Revival is Selena Gomez's second studio album that was released on October 9, 2015 by Interscope and Polydor Records.
- Revival 4:06
- Kill Em With Kindness 3:38
- Hands To Myself 3:21
- Same Old Love 3:49
- Sober 3:15
- Good For You (featuring ASAP Rocky) 3:41
- Camouflage 4:09
- Me & The Rhythm 3:33
- Survivors 3:42
- Body Heat 3:28
- Rise 2:47
- Me & My Girls 3:31
- Nobody 3:37
- Perfect 4:03
- Outta My Hands (Loco) 3:32
- Cologne 3:53
In July 2013, Selena Gomez released her debut solo album, "Stars Dance". The album was well received commercially, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200.
Gomez embarked on the Stars Dance Tour later that year, which was set to cross several continents, including dates in Asia and Oceania; however, these concerts wouldn't materialize as she cancelled the remainder of the tour in late 2013, citing personal reasons, saying: "It has become clear to me and those close to me that after many years of putting my work first, I need to spend some time on myself in order to be the best person I can be."
Gomez entered a rehab treatment facility for her lupus diagnosis in May 2014.
Publications began to speculate Gomez's intent in fulfilling contractual obligations by releasing a final compilation album for her longtime label, Hollywood Records. Later reports published in September suggested that she had secured a new recording contract with Interscope chairman John Janick.
At that time, Gomez had already sold around 2.8 million albums and 18.1 million singles in the United States (including three studio albums with her band, Selena Gomez & the Scene).
In November 2014, Gomez captioned an Instagram post with: "As I have a last listen, I thought a lot about my year. I thought a lot about my voice. And after a year of holding on. I think it's time to start sharing."
Gomez later released her compilation album "For You" representing her final project with Hollywood Records as Gomez officially announced her change in labels the following month.
After performing its lead single "The Heart Wants What it Wants" at the 2014 American Music Awards, she revealed that she had begun work on her next studio album.
She cited the single as a reference point, stating: "It’s exciting for me to start off with something like [it]. And then start leading into writing about all the other things that are going on in my life and have gone on in the past year or so. Even if it’s things that people may not necessarily know about. So I’m excited to kind of put more of my heart and soul into the next chapter of music."
During that same month, Gomez commented that she had been recording new music, and suggested a possible partnership with producer and disc jockey Zedd.
On February 23, 2015, a collaboration between Gomez and Zedd, "I Want You to Know" was released.
Gomez discussed that her new material would reflect upon the "journey", she experienced since 2013, with Christina Garibaldi from MTV News assuming her comments were referencing her former relationship with Justin Bieber, and a period spent in rehab in 2014, among other subjects.
In an interview with Ryan Seacrest in June, Gomez stated, it is about her "new-found confidence." Her voice coach also commented that the album was going to be "more adult, more feminine and more about Selena’s experiences."
Gomez states that Revival offers insight into her perception of various experiences, further elaborating on its themes of kindness, having faith, heartbreak, the "passion of a relationship" as well as "being [her] own person".
As the album's executive producer, she "wanted to know that every single song meant the world to me, whether I wrote it or not. For me, I had to discover what was going to separate me. I know that I’m not the world’s greatest singer, but I do know that I have a unique tone. And I’m an actress—I love being able to translate everything I’m feeling inside through my voice and through the songs. [...] This whole record is extremely intimate."
In an interview to Entertainment Weekly, Gomez stated that she was influenced by a wide range of artists growing up, from Janet Jackson to Britney Spears and NSYNC.
She commented that her main influence for the record was Christina Aguilera, (specifically her 2002 album, "Stripped") which she cites as an exemplar of a "complete" album and inspired her own decision to tell a story through the album.
She further commented on her life in the media: "Now, I’m in the place of my life where I released an album at 16—nobody’s going to relate [to that]. They’re going to be like, 'Great, what are you singing about?' Because of how much my life was exposed, I almost had to utilize that for this record. People can’t say, 'You don’t know what you’re talking about. You haven’t been through this.' It’s like, you’ve all grown up with me at this point!"
Gomez first hinted at a collaboration with Australian singer Sia Furler through a November 2014 Instagram post, and Furler later stated that she had composed some material for her.
She began to record songs for the album in December 2014, revealing collaborations with producers Dreamlab and Ruffian and production team Stargate.
She initially expected that the record would contain 15 "extremely exciting" songs. In January 2015, production duo Rock Mafia announced they were working with Gomez on the album.
Gomez explained to MTV News that "Revival" was the most she'd ever gotten creatively involved in album, "Every single thing I'm even remotely singing about is something I've related to and something I'm hitting the nail on, and I had to pick what was going to represent the album and who I am as a whole."
"Good for You" was one of the first tracks recorded, which was initially written by Nick Monson, Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter.
In an interview with Spin, Tranter revealed that their studio time was originally accommodated to "tweak" a different song, and the trio wrote "Good for You" in 45 minutes upon its completion. It was the third song Gomez received since signing with her new label Interscope Records.
Gomez exhausted herself prior to the recording session for "Good for You", as she had pressured herself into figuring out a sound and concept for the album. Her vocals cracked due to this, and the song "took on this emotion [she] didn't realize [she] could tap into."
Midway through the album's recording process, Gomez went on a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with Hit-Boy and a few members of his producing team, as well as Rock Mafia and songwriters Justin Tranter and Julia Michaels.
According to her, "it was all of us in one house for five or six days. We would go out, listen to live music, and go back and create in this studio – in a closet, basically."
During the creative process, Gomez wanted "to get out of her head."
"Body Heat" was the first song that Gomez recorded on the trip; at 5. A.M. after she heard Mexican music through the night. According to her, because the "live instruments, the beats, what you feel ... It kind of represents everything that I love about who I am."
While working on the album, Gomez also enlisted frequent collaborators Rock Mafia to help make her sound a reality. They assisted her on the creation of six of its tracks, including "Revival" and "Kill Em with Kindness", the latter being one of the "most personal" tracks on the album.
Gomez told the producers that although the production was important, she wanted its focus to be the lyrics.
According to Gomez, one of the main inspirations behind "Kill Em with Kindness" was the body-shaming she dealt with from the media, after photos surfaced online of the singer in a bikini during a trip to Mexico in April 2015. Many claimed she gained weight, with some news outlets going as far as to label her a "mess", and suggested Gomez was "going off the deep end".
Gomez commented: "I was getting a lot of hate for my body and ‘you’re gaining weight,’ and so I was in Mexico and I was just feeling all of this stuff and I would be lying to you if I said it didn’t kind of hurt my feelings, but I kind of channeled that into my music." She called the experience "degrading", explaining that she had never been through such intense bullying before.
Several songs were recorded at Casa Aramara Studios located in Punta Mita.
Speaking about her experience in Mexico, Gomez stated: "I brought my producers and writers, and we just got inspired. I'm Mexican, and it's incredible to be able to acknowledge that part of me, and it was really about how much you can feel when you're in that culture, when you're around people."
Gomez also worked with recording team Stargate, who handled "Sober" and "Same Old Love", the latter of which was co-written by British singer Charli XCX.
XCX and Gomez weren't in the physical presence of each other during the session, though XCX's manager was present throughout.
Gomez was drawn to the track and she believed "Same Old Love" represented her strained relationship with her father and how it reflected on her subsequent romantic relationships.
The song's recording sessions took place at Westlake Studios in Los Angeles, and Dreamlab Studios in Studio City, California. "Sober" was also developed during this time.
According to Gomez, the inspiration came after she and one of its writers, Chloe Angelides, discussed social awkwardness and how Gomez "would hang out with people and they would drink and they’re so fun, then the next day it would be weird."
Following the commercial success of "Good for You" as lead single treatment, Gomez decided to collaborate for an additional four days with Michaels and Tranter despite her label's instructions for the album to be mixed at the time.
Before the sessions began, Gomez felt that she had already addressed her desired themes for "Revival", but she wanted additional material that would be "fresh from a female perspective" which culminated in "Hands to Myself".
The recording took place at Wolf Cousins and Maratone Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, and at Interscope Studios in Santa Monica, California. In those four days, they also developed "Me & the Rhythm" which was the last song recorded for the album.
Musically, "Revival" is primarily a dance-pop and electropop album with R&B vibes (which has been also described as "a heady mix of electronic dance music pop").
It has a "warm, tropical beach-pop sound" and as noted by AllMusic's Tim Sendra, "[it] veers away from the bubblegum nature of her early work or the genre-hopping aspects of other releases."
As he continued, "the album sticks pretty close to a club bangers-and-ballads mix with a couple of R&B-inspired jams thrown in."
Other critics also saw that the album has "midtempo pop," minimalist dance beats and smoldering R&B grooves.
Steve Knopper of Newsday also highlighted that "[t]he album is frequently dark and ominous, full of torch songs, with just enough stylish electronic dance music synths and upbeat melodies to enliven the mood."
Mikael Wood of Los Angeles Times and Mike Wass of Idolator both compared it to the works of Janet Jackson, with Wood comparing to her 2015 record "Unbreakable" in terms of sound, and Wass to her breakthrough album, Control" in terms of its empowering themes.
The album opens with the title track, "Revival", was considered "an experimental electro-adventure" with an "uplifting chorus." Lyrically, the song deals with themes of self-care, embracing one's inner power and self-restoration.
It starts with a spoken-word introduction, where she says: "I'm reborn in every moment, so who knows what I'll become?" before singing "It's my time to butterfly," where "the word 'butterfly' serving as both a state of being and an intransitive verb."
Gomez also explained that the song gathers everything she was feeling the past two years prior the album's release and the need she felt to be heard.
The lines, "I'll admit it's been painful, but I'll be honest and grateful," is one of Gomez's favorites because "ultimately its led me and pushed me to be where I am today. Nothing has been handed to me. I've had to strive for it, and really put my all in it."
The second track "Kill Em with Kindness" is described as a dance, club-banger with a "tropical house breeze" and "added bells and whistles." The song offers positive advice for dealing with critics: instead of raising the proverbial middle finger, it suggests to take the high road and kill them with kindness.
For Gomez, "[i]t's kind of my motto for life. It's so much easier to be mean. It's so easy to just kind of give yourself that, but it's so hard to walk away from a situation, turn your cheek the other way, and be the bigger person."
"Same Old Love" is built on a "rickety" piano sample and backgrounded Italo synths, starting off with a "whimsical ‘60s feel, but morph[ing] into a punchy bass dance track." In terms of lyrics, the song is about how people perceive love, and how everyone has a cycle, whether it's friendship, family, a relationship.
Gomez further explained it: "People get uncomfortable with change, and they compromise, and I think this song is representing the angst, and the pain, and a little bit of the anger that it comes with."
"Hands to Myself" is a dance-pop & synthpop number, and has influences of Prince. It begins stripped-down with a minimal backdrop and a sparse, thumping beat; this comprises drums, bass, lightly clicking percussion and hand claps.
"Sober" brings ‘80s "slamming" synthesizers to the fore and "girlie yelps" which lyrically regards social awkwardness and how a significant other doesn’t know how to love unless alcohol is involved and the recognition that the boundaries in a relationship aren't so great.
"Good for You" is an electro-R&B song with pendulum-swing rhythm, swirling keyboard atmospherics and affirming ASAP Rocky rap; it also has Gomez "exploring her lower range and playing up the smokier edges of her speaking voice."
The lyrics for "Good for You" explores confidence, embracing one's sexuality and feeling comfortable in your own skin.
"Camouflage" is a piano-driven ballad that addresses the end of a relationship, and even though she has 'so much shit' to say, she doesn’t know how since the person that she was with is no longer recognizable."
"Me & the Rhythm" is a dance, disco, R&B and "breathy" synthpop song with an "icy" Scandinavian arrangement. The song talks about losing yourself on the dance floor while being free within that moment, being free within yourself.
"Outta My Hands (Loco)" was compared to Gomez's earlier albums, "Stars Dance" and "When the Sun Goes Down." "Survivors" mixes EDM, futuristic R&B and house revivalism.
"Survivors" talks about "surviving every day, in our circumstances [...] and bringing each other up instead of tearing each other down, ’cause we’re all just surviving." Gomez said that the song "is a community thing ... What's mine is yours. It's us. It's ours together."
"Body Heat" brings Latin fusion with saxophone, horns & brass, and was inspired by Mexican culture, its lyrics regards sex.
"Rise" is "an empowerment anthem encouraging perseverance and determination in tough moments." On the other hand, the song contains a gospel chorus, whooping and a spoken-word prayer.
"Me & My Girls" was considered a "party-jam" with a "Robert Rodriguez inspired sound," the song incorporates themes of female empowerment.
"Nobody" has syncopated beats, finger snaps, it also contains a synth flute and trip hop beats; its lyrics and finds Gomez paying tribute to her lover, and as she claimed, it was written about her faith and connection with God.
"Perfect" is about "feeling downright obsessive as she wrestles with her man moving on to the next one" and Gomez admitted that the song is "very, very personal song, and it was extremely accurate. [...] In a way, it's a little sad. It's beautiful too."
Musically, the song is a modern R&B performance that has a "dreamy, harp-smattered production."
The last track from deluxe version of "Revival" is "Cologne", the song has a "mellow, midtempo" vibe and talks about "constantly having a certain someone on her mind, and loving herself when they are not around."
"Revival" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, earning 117,000 album-equivalent units during its first week (of which 85,000 were pure album sales).
It was certified platinum by the RIAA for combined album sales, on-demand audio, video streams and track-sale equivalent of 1,000,000 units. As of May 2017, the album has sold 413,000 copies in the United States.
At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, "Revival" received an average score of 74, based on 9 reviews.
Writing for Rolling Stone, Brittany Spanos stated that "Revival is an audacious name for a 23-year-old singer's second album, but from start to finish, Gomez earns it," noting that "[t]his is the sound of a newly empowered pop artist growing into her strengths like never before."
Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine was very receptive, noting that "[s]ong for song, 'Revival' rivals Carly Rae Jepsen's 'Emotion' for breakout pop album of the year, but if it similarly falls short of greatness, it's due in large part to a lack of originality. [...] And yet, all of those songs are standouts."
James Reed from Boston Globe opined that Revival is " a forthright album of pop songs that make it clear she is ready to be honest and even vulnerable in her music."
Mike Wass of Idolator agreed, calling it "an immaculately curated collection that showcases the 23-year-old's ability to genre-hop and experiment, while staying true to herself."
Steve Knopper from Newsday applauded Gomez for sounding "appealingly desperate and hungry, and this quality transcends the most familiar-sounding material," adding: "Something in Selena Gomez's pop formula is nicely soft-spoken and mysterious."
Mikael Wood from the Los Angeles Times praised the album for being "surprisingly modest, from its midtempo pacing to its thoughtful introspection," acknowledging the fact that "Gomez is finding freedom in control, kudos to her for getting there so quickly."
Writing for USA Today, Elysa Gardner noted that the album "is generally at its best when Gomez keeps her tone light and bright and her energy positive. [...] At this rate, Gomez is bound to get at least a few skeptics off of Instagram and onto the dance floor."
Tim Stack wrote for Entertainment Weekly that "[o]n her fifth album Gomez goes for mood-setting, and the result is "a gripping batch of sultry pop jams that are more 'Netflix and chill,' less 'Let's hit the curb,'" claiming that it is "as fresh and forward-thinking as the music of indie darlings Tove Lo and FKA twigs."
Christina Jaleru of The Washington Times was positive, commending it for "breez[ing] through to the finish line – the dance floor -with 11 nearly impeccable tracks that skip from the 1960s to the ‘80s to right this minute."
While seeing some "generecism" on the album, Jia Tolentino of Spin highlighted that "[a]t its high points, 'Revival' is marked by this lush, sphinx-like readiness: as if, after a decade and a half of being nonstop front and center, Gomez has finally figured out what it means to center herself."
Katherine St. Asaph of Time emphasized that "[w]here she falters most is what 'Revival' is ostensibly about: bratty confidence," noticing that "[m]usically, though, Revival is most interesting when it’s still in the cocoon."
Tim Sendra from AllMusic gave the album a mixed review, writing that "[Revival] makes for a solid pop album overall, but it's a little too formulaic and predictable to rate among her best work."
Emily Mackay of The Observer also gave the album a mixed review, perceiving that "[t]he most surprising thing about Revival is its understatement, despite the hit-making co-writers."