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Adam R. Holz

Album Review

Selena Gomez began her entertainment career at the age of 7, and for most of her journey through childhood stardom she’s been encircled by and identified with Disney. Now, at 23, it’s So long, Mouse House. Hello, Interscope!

“I’ve basically grown up in front of everyone,” she told Matt Lauer on Today. “I had an opportunity with this record to spend my time on it. I got a whole new team, a new label. It was me being a boss, me controlling my whole life. It was incredible.”

Aaron Bay-Schuck, president of A&R for Interscope, said of this new chapter in Gomez’s career, “Before signing, Selena was vocal that she wanted to be very involved in the making of her album. She felt it was time to change her narrative and the story of her journey, and transition to a more adult artist.”

Which is, of course, code for …

Pro-Social Content

On the title track, Selena says she’s “reaching for the truth, not afraid to lose.” She also says of her very public journey thus far, “I admit, it’s been painful, painful/But I’ll be honest, I’m grateful, grateful.” “Kill Em With Kindness” offers this advice for dealing with critics: “We don’t have to fall from grace/Put down the weapons you fight with/Kill ’em with kindness.” Album closer “Rise” is an empowerment anthem encouraging perseverance and determination in tough moments (“Like the air, you can/Rise from the rubble with your mind, you can hover/You can rise like the tide”).

“Sober” confronts a guy whose affection is unhealthily linked to being drunk (“You don’t know how to love me when you’re sober/When the bottle’s done, you pull me closer”). And there’s (perhaps) recognition that the boundaries in this relationship aren’t so great (“Guess I don’t know where to draw the line, the line, the line”).

“Revival” proclaims, “I’ve been under self-restoration.” But Gomez pushes that idea …

Objectionable Content

… too far in the next line when she brags about having the ability to save herself (“I’ve become my own salvation”).

But mostly Selena’s sending the message that such a salvation—and the very idea of maturity—comes from sensuality and sex. Here’s a representative sampling:

“So give it up, give it up/All I need, all I need is your body heat/I’m restless, craving your attention/My red lips have found a new obsession/Let’s go all night/Just you and me/ … Oh my god, it feels amazing when you hold me close.” (“Body Heat”)

“And everybody wants to be touched/Everybody wants to get some.” (“Me & the Rhythm”)

“Can’t keep my hands to myself/I mean, I could, but why would I want to?/ … I want you all to myself/You’re metaphorical gin and juice/So come on, give me a taste.” (“Hands to Myself”)

“Why is it so different when we wake up?/Same lips, same kiss, but not the same touch/ … I know I should leave … /But your love’s too good.” (“Sober”)

“You say I give it to you hard/ … Let me show you how proud I am to be yours/Leave this dress a mess on the floor.” And A$AP Rocky’s contribution gets more explicit: “But the way you touchin’ on me in the club/Rubbin’ on my miniature/John Hancock, the signature.” (“Good for You”)

Two songs repeatedly use the s-word.

Summary Advisory

Selena Gomez once talked openly about her Christian faith. And reports that one of her tattoos quotes Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Jesus doesn’t get any mention on Revival, but we do hear these generic shout-outs to a nonspecific faith in a higher power: “You can breathe into your faith not matter where you’re at/ … But you can rise with your mind and make your higher power proud.”

Not that Revival has anything at all, really, to do with spiritual awakening. More like Spring Awakening. And the album’s cover—which depicts Selena Gomez posing completely nude—is all the warning most families will need that this former wizard of Waverly Place has indeed begun a new “adult” chapter in her career.

Its lyrics, many of which exalt sex as an end in itself, complete the salacious picture.

“It’s not something where I’m like, let me glorify what I do in the bedroom,” Selena defensively told “But I think I have a very healthy perspective on my sexuality. It’s part of being an adult, and I’m still figuring out how to be one of those, too.”

But songs such as “Body Heat” and “Good for You” absolutely glorify what this 23 year old does in the bedroom—whether she thinks so or not.

Adam R. Holz

After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.

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