‘Revelación’: Selena Gomez Delivers Catchy Crossover Pop With Spanish-Language EP
After promising Spanish-language music for years, Selena Gomez releases her “Revelación” EP on March 12, a career move that will certainly expand her worldwide popularity even if it doesn’t quite liberate her from the prefab stardom from which she emerged. Notwithstanding “Lose You To Love Me,” the song from “Rare” that she co-authored, and according to a recent Vogue cover story, considers the best thing she’s ever done, Gomez’ adult career has frequently felt more like an exercise in obligation to her labels and longtime fans than a deeply personal expression of her creativity, a perception not likely to change with an EP she admittedly worked on with a language coach in order to guarantee its authenticity. But whether or not her musical endeavors keep an even pace with the maturity and self-assurance of her responsibly self-appointed role as advocate and social media megaphone, Gomez’ talent as a singer and skill in picking collaborators remains remarkably consistent, resulting in an appealing, catchy collection of songs with enormous commercial potential — in any language.
Reggaetón hitmaker Tainy, responsible for tracks from Daddy Yankee and Bad Bunny, co-produces six of the seven songs, a good start for Gomez to capture the current sound of what’s hot in Latin music. Unlike the florid post-Mariah Carey virtuosity of Ariana Grande or even the firehose emotional urgency of her former television co-star Demi Lovato, the virtue of Gomez’ delivery is its simple clarity, strong and direct without forcing the listener to do more than, well, enjoy the experience. “De Una Vez,” the opener, starts unassumingly with keyboards and Gomez’ voice before a loping drumbeat kicks in; to her and her collaborators’ credit, they nail the tone perfect for a song about post-breakup resilience and independence. “Estoy curá’ de ti” (“I am healed from you”), she sings in Spanish. “De una vez por todas / Soy más fuerte sola” (“Once and for all / I am stronger on my own”).
The second track, “Buscando A/mor,” shifts into a slinky reggaetón groove while the lyrics pick up the theme of its predecessor, celebrating a girls’ night out where the goal is having fun, dancing and getting seen while looking good: Gomez sings, “Salen pa’ que la vean / No están buscando amor” (“ the girls go out so that she can be seen / they’re not looking for love”). If the native Texan leans conspicuously on her cultural bona fides, singing “A quién no le gusta una latina bailando reggaetón” (“who doesn’t love a Latina who dances reggaetón”), the track feels like an appropriate reclaiming of the sentiment of Bad Bunny’s “Yo Perreo Sola,” where he notably recruited female vocalist Nesi to underscore the desire — or even need — for women to feel safe dancing alone at a club. (It also feels unsurprising to learn that Tainy produced both songs.)
Gomez certainly does Latin music justice with her first formal Spanish-language outing, albeit from the perspective of a person who seems semi-constantly aware that she’s bridging a gap between fans and cultures. On “Baila Conmigo,” Gomez practically offers the listener a Spanish lesson: “Si entiendes cuando digo ‘mi amor’ / Comernos sin entendernos, es mejor / Solo tenemos que gustarnos (“if you understand when I say ‘my love’ / making love without understanding each other is better / we just have to be into each other”). The track, a duet with Rauw Alejandro, feels like a rough draft for its follow-up, “Dámelo To’,” where she and Myke Towers provoke and seduce one another over a sizzling beat by Tainy. Her subsequent tribute to a lover’s kiss, “Vicio,” continues the record’s dancefloor love affair, a perfect comedown after the heat of the previous two songs by adding in a welcome note of romanticism, with Gomez singing, “Tu me sanaste el corazón / Le diste vida a lo que estaba muerto (“you healed my heart / you gave life to what was dead within me”).
“Adios” is a fun kiss-off anthem for women tired of answering questions from exes still too far into their business, a problem that Gomez mercilessly sizes up in a vocal performance dripping with beautiful, petty authority. Her collaboration with DJ Snake, “Selfish Love,” wraps the EP, as she switches between Spanish and English as she vacillates through some provocative feelings of attraction and jealousy for a partner she suspects, and thinks she sees, flirting with someone else. French artist DJ Snake’s eclectic, borderline culture-vulture approach to production simultaneously makes the song feel like an outlier and elevates the album as a whole, a modest capitulation to radio stations that might not play Spanish-language-only tracks which also features some sort of heavily processed, disembodied and completely mesmerizing saxophone sound over the chorus.
Ironically, by that point in the EP, Gomez had already proven not only that she can sing in Spanish, but should do so interchangeably in the future when and wherever she wants to. And quite frankly, even the few places where the record falters, her sincerity and intentions are never in doubt. But if at 28 she justifiably still hasn’t quite figured out what she wants to say with her art (and quite literally how she wants to say it), “Revelación” need not be a game changer because the music is more than fun enough to keep her fans engaged until she does.
“Revelación” releases on March 11 on Apple Music.