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Rare is Selena Gomez's third solo album that was released on January 10, 2020 by Interscope Records.

The album debuted at #1 the Billboard 200 chart, becoming Gomez's third consecutive number-one album in the United States. It debuted at #1 in many countries, including Australia, Canada, Norway, Mexico, Belgium, Portugal and Scotland; reaching the top three in countries including the UK, Germany, New Zealand, Spain and Poland.

Album Background

Speaking in a November 2019 interview for Apple Music on the subject of her upcoming studio album, "Rare", Selena Gomez admitted that the unreleased tracks were where she currently was. She also said that the songs on the tracklist went well with each other, after putting them in order.

Gomez appeared on the radio program "On Air with Ryan Seacrest" and told Seacrest that she had "a million ideas and it’s just going to be cooler and it’s going to be stronger and it’s going to be better."

She later told Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show" that the album would have a "sense of strong pop", and that she experimented with electric guitar. She also told Fallon that it took her "four years now to even feel at a good place with this album".

In the release week of the album, Gomez posted Instagram stories that saw her buying "as much as possible copies" of her own album, with the intention of making it reach the top spot of the Billboard 200 chart, which garnered criticism from some fans. Gomez herself questioned if she was "desperate" for doing so. Nevertheless, "Rare" debuted at the top spot of the Billboard 200.

Music & Lyrics

"Rare" is primarily a pop & dance music record which experiments with many genres, such as R&B, electro, funk-pop, reggaeton, alternative pop and electronic music.

The main themes of the album are of "love, loss and dating". Gomez herself stated that the album is "honest, empowering and uplifting" while its main messages are "self love, acceptance and empowerment". She also added that the songs on Rare are "the most honest music I’ve ever made".

The standard edition of "Rare" contains 13 tracks. The opener and title track is a "quiet but impactful self-love anthem" with lyrics discussing "the wavering interests of a lover" and the singer realizing "her love interest isn't valuing her in the way she deserves".

Its sound has been referred to as "backing vocals and instrumentals muffled as if the whole thing has been dunked underwater". The following track, "Dance Again", is a blend of multiple genres, including funk, dance, electro and electropop.

It encompasses an "infectious" and "mellifluous" melody, "Cure-like" bass, "fuzzy" synths and a "walloping disco bassline." It has been described as "lite-Daft Punk", and "low-key yet deeply infectious."

Co-written with Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter, "Look at Her Now" is an upbeat dance-pop and electropop track which explores "being better off without the bad ones" and getting over the end of a relationship.

The fourth song, "Lose You to Love Me", is the only ballad on the album. Its "bare-bones" production incorporates "plucked" violins, "booming" bass, "tearjerker" piano, an orchestra, and "multi-tracked Gomez voices cascading against each other". Critics speculated that it may be about Gomez's split from her ex-boyfriend, Justin Bieber.

The Latin-infused "Ring", which deals with "toying with noncommittal lovers" drew comparisons to the works of Camila Cabello (namely her 2017 hit single "Havana"), Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know", as well as Santana's "Smooth".

Produced by The Monsters & Strangerz with Jon Bellion, "Vulnerable" is a "warm" disco and electropop record with a "moody synth groove" & elements of italo disco and tropical house.

Influences of Latin music are also present on the upbeat and "dancefloor-ready" track "Let Me Get Me"." The first of the album's two collaborations, "Crowded Room", is an R&B song which features American rapper 6lack.

Tracks 10, 11, and 12 all have a funk sound. "Kinda Crazy" is a "tongue-in-cheek tune" and "sinuous kiss-off" driven by a "clean bluesy guitar lick and accompanying horns".

"Cut You Off" is a "slinky" downtempo pop song with influences of funk and a "slow jam" about "saying goodbye to a relationship that's dragging you down". It has been compared with works by Taylor Swift.

The album concludes with "A Sweeter Place": A collaboration with rapper Kid Cudi, the song "documents the life lessons Selena has learned and expresses hope that brighter days lie ahead".

The vinyl and digital bonus track editions of Rare feature the song "Feel Me", which was previously featured on the setlist of Gomez's 2016 Revival Tour. Gomez released the song on digital platforms on February 21, 2020, the day of the vinyl release.

Tracklisting

  1. Rare
  2. Dance Again
  3. Look At Her Now
  4. Lose You To Love Me
  5. Ring
  6. Vulnerable
  7. People You Know
  8. Let Me Get Me
  9. Crowded Room (featuring 6lack)
  10. Kinda Crazy
  11. Fun
  12. Cut You Off
  13. A Sweeter Place (featuring Kid Cudi)

Digital & streaming/Deluxe edition/vinyl edition track

  1. Feel Me

Deluxe edition track

  1. Boyfriend
  2. She

Target & Japanese edition tracks

  1. Bad Liar
  2. Fetish (featuring Gucci Mane)
  3. It Ain't Me (with Kygo)
  4. Back to You
  5. Wolves (with Marshmello)

Promotion

The album was first announced and named on Gomez's Instagram account where she revealed the cover art and included a snippet of the title track.

The standard edition of the studio album was promoted and preceded by the release of "Lose You to Love Me" released October 23, 2019, and "Look at Her Now" on October 24, 2019.

On November 24, 2019, Gomez performed "Lose You to Love Me" and "Look at Her Now" at the 2019 American Music Awards to promote the album.

The title track was released as the third single the same day the album came out. She also appeared on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" to talk about the release of "Rare."

In addition, "Dance Again" was scheduled to be used to promote CBS Sports and Turner Sports' coverage of the 2020 NCAA Tournament; however, the song was never used, as the event was cancelled over concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A part of the proceeds from "Dance Again" went toward the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund. A performance video of the track was posted on YouTube on March 26, 2020.

Chart Performance

"Rare" debuted at #1 the US Billboard 200, becoming Gomez's third US number-one album and the first album released in the 2020s decade to top the chart. It earned 112,000 album-equivalent units, including 53,000 pure album sales.

The album became her third consecutive chart topper. During its second week, the album dropped to the sixth spot on the chart, earning an additional 38,000 units. In the next week, it dropped to #15, earning 26,200 units.

In the United Kingdom, the album debuted at number two behind Lewis Capaldi's album, "Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent" becoming Gomez's first top ten and highest peaking album in the country. The album has sold 500,000 units in the US.

In Australia, "Rare" debuted at number-one on the ARIA Top 100 Albums Chart, becoming Gomez's first chart-topper in the country. It also became her first number-one album in Argentina, Belgium, Lithuania, Taiwan and Scotland.

Critical Reception

"Rare" received generally positive reviews from music critics, who praised its cohesive production as well as observed its easy songwriting, with many deeming the album the best of Selena Gomez's career to date.

At Metacritic, the album has an average score of 76 based on 12 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".

Variety's Jem Aswad labelled it as "one of the best pop albums to be released in recent memory" and described it as "sophisticated, precisely written and expertly produced music".

While calling it "shockingly, and beautifully, upbeat", Brittany Spanos of Rolling Stone opined that the album is "an act of divine ruthlessness, full of dance-y, mid-tempo clarity."

Writing for NME, Rhian Daly called the album "a beautifully confident return from one of pop's most underrated stars, and a quietly defiant wrestling back of the narrative surrounding her" while Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly praised the album's "lightness" despite its "heavy messaging."

Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times named "Rare" as Gomez's "most meaningful solo disc" and opined that it embraces "an infectious spirit of adventure." Similarly, Vulture's Craig Jenkins wrote that the album is "almost inarguably Selena Gomez's best album."

In a mixed review, Pitchfork's Quinn Moreland stated that the album was her "most cohesive record to date" but that "[Gomez's] introspection can only go so deep when it's paired with sleek, easy songwriting that lets her slip by".

In concurrence, Alexandra Pollard of The Independent gave the album three stars out of five, deeming it "an accomplished, coherent record, with moments of ecstasy and others of pathos" but concluding that it "never quite gets out from beneath the shadow of half a decade of behemothic bangers."

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