Same Old Love
This sad and somber single from former Disney starlet Selena Gomez sure sounds like a breakup song. "Take your things and go," she says in the angst-ridden piano ballad's opening lyrical salvo.
For those given to celebrity speculation, it's not hard to assume she's talking about one particularly famous ex. Except that, well, Selena says she's not actually singing about, ahem, him. In fact, she might not even be singing about a breakup or a failed romance at all, she recently told Radio Disney. Instead, she implies that the song's as much about her father as any former beau she's had.
"I think 'Same Old Love' represents a different kind of identity with love," Gomez said. "The first people you love in your life are your parents. So for me, my dad is the first male figure I had in my life. And how much it means to respect your parents and have a healthy relationship with them because it trails on into your relationships when you're older."
Insightful. And it's hard-won for Selena, too. It seems that a rocky relationship with her dad has indeed been a contributing factor in her confusing, disappointing relationships with men ever since. So whether Selena Gomez is singing about a) her father, b) her old flame(s) or c) all of the above, what's clear here is that the titular "love" in question is anything but.
Too Painful to Pick Up the Pieces
"You can't take back what you said, I know," Selena testifies in the song's second line. "I've heard it all before, at least a million times/ … You left in peace, left me in pieces/Too hard to breath, I'm on my knees."
Lest you think she's about to go on by proffering the proverbial "forgive and forget" counsel, I'll quickly feed you another line: "I'm not one to forget, you know." Indeed, the hurts she's endured have left her scarred.
"I'm so sick of that same old love," she vents in the chorus. "That s---, it tears me up/ … Feels like I've been blown apart/I'm so sick of that same old love, the kinds that breaks your heart/ … I'm so sick of that same old love, my body's had enough."
If there's anything redemptive in Gomez's painful lament, it's her resolution not to remain in relationship with someone who treats her so shabbily. But even that has a hard edge to it: "I'm not spending any time, wasting tonight on you," she vows after the first chorus. "I know, I've heard it all/So don't try and change your mind/'Cause I won't be changing too, you know?"
Broken Relationships Everywhere
Focusing as this song does on Selena's frustration with a disappointing love, it's no surprise that the video is equally moody.
We watch quietly Selena walk to a waiting limo. A mostly melancholy expression plays on her face while she notices people in other cars and on the streets of a big city apparently struggling with their own "same old loves." A weeping mother and her adolescent son drive in a car full of their belongings (hinting at a marital dissolution). A well-heeled African-American couple in another car stare stonily straight ahead, not speaking, as she fiddles with her wedding ring. Still another man can be seen screaming as he drives (either to himself or into a cellphone).
Selena finally smiles when she spies a couple kissing passionately on the sidewalk.
After instructing her chauffeur to stop the car, she gets out and stares at a dejected middle-aged man sitting on the balcony outside his apartment. Inside, a similarly tired-looking man holds an infant. Next door, a teen girl stares absentmindedly at a fish in a tank while her dad's sacked out on the couch.
All in all, what Selena sees are pictures of broken relationships everywhere, a hard reality that the star obviously knows something about.
Eventually, she threads her way through a happening nightclub (decked out in a seriously slinky black dress with a neckline as low as its hemline is high), where sensually dancing revelers prompt a second small smile from her. By the time she takes the stage, her world-weary visage has returned—arguably informing us that even being famous and having adoring fans yelling for you begins to feel like that "same old love" after a while.
What Do We Do When Love Hurts?
Watching and listening to "Same Old Love," I couldn't help but think about how we should respond when we feel like life and love have left us broken and disappointed.
Selena Gomez's laments here are honest and heartfelt, feelings that many (if not most) of us have shared at some point. And there's no shame or wrongdoing in passionately articulating the pain we feel. But what do we do with those raw emotions after we've felt and expressed them? How we answer that question is important.
"Same Old Love" unloads a dump truck full of frustration and hardheartedness that can come from such experiences. But it offers precious little in the way of genuine hope or a path forward amid that pain. Instead, Selena seems stuck—stuck in disillusionment that she doesn't know what to do with. In just under four minutes, we hear the phrase "I'm so sick of that same old love" 28 times. And there's simply no long-term strategy for coping with life's inevitable relational hardships.
For that, listeners are going to need to turn elsewhere.
To deal with life's toughest moments, we need real love—with family, friends, perhaps a spouse and, of course, our heavenly Father. But there's nary a hint of such relationships on "Same Old Love." Just isolation and bitterness, neither of which offers much possibility of positive change for Selena … or for anyone who might initially be tempted to think that her honest confessions here could serve as a cathartic outlet for them, too.