by Annie Lennox, this song talks about the importance of healing and self-care following a break-up with someone you cared for deeply, and not jumping right into a new relationship.

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Holy Water: Anthem of various genres with a timeless sound, this song celebrates forgiveness which believers have once they come face to face with Jesus and his never-ending grace.

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I’m Ready: A choir-filled anthem with a powerful declaration of putting it out in the Universe that you are ready for love to find you and love you back.

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Break My Heart: Disco-oriented, a dance party track about finally being in a happy place and wondering if this new person will end up only breaking your heart.

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Genetics: A single off Trainor’s album Treat Myself that talks about body positivity and how it can be hard with the surgery craze of the West Coast. It also has this runway type musicality.

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Savage: Made famous by TikTok, this hip-hop self-love anthem defines what it means to be a female in today’s world.

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Together: A song of hope released early amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic, it touches on sticking together through the good and the bad. It’s got a choir-like anthem musicality.

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Clean: A song about taking care of your own sanity and mental well-being after you clean someone from your life. It has a multi-layered vocals musicality that mimics a choir.

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Yikes: Trap banger released early after Minaj’s retirement announcement. The track is 2:36 and hits hard from start to finish.

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All My Friends Are Fake: A beautiful lyrical look at how unreliable people can be, and it ends up causing people to develop trust issues.

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That Way: A piano ballad about two friends who have an unspoken chemistry which messes with your head and causes tension on the friendship

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CRZY: This song came out in 2016 but I just discovered its genius. CRZY is a defiant R &B ode to take back the reigns on Kehlani’s own narrative. She’s not addressing anyone who counts her out, but instead applauds her own success and the challenges she’s faced.

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Daisies: One of my favorite songs right now; a self-empowerment anthem that features a mid-tempo production in its verses and a guitar in its chorus. It just reminds the listener to remain true to the course you set for yourself, regardless of what others may think.

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Stuck With U: An R&B Collaboration between Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande to raise money for first responders during the COVID-19 lockdown.

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Savage (Remix): A brand new verse from Meg and an equal verse from Beyonce. They put this song out to raise money from COVID-19 relief for their hometown of Houston.

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X: When I first heard this song, it brought me right back to being ten years old and obsessed with Ricky Martin. With musicality that reminisces his first album, the Jonas Brothers hit another one out of the park with the way they fuse genres into pop music. It’s dancy, fun, and muy caliente.

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#MusicMonday: I Can’t Keep #CALM about how good @5SOS ‘s new album is

I never wanted to become a fan of 5SOS. I just wanted them to be another One Direction like group that would be popular and then gradually fade away but after they made their American debut, I decided to check them out, and I have yet to stop listening to them. What’s crazy is that they were the same age as the members of One Direction when they became a band and started writing music but unlike One Direction, they had a cohesive awareness of what they wanted to become as artists, even so much as continuing to grow with each album they put out. That’s such a rare quality nowadays even among artists that are popular. They don’t have a sound that is signature to them. Sure, the songs they put out are good and top the charts but 5SOS has such a unique sound as musicians and the lyrics they write are so depth defying that I find it hard to ignore them as a true lover of music.

Calm (stylised as C A L M, an acronym of the first letters of the band members’ names, Calum, Ashton, Luke and Michael)is the fourth studio album by Australian pop rock band 5 Seconds of Summer, released on 27 March 2020. Due to a shipping error, around 10,000 copies of the album were released early in the US, subsequently allowing the album to chart a week before it was due.

Prior to the album’s release, the band released a four-track “Relaxation” remix collection via the meditation app, Calm. The collection features each bandmember reimagining a different track off the album in collaboration with producer Matt Pauling: guitarist Michael Clifford on “Easier”, bassist Calum Hood on “Old Me”, drummer Ashton Irwin on “Red Desert”, and guitarist and vocalist Luke Hemmings on “Best Years”.

The band were inspired by a lot of industrial music whilst working on the album, which helped them achieve a “rhythm side” on the songs, and in turn lends to the melodic writing and the melodic process. Drummer Ashton Irwin explained: “As far as sonic inspirations go, we always try to incorporate some of what everyone is actually listening to so it’s a more genuine and influenced record that we can speak on.” The album contains a “lighter” sound in comparison to the band’s previous work. Rhythm guitarist Luke Hemmings said he felt like the last album was “pretty heavy and dark […] Whereas this one has that side of it with the lighter side of life and moving forward rather than being stuck in one place”.[11] The band’s bassist Calum Hood said most of the credit is owed to vocalist Luke Hemmings, whose lyrics, Hood said, “tell the tale of a man who has matured over the years and who has really honed in on his craft”. Hood, however, noted: “I think everyone had something to say with this album, in terms of their coming of age – in really reflecting on the people who we were and how things shaped us, and who we want to become in the future.” He futher described the album as “pretty chaotic at times”.

The album due to it’s early release charted at #62 in the Billboard Hot 200 in it’s first week.

Song by Song Review

Red Desert: A SONG WITH BIG ROCK GROUP HARMONIES FEATURING VOCALS FROM ALL FOUR MEMBERS, IT IS SET IN THE RED DESERT WHICH IS IN AUSTRALIA. DISCUSSES SOMEONE WHO’S LOVE DIVES DEEP AND HEALS YOUR BLUES.

Red Desert

No Shame: WRITTEN IN ONE TAKE TOGETHER AS A BAND. THIS SONG DISCUSSES BEING A PUBLIC FIGURE OR A MODERN DAY PERSON WITH MOST OF LIFE’S HAPPENINGS SHARED ONLINE, AND HAVING NO SHAME ABOUT BEING COUPLED UP WITH SOMEONE.

Go on and light me like a cigarette Even if it might be somethin' you'll regret

OLD ME: PREVIOUSLY REVIEWED IN MY MARCH MUSIC PLAYLIST BUT ONE OF MY FAVORITES OFF THE ALBUM.

Devil at my door Got me knockin', knockin', knockin' on the other side Ashes on the floor But I'm walkin', walkin', walkin' outta here alive

That song, lyrically, it’s about owning mistakes and moving forward with your life and understanding that you’re not the person that you were when you were younger, but also you have to do these things and make mistakes to move forward and grow as a person.

Easier:

CO-WRITTEN WITH RYAN TEDDER, IT’S A DEBATE ABOUT STAYING WITHIN A TOXIC RELATIONSHIP

The song has a hard rock feel, but with a relatively sparse arrangement. 5 Seconds of Summer told Rolling Stone it came about because there has been “a growing attention to industrial rhythm within the band.” They said that the track is “derivative of the driving drum groove” that’s heard on Nine Inch Nail’s track “Closer.” The band added that they were also inspired by dark, synth-heavy groups such as Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears.

I love you so much that I hate you (Oh) Right now, it's so hard to blame you (Oh) 'Cause you're so damn beautiful (Oh) So damn beautiful (Oh)

TEETH: PREVIOUSLY REVIEWED ON A PLAYLIST POST

I love that song. It has that driving kick and that bass; we tried to make a song without having a snare. It has a few in it, but it’s mainly kick and it’s my breath doing all of the other beats. Tom Morello plays the guitar solo at the end. He’s almost imitating a snare with his guitar.

Talk so pretty, but your heart got teeth -Teeth, 5SOS

WILDFLOWER: This is the lighter side of the album. It’s a step forward for us in that it’s not so dark—we can do this big stadium vocal but also have it be a big, positive, euphoric anthem and not be lame.

You know you are my favourite fantasy A fatal love song Waterfall is overflowin'

BEST YEARS: A BEAUTIFUL LOVE NOTE WRITTEN PRIMARILY BY HEMMINGS FOR A PAST LOVER, IT WAS CO-WRITTEN WITH RYAN TEDDER AND FEATURES THE EDGE FROM U2 PLAYING GUITAR ON THE BRIDGE.

Past love, burned out like a cigarette I promise, darling, you won't regret

NOT IN THE SAME WAY: WRITTEN IN 30 MINUTES, It’s a chaotic love story of the early days in a relationship and trying to figure out your counterpart. THE MUSICALITY HAS AN ELECTRONIC UP AND DOWN SOUND LIKE THE BUILD UP AND THE BLOW UP THEN THE SILENCE IMITATING THE CHAOS OF THE LYRICAL CONTENT.

In the dark, we're black and white In the morning, colourblind Leave your mark with every bite Then everything's alright
LOVER OF MINE: Opening with soft yet very prominent piano chords, the listener is pulled right in. This song is about the maturity of the protagonist and realising the past mistakes they have made with their lover. MUSICALLY, IT’S GOT A JEFF BUCKLY VIBE. THE SOFT GUITAR CHORDS ARE SO NICELY DONE THROUGHOUT THE TRACK.

Kaleidoscope mind gets in the way Hope and I pray, darling, that you will stay Butterfly lies, chase them away, mmm

THIN WHITE LIES: USING MUSICALITY THAT MIMICS THE CURE, IT’S AN HONEST SONG ABOUT SELF-REFLECTION AND BECOMING A STRANGER TO YOURSELF.

WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN, WE ALL GET LONELY WATCH ME DISAPPER

Lonely Heart: The song’s really beautiful. I like the dancing metaphor in some of the verses. It kind of sounds like Depeche Mode in the chorus, which I like. It’s all pretty New Wave. IT’S GOT A HAUNTING SOUND WITH THE MUSICALITY.

Your type of mind, so hard to find Native of mine, you're just my kind

HIGH: THE FIRST SONG WRITTEN FOR THE ALBUM BUT PLANNED AS THE CLOSER, WITH BEATLES-ESQUE MUSICALITY COMES THIS FINAL TRACK ABOUT HOPING A PAST OR EX LOVER THINKS OF YOU HIGHLY.

But the picture that you paint of me looks better in your mind -High, 5SOS

Overall, 5SOS never disappoint me as a fan of music, as a fan of them as a band, and as a human being. Their music, no matter what it discusses, gives me an overall zen feeling, and instantly makes me calm. This album, ironically, is no exception.